If you’ve ever tried and failed at a diet before then I have good news for you.
It seems like everyday there is a new fad diet that comes out that will help you lose weight and gain muscle faster than ever.
Flexible dieting has been getting a lot of attention recently but it’s by no means just another fad diet. In fact it has been around for years in the bodybuilding community.
If you’re like me, when you first heard of this new way of eating, that not only allowed, but recommended you eating some foods that would be traditionally classed as “unhealthy.” You were a little bit skeptical, and rightfully so.
How could you possibly eat a diet of pizza and ice cream and still maintain a lean athletic physique?
In this article you’ll learn exactly how flexible dieting can work for you and the benefits it brings.
What is Flexible dieting?
Flexible dieting is also known as “if it fits your macros” or IIFYM.
The basic logic behind it is that you can eat a well balanced diet, that also involves some treats and foods that would normally be classed as unhealthy as long as it fits your daily macronutrient needs.
Some people take it to mean that you can eat junk food and get ripped. While that is possible, and you’ve probably seen the videos on instagram of lean, ripped people shovelling pizza and candy in their mouths on a daily basis this isn’t necessarily the best way to go about it.
I like to think that Flexible dieting is:
A sustainable diet to fit your lifestyle
You could even consider flexible dieting not to be a “diet” at all.
Diet’s are usually something that people start then give up on. All in the blink of an eye. The reason being, that most people are miserable on diets.
You’re forced to eat foods that you don’t really like and you feel guilty every time you even think of eating something that’s not part of your diet.
This leads to the eventual binge eating and feeling bad about yourself.
It’s the reason that nearly all dieters (90-95%) regain the weight they lost.
Which brings me back to my definition of flexible dieting and why it isn’t really a diet at all
Flexible dieting is something that you can sustain long term. Without the yoyo effect that going on traditional diets normally brings.
The only real way to make progress with your body is to maintain your efforts over a long period of time.
Flexible dieting allows you to be consistent with your eating and see the results that come along with it.
Flexible dieting principles
The core of flexible dieting (IIFYM) comes down to this.
How much you eat is more important than what you eat in losing weight.
When it comes to weight loss the only thing that matter is calories in, calories out.
If you consume less calories in than your body expends for energy throughout the day then your body is going to need to get this energy from somewhere else.
Your fat stores!
This is a pretty simple idea to get your head around.
What most clean eating dieters don’t realise is that even though they’re eating good nutritious foods, they have little effect on your body’s composition.
100 calories of broccoli is the same for your body as 100 calories of chocolate, when you are talking weight loss/gain.
So even if you’re only eating plain grilled chicken breast and broccoli every day, but consume more calories than you burn you will still put on weight.
Eating nutritious foods is still important for your health, and you should still look to include them in your diet. All I’m saying is there is no one food that is going to cause you to put on weight.
To prove this point Professor Mark Harb ate a diet that consisted of Twinkies, Dorritos and Oreos and lost up to 27 pounds.
He lost the weight by putting himself in a caloric deficit, not by eating regular “healthy” foods.
You might think, if that’s the case then why would I even bother eating healthy foods?
That comes down to body composition.
Importance Of Macros For Body Composition
Eat only junk food and you can lose weight, sounds pretty good right?
While it is true that you will lose weight, it might not be the result that you are looking for.
You can lose weight in a calorie deficit but if you’re looking to build a muscular, athletic body then you need more than just calories.
What Are Macros?
A macro is short for macronutrient which is defined as:
A macronutrient is a nutritional component of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Getting in the right amount of macronutrients is essential if you are looking to build or maintain muscle while losing weight.
- You need to make sure you are getting enough protein to maintain or build muscle mass.
- You need to eat enough carbs to provide yourself with enough energy to train.
- You need to get enough fats to support brain health and hormone synthesis.
You can use a macro calculator to get a rough idea of how much protein, carbs and fat you need to be eating daily.
Counting macros is more beneficial than counting calories as it allows you to improve your body’s composition. Counting calories can help you to lose weight but you will often be losing muscle as well as fat.
Here’s how your macros play into flexible dieting.
As long as you hit your macros each day, the foods you eat will not effect your body composition.
Your protein could come from lean chicken breast, or hamburger patties. Your carbs could be from potatoes or or chocolate. Your fats could come from fish oil or ice cream.
With that said it may be difficult to hit your macro needs eating take away every day.
This means that if you are eating a relatively well balanced diet, you will be able to have something sweet for desert, or a couple of slices of pizza for dinner.
Your Macro Budget
When it comes down to flexible dieting you need to be smart with your macro budget. If you go over your macros you will start to put on fat.
In many ways budgeting your macros is like a financial budget.
For example lets say that it’s payday and you received $2000 in your account. It probably isn’t the smartest idea to go out and buy a $1500 watch if it means you can’t afford to pay rent and buy food.
On the other hand if you got paid $5000 you would be able to buy the watch and still be able to afford all of your other living expenses as well.
When you apply the same thinking to your diet, it is possible to eat a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate at lunch time, it might not be the smartest move. If you spend all of your macros on one food and don’t have enough room left to eat for the rest of the day you are going to be in surplus that day.
A good rule of thumb when implementing flexible dieting is to try and eat around 80% good, whole nutritious foods and then use the remaining 20% for foods that would be classified “less healthy.”
If you focus on eating more nutritious food first that will give you a good platform for the day and make sure that you aren’t hungry at the end of it. Then you will be able to calculate how many macros you have left over at the end of the day to eat something you enjoy.
The Hodge Twins make sure that they hit their major macro (protein), then they know that they have the platform to support their training and can use their remaining carbs and fats to eat more enjoyable foods.
The main secret behind flexible dieting is being able to balance. If you have a big work lunch with a burger and fries, then you need to eat something healthier that uses less macros for dinner.
It’s pretty simple when you think of it that way.
Will Flexible dieting work for you?
The biggest thing I like about flexible dieting is that it doesn’t make you feel trapped into eating a certain way.
If you’ve struggled on other “clean eating” or fad diets, this could be the exact thing you’re looking for.
Yoyo dieting is such a big problem for many people. Flexible dieting gives you the ability to eat nutritious foods while still enjoying the foods that you like.
If you are trying to get in better shape then you need to do something that you can sustain for a long period of time.
There is really no benefit in eating a 100% clean diet if you are going to blow out and return to where you are in the beginning.
Highly restrictive, very low-calorie diets lead to cravings. Cravings lead to “cheating.” Cheating leads to bingeing. And bingeing leads to quitting.
Flexible dieting can fit into your lifestyle seamlessly and will allow you to make the progress with your body while not feeling like you’re on a traditional “diet.”
You should eat the foods you like.
For the rest of your life.
Because the key to succeeding is doing something that is sustainable for the rest of your life.
If you’re skeptical about flexible dieting, and I can understand why some people are. I mean it does go against most traditional beliefs that you must eat only healthy foods to lose weight.
But it really is true. You can eat the foods you like and still have the body you want, as long as you stick to your macros.
Hopefully this article has given you the information you need to make an informed decision as to whether or not flexible dieting (IIFYM) is right for your lifestyle.