Last week I wrote how the concept of flexible dieting changed my life and the way I look at food. My path to currently sitting at my lowest weight and size at the age of 37 did not happen without plenty of trial and error.
How many of you, especially ladies, feel the need to constantly restrict yourself to see any type of progress? Do you also think it’s all about what the scale reads back? I mentioned in one of my most recent Instagram posts (follow me @alicekmoore if you don’t already) that I once had a trainer direct me to drink nothing for several days but warm lemon water with maple syrup in it (no food) to give myself a jump start on my weight loss goals. As desperate as I was, I reluctantly agreed to do it, and no, I’m not making any of this up.
What did I learn from agreeing to try that cleanse? I learned that heavy citric acid makes me puke and after a whole day of trying my best to adhere to the direction I was given, I quit. Needless to say I remember sitting on my bathroom floor sick and disappointed in myself. Not too shortly after that I was first introduced to the concept of flexible dieting.
How many of you have been given a meal plan to follow only to hate chicken, tilapia and broccoli after following it for a week? Flexible dieting, better known as “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM), is a concept that has gained popularity in recent years. In my opinion, the reason for the popularity is because you are empowered to make your own choices and decide what and when to eat. It’s the idea of making your diet work around you and not the other way around.
We all know it does come down to calories in versus calories out in order to achieve weight loss. Flexible dieting involves looking at food for exactly what it is made up of in terms of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, which are the three types of macronutrients (macros). All food no matter what you eat is comprised of these three macros. As long as you manage your macros you can absolutely make progress by eating a breakfast sandwich, incorporating your favorite cookie here and there, and eating a delicious savory dinner containing carbs.
To break this down further each macro has a calorie value per gram. Protein contains four calories per gram and so does carbohydrates. Fats are the most dense macronutrient and are nine calories per gram. Each macro plays a role in your body, and believe it or not, fats are actually essential for you so you shouldn’t take them out completely. Alcohol (because I know some of you are curious) can also be incorporated into your overall goals; it isn’t a “macro” because it has little to no nutritional value, but due to its caloric content still needs to be taken into account. I typically either count them toward my overall carbs or fats for the day.
Currently I am working toward a bit of fat loss and I’m coming up on toward the tail end of it before I start reverse dieting again (next blog topic). Each day I have a set target of macros. I aim for a certain number of grams of protein, carbs, and fats, which equal an overall calorie goal. I plan my meals using the My Fitness Pal app, which helps me track my meals and ensure I hit my targets.
Now you may think that sounds pretty restrictive and difficult, but it really isn’t. I have lost 15 pounds this year by tracking most of the time, although I am not perfect every day. To me a perfect day of adherence is being within plus or minus five grams of my target. However, like many other working professionals out there I have a life, obligations, and responsibilities. I have days where I go out to eat, participate in potlucks, and go on vacation. Flexible dieting allows me to be flexible. Since I have found carbs and fats are interchangeable I leverage that for when it suits me, but in general I tend to love eating more carbs because my body responds well to it based on my activities.
Flexible dieting also focuses on eating adequate protein. I noticed a huge difference in my overall body composition once I started feeding my body enough protein. Combine this with some heavy lifting a few days a week and you’re able to have some lean body mass, which helps your overall look and feel.
I love that I come up with what I want to eat on my own. I don’t feel deprived and I no longer have anxiety in social situations because I think I’m going to be off plan. You can absolutely make progress eating the foods you love and participating in life. Ultimately you need to pick a way of eating that is sustainable for you. You are likely frustrated and not making the progress that you’d like because you feel like dieting or eating a certain way just isn’t sustainable. Personally I have found a way that has made me want to stay on the healthy track long term because I am not miserable, and no you don’t have to track macros the rest of your life. Flexible dieting teaches you the overall make up of foods so eventually you’re able to understand portion sizes and what foods work best for you. I track macros when I have specific goals in mind and I also spend time intuitive eating. Since I have been doing this for quite some time, I’m able to track when I have specific goals and not track when that suits me better.
The intent of my blog is to help others. Hopefully by sharing my story people get something out of it. I’m here to answer questions on various topics, so feel free to reach me via Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .