Diet and fitness advice has historically had a strong tendency toward the puritanical. “Eat as little fat as possible.” “Eat as little carbs as possible.” “Eat as little meat as possible”, “eat as little cholesterol as possible”, and so on.
To some experts, if something has any sort of negative connotation, you need to cut out as much of it out of your diet as you possibly can. Understanding of the body’s nutritional needs and the way it processes everything you take in has really advanced in recent years, however.
One of the outgrowths of all this new information is the “Flexible Dieting” or “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) movement.
Calories: The cornerstone of weight loss
At its core is an old idea, and one of the cornerstones of weight loss — make absolutely sure you take in less calories than you burn between your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and physical activity.
If It Fits Your Macros
The difference with the theory behind IIFYM is that it isn’t so fussy about what those calories are exactly. You’ll want to figure out what your macronutrient needs are when it comes to protein, fat and carbohydrates and stay within those limits.
But beyond that, at least in terms of body composition, it doesn’t really matter so much if these calories are coming from “dirty” sources like hot dogs or sweet treats, just as long as you keep all the numbers where they’re supposed to be.
This is what’s known as Flexible Dieting. Set up your numbers appropriately, hit them for the day, each and every day, work out, and you’re eventually going to be in a better aesthetic situation than the vast majority of the world.
The word “macros” is short for macronutrients, as in protein / fats / carbs. Successful flexible dieters pre-determine these numbers based upon their goals and preferences, and stick to them as much as humanly possible.
So the phrase “If it fits your macros” comes from the hypothetical answer to any food-related question, “Can I eat XYZ?”
Well… the answer is yes… but only if it fits your macros!
Flexible dieting vs. Clean Eating
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating completely clean. But for a lot of people, it’s unrealistic. It’s more expensive, it requires more time shopping and more nutritional knowledge, and it takes an almost monastic level of willpower. And just because you’re eating clean doesn’t mean you’re going to lose weight or burn fat. 5000 calories of “clean food”, when you’re only burning 2400 calories, is going to tell your body to store fat.
Eating 2400 calories per day, but only getting 60g of fat, is not going to do your muscle tone much good.
So if there is a choice of quantity for quality, flexible dieters choose quantity: Tracking your food and adjusting your caloric count based on whether you’re in a fat-burning phase or a muscle-gaining phase is best when body composition is your primary concern.
The caveats to IIFYM
The key words here are, “when body composition is your primary concern.” IIFYM is not a free license to ignore medical advice and, say, suck down cheeseburgers when doctors have advised you that you have a dangerous cholesterol count.
Admittedly IIFYM it’s a philosophy biased somewhat toward relatively healthy bodies that are primarily concerned with either dropping some weight or adding some muscle mass and don’t have any other serious medical conditions or nutritional limitations to consider. But if that’s the case for you, trying the IIFYM approach may work much better in reaching your fitness goals than trying to adhere to a spartan diet and never really enjoying any of your meals.
IIFYM still takes some discipline, though, because it doesn’t negate other nutritional health concerns. For example, we now know that trans fats are completely horrible for your health, so those should be avoided regardless. And fruits and veggies are still an important part of a regular diet as you still need the vitamins and micronutrients that they’re rich in.
Flexible dieting isn’t so much about “dirty foods are good for you” as “dirty foods probably won’t be as bad for you as traditional dieting advice tells you they are, provided you keep them within reasonable limits.”
Getting Started With Flexible Dieting
There are four steps to get going. For someone who’s been dieting before, these aren’t typically that hard, and it comes down to the fourth step to ensure success.
To someone who’s new to all of this, more work will be required, and the sources cited will help.
Calculate Your Total Calories
The most important information is your overall daily caloric need to maintain your weight. There’s a number of BMR calculators online that will give you a rough idea based on your age, weight and so on.
To get the most accurate possible results, however, you’ll need a calorie counter and a reliable food scale. This is discussed in detail below.
Finally, don’t forget to add your energy expenditure on workout days!
Determine Your Protein Count
Carbohydrates and saturated fat are two areas that you’ll have to keep a careful eye on to keep from overshooting, but protein is the area where you’ll likely have to make a serious effort to pack on more to keep up with your needs, especially if you’re putting on muscle.
1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass is the general standard, but if you’re uncertain about what your total lean body mass is, a good rough estimate for a relatively fit individual is 1 gram of protein per pound of total body weight.
Determine Your Fat / Carb / Protein Split
Once you know how much total protein you need, divide the remaining calorie count between fats and carbohydrates as you see fit. Yep, you’re free to load up on bread or ice cream (or whatever) as you prefer with the remaining balance. But try to err toward the healthier side of your cravings.
Brown rice, yams, and oats are still some of the best carbohydrate sources. Just don’t lose your mind if you are craving some ice cream! Measure, track, limit the portion, and make it fit!
Weigh, measure, eat, track, and adjust!
Now get to work! A number of calorie counter websites and apps are available, and they will help you immensely. They’re a pain to use at first, but get easier to use with time.
Adjustments can be made on a weekly basis – your weight and body mass may fluctuate from day to day, but over the course of weeks, you’ll start to see what’s working for you and what’s not.
The old adage goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, so start measuring and you’ll start seeing where you’re really deficient.
The Pyroxamine Boost
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If you’re staying within your fat macros, Pyroxamine will help speed weight loss.
Want to test it for yourself? You can get a free sample below or from the homepage.