How do we count macros and maintain a flexible diet? How can we go out to eat, enjoy our favorite foods, and still stay on track to reaching our goals? Knowing what our body needs to perform optimally, gives us the flexibility to incorporate ALL foods into our diet while staying consistent and maintaining balance.
There are SO many diets out there. Low carb/Low Fat, Paleo, Adkins, Southbeach, Vegetarian, Vegan, and the list goes on. You’ve probably heard that you are suppose to “Eat Clean.” You’ve probably been told that you shouldn’t eat this or you shouldn’t eat that after 4pm or don’t combine this food with this. How confusing is that?! Here’s some good news for you! It’s not true!!! You don’t have to cut out carbs, only eat protein/veggies after dark, and never have that cookie you know you want.
Flexible dieting is a moderation based approach. No food restrictions prevent the constant cravings for certain foods and even the binge eating trap that many fall into on restricted diets. As I mentioned in the previous post, your body needs Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. How much of each depends on the individuals needs and their goals.
So, once you know your individual macronutrient breakdown, that’s when you can have fun with it! The best tool to use is My Fitness Pal to easily record your meals/food that you eat throughout the day. There is a barcode scanner that you can use to directly import all the nutrition data from a food product. You can enter ingredients from recipes to find out the exact macro breakdown for a serving. It will tell you how many grams of protein, carbs, fat you have left until you hit your goal for the day.
When it comes to eating out, there are SO many restaurants now that have their Nutrition Facts listed on their website. For example: Chipotle, Pie Five Pizza, Modmarket, Subway, Chickfila, Seasons 52, Torchy’s Tacos, IHOP, and so many more. My advice is to look up the menu before you go and find something that you want and you know you can fit easily into your macros, and still have enough for the rest of your meals that day.
The flexible part of “IIFYM” is if you have a dinner or an event coming up and you know you will not be able to control exactly what you eat…you can save up a large part of your macros so you know you won’t go over. After a while of counting macros, it becomes easier to eyeball foods and guestimate the nutrition info.
Most importantly, the beauty of flexible dieting is that it’s all about staying consistent. No more “yo-yo” dieting of eating super low calories on some days and then super high calories on others. Now you are maintaining a consistent amount of each macronutrient daily and your metabolism is working properly. That gives you some freedom to enjoy a meal without any “guilt” or feeling like you “cheated.” It’s all about a maintainable lifestyle. It’s about fueling your body properly, enjoying the foods you love, and having the freedom to attend social events while staying on track.