Flexible dieting, often referred to as If It Fits Your Macros IIFYM seemingly goes against every bit of dieting wisdom we have ever learned, but to explain flexible dieting first we must explain Macros or Macronutrients. Macros are what make up the calorie content of a food. The three categories of macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. One gram of each macro has a calorie value.
The example below highlights that 2 meals, one perceived to be ‘unhealthy’ and the other perceived to be ‘healthy’, both of which share the exact same calorie makeup. When food enters your system, the body does not recognise healthy vs unhealthy foods, it only recognises macros, those being fats, carbohydrates and protein.
1g of carbohydrates = 4 calories 1g of protein = 4 calories 1g of fat = 9 calories
Takeaway Chicken Burger = 25g Protein 33g Carbohydrate 15g Fat
Brown Rice and Tuna = 25g Protein 33g Carbohydrate 15g Fat
When we talk about weight loss and weight gain, there are no foods that directly cause a loss or gain. The nutritional value of food has little to do with the effect on body composition.
The reality is that most people absolutely dread the idea of dieting, flexible dieting gives you all the freedom in the world.
Step 1: Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure based on your current weight, exercise and general day to day level of activity. Step 2: Calculate your macro goal to match your desired fitness/body composition goal. Step 3: Track your food intake
Rather than typical calorie counting, flexible dieting aims to track those macros (e.g. Eating 150g Protein, 80g Fat, 170g Carbohydrate = 2000 calories) which more effectively influences body composition rather than just weight loss or gain.
From here it is largely up to a person’s fitness goals. For example a goal to lose weight, must first start with a calorie deficit, that being you are burning more calories, than you are consuming, regardless of what you are eating… The opposite applies for weight gain. This explains why people can eat all the acai bowls in the world and actually gain weight! The perception of healthy food strikes again!
While I would not recommend going out and living off Oreo’s, the importance of macros and understanding them is a fundamental tool in achieving any fitness goal.
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