“Be stubborn with your goals but flexible in your methods to achieve them.”
What if I said you could eat pizza, cake, and cookies and still get lean? You probably wouldn’t believe me, right? Our perceptions of a fat loss diet are so skewed by all the information publicized and popularized in the media touting the idea that you have to eat 100% “clean” foods to be healthy and lose weight. This is simply not true. The fact that 2/3 of Americans are obese with dietary options being farmed, manufactured, purchased, and consumed at an all time high shows that our mindset towards dieting and eating in general is flawed.
In fact, eating 100% clean can be counteractively stressful on your body because at some point in time, you are going to really want that cookie or candy bar and you are going to feel guilty if you do end up eating it.
These feelings of guilt or failure when eating certain types of foods deemed “bad” can completely derail a person’s entire diet that doesn’t understand how the calories fit into their intake and expenditure equation to produce fat loss. People who feel this sense of wrong-doing when enjoying food that they are told is “bad” for them can resort to binging on foods as a result of feeling restricted with an all-or-nothing mindset, leading to more fat gain and feelings of regret and the idea that they need to get back on a restrictive “clean” diet again to counteract the “damage.” Even if you have never binged on foods or participated in yo-yo dieting… weight loss can be a daunting venture for anyone feeling like they have to be super restrictive in the world today of fast food and convenience. It’s impossible to eat only “clean” foods for every meal the rest of our lives.
Flexible dieting removes feelings of guilt surrounding eating by allowing us to still enjoy foods that may not be considered by the media as “healthy” while still achieving our weight loss goals. It can be called the food lover’s diet and it is known to take stress and/or obsession out of the dieting process.
Macronutrients consist of protein (4g/kcal), carbohydrates (4g/kcal), and fats (9g/kcal) and they all perform different functions physiologically in your body – that’s why we don’t necessarily take calories into consideration when flexible dieting; Instead, we manipulate the amount of macronutrients consumed in alignment with a healthy expenditure for ideal body re-composition, dependent on the client’s goals. All foods contain macronutrients so you are eating macros everyday regardless of if you are taking them into consideration in your diet or not. You might as well be eating the right macronutrient ratios for your body composition goals. This mindset on macros vs. calories also eliminates the feelings associated with restricting foods completely and keeps “dieting” simple.
Typically, people lack protein in their diets. This can occur because many people aren’t aware of how much protein is necessary for them to work towards their goals. By eating a set ratio of macronutrients for your body throughout the day (*macro targets should be set by a knowledgeable nutrition coach helping you towards your goals – many online calculators can be extremely inaccurate at taking many dynamic lifestyle effects into consideration) you will know you are losing fat while minimizing the amount of lean mass lost in the process within your caloric intake targets.
By manipulating the amount of macronutrients you consume over time, you can do things like increase your metabolism, lose fat, and gain muscle for a complete body re-composition no matter where you are starting. With that said, your body also needs fats and carbohydrates to function optimally along with a set protein intake! I often see people struggling to eat an absurd amount of one macronutrient and none of another one! That is not advised and can lead to some serious repercussions down the road. All macronutrients are not created equal, but each one is an essential part of a healthy, functioning human body.
I hope it’s clear at this point that you could lose weight by eating Twinkies all day as long as you only ate so many as to come in at a caloric deficit. Losing weight is the easy part. Losing fat while maintaining lean mass is achieved through optimal macro ratios which can be eaten using a flexible approach. Flexible dieting allows us to eat any and all foods, as long as you are hitting your macro targets to reap the full benefits of what your food can do for you in the form of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. You could gain weight from eating oatmeal and broccoli all day just as you can gain weight from eating cookies and drinking soda all day. Once you get used to the process of tracking macros you are going to realize what foods are more macro friendly and help you hit your targets where you will be able to fit in whatever you want by budgeting for it accordingly.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Start tracking today – tracking apps are SO user friendly. It takes 2 seconds to plug in a food item. I use My Fitness Pal app. It lets you plug in your goals and scan barcodes for food information. Be forewarned that not everything already plugged into MFP is accurate. Please check anything that is not prepackaged with a barcode on calorieking.com.
2. Get used to reading food labels (serving size). Learn to measure or weigh all your food. I think weighing food is actually easier! Over time you will be able to eat more intuitively with macros but at the beginning of this process it really helps to be able to actually see what a real serving size is of many of the foods you enjoy on a regular basis.
3. Stay consistent. Change doesn’t happen overnight. See your body like a science experiment. You can’t change the controlled variables and know what caused the result to guide adjustments in the future. I will make adjustments to your macronutrients based on progress towards your goals after seeing results from following the plan.
Remember that weight loss is actually the easy part. The hard part is optimizing fat loss while preserving hard-earned muscle. That’s where flexible dieting comes into play to help you achieve that sustainable fitness lifestyle and improve your body composition while being allowed to eat out, have a cookie, and relax!