Is Flexible Dieting Good For You?
Flexible dieting has recently been getting more and more popular and gaining momentum as a new way of eating. Time to find out what flexible dieting really is, and is it something you can do?
What is Flexible Dieting?
Flexible Dieting is the counting and tracking of marconutrients to achieve a particular body composition goal. There are three main macros: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate.
Rather than typical calorie counting (e.g. Eating 2500 cals a day) Flexible Dieters track macronutrients (e.g. Eating 150g Protein, 80g Fat, 170g Carbohydrate = 2500 cals) which more effectively influences body composition rather than just losing or gaining weight.
There are three main steps to flexible dieting:
Step 1: Calculating your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) based on your current weight and exercise
Alan Aragon’s TOTAL ENERGY EXPENDITURE EQUATION
Target bodyweight in lbs X (8-11) + Average weekly hours in training = TOTAL CALORIC INTAKE
(8-11) for women or less active - 8 = low intensity training 9= medium intensity training 10= high intensity training
(8-11) for men or more active - 9 = low intensity training 10= medium intensity training 11= high intensity training
Step 2: Calculating your macros in ratios that help you reach your desired goal
Calculate fat goal = bodyweight in lbs X (0.25-0.4) = fat in grams (1g=9kcals)
Fat in grams x 9 = FAT CALORIES
Calculate protein goal = bodyweight in lbs X (0.7-1.0) = protein in grams (1g=4kcals)
Protein in grams x 4 = PROTEIN CALORIES
Subtract fat and protein calories from calorie goal.
All remaining calories can be used for carbohydrates (1g carbs = 4kcals)
Step 3: Tracking your food intake and trying to meet your TDEE and macro limits each day.
Flexible Dieting follows the belief that there are no special foods that will make you lose weight or gain lean muscle. There are no good or bad foods, just macro ratios.
· 30g Protein
· 40g Carbohydrate
· 15g Fat
Brown Rice and Tuna
· 30g Protein
· 40g Carbohydrate
· 15g Fat
Both are the same macros and so both will achieve the same results in your body composition.
When food enters your body it simply breaks down and processes the macronutrients. Your body isn’t saying to itself “Is this Healthy or not?” So to change your body, in theory you can eat whatever you want so long as you hit your macro goals.
With this being said, I would always recommend that 80-85% of your diet should come from nutritious whole foods for all around better health.
Is it effective for weight loss?
The most important tool in weight loss is understanding that a calorie deficit is necessary for losing weight.
Although quality is still important, quantity is the greater determining factor in weight loss or gain. If you’re not in a calorie deficit you can eat all the healthy foods you want but you won't lose the desired weight.
By tracking everything you stop the guess-work and take control over how & when you reach your goals. Tracking, whether it’s your macros or calories, is hands down the most effective way to change your body.
Is it sustainable?
A more flexible approach will lead to less anxiety about how you feel about your body and allow for successful management of your body weight.
By allowing yourself flexibility you can go out with friends and family for meals as long as you keep track of what you’re eating. Because you can eat whatever you want it’s more mentally & emotionally sustainable.
Tools to help
My Food Diary and MyFitnessPal are great apps for tracking macros. Both these apps will help tremendously in keeping on track and analysing foods.
Buying a food scale will ensure you accurately track what you eat. There is a lot of nutritional information available on food packaging, however, having a scale will ensure more accurate measurements of your macros.
To conclude, I feel flexible dieting has completely changed the way I see food and its relationship to weight loss, but the most enjoyable aspect of it all is that by focusing on your macronutrient intake rather than eating certain foods you can still achieve your goals while enjoying life with everyone else.