What if I told you that you can eat anything you want and still lose weight? Would you believe me? Or would you think that there’s some kind of catch?
If you think there’s a catch, then you’re right. While it’s true you can eat anything you want and still lose weight, you can’t eat everything you want.
I’m talking about flexible dieting. This is a weight loss strategy that has been around for decades. It’s gone by many names over the years. Most recently, it’s been repackaged and called IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). But, it’s all the same thing. I like the term “flexible dieting.” That’s what we’ll call it for the rest of this article.
What is flexible dieting?
Well, for starters, it’s not a diet per se. It’s more of a nutritional plan. Diets usually dictate what you can and can’t eat, how much you can eat, and even when you can eat. Flexible dieting is different.
In spite of what weight loss ads and supplement companies tell you, the principles of weight loss and weight gain are very well understood and they have been for decades. The supplement industry wants you to think it’s a big mystery so you’ll skip trying to figure it out and just buy their products.
Every day, you burn a certain amount of calories. If you eat more than your body uses, you gain weight. If you burn less, you lose weight. It’s that simple. Seriously.
Eating a little bit less than your body uses every day over time will result in weight loss. The results aren’t noticeable overnight but they will come. This is the core of flexible dieting.
You can eat whatever you want as long as it fits into your macronutrient requirements.
Macronutrients are protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Each of these do different things in the body and you need different amounts of each every day.
Protein is necessary to build and maintain muscle. When you are dieting, you need to make sure you are getting enough protein to maintain your muscle mass. That way, the weight you lose will be mostly fat. 1 gram of protein has 4 calories.
For a long time, people thought that eating fat makes you fat. We now know better. This was thought because fat has 9 calories per gram. Fats play an important role in hormone production and many other important biological functions.
Lastly, is carbohydrates. Carbs have come under fire in recent years for causing people to get fat. Again, we know better. Carbohydrates are the body’s go-to energy source. 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.
How can I start using flexible dieting?
The first thing you need to do is figure out how many calories you burn every day. This is called your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). I recommend using this TDEE calculator. Just put in some basic info (age, weight, gender, etc.) and it will do the rest.
Now that you know how many calories you use every day, you know that you have to eat less than that every day to lose weight. I suggest eating about 200-300 calories less than your TDEE every day. So, if your TDEE is 2200 calories, then I would suggest eating between 1900 and 2000 calories a day. Do this, and you’ll lose weight.
But you don’t want to lose weight. You want to lose fat. So now you need to figure out how much protein, fat, and carbs you need every day. You can use the same IIFYM calculator that you used to calculate your TDEE. Again, just follow the instructions and put in all of your information. It will tell you how much of these macronutrients you need every day.
And now you have all the information you need. You know how many calories you burn every day, how many calories you have to eat every day to lose weight and how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates you need to lose fat and not muscle.
So now that you have all your numbers, what comes next?
Implementing flexible dieting
Now comes the fun part. Time to eat!
Throughout the day, you need to track everything you eat. Calories, fat, carbs, and protein. You need to pick foods that fit into your macronutrient requirements.
This may sound like a huge pain and, in the past, it has been. But not with today’s technology. There’s a great app that I highly recommend, called MyFitnessPal. This app makes flexible dieting super easy.
MyFitnessPal tracks everything you eat for you. It tracks your calories, macronutrients, and even micronutrients (vitamins, minerals). Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it. It’s really fast and easy to use.
So, you can eat any kinds of foods that you want. You just need to make sure you hit your macronutrient requirements (or close to them. It doesn’t have to be perfect). And, most importantly, make sure you do not exceed your total daily calories.
Sample day of flexible dieting
I love flexible dieting. I use it myself whenever I am trying to lose a little fat. After packing on a few pounds of fat every winter, I usually diet for a few months in the spring so I look good in the summer. Here’s an actual (and typical) day of flexible dieting:
Total calories needed: 2037
Fats needed: 72g
Carbohydrates needed: 167g
Protein needed: 180g
2 Chobani Simply 100 Blueberry Greek Yogurts
4 Egg Whites
8 oz Chicken Breast
1 cup Broccoli
2 oz Pretzels
8 oz Sirloin Steak
1 cup Cauliflower
½ cup Mashed Potato
½ cup Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked Ice Cream
2 oz Pringles
There are a couple things you may have noticed. First, is that most of my diet is pretty healthy. Healthy food generally has fewer calories than unhealthy food. By eating healthy throughout the day, I’m able to eat more and stay full.
You may have also noticed that I had a little pig-out session at the end of the day with some chips and ice cream. After a long, hard day I like to watch a little TV and munch out – just a little bit.
Lastly, I didn’t eat exactly my macronutrient requirements. I ate a little bit more protein and carbs, and a little less fat. The two most important numbers are protein and total calories. As long as I get more protein than my requirement and less total calories, I’m happy. I guess that’s why they call it flexible dieting.
And there you have flexible dieting in a nutshell. It’s not like your typical restrictive diet. You can eat whatever you want, as long as it fits into your macronutrient and caloric requirements. And I can tell you with 100% certainty that it works. I use it myself.
If you’re ready get serious about losing fat by with flexible dieting, I recommend you check out these 5 Tools That Will Help You Burn Fat. You already know about one of them: MyFitnessPal. Check out the others to help maximize your chances of success.