Flexible Dieting: What to Know
There have been as many diets claiming miraculous results as the number of people who try them. Some are legitimate, some are not. A few weeks ago we looked at the keto diet – what it is, it’s pros and cons, what research and experts say about it. This week let’s take a look at flexible dieting. What is it and does it work?
What is Flexible Dieting?
Flexible dieting is basically counting and tracking macronutrients in your diet. It’s also referred to as If It Fits Your Macros, or simply Counting Macros. The macronutrients being counted are proteins, carbs, and fats.
Flexible dieting has three main parts:
- Calculating your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), basing this on your current weight and exercise
- Calculating your macros in ratios that help you reach your health and fitness goals
- Tracking your food intake, trying to meet TDEE and macro limits every day
Macronutrients have the following caloric correlations:
- 1 Gram Fat = 9 calories
- 1 Gram Protein = 4 calories
- 1 Gram Carbs = 4 calories
In flexible dieting, macronutrients are counted in place of calories in order to reach a specific caloric goal. There are no “bad” foods, no “not allowed” foods and there are no “good” foods. Since your body does NOT distinguish between “good” foods and “bad” foods, there are simply macronutrient ratios in food to worry about.
If you decide your caloric number per day is 2000, you’ll break down your macronutrients like this:
Determining Your Macronutrient Needs
Before beginning a flexible diet it’s important to determine your TDEE and macronutrients first. Your diet is based o these percentages. This can be done in a few ways – you can find macro calculators on the internet or you can do the calculations yourself.
Your TDEE is your total daily energy expenditure. This consists of:
- Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) – number of calories burned while resting
- Non-Resting Eneregy Expenditure (NREE) – number of calories burned during exercise, during all daily activities, and the amount of energy needed for digestion
Note: Your REE accounts for over 60% of total daily calories burned
Your NREE includes calories burned through any movement.
Your macronutrient needs can be calculated using the following numbers:
- Fats – 9 calories/gram, around 20-35% of total daily calories
- Protein – 4 calories/gram, around 10-35% of total daily calories
- Carbs – 4 calories/gram, around 45-65% of total daily calories
One easy way to track your macros after calculating your TDEE-REE-NREE numbers is to use a tracking website or app (see a list of apps and resources below).
Benefits of Flexible Dieting
Some of the pros of flexible dieting include:
Since you’re not limiting your favorite foods but counting macros, the flexible diet is simply easier to follow and stay on. Denying yourself of foods you enjoy because they’re considered “bad” foods just sets you up for dieting failure. You still have to practice moderation, you still have to be watchful of what you’re eating and how much, there are no shortcuts there. You simply must operate at a calorie deficit in order to lose weight – there’s no way around that.
As usual, SplitFit recommends you consult with your healthcare provider before starting any diet or workout program.
Resources on Flexible Dieting
Articles on Macros
- What Are Macros
- Beginner Lessons for Macros
- 12 Tips for Macro Newbies
- Calculating Macros for the First Time
Articles on Flexible Dieting
- Flexible Dieting: A Simple Macro Diet Plan that Works
- Why What You Think About Flexible Dieting is Wrong
- How to Get the Body You Want with Flexible Dieting
- How to Start Flexible Dieting
- What is IIFYM – The Official Website for Flexible Dieting
- Your No-BS Approach to Flexible Dieting
Research on Flexible Dieting
- Rigid vs Flexible Dieting: Association with Eating Disorder Symptoms
- The Macros Diet (Flexible Dieting)
- The Science and Benefits of Flexible Dieting
- Eating Behaviors in Four Female Dieters: A Pilot Study
- Flexible Dieting and Metabolic Adaptation During Weight Loss
Image Credit: Exante Diet