Let me just start out by saying in my experiences with dieting I had always viewed food as being “healthy” or “unhealthy”, “clean” or “dirty”, “good” or “bad”. If I wanted to lose weight I would need to only eat “good” and “healthy” foods and eliminate “unhealthy” and “bad” foods. That was until I discovered flexible dieting/ IIFYM.
* I say discovered as if it was something that I wasn’t already doing… I already ate food and ALL food is comprised of macronutrients. (Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions.)
Flexible dieting otherwise known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is simply the tracking of macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) to achieve a body composition goal. It is a way to take your body’s basic energy and nutritional needs and start eating food according to your personal preference/ lifestyle.
The concept of flexible dieting is really nothing new. Each day you have a set of macronutrients, which you track and account for. Doing this allows you to know exactly how much you are eating by being precise, accurate and in accordance to your body and your needs.
Macronutrients or macros make up the majority of our diets. Every food has some sort of macronutrient combination. There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. One gram of each macro has a specific calorie value.
- 1 Gram of Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories
By structuring your macros in a way that is specific to YOUR body composition, individual needs and expenditure you can eat anything you want to according to your personal preference and still make progress towards your health and fitness goals.
When it comes to food selection and food choice there’s no doubt that what you eat and how much you eat can have a massive impact on your health, performance, and overall body composition. However, there’s no evidence that you can’t achieve all of these things while still enjoying any food you like.
The majority of your diet should be filled with whole, nutrient dense foods while leaving a little room each day for the foods you love and enjoy. Personal preference should always take a priority to have your diet support your goals both physically and mentally.
By incorporating things I enjoy into my diet everyday food has become part of my life and is no longer the center of it. Flexible dieting has given me the freedom, flexibility and balance I need. It allows me to eat whatever I like while purposefully giving my body what it needs to achieve my goals. This sustainable practice of "dieting" allows me to have long-term adherence and dietary compliance.
Flexible dieting is much bigger than simply allowing more variety into your diet; flexible dieting, REAL flexible dieting is a MINDSET and an ATTITUDE towards food and dieting.
Developing a healthy and balanced mindset with how you structure your nutrition will be key to achieving long-term success.