Macronutrients

Flexible Dieting FTW

Let’s cut the nonsense. Most trendy diets are a charade. A façade. They sell you dreamy fantasies of a perfect body while setting you up for an inevitable plunge into disappointment. Sacrificing your favorite foods? Restricting vital food groups? That ain’t it.

But, there’s a better way. A more natural way of eating: Flexible Dieting.

Leave behind those absurdly restrictive diets that only cater to the few while wreaking havoc on the rest. Avoid the fad diets because they don’t work. Throw keto (and the associated regaining of weight after you inevitably fall off it) out the window, unless you actually need it for health reasons. You don’t even need to get on those (probably bad for you in the long term) medications that are all the rage right now (looking at you, Ozempic).

Here’s the cold truth: dramatic restrictions only create massive imbalances in your body and pharmaceuticals often cause more problems than they fix.

Now, I’m not endorsing overindulgence in junk, but I refuse to let you chain yourself to a life of misery and dull meals or a world where you are chained to pharma in order to not be overweight or obese.

Personal excellence means having the ability to make the choices that are best for you which will help you live the best life possible, for yourself and those around you. Flexible dieting allows you to eat more naturally while including the occasional sweets without falling off your diet or ruining your goals.

Ditch the False Prophets of Dieting

A lot of ‘traditional’ diets—if you can even grace them with that title—are spouting more fiction than fact. They’ve got people running scared from entire food groups as if they’re the plague. Most food isn’t out to get you, even if some are.

Take carbohydrates, for example. There’s a lot of people who believe that carbs are the sworn enemy of every living being. Sure, for a tiny fraction of the population with a specific medical condition, carbs are a no-go. But for the rest of us? They’re fuel, plain and simple.

And fats? Some diet plans would have you believe that fats are to be avoided like an expired carton of milk. That’s a one-way ticket to a bad day. Our bodies rely on fats for a whole host of essential functions.

As for the ensemble of weird diets telling you to steer clear of everything but raw broccoli or survive on rays of sunshine alone (Seriously, search ‘breatharians’ if you want a good chuckle.)? Stay away from them.

People have been eating bread and high carb vegetables for thousands of years. Animal fats have always been a staple. Sweets have always been a desire; they just haven’t been as readily available. You do not need to ditch any of them entirely (except maybe seed oils).

Ground Reality: Paving the Path to Wellness

In truth, most of us aren’t thrilled to bid goodbye to entire food groups. It’s not sustainable. People reluctantly endure torturous diets to chase the allure of health, but where does it get them?

With highly restrictive diet, cheat meals posit a menacing threat. Today’s cheat meal can quickly spiral into a full-blown cheat-day, then week, and before you know it, you’re back in the rabbit hole for a whole month. Those old habits, once thought long-gone, resurface with a vengeance, and the weight bounces back harder than before.

Those are things you don’t need to worry about with ‘Flexible Dieting’ or ‘Macro Dieting’. It’s a remarkably practical concept that stands firmly on one principle: adhering to your personal caloric and macronutrient needs.

This diet doesn’t advocate abstinence. Rather it’s all about granting you dietary freedom, while also motivating you not to lose track of the ultimate goal: health. No shunning entire food groups, no unyielding diet plans, you don’t even need to dump all the trash (although it should never be a large part of your diet to begin with).

What are Macronutrients and Why do They Matter?

Macronutrients, or macros for short, are what your body sees when it breaks down food. For example, when you see bread, your body sees carbohydrates; if you eat a piece of chicken, your body sees protein; and if you consume some olive oil with dinner, your body sees it as a fat.

Macronutrients Come in Three Forms:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats

Each macro has it’s own fundamental purpose. Additionally, each contains different variations of micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) within them.

None of them are inherently worse for you than the others. Instead, they work together to balance your system, fulfilling different functions.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the “sugars, starches, and fibers” that your body needs for fuel. They come from things like bread, pasta, and potatoes.

When your body ingests carbohydrates, it breaks them down into glucose, which it then uses to power itself.

Glucose, or blood sugar, is a primary source of energy used by your muscles, nervous system, cells, tissues, and organs. Carbohydrates are hugely important to your body, and any extra glucose derived from carbohydrates is stored for later use.

Proteins

Proteins are long chains of amino acids (the ‘building blocks of life’) that your body uses to build and fuel muscles, strengthen your immune system, help keep your skin youthful. They also do a ton of other really useful things that work to not only help you grow up big and strong, but also protect you from internal and external issues that would otherwise be pretty bad news.

Getting enough protein in your diet is fairly easy in the western world. It is mainly found in animal products like chicken, beef, and eggs, but can also be found in nuts and legumes.

Fats

Fats used to be the most maligned macro out there, with entire diets dedicated to eradicating them from your daily intake. Don’t be fooled, though. This macro isn’t quite the villain it has been portrayed as.

Your body uses fats for tons of positive things. They supply the body with nutrients that it cannot make on it’s own, assist with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and minerals, and serves as an energy reserve in times when food is less available among other critical functions.

Additionally, and unrelated to actual diet, fats add flavor to your food. Without fats, food is bland and boring. That obviously doesn’t work out well for people who like to taste their foods.

I guess they are important, huh?

Yes! Each macronutrient plays a tremendous role in the overall balance of your system. Cutting an entire macro out of your diet might be sustainable in the short term, but we don’t really know long term impacts. Plus, most people who cut out carbs gain weight back really quickly afterwards, people who cut out fats tend to develop health issues, and low protein diets come with their own side effects. That is allure of the flexible dieting lifestyle. You can have your cake and eat it, too!

Flexible Dieting: A Sustainable Solution for Health and Wellness

Is flexible dieting sustainable? Absolutely! The beauty of this approach lies in its extensive potential for long-term success. After all, the most common downfall with extreme diets is the unbearable yearning for the foods you’ve cut out and the overwhelming FOMO syndrome—Fear of Missing Out.

By design, flexible dieting takes a different route. Why entirely abolish your craved foods when you can simply incorporate them sparingly into your diet? The charm of this approach is it prevents the damaging sense of deprivation that often sabotages people’s resolve.

Plus, flexible dieting ensures you receive all the essential nutrients your body needs—no compromise on your well-being. It’s not just about mere survival; it’s about empowering your body to thrive.

The sustainable nature of flexible dieting makes it a great approach for anyone looking to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

I can eat junk food?? On a diet?

Respecting Dietary Freedom: Striking the Right Balance

Indeed, flexible dieting grants you liberty, but remember, indulgence should come with responsibility. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should. You can incorporate your favorite foods into your diet but that doesn’t translate into an open invitation for reckless consumption. Can you squeeze a cheeseburger or slices of pizza into your daily diet? Technically, yes. But the key question is whether such choices genuinely contribute towards your fitness goals. Occasionally they are fine, that is the whole point. Regularly consuming them is where issues come into play.

Avoiding ‘problem foods’ outright isn’t the solution; it’s more about making mindful decisions when indulgence comes calling. For instance, an apple and a serving of pretzels might offer similar calorie and macro values. Yet, the apple triumphs by providing essential vitamins and minerals that pretzels lack. Not to mention, the apple is vastly more satisfying from a hunger standpoint and can keep hunger at bay slightly longer.

When implementing the macro-counting aspect of flexible dieting, it’s essential to consider the calorie and nutrient density of your chosen foods. It’s not merely about calories, you want to pack in as many nutrients as possible per calorie consumed.

The Mechanics of Flexible Dieting: How does it really work?

The journey of flexible dieting may present itself as a puzzle at the beginning: How much should you eat total, and how should the macros be allocated? Crack these numbers, and the rest is as smooth as cruising on the highway.

At its core, flexible dieting necessitates an understanding of your caloric needs and how to distribute these calories amongst your macronutrients—proteins, carbs, and fats. Once you get a handle on these metrics, adhering to this diet becomes incredibly intuitive and straightforward.

First step: Find Daily Calorie Needs

Like most diets, the first thing you need to do if you are serious about your goals is determine your BMR/TDEE. This will give you an idea of how much you should eat a day.

Knowing your total calorie consumption for the day lays the groundwork for pretty much any diet. In fact, it is good for everyone to know their own personal daily needs. Lots of people undereat and don’t even known it, leading to as many problems as those who overeat.

Second Step: Figure out your Macros

Once you know your daily caloric requirement, you need to figure out what ratio of macros works best for you to reach your goals. No tool or measurement, other than time and attempts, will give you the same answer. It is an individual thing.

A good ratio to start at might be:

  • 40% Carbs
  • 35% Protein
  • 25% Fats

This is a generally accepted starting spot, and there are tons of online forums to help you adjust as needed if you aren’t seeing the results you want. Try it out for a month and half or so. If it isn’t working, adjust.

Step Three: Plot of how much of each macro to consume

Now, let’s dive into the next step: determining the daily consumption of each macronutrient (in grams) based on your overall caloric goal. Here’s a fundamental breakdown of the calorie content per gram of each macro to help you on your journey:

  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

With these numbers in mind, follow this straightforward formula:

Total Calories * Percentage per macro / calories per gram = Total Grams per macro

Alternatively, you don’t have to crunch the numbers manually. Several tools are available to aid you in deriving the correct macro ratios, considering factors like activity levels and specific goals. These tools ensure your needs are tailored to your unique circumstances. Some recommendations include:

Last Step: Fit it All Together

Once you have it all figured out, the hardest part is done. Macros don’t change dramatically over night. They can, and generally do, stay the same for a few weeks or months before you need to adjust them. By that time you will be rolling along on the diet, easily eyeballing foods and knowing what fits where. You will probably have a good schedule going by the time you need to adjust, and even then, they are usually minor adjustments.

Fit what you eat into those numbers, balancing a bit of each macro every time you eat. Keep things balanced and the diet is a breeze.

Example Macro Requirements

Let’s look at a scenario to see how it all fits together. Make up someone in your head. Let’s name them ‘Bob,’ or something. Pretend they are a 26-year-old male, 5′ 8″, and roughly 185lbs. They lead a fairly light, but not sedentary, lifestyle. He wants to stay the same weight but change his body composition from something that mostly jiggles to something a bit healthier.

Let’s get ‘Bob’ on a good flexible dieting schedule.

First thing he needs to do? Calculate his BMR/TDEE. These two metrics measure how many calories he expends just existing (BMR) and how many calories he expends throughout the day when exercise/activity is taken into consideration (TDEE).

After calculating his TDEE, let’s say he discovers his daily caloric need is roughly: 2400 cals / day

That helps quite a lot, actually. Based on the information he entered, this is his ‘maintenance level’ for caloric intake. It’s how much he needs to eat each day to stay at roughly the same weight.

Overall daily needs are where most people stop worrying about what to eat. As long as they stay at or under their requirements, they are good. But this isn’t a normal calorie counting diet after all.

Bob’s next step is to determine how much of each macro to eat a day.

After a bit of research, he decided to try these macros:

  • 40% Carbs
  • 35% Proteins
  • 25% Fats

This would make his individualized diet:

  • Carbohydrates: 240g (960 Calories)
  • Protein: 210g (840 Calories)
  • Fats: 67g (600 Calories)

After a bit of meal planning, he will be rolling on his way towards hitting those macros each day.

Make It Easy on Yourself

The hardest part of this diet is initially figuring out what your calorie needs and individual macro requirements are. After that, the lfiestyle change is fairly simple.

To make figuring that part out easier on yourself, you could download something like the 1stPhorm App or MyFitnessPal. Enter some information and it will calculate all of these things for you.

What a wonderful world we live in, eh? You don’t even need to do the math by hand. It is, however, useful to know how to do it by hand so you can understand the science behind it and why it works.

When you first start off, track the calories and macros for each item you have been eating regularly until now over the span of the first week or two. After you track them for a bit, look them over. You might be surprised at how much (or how little) you actually eat. You might even be more surprised at how heavy your diet relies on one macro over the rest. Flexible dieting can help fix that and get you balanced.

Does Flexible Dieting Truly Deliver? Let’s Delve Into the Facts

Wondering if flexible dieting is just hype or holds substance? Allow me to share some compelling evidence.

When I embarked on my flexible dieting journey, my body fat percentage plummeted by 11% in just three months. Moreover, the strategic distribution of macros led me to lose 17 lbs, with virtually all of my lean mass intact. Impressive, right?

However, don’t take my word for it alone. Taking someone on the internets word without researching yourself is why we are where we are as a society, after all. Even academia validates its efficacy. Mark Haub, a professor from Kansas State University, embarked on a 2.5-month flexible dieting expedition. Despite having a substantial amount of junk in his diet, he lost 27 pounds and experienced marked improvements in his blood cholesterol levels.

Countless such success stories underline the effectiveness of flexible dieting. The principle holds—you just need to grasp the art of balance.

While these findings are impressive, obviously results vary for everyone depending on factors such as body composition, lifestyle, and genetics.

It sounds too good. What are the drawbacks?

Flexible dieting, with its inherent adaptability, should ostensibly have few downsides, right? As ideal as an entirely foolproof plan sounds, a few challenges crop up in the flexible dieting landscape.

Time Investment

The major hurdle with flexible dieting is that it demands a considerable time commitment, especially in the initial phases. Orchestrating meals, snacks, and beverages for several days requires planning and getting attuned to comprehending what does and doesn’t work.

Apps like the 1st Phorm App offer a resolution to this challenge. Not only do they assist in macro tracking, but they also help optimize your diet plan efficiently, significantly cutting down on planning time. By liberating you from extensive meal planning, they allow you to devote more time to activities you genuinely enjoy, indirectly fostering motivation.

Moreover, they often boast a comprehensive database of foods, conveniently addressing the next potential drawback in flexible dieting.

Navigating the Restaurant Landscape

Not all restaurants share the same philosophy when it comes to providing nutritional information. While some establishments might disclose an exhaustive breakdown of calories and macros for each item, many do not. This ambiguity poses a unique challenge for those new to flexible dieting.

Without accurate nutrition details, diners risk miscalculating the impact of their meal choices on their ‘diet budget.’ Browsing the restaurant brand’s website for nutritional documentation can help alleviate some uncertainty, but this information isn’t always readily available.

Estimating nutritional content is not only a guessing game but also almost always results in discrepancies. While individuals with a longer history of tracking calories and macros may have better intuition, their estimates might still deviate from the actual values.

Willpower

Lastly, but crucially, willpower is key to the effective implementation of flexible dieting. Sure, there’s the freedom to eat what you fancy, but the essential point is that it must “FIT” within your daily macro and caloric allotment. If an item doesn’t, your resolve to say ‘no’ is tested.

Having a small indulgence might satiate your sweet tooth for some. However, for others, it could potentially trigger overeating. This test of willpower extends beyond flexible dieting—it’s a hurdle faced in virtually any diet regimen, emphasizing the importance of discipline.

Macronutrient Quality Matters

Remember, all food sources are not equal in flexible dieting. A home-cooked meal with steak, potato, and a side of veggies could be significantly lower in total calories than a single commercial fast food meal. The same principle applies to macros. If your carbs come predominantly from sugar cookies, you’re likely not going to progress much. Balance is key—while including treats is okay, they shouldn’t constitute your primary calorie intake.

Overall, flexible dieting emerges as a sensible approach for most people—it works. If it aligns with your preferences and lifestyle, integrate it into your overall fitness program. Complemented by proper hydration, exercise, and possibly paired with an intermittent fasting routine, you can supercharge your results.

Let Us Help You Out

I want to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans I offer to my clients and see if you could benefit from working with me. If you have questions, you can always contact me through the Contact Us page

Personal trainers, like myself, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

If you choose to join one of my programs I’ll get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals. I also do advisory services that guide you along and answer questions you have if you don’t want a fully customized service.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with me to find out what, if any, membership is right for you.

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