With all of the training and diet plans being introduced to the fitness industry, we often hear about one diet being better compared to another. On the contrary, we also get told this by people who prefer a certain diet themselves while they dislike on the other methods and bash them for no specific reason.
One of the newest forms of dieting that has been introduced in the last few years that has become extremely popular is the new form known as, “Flexible Dieting”. Flexible dieting, otherwise known as IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), is a diet strategy that simply states that you are allowed to eat any food you desire, such as chicken, beef, brownies, and even cake, simply as long as you are able to reach and maintain your specific target macronutrient levels for the day without going over or under you required intake.
The Advantages of Flexible Dieting
Although this is a great method of dieting that has plenty of advantages, it also has its disadvantages that people never seem to discuss in detail about. First, I will tell you the advantages of Flexible Dieting and why many people choose this method over the older ones. Flexible dieting simply starts of by stating that anyone on the diet knows what his/her exact macronutrient intake for the days calories consumed is. This means that someone might have a nutrient goal of around 2400 calories, 210g protein, 60g fat, and 150g carbs. This person now has the option of eating anything they desire, not just limiting themselves to the same exact foods day after day. They have the freedom to enjoy fast food, late night restaurant meals with the family, and even a favorite ice cream flavor late at night as long as the food they eat for the day stays within the daily macronutrient threshold.
The Disadvantages of Flexible Dieting
The biggest issue with flexible dieting is that many people who take this form of approach do not always take into the main factors that actually prevent them from benefiting from this diet method. Most people who use this often track what they eat in MyFitnessPal or another method of food tracking, often using an app on a smartphone. One will input the foods they eat into the app and the quantity and nutrients and watch as the daily macros are met.
However, one factor many people do not focus on who prefer this type of dieting is that issue of micronutrients. Just because you are able to stay within range of your protein, fats and carbs for the day eating whatever you desire does not mean you will get the same results if you reached the same macros while eating on a “healthier” and “lean protein” diet. Those who try the Flexible Dieting approach should stick to a 80/20 rule. This means that on this diet, you will consume 80% of your calories from healthier options, such as lean meats (chicken, fish and turkey) and healthier carbs (rice, quionoa and vegetables).
The reason for this is because although you can eat whatever you want, eating the right foods will provide your body with more nutrients, such as vitamins, creatine and glucose to help keep you feeling full for longer, more energetic throughout the day, and even help keep your immune system functioning at its best. With 80% of your macros coming from any sources you seem fit that are of a healthier selection, it gives you room to allow for that particular “junk food” you desire each day for your sweet tooth. With the 80/20 rule, 20% of your calories can be used on consuming the sweet and sugary foods you desire. It is recommended that you avoid eating high sugar foods beyond 20% of your daily food intake due to high sugar levels can create health problems such as fat increase, diabetes and even health problems.
Work Out Your BMR
If you do desire to take this approach, it’s also recommended to firstly figure out what your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is. This is how many calories your body burns per day with/without exercise. This is your total daily calories burned. If you are using flexible dieting in order to lose weight, you also eat foods that will give you high protein, high fat and low carb or high protein, high carb and low fat. By keeping one of the 3 big nutrients low – fat or carbs, – you can help increase metabolic activity and help keep your body in a state of higher calories burned which results in weight loss.
If you are on a 2500 calorie a day limit or goal, and you decided to keep protein and carbs high and fats low, with 2500 calories and 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, you are looking at around 35-40% of calories coming from protein, 50% of calories coming from carbs, and around 10-15% of calories coming from fats. This gives you plenty of room for adding any foods you desire while still maintaining a healthy balance in order to lose fat.
Avoid going over on your macronutrients while on this diet since it can be easy to end up much higher in carbs or fats due to food choices. If you focus your diet primarily around healthier foods, such as lean meats, eggs, and vegetables, you can still have your pizza and ice cream as you desire, but I promise the results you get in body changes will become greater vs. eating any foods you desire. You will also have higher energy levels and greater immune system functions.