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A Guide to Flexible Dieting

Asmita Chaudhary
Asmita Chaudhary
If the word “dieting” sends shivers down your spine, then perhaps you need to check out 𝐅𝐥𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠. 

As the name suggests, Flexible Dieting is not a strict form of dieting. The goal is to be able to live a life and allow yourself to eat some of the things you like. You don’t need to avoid going out with friends and you can still make progress.

Flexible dieting is also known as IIFYM –"If It Fits Your Macros". It promotes the notion that no food is inherently good or bad. You can have any food you want as long as you have an overall healthy diet and are getting your required macronutrients and micronutrients.

𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐅𝐥𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠?

➖Adherence 
Flexible Dieting is relatively easier to follow and thus, increases adherence. The flexibility to include a wider variety of foods in the diet helps people stick to it.

➖Doesn't make you Anti Social
It allows you to have a social life. Flexible Dieting is designed to fit your lifestyle and preferences which means you can have a fun night out with the gang and still stay on track.

➖Lesser Food Restriction 
There are no food restrictions. The only thing you need to keep an eye on are your macronutrients and calories intake. Consider your macros (calories) as a budget. If you are able to lose fat even while consuming a substantial amount of calories, that means you have a bigger budget than someone who has to eat fewer calories to generate the same amount of weight loss. This means you could include 200 calories of chocolate in your plan, but the other guy one has to be careful about what foods he includes in his plan.

𝐃𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭?

This is the biggest mistake people make when they decide to try Flexible Dieting. Taking a flexible approach to dieting does not mean you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. 𝘍𝘓𝘌𝘟𝘐𝘉𝘓𝘌 𝘋𝘐𝘌𝘛𝘐𝘕𝘎 𝘐𝘚 𝘈𝘕 𝘈𝘛𝘛𝘐𝘛𝘜𝘋𝘌 𝘙𝘈𝘛𝘏𝘌𝘙 𝘛𝘏𝘈𝘕 𝘈 𝘋𝘐𝘌𝘛 𝘚𝘛𝘙𝘈𝘛𝘌𝘎𝘠. If the goal is fat loss, being flexible means not taking the TYPICAL BLACK/WHITE, either/or, GOOD/BAD APPROACH TO DIETING.

It means: 

⏩Ensuring that you include mostly whole foods that are nutrient-dense and satiating

⏩Sticking with the 80-20 rule i.e. eating whole nutritious food 80% of the time while allowing yourself some treats (within macros, naturally) the remaining 20% of the time. You are human, after all! 

For example, if you are consuming 1800 calories, then 80% of 1800 i.e. 1440 calories should come from whole foods and 360 calories – you can add your favorite food! 

𝐈𝐬 𝐈𝐭 𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐀𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐄𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐤 𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐝?

Flexible dieting has got a bad reputation from Instagram stories that promote eating and adjusting junk food in the diet. Remember - what you see on social media are the “fun" foods (which make up no more than 20% of their plan).

So no, flexible dieting is not about eating junk food. 

Imagine what would happen if all your calories and protein intake were on point but all you ever ate were burgers, chocolates, and ice-creams. How satiating would that be on a fat loss plan? Chances are that your micronutrient requirements will not be met which could lead to deficiencies.

So, you have to spend your budget (calories) smartly to make it sustainable. 

Instead, include minimally processed whole foods such as lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber sources of carbohydrates. Feel free to include pasta, peanut butter or your favorite chocolate—as long as your calorie budget allows it.

𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤?

Traditional diets are very restrictive and revolve around eliminating processed items, refined sugar, and carbs that make you "fat"—often cutting down calories drastically or completely restricting enitire food groups.
While this may help you lose some weight initially, the restrictions can lead to cravings and inevitable bingeing. Not to mention the pangs of guilt when you fall off the wagon.
With flexible dieting, you can fit in that chocolate bar, and you don't have to cut down on carbs. This makes the diet much more sustainable and creates fewer cravings. It is a lifestyle rather than a "diet".

𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐥𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞?

⏩Going out with your friends and eating food that you enjoy.
⏩Replacing brown bread with white bread, if that’s what you enjoy more.
⏩Having the power to make your own healthy choices where it comes to your body and goals.

𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧

If you do very well on a clean, strict diet and don't have any cravings, then feel free to use that approach. 

But if you can't or if you want a more relaxed approach to your diet, you can still achieve your goals without tracking everything to the T. 

⏩The key here is to find an approach that suits your lifestyle and approach. Flexible Dieting takes practice and people who are in the early stages of their fat loss journey often find that such a strategy throws them off or doesn’t work for them. 

𝘚𝘦𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 - 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘬 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘵!