When I recognized that I needed to drop a few (dozen) pounds, I needed to find a viable approach. Now, I’ve dropped weight before. I’ve lost around 40 lbs previously, but where I failed was in taking an approach that completely changed the way my family ate.
Then, when things got a little tough, we tried to revert back to our old way of eating and the whole thing fell apart.
Here’s the thing. When you’ve been overweight for a while, you’re not going to be able to take off the weight and everything change for you where you can go back to what you used to do. What you used to do didn’t work, so going back to it will get you right back to where you were.
And it did.
So, this time around, I wanted to clean up the diet a bit, but I also wanted to do something that would be comfortable for my family. Enter flexible dieting.
What is flexible dieting
Flexible dieting is also called “If It Fits Your Macros.” Basically, it’s an approach to dieting that says you can consume anything you want so long as it fits within a macronutrient framework based on your goals.
In theory, this means you can eat pizza, cake, ice cream, pasta, or whatever else you want and still lose weight.
In reality, what it does is tell you that if you want to do that, you have to be careful and minimize your gluttony so that you don’t get too many carbs or fat or protein.
In other words, you can have anything you want, but those choices have repercussions on what else you can eat. For example, if you have cake and ice cream, then you’re probably going to be required to stick to proteins for the rest of the day and little else.
Assuming you’re trying to lose weight, that is.
If you’re not, then you probably have even more flexibility in what you consume, which is awesome and I hate you.
Seriously, though, the best part about flexible dieting seems to be that nothing is truly forbidden, thus you don’t feel obligated to purge the entire house of food you can’t eat.
It also makes it a little easier to say, “No thanks” for something you might really want.
Doesn’t that make it “sound too good to be true?”
It does and it doesn’t.
If you look at it and think, “I can eat anything and still lose weight,” then yeah, it definitely will. However, it’s in the fine print where flexible dieting seems to make sense.
You still have to make smart choices and you have to eat all those good treats in moderation. You can’t pig out on anything, even supposedly healthy food, and achieve your goals and flexible dieting doesn’t pretend you can.
It’s that fact that keeps it from being some snake oil approach to health and fitness. It’s simply a framework that recognizes you have things you really like to eat and are probably going to eat anyway, so sure. Just don’t get stupid about it.
What are the primary benefits of flexible dieting?
Now, I’m not an expert on this approach, but here are my thoughts.
First, you can do flexible dieting with pretty much whatever kind of food you’re eating now…within reason. I mean, if you’re eating fast food every meal, you might want to rethink that, but if you cook at home at all, you’re probably going to find a way to fit most things into the flexible dieting framework.
A little protein, a few carbs, some fats, and you’re good to go.
If you want three-cheese mashed potatoes, go for it. Rice with every meal? Hey, if your macros allow for it, have fun.
That means you’re eating the food you were eating before, just in more controlled portions, and that helps if you’re the only one at home trying to lose some fat.
The second point, which is related to the first, is that there are no fancy purchases necessary. You’re not required to only eat free-range, organic, or whatever else kind of foods. You buy whatever you prefer, and if that’s what’s cheapest? So be it.
Lastly, this is more sustainable, at least in my opinion. Because you’re not limiting yourself to a certain list of foods, you’re less likely to feel like you need to break out of it.
Now, I should say that you’ll probably be weighing and measuring your food for the rest of your life, at least to some degree–after a while, you can kind of tell how much something is by sight–but that’s just part of life when you’ve gotten fat.
Is flexible dieting an optimal dieting plan?
Maybe, but I doubt it. In all fairness, flexible dieting doesn’t really spend a lot of time pointing out the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats, or anything like that. It also doesn’t account for any potential downsides of processed foods.
Because of that, I’m not sure it’s necessarily the best path for creating a health.
What it is, however, is an approach that can be done by anyone on just about any budget and doesn’t require people to get so wrapped up in where their food comes from that they can’t enjoy anything.
It may be less than perfect, but let me ask you this: What good does a diet plan do for optimal health if you simply can’t sustain it?
How does flexible dieting work?
Alright, I’m going to touch on this, but there are plenty of places that will do it better than I will.
First, you figure up how many calories you burn in a day on average. This is your basil metabolic rate. Once you have that, you adjust those calories based on your goals.
Now that you have your calories worked out, you need to break that into grams of macronutrients. Start with protein. With being overweight, I try to consume one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Some people suggest one gram per pound of total body weight, but I find that it’s hard enough with lean body mass as it is.
After that, I break down carbs and fats. Generally, I want more carbs than fats, but I’m not afraid of fats either.
There are tons of suggestions out there, but I started with a 40/40/20 split and adjusted from there. That’s 40 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 20 percent fat. I simply adjusted protein and carbs until they represented what was needed.
Is this ideal? I don’t really know.
What I do know is that I’ve been monitoring my body fat percentage as well as my weight, and despite the current 8.4 lbs of weight lost so far, my lean body mass has remained constant. Now, I don’t see that lasting indefinitely, but the longer it does last, the better off I’ll be in the long run.
I highly recommend you do your own research going forward, however. I’m not an expert, just some schmuck experimenting on his own body.
Those are my thoughts on flexible dieting. If you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear your experiences. If not, and you’re looking for a new approach, you might want to give this one a shot.