The easy way to eat clean – Flexible Dieting
By Coach Fahad Maniar
Let’s be brutally honest, shall we?
Dieting, whichever way you look at it sucks – and, as I write this blog post, I am currently on a very stringent 8 week shred program which includes a pretty stringent diet which was probably developed in the depths of Sparta somewhere.
Now, whilst I am actually okay with this diet, yesterday was tough due to family commitments and it reminded me about the importance of having a bit of flexibility in a diet.
Unless you actually are following a stringent plan and have a deadline based goal, flexible dieting may be just the type of plan you need that will help you get to where you want to be with your physique whilst allowing you to have the odd treat, cheeky Nandos or be a bit more social with family!
What is flexible dieting?
You may have come across the term before, if not this then I’m sure you’ve heard the term “If It Fits Your Macros” (which will be referred to as IIFYM from now on).
You may have even overheard some of the bro’s at your local gym mention the term too but what does it mean?
Don’t be scared by the acronym, IIFYM is a very simple concept in reality.
It’s all about figuring out your Macros and then fitting foods around the numbers you need to hit on a daily basis.
What are macros? Macros are the three main categories your foods fall into:
Carbohydrates: Mainly used as an energy source – Found in vegetables and sugars
Proteins: Mainly used by the body for repair and rebuilding muscle and cells – Found in Dairy, Meat, Soy, Nuts, Seeds and vegetables
Fats: Mainly used as an energy source but also helps with vitamin transport and hormone creation – Found mainly in Animal produce, nuts, seeds, dairy and a few vegetables.
So how do you use IIFYM to help you get lean, mean but still enjoy your Mum’s special chicken curry, the odd spag bol or a meal at one of Leicester’s fine restaurants?
It’s pretty simple really.
The first thing you’re going to need to do is work out how many calories you need to hit your goal – I don’t care what anyone says, Calories will always matter when it comes to weight management and body composition.
*Tip* Work out your calories for the whole week as this will add even more flexibility to your eating, so, if you need 2000 calories for the day, aim for 14,000 calories accross the week – That way, if you do go over on a certain day, you can make up for it by balancing it with the rest of your week.
Once you’ve got your calorie goal, it’s time to work out your macros.
There are various different Macro targets people recommend and, we recommend different targets based on the individuals fat levels and propensity to handle carbohydrates but let’s just stick with a very common macro target for now, the all mighty 40:30:30 (That’s 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat)
To make this even easier, we recommend using an app like MyFitnessPal to make the breakdowns and monitoring the foods you’re eating even easier. You can download this App for your Smartphone or Tablet quite easily on the respective app store for your device.
So, let’s assume 2000 calories is your goal and you’re sticking to 40:30:30 as above,
This would mean you’re able to eat 800 calories in carbohydrates, 600 calories of protein and 600 calories of fats.
This is what it looks like in grams:
200g Carbs (1g of Carbs = 4 Calories)
150g Protein (1g of Protein = 4 Calories)
66g Fat (1g of Fat = 9 Calories)
Strictly speaking, Flexible dieting doesn’t care where these calories come from and it’s quite popular to see people on flexible dieting regimes gloat about how they’ve been eating pop tarts regularly and some people say the body just processes calories regardless of whether they’re healthy or not but I will say, eating more nutrient dense, whole foods will have a far better net impact on your overall health and well being than eating junk, regardless of whether it fits your macros.
This is why I suggest an 80/20 approach, make 80% of the foods you eat come from natural whole food sources which allows you 20% of the foods that, lets face it, might be more fun to eat.
So, eating something like Chicken, Rice, Broccoli but having Ice Cream as a dessert or having a Slice of pizza for lunch are all okay as long as it fits your macros. Remember though, It’s mega important to track your food intake as accurately as possible for this to work, that’s why using an app is going to really help as will getting a pair of kitchen scales to weigh out your food (Don’t eye ball your food! You’ll be surprised with just how small portion sizes can be when you have to hit macros!
Why Flexible Dieting?
Well, as you’ve seen, it’s pretty flexible and allows you to just enjoy life but for me, it’s an approach that makes sticking to a healthy eating regime a lot easier and more sustainable and manageable for most people. That being said, it does have one major flaw
Why Flexible Dieting sucks?
One of my biggest gripes with flexible dieting, as you’ve already seen above, is people use it as an excuse to eat crap on purpose.. Having a pop tart because you can make up your macros works on paper (And, if you are within your calories, still lose weight) but I am still a massive advocate of eating healthy foods. Furthermore, if someone is lean and looking to get to serious levels of lean (such as someone who is getting ready for a shoot or a competition) then the quality of food matters!
If I have 50g left on my macros for the day, I’d opt for some oatmeal rather than a pop tart but that doesn’t mean that I may have something a bit more naughty once in a while, it wouldn’t become a habit though!
We want to make it even easier for you!
Our ultimate goal is to help you see results! That’s why we’ve put together our Macro book full of meal plans for different macros and calories. If you haven’t already downloaded it, do so by putting your details on the top right of this page or by clicking here. If you’d like to discuss diet more specifically with us, one of our coaches will be more than happy to help. Simply email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be back in touch!