What is Flexible Dieting?

OK, tell me the basics

Flexible Dieting is simply the counting of macronutrients (and fibre) in order to achieve a body composition goal. There are three macronutrients (macros): carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. One gram of each macronutrient has a value (measured in calories) and when combined, these result in overall calorie intake; carbohydrates and protein carry 4 calories and fat 9 calories.

Following the flexible diet is simply based on a daily target, set for calorie and macronutrient (and fibre) intake. As long as the target numbers are achieved any foods can be eaten to suit personal preference.

A little more detail..

The personal target calculation for calorie requirement and macro ratios for flexible diet is based on:

  1. Daily energy expenditure based on weight, height, age and physical activity level
  2. Personal goal (lose weight, gain weight, maintain weight)

Flexible dieting is mostly about numbers and the nutritional profiles of foods; there are no specific guidelines on which foods may or may not be eaten. However, it is important that an overall healthy, balanced diet is followed; one that incorporates lots of nutrient dense foods, occasionally incorporating less than healthy foods whilst still meeting with the diet target. Flexible dieting approach seems to work well; it is not a ‘quick fix’ but rather a lifestyle approach to eating and nutrition.

Other forms of diet, particularly those based around strict calorie reduction and food group elimination, are often only a ‘quick fix’ and can fall short as they do not readily adapt to general lifestyles. It is common for dieters to feel deprived of food, which can lead to cheating or bingeing, eventually end up quitting the diet and reversing all of their hard work. Flexible dieting promotes moderation and inclusion of food variety, with occasional indulgence.

The benefits

  • It’s flexible! Research has demonstrated that individuals who are too rigid in their approach to dieting are actually less successful in the long run than those who adopt a more flexible attitude.
  • Easier to stick to because it allows individuals to mostly eat the foods they like.
  • Less stress in social situations.
  • Suitable for anyone to follow, even those with allergies or following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Cons

  • Having too much flexibility may cause dieters to go off the rails.
  • Some might focus too much on the macros, forgetting the importance of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) intake, essential in a healthy diet.
  • If not planned in advance, poor food decisions are possible just to meet macros e.g. drinking 3 protein shakes at the end of the day just to meet the protein target.

Is it for me?

Flexible dieting is ideal for anyone who struggles to stick to a rigid diet because of lifestyle factors or food preferences. Can be the perfect approach to achieve any goal, whether to lose weight, gain weight or build muscle. However, flexible dieting might not work for those who need more structure or prefer adhering to a strict diet. Also, this may not be the best diet for those looking for rapid weight loss.

It is important to note that the form of Flexible Dieting used on My Diet Meal Plan is slightly different than some of the other “Flexible Dieting” approaches you see elsewhere (such as ‘If It Fits Your Macros- IIFTM’) as we allow the diet to be even more flexible in terms of macronutrient targets although of course the same basic concepts apply.

How can I follow Flexible Dieting principles using the Diet Meal Planner?

  1. Go to the “Lose weight” page found under diet plans and select Flexible dieting from the drop down list
  2. Select how many meals and snacks you wish to have on your “normal days”
  3. Enter any personal nutritional requirements, allergies and any foods you don’t like
  4. Click “Create My Meal Plan” and let the Diet Meal Planner do the rest of the work for you!

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