What Is Flexible Dieting?
Have you been looking for a solution to your dieting woes after years of being a slave to your body and cravings? Have you ever wondered why after all your efforts to ‘eat healthy’ you’ve not progressed to your goals or even worse - gained weight? Well fasten your seat belt and prepare to be enlightened as there’s not a stone that Flexible Dieting will leave unturned.
Flexible dieting, as the name suggests, is the trendy label given to a science based method of dieting that allows for flexibility and independence in meeting your body’s numeric needs. When we say ‘numeric’ needs this means overall calories and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat). Science recognises that to achieve a specific body composition goal, whether that be fat loss, muscle gain or weight management you have an optimal calorie and macronutrient target to reach in order to achieve this. Below we explore the simple science of flexible dieting and the top benefits of practising this scientific method.
How Flexible Dieting Works?
The Simple Science Of Weight Loss
Quite simply, if you want to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit (eating less then you're expending energy wise). If you want to gain weight then you need to be in a calorie surplus (eating more than you're expending energy wise). If you want to maintain your weight then you need to be consuming the same energy (calories) as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) - which is what you burn on a daily basis inclusive of your activity.
The Importance Of Measuring Progress While Flexible Dieting
The key to ensuring you’re on the right track is through tracking progress. Use a number of forms of progress so when variables affect one method you still have another to resort to, such as photos, a measurement card and scale weight. Each individual is different, so the best method to ensure you’re on track with your goals is to use how your body progresses to give reason to change and modifications to your intake. Through consistent compliance and tracking your progress you will acquire an understanding of your metabolic capacity and then be able to tweak your intake targets to optimise progress. If you find you’re maintaining weight while aiming for fat loss you might considering decreasing your calories by a small increment daily, or if you’re losing a substantial amount of weight quickly and feel tired and fatigued you may consider increasing your calories by a small increment daily. Assessing your progress in the context of various outside factors that occurred in that week is super important in order to avoid reducing or increasing without valid reason ie you may have had your period, not been fully adherent, dined out frequently, not had enough water etc - these factors would see that you continue as you were for at least another week before tweaking. Each person has goals that are unique to them, there's no cookie-cutter number or generic tool that can help you get them exactly right, this is why progress tracking is imperative to devising your targets while Flexible Dieting.
The Importance Of Macronutrients
Macronutrients - so hitting your required protein, fat and carbohydrate intakes - play an important role in body composition. Rule of thumb is protein will amount to about 0.85-1.15g per pound of body weight (for our more intricate calculation check out Your Guide To Protein), fat between 20-30% of total daily intake and carbs will make up the remainder. The effect of each macro is as follows:
- You need to ensure you get enough protein every day to preserve muscle - losing muscle and water will give an unfavourable body composition, commonly referred to as ‘skinny fat’.
- You need to ensure you eat enough carbs, which provide your muscles with the glycogen stores needed to maintain training intensity, and energy levels.
- You need to ensure you eat enough fats, which play an important role in hormone synthesis.
This is why macronutrient intake is as important as caloric consumption given the role that macros play in your body composition. At the end of the day though, calories in vs calories out will always be the equation of fat loss or fat gain, however to do this optimally macros need close attention too. The reality is the carbs in lollies turn into glucose and glycogen just like the carbs in broccoli. The protein in a Big Mac burger is made up of the same amino acids as trimmed chicken breast.
That being said, lollies are not the same as broccoli and eating McDonald's burgers all the time is not encouraged. Just because you can eat a box of Pop-Tarts every day and lose weight doesn’t mean you should. Food is beyond a mere source of protein, carbohydrate, and fat and is also a source of vital micronutrients which support the body’s many physiological functions.
A lot of stereotypical ‘junk food’ lacks in these micronutrients and the deficiency in these requirements is why many Flexible Dieters can’t get away with meeting their intake requirements through junk and treat foods alone. Is it possible to eat only junk in a calorie deficit and still lose body fat? Yes, and it’s scientifically proven.
Aesthetics shouldn’t compromise health. In other terms, your health is just as important if not more important than looking good.
As mentioned above, while it's totally fine to work in some of your favourite snacks and treats, your body still needs essential nutrients to keep you in good health. How we create meal plans optimally at Equalution is through working in foods that you love to eat according to an 80/20 approach when Flexible Dieting which we believe is Flexible Dieting in best practice. For example to fit in a burger for dinner and ice-cream for dessert we would balance that out with a nutrient dense, high fiber,, high-protein, low-calorie, breakfast and lunch. That way, you'll still be getting all the good nutrients your body needs to thrive, stay at your optimal calorie deficit AND also get to sneak in that burger you've been craving. Who said you can't have your cake and eat it too?
A Day On A Plate Flexible Dieting Style!
Meal 1: Yoghurt Bowl
1x YoPro Yoghurt Tub
Uncle Toby’s O&G Granola 30g
Mixed Berries 50g
Meal 2: Bar & Fruit
1x BSC Low Carb Collagen Bar
Meal 3: Morrocan Chicken Salad
Grilled Chicken Breast 120g
Masterfoods Morrocan Seasoning
Skinny Tzatziki 50g
Meal 4: Ham & Cheese Toastie
Fat Free Ham 30g
1x Bega 50% Less Fat Cheese Slice
1x Tip Top Sandwich Thins
Meal 5: Steak & Chips
Extra Lean Rump Steak 180g
McCain Healthy Choice Chips 120g
Green Beans 150g
Meal 6: Icecream Stick & Chocolate
1x YoPro Salted Caramel Icecream Stick
1x Treat Size Caramello Koala
Flexible dieting won’t tie you down with regulations and requirements to eat every few hours. Basically, you’re hitting an intake goal within each 24 hour period and what you select to meet those requirements and when you consume that food is up to you. Flexible dieting is made by you, for you and highly reflective of your lifestyle.
Flexible Dieting allows for a better relationship with food by removing a lot of the restrictions that prohibit a positive stigma towards food in the context of dieting and achieving results. By following a plan that 1) achieves results, 2) isn’t discriminative towards foods and food groups, 3) doesn’t bound the individual with rules and restrictions and 4) doesn’t create any lifestyle hindrances; a better relationship with food can be created and any eating disorders managed through personalisation of the strategy and food choices.
What Flexible Dieting allows for is the ability to eat a variety of foods you like on a schedule that works best for you, in light of your lifestyle, which makes the diet enjoyable and thus extremely easy to stick to - so it CAN work for everyone. When it comes to long-term results, compliance and consistency are of the essence though with an 80/20 approach to nutrition reflecting 80% wholesome and nutritious food and 20% soul food this makes the longevity of the diet especially if there is a larger goal, all the more attainable.
Want to get started on your Flexible Dieting nutrition plan and transform into the best version of you? Seek our personalised coaching service whereby we use your unique data points to calculate your personal intake targets and use foods of your choice to meet these. The new you is just around the corner, what are you waiting for?
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team