Flexible dieting or IIFYM (if it fits your macros) is a growing trend in the fitness industry.
It goes against what we have thought collectively as an industry for years.
Yes you can have that donut and lose weight.
Yes you can get your calories from a variety of sources each day.
And no you don’t need to eat tilapia and asparagus 5x a day to lose weight.
The concept of flexible dieting is simple. It works from the top down. Let me explain...
You set a caloric goal each day to either lose or gain weight, let’s use the example of losing weight here.
Your maintenance calories is 3000 calories and you want to lose roughly 1 pound of weight a week.
This means you need to be eating 2500 calories a day (500 deficit per day = 3500 calories in a week. A pound of fat consists of 3500 calories).
Traditionally you would have been told to eat “clean” and eat chicken/fish/beef with veg 6x a day and a protein shake after training. This clearly isn’t sustainable. Just have a think about how many people you know who have had massive rebounds from diets like this.
Flexible dieting uses science. If your caloric intake is lower than 3000 per day you WILL lose weight regardless of what you eat. This isn’t advocated though (and many in the industry take it to the extreme with flexible dieting. Poptarts 6x a day anyone?)
The second most important factor is macronutrient intake. You can of course consume 2500 calories from carbs if you want but will that likely lead to muscle repair, feeling good, consistent energy levels etc? Doubtful.
You need to work out the best ratio for you but be flexible with it. Use minimums to allow for daily adjustments.
For example set a fat and protein minimum per day and eat the rest from carbs.
150g of protein per day minimum = 600 calories
90g fat per day minimum = 810
Total calories from minimums = 1410
This leaves you with 1090 calories left to get from carbs at a maximum per day. This will be lower if your fats or protein is higher (and that’s fine, simply adjust.)
This means 270g of carbs a day is your maximum if you hit your minimums and this is a perfectly reasonable amount of carbs to eat per day. Your sources are totally up to you.
With that little introduction out of the way let’s get into the 6 reasons you should try flexible dieting.
- You can have a life
This is the biggest benefit. You have a rough template for the day but if you end up going for an ice cream with your friends or partner that doesn’t mean your diet is over for the day (most traditional dieters would see that as a failure). You can simply adjust your macros and still hit your goals. It gives you freedom and lowers your stress while dieting. Want that snickers? Fine. Just understand that small bar is dense in calories and means less food for you later on in the day.
- It’s sustainable
It’s sustainable. It’s long term. It’s not a “diet” it’s a lifestyle. You can easily keep this up if you spend that extra 10-15 minutes each day calculating your macros using apps like MyFitnessPal. Recent studies show the more you diet the more weight you gain long term. This is due to the constant strict diet followed by a rebound.
- Welcome variety back into your life
No more plain “clean” foods 6x a day. You can have a lot more variety in your diet now. This helps a load with your mood and can give you a sense of control back in your life. You’re no longer a slave to the tilapia diet.
- No more special diet plans to follow
This is great. No more “bro” contest prep gurus taking your money for their “magic plan”. Once you understand flexible dieting you control your diet. You know what’s best for you. No more hunting for that short cut or special diet, it’s a great feeling.
- Plenty of fitness personalities follow it, it works.
You shouldn’t try something just because a fitness celebrity does but the most knowledgeable in the game follow this approach. This means free video and written content on the topic. Follow Matt Ogus, Layne Norton, Christian Guzman, Steve Cook, Eric Helmes and more to see how they structure their lives and live it to the fullest with the flexible dieting way.
- Shock your work colleagues and friends
This is just a fun positive from it. When dieting people expect the tupperware, fish and veg. When they see you pull out a chocolate bar for some pre-workout carbs they lose their minds. People cannot comprehend the principles. It’s fun to watch but can get frustrating when the average Joe is so stuck in the old media ways of thinking only a certain diet will get you lean.
Do what works for you but remember the basics first. So many people jump straight into things like hormone optimisation, salt intake, meal timing and more. They often neglect what gives them the majority of their results.
Tweaking your diet to look your best is fine, but those small tweaks have very little impact on the overall picture.
Focus on what brings the majority of the results and that’s total calories consumed and macronutrient intake.
If you want to learn more check out our Flexible Dieting Guide + Expert Roundup. We go over everything from the structure, mindset, goal setting, apps and website and so much more.
Leave a comment below if you’ve tried flexible dieting and what you think of it.