You have always wanted to lose weight. You are willing to train hard in the gym to lose the needed weight for that summer body. The sad thing is, you are not seeing results after days, months, and years have passed. Instead the scale on the weighing machine remains the same. Is it genetics? Or is there some secret no one is telling you about on how to successfully lose weight?
Statistics show that losing weight is the number 1 goal for most people. However by the end of the year, most people would fail in their goal to lose weight as they succumb to the temptations of delicious foods and overeat them. It is hard to let go of eating your favorite food whether it is pasta, fried chicken or ice cream. The thought of eating another chicken breast and broccoli makes you feel nauseous. Is there another way of eating to lose weight?
The good news is you can truly lose weight by eating the foods you love if you apply Flexible Dieting. Too good to be true? It’s not. Flexible Dieting is also known as If It Fits Your Macros (“IIFYM”). The principle of Flexible Dieting or IIFYM is that you can eat anything you enjoy as long as you meet the daily calories and macronutrients requirement. (Yes you can even have ice cream “If It Fits Your Macros”). Macros are an abbreviation for macronutrients.
The key macronutrients you need to consider are protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Flexible Dieting has been around for a long time in the fitness world. Many top fitness enthusiasts such as Matt Ogus and Chris Jones have been using flexible dieting to lose weight and be lean. By the end of this article, you will also be able to apply flexible dieting and achieve your goal of losing weight. No more other fad diets that restrict you from eating a certain food. With that, let’s dive into the fundamentals of flexible dieting and how you can apply it.
Flexible Dieting Part I: Calories
Let’s start by talking about calories. To put it in layman terms, a calorie is a measurement of energy in food. Your body burns energy every day, whether you are at rest or exercising. Research have shown that caloric input/output has an impact on the changes in body weight. If you constantly feed your body with less energy than it burns, you will lose weight, regardless of the types of food you eat.
Let’s look at a real-life example of this theory. Human Nutrition Professor, Mark Haub lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks by consuming a junk food diet of Twinkies, Doritos chips, Oreos, and Doughnuts! Professor Haub consumed less energy than his body burns by being in a caloric deficit of 800 calories per day. To put it simply, losing weight requires you to first find out what your daily calorie requirement is and then eat less. Follow the 2-step formula below to calculate your daily calorie requirement:
- Use the Katch-Mcardle BMR Calculator to fill in your details (bodyweight and body fat percentage).
In this example here, my BMR is 1,934.
- With the BMR, calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (“TDEE”) by multiplying your BMR with an activity factor. TDEE is the total amount of energy the body needs, which includes physical activity.
Multiply the BMR by:
- 1.2 if you exercise 1-3 hours per week.
- 1.3 if you exercise 4-6 hours per week
- 1.4 if you exercise 6+ hours per week
TDEE = BMR x Physical activities factor. In my case, I exercise 4-6 hours per week, I would use my BMR of 1934 to multiply 1.4 and my TDEE would be 2,708. If I eat 2,708 calories every day, my weight will be maintained at the same weight I currently am. In order to lose weight, I would have to eat less than my TDEE of 2,708 and be in a caloric deficit. You should be in a caloric deficit of 10 to 20%. In this example, I would start by being in a caloric deficit of 10%, which means I will eat 2,437 calories per day and I should lose 1-2 pounds of weight per week. If I am not losing weight after two weeks, only then will Il eat 20% less than my TDEE.
Part II: Macronutrients
The next component of the flexible dieting is related to macronutrients. As you recall earlier, macronutrients are mainly made up of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Set your macronutrients ratio to 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 30% fat based on the caloric deficit calculated earlier. Let’s continue from our example above, based on a caloric deficit of 2,708 to calculate the macronutrients:
For reference, a gram of protein and carbohydrate both contain 4 calories. A gram of fat contains 9 calories. Using the above percentages will give me the ability to calculate how much fat, protein and carbs I need to get those percentages. Again, there are no “clean” foods or “dirty” foods“ in flexible dieting since a calorie is a calorie.
To easily track macronutrients and calories, download the free app, MyFitnessPal. It is a tool for you to track macronutrients and estimate the calories of ANY food. Click here to go through the basic ways to set up and use MyFitnessPal, or you can navigate it yourself quite easily. Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t hit the exact amount of your calories and macronutrients. All of this is just an estimate. Just aim to be as close to the targeted caloric deficit and macronutrients as you can and you will lose weight.
The Right Way to Apply Flexible Dieting
You now have the freedom to incorporate foods you love into your meal plans. Fitness is a vibrant lifestyle that you should enjoy so make it interesting and mix things up! Now you don’t have to stick to a dull and bland diet. Flexible dieting allows you to eat the food you love while losing weight. The key is having balance. Even if you incorporate a KFC meal into your diet, as long as your total calories at the end of the day are 10-20% below your TDEE, you will lose weight.
To make flexible dieting fun, don’t just eat the same food every day. For example, your protein source can come from a mixture of fish, steak, steamed chicken, fried chicken, yogurts, milk, eggs and cottage cheese. Check MyFitnessPal for more creative ideas.
It is disheartening to see so many people who are busting their ass off in the gym and yet, don’t have the results to show for it as they have neglected to put the same amount of effort in their diet. Most people don’t lose weight because they are not in a caloric deficit. You must be able to track your calories to be able to know how much you can eat.
Give flexible dieting a try and calculate your calories and macronutrients to start enjoying the foods you love and lose weight. Your friends (and even yourself) will be amazed at how you can lose weight by not restricting yourself to certain foods. I hope by incorporating flexible dieting, you will live a happier fitness lifestyle. No more chicken breast and broccoli every meal. What is the point of losing weight if you don’t enjoy the process?
If you are not happy with your diet, it won’t sustain for long anyways and eventually all the weight will come back. Flexible dieting is a game changer and has changed the lives of many people. The question is, will it change yours? You will only know if you give it a try and stick to flexible dieting for at least 1 month. To assess your progress, measure your weight now and measure it again 1 month later. Now go lose that weight!