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Why Flexible Dieting is the Healthiest Approach

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flexible dieting

If you are reading this online, you have already visited other sites that tell you protein is good, veggies are good, sugar is bad, and bread will kill you. A healthy diet is sold to people like you as a diet that demands you cut everything, instead of a diet that allows you to actually eat things you enjoy – or eat at all. Meet flexible dieting.

Flexible dieting allows you to take a different approach to eating. It is a diet that allows you to eat the best foods to meet your fitness goals. You can also enjoy what you eat too.  

What is Flexible Dieting?

Flexible dieting allows you to gain muscle and lose unnecessary body fat without feeling like you are depriving yourself of the good stuff – or at least the tasty stuff. When you feel like you are on a diet, you are not likely going to stick to the diet.

When you read about diets or watch ads on television about the best diets to lose weight, many people who want to sell you something resort to scaring you instead. You are never good enough, you are never in control, and you are always doing something wrong.

Flexible dieting does not come with the same side of shame as other “diets.”

What is flexible dieting? Flexible dieting is just counting your marcros, as in macronutrients. Counting your macronutrients is a way to achieve the ideal body composition without feeling like you are starving yourself.  

Macronutrients vs. micronutrients

A macronutrient is a substance that living organisms require for for growth, energy, development and repair. Macronutrients required by your body are protein, carbs, and fat.  Your body needs these in relatively large amounts. You can get macronutrients from the a healthy dinner, a meal replacement shake, or raw vegetables. Micronutrients are the nutrients you need in smaller amount. 

Macronutrients have specific roles and functions in the body. Our bodies require macronutrients in such large amounts because we need them to create energy and to produce the necessary fuel required for every physiological system. Here’s the thing. Even though your body demands fat, carbs, and protein, it doesn’t mean you should get them from anywhere. Fat from an avocado is vastly different from fat from a candy bar. Honestly, it is about time people stop treating all fat as the same thing.

You need GOOD fats, protein, and carbs.

Good fats, carbs, and protein

Before we tackle how to start flexible dieting, we need to break down the good, the bad, and the ugly fats, carbs, and protein.

Remember that the quality of the food you eat is critical. Quality macros offer your body more bang for the buck. Even foods and packaged items sold as “high in protein,” can be void of nutritional value too. Always opt for foods that don’t spike your blood sugar, overload you with sodium, or clog your arteries with fat.

Fats

Good fats are not artery-clogging trans fats. They are omega-3 fatty acids. According to the US Dept of Agriculture, our bodies require at least 10 percent of our necessary calories come from fat. Unfortunately, the number has risen to nearly half! Almost 50 percent of our daily calories come from fat. Why?

A majority of our fat comes from unhealthy foods because they are loaded with salt and sugar, and when our bodies get a taste of both, they make us want more. We eat unhealthy, fatty foods more because fat makes food taste better, and the salt and sugar make it irresistible. When you choose good fats, opt for these types of nutrient-rich macronutrients.

Examples of good fats:

  • Avocado
  • Salmon, mackerel, catfish, trout
  • Flaxseed
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Eggs
  • Pistachios
  • Seed and nut butter
  • Olives
  • Tuna
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Lean meats

Speaking of lean meats and nuts, you will notice on the list that the goods fats are also high in protein.

Protein

Protein is a macronutrient that your body needs for energy and a healthy lifestyle. How much protein do you need, and when is it enough?

Protein is found in higher levels in animal meats. Everyone knows that steak and other red meats are packed with protein. Unfortunately, some of the meats that people turn to to get more protein in their diets are the fatty, bloody meats that are high in cholesterol.

To get a healthy protein in your diet, choose lean meats and dairy.

  • Chicken breast (no skin)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Tuna and salmon
  • Top Sirloin
  • Top rounds steak
  • Eye of round steak
  • Round and bottom round roast

When you are at the grocery store, don’t confuse beef grading with lean ratings.

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can still get your macronutrients from non-animal products if you choose the right foods and plant-based protein supplements such as hemp protein, pea protein, or brown rice protein. The Vaxxen Leftovers supplement is a great option for plant-based athletes and gym-goers.

Role of Macronutrients in Flexible Dieting

Flexible dieting is all about the macronutrients and counting them so you consume the correct ones in the right amounts. Flexible dieting takes the stress of out “dieting” and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The best part about flexible dieting, is it is an affordable diet and the healthiest approach for achieving and maintaining your body composition goals. Flexible dieting allows you to consider your body’s energy and nutritional needs and then load your plate with foods that allow you to meet the demands of both with foods you enjoy eating.

PUT DOWN the boxed and frozen foods. Enjoy good macronutrients instead. Here’s how it works – Count those macros!

How to Count Macros

Counting macros boils down to the grams of each protein, carb, and fart. The breakdown is:

  • Protein 1g  = 4 calories
  • Carbs 1g = 4 calories
  • Fat 1g = 9 calories

Most diets require you count calories. With flexible dieting, focus on the grams.

There are 3 steps for effective flexible dieting:

  1. Figure out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

The is the total amount of energy in calories that your body burns every day. To calculate your TDEE, you for your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your current energy level.

For the purposes of flexible dieting, think of BMR as the as the number of calories your body burns on its own when it is at rest. Your body needs this energy to function throughout the day and perform typical daily tasks such as getting out of bed, making coffee, eating breakfast, and driving to work.

Your BMR allows your heart to beat, your lungs to breath, and your brain to function. The BMR is not where your dieting begins and ends. It’s a little more complicated than that.

  1. Calculate your macros so you meet goals and achieve results

You can eat what you want as long as you count it so it meets your macro goals. Again, what I do recommend if you are going to eat what you want is that you atleast choose nutrient-dense foods so you stay healthy too. You still need fiber, calcium, vitamins, and minerals for sustained energy and ideal muscle health.

  1. Don’t lose track of your intake and your limits

Remember, that anything you eat – good or bad – has macronutrients, so count them. If you snack, have a shake, or eat out, track it – all of it! Don’t forget that your needs and limits will change as you work out.

Fulcrum - Pineapple MangoHow to Count Macros to Achieve Goals

To count your macronutrients, have a clear idea of what your goals are. Do you want to lose weight, gain, weight, maintain your current weight, or lose 10%. No macro limit is the same for everyone. Be skeptical of sites or products that try to sell you on a one-size-fits-all limit. That defeats the whole entire premise and benefits of flexible dieting.

If your goal is to lose weight, you should be at a 20 percent calorie deficit. Twenty percent is a great way to feel satisfied and promote safe, effective weight loss.

If your weight loss goals are not as drastic, choose to lose 10% of your bodyweight instead to trim up. Put your macro limit at a 10% calorie deficit. Cutting 10% from your daily intake is ideal if you need to lose 10 lbs. or fewer but you still need to gain a little more lean muscle.

To go the other way, say you need to gain more weight, more than 10 pounds, you can increase your calorie intake. A calorie surplus is the only way to add on more pounds. The rule of thumb is to add 20% more to your diet.

If you need to add fewer than 10 lbs., increase your intake by only 10%. That way you can gain weight without getting fat.

Counting macros and flexible dieting isn’t only about losing or gaining weight. Sometimes you just want to maintain the ideal weight for a healthy lifestyle. To do that, all you need to do is maintain your current macro intake.

Flexible Diet Calculator

You can visit any only macro calculator to get a rough idea about how many calories you should be consuming, or you can calculate your macros on your own.

The formula for counting macros in flexible dieting is:

  • Protein ratio = .825g per bodyweight pound.
  • Fat = 25% of daily energy output or expenditure. This is your TDEE as discussed before.
  • Carbs = in grams comes from the remainder.

An important thing to remember is that you should be factoring your protein higher if you want to build more lean muscle while also working toward weight loss goals.  

With flexible dieting, don’t maintain more than a 20% deficit of your total TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Count your macros with every food you put in your mouth, and stop eating when you reach your daily limit.

Get Help Tracking Macros

You need to stay on top of your macros because your dietary needs will change with flexible dieting as you begin to see progress and work out more. You need help with flexible dieting tracking, and a pencil and paper won’t do. Use your smartphone.

Use apps to keep track of your macros daily. Apps such as Myfitnesspal, MyMacros+, Lose it, and Nutritionist are great. These apps rely on users scanning foods and published nutrition labels to make tracking your macros easier. Just type in the food, and the app does all the work for you, telling you how much fat, protein, and carbs are in each serving. Of course, you must always enter the correct serving.

Benefits of Flexible Dieting

There are so many downs to dieting. Fortunately, flexible dieting is not the same. It is arguably one of the best options not only for your overall goals but your overall health as well.

Here are the benefits of flexible dieting.

It’s the healthiest option

Flexible dieting allows you to meet your daily nutrition goals and energy demands. While you are counting macros, you  aren’t cutting out foods your body needs and enjoys. Many diets demand you cut carbs to cut the weight. With flexible dieting, your body actually gets the carbs it needs for fuel to sustain your workout and energy levels.

If you think you have to pack every meal ahead of time or go on a “eating clean” craze, you don’t. Here’s the thing, it’s not the junk food diet that social media would have you believe. Falling for flexible dieting fallacies will tarnish your new regimen before it even begin.

Those you know about flexible dieting and know how to do it properly, don’t waste their macros on donuts instead of making an omelet or drinking a meal supplement. I don’t care what you say, not all carbs are the same. When you eat a donut, you get the fat, sugar, and salt that you don’t need. A donut cannot possibly sustain your workout.

It builds muscle without adding fat

When you start flexible dieting, you begin to consciously make better food decisions. This is especially true if you use a macro tracker app. You will see exactly what every food you consume has. As you begin to notice the difference in certain foods, you begin to switch out the nutrient-deprived foods for ones that actually help you reach your daily macros limit.

You will begin to see foods for their macro content and not for their calories.

No foods are off limits

One of the best features of flexible dieting is your freedom to eat, and I mean eat foods you enjoy. You are no longer the dinner guest or dinner date with complicated food demands, and you won’t have to restrict yourself to the salad bar or appetizer menu.

You can eat whatever foods you want as long as you are always counting the macros. But don’t make the mistake of comparing nutrient-defunct foods to nutrient-dense foods. If you are going to eat the donuts, don’t fool yourself thinking it will give you the same nutrients and fiber your body needs.

You don’t diet to your detriment

The evidence is all around. Diets don’t work. Most diets don’t even make it beyond 7 days when dieting. When you fall victim to a dieting fad or restricted diet, your body begins to work against you. You suffer from headaches, mood swings, cravings, stomach issues, and trouble sleeping. Before you know it, you are craving the foods you see on the side of delivery trucks. When you cut out the foods you like, you are more likely to cave and eat them, and trust me, it isn’t just a little snack. Food deprivation can lead to not only a loss of control, but it can also work against you, causing you to gain weight instead of lose it.

Flexible dieting is the healthiest option because it allows you to eat foods that meet your physical and bodily needs. You don’t restrict. You don’t limit yourself to the same foods everyday. But flexible dieting is not about eating anything you want either. You can eat the foods you enjoy as long as you hit your macros for the day. Remember your goal. It isn’t to eat worse; it is to eat healthy and make better choices. Think of flexible dieting as the opportunistic diet, one that allows you to get exactly what you want from the foods you eat.

To help you hit your daily macros allowance, Vaxxen Labs dietary supplements such as Fulcrum get you there quicker.

SR Content Strategist.

Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author/podcaster with a global following. His work has been featured in nearly 100 fitness magazines (Flex Magazine, Men’s Muscle & Health Magazine, Oxygen Magazine), 2,000+ websites, as well as having numerous books and audiobooks that are published.  Matt Weik graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Matt is a member of the supplement expert panel at the Bodybuilding.com Awards 2018.

You can contact Matt via www.weikfitness.com or on social media links below.

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