Flexible dieting or ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM) is often misunderstood by people who see it being referred to on Instagram by lean individuals just throwing back pop tarts and donuts. You cannot eat donuts every day if you want to lose fat. However, flexible dieting will allow you to never cut out donuts, or whatever your favourite foods are, and still get the physique you want.
This article is an overview of how to get started and why it will change your life for the better.
- How you approach flexible dieting is completely dictated by you and your goals – You might be using it to prep for a competition or photo shoot and need your body fat low. Then you will need to be accurate by sticking closely to your macros. However, for the majority of us it is about understanding what our body needs on a day to day basis and loosely following this. You do DO NOT have to count your macros for every meal in order to be a flexible dieter. It is a new approach to a lifestyle change and therefore needs to work for you, so you can be consistent.
- How do I know what my macros are? – There are online calculators and apps that will calculate what protein, carbs and fats you need for your current body composition and the amount of exercise you do. It can often then calculate what your macros should be for weight loss or muscle gain. A word of caution: we are all individual and so macros to lose weight/gain muscle will be unique to you. See my article on a better way to lose fat.
- Start by tracking what you currently eat – There are lots of apps to track your food. My favourite is MyFitnessPal. Loosely track what you eat over a week and compare this to what your calculated macros are. Maybe you need more protein? This could be why you haven’t built the muscle you want. This could also be true of carbs, which are crucial for muscle building. Maybe your fat is too high and so that is why you are not losing weight. Or maybe it is too low and that is why you constantly crave peanut butter!!
- Be consistent, not perfect! – Even if I weighed all my food and tracked every gram perfectly this would STILL NOT BE 100% accurate! Flexible dieting is meant to be mentally freeing, and not another added burden. I personally like to weigh most of my food because this makes me mentally happy. But the more you track the more you can ‘eye ball’ a portion and know what is right for you, and know roughly how many macros you can have per meal for the rest of the day. It is better to be roughly eating what your body needs everyday, then to be worrying that you are eating the exact macros. It is entirely based on what makes you happy and what your goals are.
- Enjoy the foods you love – I don’t believe in good or bad foods. Some have more nutritional value than others, and lower calories. Due to this you probably want to eat more of those food types. However, flexible dieting lets you incorporate the food you love so you never feel deprived. Deprivation will ultimately lead to binges, and some self hate! I can have a meal with friends, a desert, alcohol etc and not feel guilty or impact my physique (in the long term – I may bloat for a day!).
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