I used to think dieting had to be boring, suffering, plain, and just plain terrible. In fact, I spent most of 2009 dieting “old school” and knew there was a better way! After many internet rabbit holes I stumbled upon Layne Norton, Alan Aragon, and flexible dieting.
Just imagine a nutritional concept (not a “diet”), that allows you to control your calories in a precise way so you lose weight (or gain if you want), but gives you the freedom to choose the foods you want to eat…
Flexbile dieting (“Counting Macros”) saved me from the old way of things. I opened the door to freedom, helped me get past my binge eating disorder, and has completely changed the way I think about food.
What We Know
- Calorie Balance 50%
- Macronutrient Ratio 30%
- Timing + Composition + Supplements 20%
Dieting Success: The 80%
You get calories from the three macronutrients: protein (4 calories/gram), carbs (4 calories/gram) and fats (9 calories/gram). Consuming these macronutrients in the correct amounts and ratios will account for 80% of your dieting success. Flexible dieting capitalizes on this fact and allows you to eat whatever foods you like as long as you hit your daily allotment.
Why Flexible Dieting?
1. Restraint is not the problem
Almost everyone has attempted to lose weight by cutting something out. Whether you cut out carbs, fats, or entire food groups (grains), you probably weren’t successful. Don’t worry, you weren’t alone. Diet rigidity is coorelated with less weight lost (and kept off), more focus on food, more common overeating, higher levels of anxiety and depress, more frequent and severe binge eating, and poorer body image. Flexible dieting allows you to have the foods you want in a controlled way so you can start to get past these problems of diet rigidity.
2. Freedom and objectivity.
I always had trouble adhering to the classic advice, “Eat well for 90% of the time and eat what you want the other 10%”.
That’s so subjective to me!
What is “well”?
Is it a list of “healthy” foods that I’m bound to go off of anyway?
Or just what I think is best? Paleo maybe?
Neither of those will work for me because I need rules that I can actually follow. With flexible dieting we say that you eat whatever you want as long as you hit your numbers.
What is 90%?
Does that mean I get 10% “bad” food each day? Or one meal out of 10? Or be good all week then go crazy on the weekend?
That might work well for some people, but I just couldn’t do that.
Flexible dieting removes the stigma of “good food” vs “bad food”.
Flexible Dieting Solution:
Be 100%. You always hit your macronutrient and fiber numbers. If you want a bowl of cereal, have it. But be prepared to be hungry all day because cereal is not filling.
3. Teaches you how to eat
Diets tell you what to do.
Some people just don’t have the time to sit down and plan their next meal out. Diets offer convenience. They limit choice, and thereby time. That’s ok! We have diet solutions at the gym. Just ask. But if you’re looking to really learn how to eat, macro counting is the way to go!
Flexible dieting allows you to see and weigh the pros and cons of eating any particular food and let’s you make that decision based on how you are feeling.
Cereal is not off-limits. It’s perfectly acceptable via FD. But you must know that you will be extra hungry later in the day.
Now you have to make the decision of whether you really want that cereal or not. That’s an adult-ish decision that only you can make.
What’s the Problem With Counting Macros?
1. It’s not a diet.
If you need a bunch of rules, a definitive list of acceptable and unacceptable foods, and someone to tell you when and how much to eat, you need a diet, not flexible dieting.
2. It takes time and practice.
Balancing your daily macros takes practice! You need to be committed to the trial and error that will ensue. But practice does indeed make perfect. And will open pay off in the long term.
3. It doesn’t directly address food quality.
You could technically eat poptarts and protein powder and hit your macros each day. One way we address food quality is by adding a fourth daily requirement: fiber. This limits the amount of processed foods you can eat as those tend to be low in fiber. You’ll quickly find out that you become more full with wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables, so you’ll be more likely to WANT to eat them! It’s an amazing thing to see!
Who Should Try Flexible Dieting?
Anyone who crashes off traditional diets.
There are some people who can eat things off their diet then hop back on. If you’re anything like me and after having one off-diet thing, you go on an all-out binge, flexible dieting could be the long-term solution you’ve been looking for.
Anyone who is eating for athletic performance.
The active you are, the more calories you’ll need. It becomes increasingly difficult to get enough calories through traditional “diet foods”. Flexible dieting will allow you to get the fuel you need without constantly feeling full and bloated.
Anyone who is constantly craving what they can’t have.
Flexible dieting helps you establish a healthy relationship with food.
Anyone with a goal deadline.
Any weighing and measuring system provides the objectivity needed to maintain constant, regular improvements. If you ate 2000 calories every day this week, but didn’t lose weight, you need to reduce your calories each day. But you need to know you ate 2000 calories to make these adjustments.
Who Shouldn’t Use Flexible Dieting?
Anyone unwilling to put effort in to learning a new system.
It seems complicated and intimidating, but once you learn it, it becomes second nature. But that’s the kicker, it takes learning.
Anyone just looking to eat well.
If you don’t have to weigh and measure, don’t! No need to be unnecessarily difficult. If you don’t have specific goals to hit, counting your macros might not be the best option.
Need some help?
Flexible dieting will take a bit of upfront learning. You can find all the information you need throughout our blog and the internet. Use my article “Macros for Weight Loss” to help you determine your numbers. If you’re looking for a coach, let me know! I’d really love to help!
If you identified with those who probably shouldn’t try the Flexible dieting, stay tuned. Like our Facebook page because you won’t want to miss the next articles!