Flexible dieting or IIFYM as all the cool kids on Instagram call it has got extremely popular over the last 5-6 years.
But what actually is it?
How can people start using it in their daily life's?
Is it really that much better than any other way of eating?
So what actually is Flexible dieting or IIFYM?
It is simply a diet or way of eating that evolves around you hitting a certain calorie and macronutrient target, without placing a huge emphasis on what foods you eat to get there.
Now before you say that is crazy and there is no way you can possibly lose weight, by eating what you want and paying no attention to food quality.
Then just take a read of this study that a American professor performed in Kansas, where he lost a considerable amount of weight by just eating junk food
The reason why flexible dieting can work so well is because it is based off sound nutrition principles. It is not based off hear say of what all the jacked up guys are saying in the weights room. The crux of flexible dieting is hitting your calorie intake followed by your macronutrient intake, protein, carbs and fat targets. Calories are and always will be the most important factor whether your looking to gain weight or lose weight. Energy balance will ultimately decide if you lose weight or gain weight. So in turn what flexible dieting will do, is to get you to focus on what really matters when it comes to hitting your health and fitness goals. A huge mistake a lot of people make is spending all of their time and effort focussing on the stuff that doesn't really matter
The table above outlines the main priorities, when it comes to nutrition. As you can see calories makes up the base of the pyramid, it is the most important principle, what is great about flexible dieting as it starts to shift your perspective. What I personally find is many people will focus on the top of the pyramid first such as meal timing and frequency, they get so caught up in these small details that in the grand scheme of things do not make much difference. Flexible dieting will flip this on its head and get you to start focussing on the base of the pyramid and what really matters.
Why use Flexible Dieting
The problem with most popular diets out there, is that they are soo restrictive. You start the diet and attached to them is a list of rules that we have to follow. It's human nature that if we restrict ourselves so much that in the end we will break and this is what leads to crazy binges and a feeling of guilt.
Flexible dieting is not like this, it puts you back in control, instead of the diet having sole control over you. There is no second guessing, you roughly know what you are eating, so when results start to stall, you can adjust the diet to carry on getting results. Instead of this train hard, eat clean mantra where all you do is train hard in the gym all week and just eat "clean" foods and hope for the best, there is no way to measure it.
Flexible dieting is based around your likes and preferences, because its completely individualized it makes the diet sustainable. If you want a piece of cake, you can have a piece of cake, if you want a few slices of pizza on a Friday night go for it! because your in control and you know what your eating. Personally I have followed this way of eating for just over 2 years now and its great. It simple does not feel like your on a diet, your using food as a powerful tool to get bigger leaner and stronger.
Don't get the wrong idea
Before you start thinking this is great, I can live off pizza and cake and still hit my goals, then you are wrong. Sometimes in the fitness industry we turn something that is good and helpful and turn it bad and send out the wrong message. This has happened with flexible dieting, with people posting junk food on social media and they are incredibly shredded that sends out the wrong message and that is not what flexible dieting is about.
This image above represents perfectly, what people "think" is flexible dieting and what it really entails. To think that we can hit our fitness goals and still be healthy and full of energy while eating pop tarts, ice cream doughnuts and anything else we can get our hands on is just not the case. The chances are if you eat like this all the time you will feel pretty rubbish!
Flexible dieting is about finding a way of eating that fits you and your lifestyle. It's a way of eating that is easy to adhere to, a way of eating that you can see yourself doing for the next 5-10 years. Yes it is a diet that allows you to include foods that you love and enjoy, but the majority of your food intake should still come from whole foods, such as chicken, eggs, turkey, steak, lean mince, potatoes and rice's. Its not an excuse to eat junk all day.
A great way of putting this into practice is using something called the 80/10/10 rule, which is championed by the nutrition master himself Alan Aragon. It's a simple rule where you split your total food intake for the day. So 80% of your intake should come from the whole foods that I mentioned above. The next 10% can come from semi junk food, this could be in the form of a bowl of coco pops or a cinnamon and rasin bagel smothered in peanut butter. The next and final 10% can come from that blatant junk food that you just love to eat!
This way is extremely simple and it makes sure that you include a wide variety of foods and some that you actually enjoy instead of munching down on chicken and broccoli 5-6 times a day. If you want to hear the master of nutrition himself clear up the misconceptions about flexible dieting, watch the short video below.
How can you start using Flexible Dieting
So now you have heard the arguments and you have decided you want to ditch the clean eating and jump on board the flexible train, that's great news. Welcome to the promise land people!
But how do you get started?
Well you first need to get a good idea of how many calories you need on daily basis, as I mentioned earlier calories are the most important factor.
I recommend people find their maintenance calories and track for a week or two and see where weight goes. A easy way to find this number assuming that you are using the gym 3-4 times a week and normal activity levels, take your weight in lbs and multiply it 14-16. If your a female take the lower end of the range if your a male take the higher end. This will give you a good idea of your maintenance calories, track with these numbers for a week or two and see how you get on.
For your macro targets. I would simply ensure that you are consuming enough protein. 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is a great place to start. So for example if you weighed 180lbs you would aim for 180 grams of protein.
For fat intake. Again take your weight in lbs and multiply it by a range of 0.3-0.7. This will come down to food preference. So for example if you really love fattier types of food such as red meat, whole milk and eggs, use the higher end of the scale. If your a carb monster like me use the lower end of the scale.
The rest of your calories will come from carbs. I know this is a very brief way of finding out your calories and macros. If you want more information and help with the whole world of flexible dieting and how you can start using it today. We have you covered don't worry.
We set up a FREE facebook group, where everyone is welcome.
Its a great support network and it gives you a huge amount of content and information about flexible dieting, calories, macros and fat loss.
If you want to join this FREE group, click on the link below and we will see you in the group!
Flexible dieting is about two huge principles, that many popular fad diets out there do not promote or use.
CONSISTENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY.
Most people do not have these two principles in their current eating habits. They are always on short term diets, they are always on diets that they cannot sustain for the long term.
The truth is if you cannot find a sustainable way of eating, you will never get the results you want long term.
Yes you can eat a piece of cake on flexible dieting or you can have a couple of slices of pizza and a beer with the lads on a Friday night. But in the end its not about that, it's about finding a way of eating that you can stick to, a way of eating that you actually enjoy, a way of eating that will bring you long term results.