What is Flexible Dieting?
I gave a brief description of flexible dieting in the previous blog, but most of you are probably still wondering a little more about what it is. Flexible dieting is having an allotted amount of fats, carbohydrates, and protein and tracking them daily in ways to achieve your individual goals.
Fat - 9kcal per gram
Carbohydrates - 4kcal per gram
Protein - 4kcal per gram
Example - 70g fat/300g carb/130g protein = 2350kcal
The first 1-2 weeks of doing this are going to be the hardest because you're just simply not used to remembering to track everything you put in your mouth. That's why at first, it's smart to plan ahead for staple meals that you know you're going to eat, then leave room for other snacks you might have/crave throughout the day.
The reason I mentioned in the first blog that I didn't like the term "IIFYM" is because it gives this idea that it's okay to eat whatever you want i.e. donuts and candy all day with some protein shakes to fit your macros. This is definitely NOT the way to approach flexible dieting. I don't know about you, but I don't feel the best after I eat those things which causes my training sessions suffer. Things like donuts, treats, pastries, etc. are okay in moderation, but for how calorically dense and not very filling they are, it's not smart to "waste" macros on them on a consistent basis.
The photo above is the nutrition facts for a grande java chip frappuccino from Starbucks. One reason I'm using this is a visual is because of the rave that happened recently over the sugar in the Unicorn frappuccino. I hate to break it to you -- all of the frappuccinos at Starbucks have that much sugar if not more than what's in the Unicorn one. The other reason I'm using this as a visual is because the macronutrients in this drink are 18g fat/72g carbs/6g protein/460kcals. That is a LOT of calories for little to no nutrients whatsoever.
For a very similar macronutrient profile except with more protein, you could have a burrito bowl at Chipotle with steak, white rice, black beans, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, lettuce, and cheese. The total macros for that would be 19.5f/71c/40p/650kcals.
Micronutrient Differences (%DV)
10% Vitamin A --> 60% Vitamin A
0% Vitamin C --> 89% Vitamin C
15% Calcium --> 30% Calcium
20% Iron --> 37% Iron
66g sugar --> 5g sugar
2g fiber --> 12g fiber
Now ask yourself, which one would be more hunger satisfying and keep you full longer? The gut reaction answer - no pun intended - should be the burrito bowl. Don't get me wrong, if you've been craving a frappuccino for a few days and you don't care if you'll be hungrier the rest of the day for sacrificing that macro-bomb of a drink, by all means go get that drink and enjoy it. That's why flexible dieting is cool because you can have things like that in moderation.. but micronutrients are very important too. ;-)
What is the best app to track macros with? Personally, I like to use MyFitnessPal. I've been using it ever since I started counting my macros and it's been about 4 years now. It has the largest database of food options and restaurant items. There's generic entries of most foods like white potato, sweet potato, white rice, brown rice, apple (different types as well), bananas, peach, etc. The most accurate way of tracking these things especially at the beginning of your flexible dieting journey is by weighing them with a food scale.
You'll want to find one that has different unit options such as grams, ounces, milliliters, fluid ounce, etc. I personally just stick with grams for everything and use ounces for my meats. I typically weigh in grams because most things with nutrition labels have their serving size listed in grams.
Depending on your goals, whether it be losing weight, gaining weight, or maintaining weight, consistency will always be key in optimizing results.