At first flexible dieting can seem like a full time job, but I assure you this diet (or lifestyle) is, in my opinion, the most effective way to enjoy the foods you love while staying on track with your fitness goals. What exactly is flexible dieting? Flexible Dieting (Also known as IIFYM, if it fits your macros) is merely tracking the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) of the foods you eat to achieve a certain body composition goal. Another note of importance is while flexible dieting not one food is off limits. In general IIFYM followers do not deem foods dirty or clean. I however, try to get the majority of my foods from whole or natural sources but I do not fret if I have a donut every now and then especially if it fits my macros. I am going to arm you with the first steps you should take to start the diet that bodybuilders everywhere follow to achieve the physique of their dreams.
Step 1: Understanding the Math
Macros or Macronutrients are the key components of a food Calorie. Calories are made up of 3 macros: Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates. One gram of each macro has a calorie value.
- 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories
- 1 Gram of Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
Rather than tracking just calories Flexible Dieters would track their macros, setting a daily caloric intake but also setting where those calories are coming from by assigning rigid amounts fats, carbs and proteins they can consume each day. Tracking macronutrients, more effectively influences body composition than just calorie counting and it can even help you stay fuller longer.
Step 2: Understanding Why You Should Get Started
In the world of today we are constantly being pressured in every direction to take on a fad diet, some of which include, juicing, eating clean, Atkins and paleo diets. Flexible dieting is one thing above all else, flexible. You can eat the foods you love guilt-free as long as you reserve some macros for it. You don’t even have to call that slice of a cake a cheat on your diet, if you were still on track with your macros at the end of the day. That is the reason why flexible dieting breaks the diet binge cycle. There isn’t a need to stuff your face at the end of the week when you can enjoy little treats daily and still be on track to your goals. This diet is extremely effective and satisfying. While on IIFYM I never feel hungry and I have been seeing amazing results. If you want to see results just google IIFYM results (These are REAL people who are eating REAL food and getting REAL results).
Step 3: Committing to the Fit Life
At first it isn’t going to be easy but eventually you will be a seasoned macro professional. You need to commit yourself and hold yourself accountable for everything you eat. Prepare to have an eye-opening learning experience particularly with portion sizes. I never realized how much more you eat when you put snacks into a large bowl or eat them out of a bag. It really makes all the difference portioning out snacks ahead of time and making sure you always have, fruits, veggies and cooked grilled chicken on hand.
Step 4: Buy Yourself a Good Food Scale
Make sure you get a reliable food scale that is large so you can read the weights when a plate is on top of the scale.
Step 5: Find out your Body Fat Percentage
- I highly recommend you get a Caliper to measure your body fat percentage. This is particularly useful to gage your progress as you continue to track your macros. Many times you will not be losing weight but you will be replacing fat with muscle, the Caliper helps you track changes to your body that a standard scale cannot see. Once you find out your number see where you fall on the chart below:
Step 6: Figure Out Your Macro Targets
- Once you have your body fat percentage down head on over to this macro calculator: http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/
- Once at the calculator page type in the required fields and make sure you are seeing your daily macros and calories and not divided up into meals. Once you have them those are your recommended macronutrient gram amounts for you and your goals. If you are not seeing the results you want after following those macro allowances they can be adjusted at any time by using this calculator.
Step 7: Download Your App Arsenal:
App #1: Fat Secret:
- This app provides accurate and reliable macro amounts for common household food items and even menu items at popular restaurants. You could compare this app to Myfitnesspal but unlike that app this one always has accurate nutritional information available to you. You can even use this to quickly add up the macros in a homemade lunch as it allows you to input foods by the exact gram amount you ate. (ex. Say I ate 78g of grilled chicken FatSecret can tell you the macros on this in seconds)
App #2: Macros:
- I use this app every day to quickly input my macros, it doesn’t do much but it helps me visually see in a basic format how many macros I have left. It does come with its own macro calculator but I’d recommend setting your own macro targets on the App and using the results you got from the IIFYM calculator. It also has an option to have different macros on a rest day but I recommend eating the same amounts of macros and calories regardless if it’s a training day or a rest day.
Step 8: Stay on Track with your Diet and Workouts with Social Media
The number one way I stay motived to work out and follow my diet is through the wonderful support network I have joined online. The amount of inspirational and supportive friends I’ve made from Instagram’s #fitfam, Pumpitup App and Burn this App are invaluable. I highly recommend getting involved in these FREE online communities they are better than any paid support you could ever receive.