You may have heard of flexible dieting already, or you may not have. Either way, you probably have some questions about it.
What is Flexible Dieting?
Flexible dieting is a relatively new type of diet that’s popular in the fitness world, and for good reason. It’s becoming quite popular because it has the ability to change your body composition, rather than causing you to simply lose weight. Oftentimes weight loss also causes loss of muscle mass. This diet enables your body to increase your muscle mass and decrease your body fat at the same time. Flexible dieting involves counting macronutrients in your diet, or “macros”, which are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Essentially, you can eat whatever you want in this diet. The critical part is that you hit your macro goals each day.
Sounds great! How do I do it?
The first step in learning flexible dieting is knowing how many calories you need to eat per day, based on your current body mass as well as the amount of daily exercise you do. Here is an easy total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculator that you can use to estimate your daily caloric needs.
After you’ve figured out your TDEE, there are two other rules. You’ll need to eat 1.2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight, and 0.2 grams of fat per pound. The remaining calories can come from carbohydrates. In order to figure out how many carbohydrates you can eat, remember that protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram.
For example, if my TDEE is 2300 calories per day, and my body weight is 190 pounds, my macros break down into 228 grams of protein (912 calories), and 38 grams of fat (342 calories). This leaves me with 261 carbohydrates to eat because I have 1,046 remaining calories, and carbs have 4 calories per gram.
Macros and calories aside, fiber is another important component of flexible dieting. The amount of fiber each person needs daily varies from person to person, but a good goal to start with is 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories you consume on a daily basis. For example, if your TDEE is 2300 calories, your recommended fiber intake is 32 grams. Fiber is crucial to the digestion process, and a host of other processes. It even helps lower your cholesterol.
How to track it
With flexible dieting, it’s important to keep track of what you’re eating, that way you know how many calories you have left, and how many carbohydrates you have left for the day. You don’t necessarily need to write down exactly what you eat, but keep track of all the fats and protein you take in, measured in grams. These are the two most critical parts of flexible dieting to track because it determines the carbohydrate component.
To help you track, there are several apps available. A very popular option is MyFitnessPal, which is free, and simple to use. If an app is too much of a hassle, you can also keep short daily notes on paper, or on your phone.
Why flexible diet?
If the flexibility of the diet itself hasn’t already convinced you to try it, I don’t know what will. Flexible dieting is simply superior. There are few things worse than feeling hungry all the time while dieting. With flexible dieting, you’ll hardly have enough time in the day to fit all your macros in! Following a strict diet and eating the same foods very frequently can cause you to miss out on many necessary vitamins and minerals. It’s important to have variety in your diet.
If you’re trying to cut down your body fat percentage while at the same time gaining muscle mass, flexible dieting is for you. Losing weight typically involves losing muscle mass as well, because your calorie intake isn’t adequate. If you’re new to lifting, or even if you’ve been doing it for awhile, flexible dieting will help you improve your results and decrease your body fat percentage.
If you struggle with dieting, consider making the switch to flexible dieting. There’s no need to beat yourself up over a cheat day. It’s much easier to stay healthy and stick to your diet (most days) when it’s as flexible as this. You’re actually less likely to binge eat, and achieve better results.