Is flexible dieting the answer?
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight or are in the process of doing so now you’ll agree with me when I say..
Weight loss is HARD.
Unless you’re a masochistic son of a b#@ch you probably find dieting tedious and wish there was a better way.
You’ll be pleased to know that it is possible to enjoy dieting.
With the right systems in place, weight loss is much more tolerable.
I should know, I’ve gotten incredibly lean following a flexible dieting approach.
You’re probably wondering…
What is flexible dieting? and is it possible to lose weight eating junk food?
Today, I’m going to answer both of these questions and provide you with a step-by-step guide for losing weight in an enjoyable way.
What is flexible dieting
Flexible dieting, also known as IIFYM, is a system that gives you the freedom to eat what you want.
There is a catch, however…
You still need to stick to pre-determined caloric intake, you can’t just stuff 4000 calories of pizza down your throat and call it ‘flexible dieting’.
Weight loss is an energy balance; it is determined by calories in vs calories out.
The reason flexible dieting works is because it capitalises on the first law of thermodynamics.
If your body requires 2000 calories in order to maintain and you eat 2000 calories worth of fast food every day you won’t gain an ounce of body fat.
This might sound counter-intuitive and against the typical way of thinking.
In the real world, however, things are rarely ever black and white.
Theoretically, you could get fat as hell eating nothing but vegetables and fruit.
There is no way around the energy balance principle, it is very much a numbers game when it comes to weight loss!
What are the benefits
Now that you understand what flexible dieting is, you probably want to know what the benefits are.
Benefit# 1 It requires less discipline than traditional dieting
You may not want to hear this but most diets fail.
This isn’t a line to discourage you but facts are facts.
The thing you need to understand about weight loss is that your success depends on your adherence to the program.
That’s right, who would have thought that a miserable crash diet would only work in the short term? (slight sarcasm intended)
Flexible dieting isn’t perfect (more on that later) but it is still a step in the right direction for most people.
It requires less discipline and willpower than traditional dieting because there aren’t arbitrary restrictions.
This is my main beef with fad diets like keto and paleo.
Benefit# 2 More social freedom
Have you ever been invited to a restaurant by family or friends when dieting?
Good luck trying to eat out following a keto diet!
Flexible dieting is great in situations like this because it gives you unparalleled social freedom.
Whilst losing weight is a great goal, it should never prevent you from experiencing life on your own terms.
Of course, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to eat/drink excessively but having the ability to fit your diet around your life is awesome.
Benefit# 3 It makes dieting enjoyable (and less tedious)
Being able to enjoy the foods you love on a diet is immensely satisfying.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be a tedious, mind numbing game of cat and mouse between your willpower and cravings.Weight loss doesn't have to be a tedious, mind numbing game of cat and mouse between your willpower and cravings. Click To Tweet
The ultimate guide to flexible dieting
IIFYM vs clean eating
Flexible dieting isn’t a ‘diet’ per say, it’s simply a more relaxed approach to nutrition.
The main problem I have with the IIFYM crowd is that they take the idea to the extreme.
Whilst it’s possible to lose weight eating junk food I wouldn’t recommend it.
You still need to consider blood markers, heart health and hormone levels.
On the other hand, you have ‘clean eating’.
It’s often quite rigid and inflexible, it requires you to eat ‘clean’ foods and avoid empty calories in your diet.
Clean eating is obviously preferable for health but it still isn’t sustainable for most people (those who have trouble losing weight).
What clean eaters fail to understand is that the nutrient profile of food has minimal effect on body composition.
Losing body fat is a result of staying in a caloric deficit consistently.
Restricting junk food completely and even eliminating certain food groups (such as carbs) is counter-productive.
I recommend taking a more moderate approach and combining elements of flexible dieting and clean eating.
- Eat 80-90% of your foods from nutritious food sources
- The remaining 10-20% can be filled with foods you like.
Determining calorie intake for weight loss
As I mentioned earlier, weight loss is an energy balance.
It’s all well and good knowing what you should eat, but you also need to be aware of how much you should be eating.
Follow the simple steps below to determine your daily calorie intake for weight loss:
Step 1: Determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure)
The first step is to discover your maintenance calories.
This is the amount of energy your body needs to consume in order to maintain its current weight.
Use this calculator to find your TDEE.
You’ll be prompted to input:
- Your gender
- Your age
- Your weight
- Your height
- Activity levels
It’s important to be as accurate as possible when inputting your activity levels.
If you work a desk job or are sedentary in general then you’ll expend fewer calories than someone who works construction for example.
Once you have calculated your TDEE you should test the number for 2 weeks and see how your body responds.
If you gain weight during the 2 weeks then bump your calories down by 200 per day and test for another week.
Step 2: Subtract 500 from this number
Using the number you got from step 1, subtract 500 calories.
This should be the number of calories needed to lose roughly 1lb per week provided your activity levels stay fairly constant (i.e. don’t change).
Step 3: Calculate your macros
Now that you’ve determined how many calories you need to lose weight it’s time to get your macro ratios.
Use this calculator to determine specific percentages and grams for each macro.
Alternatively, you can just track calories and disregard specific percentages.
This is a more hassle free way of doing things (for busy people).
However, you should still be paying attention to the quality of the foods you eat. (see below section).
So, what is a macro exactly?
Well, macronutrients are essentially the components that make up your diet.
Protein is essentially a large molecule made up of amino acids.
The word originates from the Greek word proteios which means ‘of primary importance’.
I recommend eating 30-35% protein.
Protein is used in the reparation of muscle tissue via protein synthesis.
- Satiation: research has shown that protein is the most filling macronutrient and can prolong hunger pangs.
- Prevents muscle loss: protein is vital for maintaining muscle mass during a fat loss phase.
- Chicken breast
Fat has caught a really bad rep over the past decade.
Contrary to popular belief, eating fat in itself won’t make you physically fat.
Eating too much fat will only cause you to gain weight if you eat more calories than your body burns.
A gram of fat equals 9 calories, which is double that of protein and carbs.
If you’re trying to bulk then eating more fat is a good idea.
However, if weight loss is your priority then you definitely want to limit fat intake.
You should aim to be getting 20-25% of your intake from healthy fats.
Fat regulates hormones such as testosterone.
- Can help to increase testosterone naturally.
- Essential fatty acids that can’t be produced by the body are needed for cell functions.
- Can be Stored as energy (adipose tissue).
- Flax seeds
- Coconut oil
- Peanut butter
Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy for the body.
Don’t buy the low carb hype!
I recommend getting at least 40-45 % of your diet from carbohydrate sources.
Carbohydrates act as fuel for the body.
- Muscle sparring
- Help to replenish glycogen stores when dieting
- Great source of energy for training.
In the average western diet, there is a severe deficiency of micronutrients.
Why should you care?
Well, micronutrients are crucial for maintaining several important functions of the body.
If you want to live a healthy, long and prosperous life then you should probably pay closer attention to your nutrition.
You might be wondering what constitutes as a micronutrient exactly…
Micronutrients are simply another word for ‘vitamins and minerals’.
- Vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K.
And much more..
The human body requires much smaller quantities of these micronutrients in comparison to macronutrients.
The best way to get your required micronutrient intake is to eat plenty of fibrous foods, vegetables, and fruits.
Obviously, this is easier said than done.
I recommend investing in a blender and preparing green smoothies.
You can easily consume your daily intake of micronutrients in just one shake!
- Chop up a mango
- dice a handful of spinach and kale
- Mix them in a bowl
- Add to a blender
- Add approximately 250ml of apple juice
- Blend for 30 seconds
- Voila! (bon appetite)
Tracking caloric intake
The next stage of any flexible dieting plan is to track your calorie intake.
I can already hear the groans and sighs but hear me out..
Counting calories is crucial for losing weight successfully.
If you just ‘wing it’ you’re preparing to fail.
Luckily for you, counting calories is a breeze with the wonders of modern technology.
Unless you’re a caveman (or woman) you likely have a smart phone of some kind.
You can download my fitness pal which takes the majority of the work out of counting calories.
This is a godsend if you are lazy (and suck at maths). Did I mention it’s free!
Along with a method of counting calories, you’ll also need a way to measure portion sizes.
A good old fashioned food scale is perfect for doing this, although the fancy digital ones work best.
Flexible dieting is a revolutionary concept that makes fat loss much more enjoyable.
As long as you get the majority of your calorie intake from nutritious food sources you should be fine.
Remember, micronutrients are also important for optimal health and longevity.
You also need to pay attention to how much you’re eating as well as what you’re eating.
Use the strategies I’ve outlined in this article and you will have great success.
Do you use flexible dieting or clean eating? Let me know what you think in the comments below!