Flexible Dieting, If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) or even Eat What You Want, are terms thrown around the fitness industry, but what actually do they mean? How can you eat that chocolate bar and still lose body fat? It seems like a miracle, but hopefully when you get to the end of the article you should have a better idea of how this works, and why these diets are gaining popularity.
WHAT IS FLEXIBLE DIETING?
Stripping things back to basics, when dieting for fat loss or even eating for muscle growth, the most important factor is calories in vs. calories out. Without this being aligned with your goal you simply will not reach your goals. For the purpose of this article we’ll look at Flexible Dieting in the context of weight loss.
Typically when dieting you will allocate a number of calories needed to stimulate fat loss, normally 200-300 Kcal below your maintenance level. Within that calorific value, you then look at the macronutrient breakdown (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat) which will help you to achieve those goals whilst maintaining muscle mass.
Flexible Dieting allows you to eat what you want as long as it fits in with your daily calorific intake and your macronutrient breakdown. For example you could eat a chocolate bar, as long as it remains within your carbohydrate and also within your overall calorific intake for the day.
This method of dieting gives you the freedom to select foods to help make the diet feel easier. When you’re struggling with the cravings and all you want is a chocolate bar or a burger, you can eat it without feeling guilty and still move towards your goal.
THE BENEFITS OF FLEXIBLE DIETING
Flexible Dieting is great for realising what nutrition certain foods provide you with in the context of your diet. With Flexible Dieting you need to rely on tracking your calories and macronutrients (My Fitness Pal will become your best friend!) in order to achieve your goals successfully. Whilst Flexible Dieting gives you the freedom to eat what you want, it makes you realise how calorie dense certain “junk” foods are.
After a short time of tracking your food, it may help you to move food choices towards more healthful and high volume foods, or foods that will give you “more bang for your buck”. It is frequently noted that followers of Flexible Dieting shift towards foods that allow you to eat more without overconsuming calories, or foods that provide you with a breakdown of macronutrients which support your goal (which are typically foods deemed as “clean” or “healthy”).
The mental side of Flexible Dieting is also a benefit. For most, going on a diet is a lifestyle change and it may take months for you to reach your goal. As such, you want to choose a diet which is sustainable and effective for a long period of time. Having the flexibility to eat foods you like or want to eat (instead of abstaining with traditional diets) means that you can mentally enjoy the food you like, whilst still moving towards you goal and remaining in a calorie deficit.
In addition, with the ability to eat what you want, you are more likely to stick to the diet over a prolonged period of time, without “blowing out” or having a massive cheat on the diet which may set you back days/weeks.
WHO IS FLEXIBLE DIETING SUITABLE FOR?
Flexible Dieting is most popularly used by those who are looking to lose body fat. The freedom to eat what you want is typically appealing to those who struggle to abstain from food or for those who enjoy eating certain types of food, and allows them to stick to a diet for a prolonged period of time.
However Flexible Dieting is not exclusive to weight loss… Flexible Dieting can be effectively used for almost all goals, maintaining weight, gaining weight and fat loss.
You may have heard of the older generation talking about moderation… anything in moderation is alright. Now whilst this holds true for the most part – a lot of people fall short on their goals for not realising what moderation is, and how foods fit into the context of their diet. Flexible Dieting allows you to eat foods in moderation, and the tracking element of the diet allows you to realise what is an acceptable amount to fit in with your goals.
It also prevents you from falling off your diet or overeating on junk food. The overeating is what typically leads people to gain weight, not the foods themselves. As such, Flexible Dieting may offer a sustainable and effective way for you to stick to your goals.