If you follow me on any social media outlet, or if you don’t, chances are somewhere or another you have heard about this thing called “Flexible Dieting” or “If It Fits Your Macros,” – IIFYM for short. It crossed my mind that perhaps some of you reading this blog may not know anything about IIFYM and would want to learn more. If you already know, or practice flexible dieting yourself, keep reading and you can hear some about my experiences with flexible dieting now and in the past.
Flexible Dieting? What is that?
Flexible dieting is roughly defined as tracking your macronutrient intake (i.e. carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) to achieve a particular goal. This method of dieting allows you to incorporate foods of your choice, into your diet, as long as the fit your specific macronutrient goals or “macros”. Tracking macros is different than simply tracking calories. Tracking macros can help an individual reach their desired body composition goals easier and better than simply tracking calories alone because it allows for optimal body composition, performance, energy, and overall health.
Each macronutrient has it’s own specific break down. Carbohydrates are 4 cals/g. Protein is 4 cals/g and Fats are the most calorically dense at 9 cals/g. Together, these three groups will help make up the macros that are right for you. These macros vary greatly between individuals based on many factors such as age, sex, genetics, past dieting history, activity level, and the specific goals of the individual.
IIFYM has this stigma that it’s all about doughnuts, Poptarts, and *insert any other stereotypical junk food here*. That is simply NOT the case. While there are people that abuse the system and fill their macros with nothing but sugary sweets, for most people, myself included, this not the case. For myself, i would say about 80% of my food choices come from nutrient rich foods… your typical “bro” foods… chicken, broccoli, rice, sweet potato, veggies, and fruit. It is important that you are eating foods that are high in micronutrients (your vitamins and minerals). Once you have reached your micronutrient goals and fiber goals, also really important for your digestive health, the other 20% of your foods can be “fun foods”. You know, those foods you love, chocolate, ice cream, french toast, mini macro friendly cheesecakes… seriously, go make these if you haven’t already lol I’m obsessed–so so good. Recipe can be found here). Flexible dieting allows you to be flexible with your food choices while still reaching your goals… Why would you not want to do that?
The Benefits of Flexible Dieting
- Allows you to be flexible with your food choices (because no one wants to eat the same foods day in and day out 24/7.
- Not restricted with your food choices. You can choose what you WANT to eat.
- No such thing as “good” and “bad” foods
- Helps minimize yo-yo dieting –> helps put an end to that binge-restrict-repeat cycle.
- Helps your mental sanity while dieting
Before i ever got into competing, i dieted like most girls do. I would eat only “clean” foods, you know your typical “bro foods” chicken, veggies, sweet potatoes, egg whites… and wouldn’t eat anything processed. This would eventually lead me to “binge”. I would eat all the foods that i deemed off limits: cookies, ice cream, chips, peanut butter, bread until i couldn’t eat anymore. I ate so much because i knew i wasn’t “allowed” to eat these foods the next week. Then, the cycle would continue.
My first competition prep, as a bikini competitor, i followed a meal plan with a “bro” diet. I dieted for 16 weeks with no free meals, cheat meals, untracked meals, what have you… This led my “reverse diet” (if you can even call it that) to be disastrous. I was craving pizza, cheesecake, burgers, chocolate, everything and anything because i wasn’t able to have them for months and i experienced a bad post show rebound.
My second competition prep, i followed flexible dieting. I dieted for 20 weeks and for one day a week i had a tracked refeed day (more carbs). On most days, i was able to incorporate foods that i love because they fit my macros. I had peanut butter on the daily, i had dairy queen, ice cream, tacos, chocolate, you get the picture… French toast, pancakes, waffles, all delicious foods that i love, on a competition prep diet, because they FIT MY MACROS. This helped with my sanity not only during the length of my competition prep but after my show as well. Besides my post show free meal, i had little to no desire to binge or go off the deep end like i had in the past. I was able to follow my reverse diet successfully coming out of my show and I contribute this to following a flexible dieting approach.
Flexible dieting is something that works, and has worked for me in the past, which is why i wanted to share it with all of you who are reading my blog. Flexible dieting allows me to eat the foods i love while still reaching my training and nutrition goals. It’s not realistic for me to say “I’m never going to eat cheesecake again.” That would literally be IMPOSSIBLE. A life without cheesecake is no life at all- in my opinion. What foods do you feel you have to give up when you diet? What if i told you that you don’t have to give them up at all?.. That you can still eat chocolate, or cookies, and still reach your goals? Flexible dieting allows you to have your cake and eat it too.
If you are curious about how to figure out YOUR specific macros or more about how to track your macros please “like” this post or comment below. If this generates enough interest, i will do a Flexible Dieting: Part 2 post on how to calculate your macros, cutting macros, reverse dieting macros, etc.. Also, comment below your thoughts and experiences with flexible dieting.
Thanks so much for reading and talk soon,