Flexible dieting. Confused? Simply put it’s a popular method of tracking your macronutrients (i.e. protein, carbs and fats). It is useful when it comes to trying to hit certain macronutrient or calorie targets in your diet, but without having to restrict yourself to limited food sources.
Essentially, flexible dieting enables you to eat a wide variety of food sources without the worry of foods being labelled ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’. This in turn allows you to partake in social occasions & events without having to worry about foods being off plan. Most importantly however, this allows for it to be a sustainable way of eating in the long term due to less food restriction.
However, the controversy of flexible dieting is that this form of dieting can allow for an ability to just eat copious amounts of junk food without consideration to nutrient content, as long as you hit your macro/calorie targets.
However, to combat this, we at Fitterbody Ladies recommend that flexible dieting should be more about fitting into the 80/10/10 rule.
So this means:
80% of food choices are from single ingredient, natural foods
10% of food choices are from minimally processed foods
10% of food choices are from food sources of your choice- whether it be a Big Mac, confectionary or an Indian takeaway.
What Is The Benefit?
There are lots of rigid/restrictive eating plans (e.g. low calorie/low carb/etc.) out there that focus on the short term duration plan of just losing weight. These plans however often result in people regaining the weight lost after they finish the plan because, when they come off the diet plan they immediately start binging on the energy dense foods that they were restricted from whilst on the plan.
Flexible dieting on the other hand is less about being a diet but more a way of having much better control over your lifestyle choices. This is because you can always be in control and always be monitoring what you are consuming whilst not being restricted. As a result, you can maintain the control of whether you are being consistent and eating in conjunction with your goals, whether they be to lose weight, maintain health or improve performance, but at the same time living a healthy, social lifestyle.
There are very few diet plans/regimes that take into consideration the time period immediately post diet. However, with flexible dieting there is no post-diet, just a change in focus of goals and therefore a potential change in the calorie and macronutrient targets.
Furthermore, these restrictive types of diet plans with limited food choices can also result in there being a lack of certain vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, meat and other natural food sources ensures that you are likely to hit your fibre targets. Fibre is thermogenic, meaning that it requires plenty of energy to digest and process, making it an important factor when aiming at optimal body composition.
Yes, you can also eat fruit (despite the dogma against fruit sugar) because foods high in both sugars and fibre are abundant in vitamins and minerals and also blunt the GI response.
Whereas the main issue with most other sugary foods is that they are low in both fibre and nutrients.
At Fitterbody Ladies we recommend that flexible dieting should be more about fitting into the 80/10/10 rule
So for the general layman who has a busy job, family/life commitments, looking at slow fat loss, better health & a plan that can fit within their lifestyle- this is the one for them.
The Potential Cons of Flexible Dieting
It can sometimes reach a point where people may abuse it by slowly allowing the junk foods to creep in more and more over the long term. This has an adverse effect on the body by creating an over acidic environment in the body and can lead to things like water retention.
Another thing is that can be tedious and sometimes feel like a bit of a chore when it comes to meticulously calculating macros/calories. Not everyone wants to be filling in the data every day.
So this system is very good and sustainable in the long run, until you have a limited timeline to a strict goal.
For example, special occasion such as a holiday or wedding. At the stage when you are striving for that killer physique, flexibility within the diet is best being restricted.
However, you can still incorporate the benefits of flexible dieting within this limited timeframe before the big event. This is done by making sure you can account for any ‘cheat’ meals by monitoring and tracking your intake before such a meal and ensuring that you have enough room in your calories and macronutrients to allow for it before you hit your targets.
This then enables you to have these types of meals without necessarily ‘cheating’ because you have given yourself enough room to allow for it within your calorie and macronutrient limits. Thus meaning that it will not impact on your weight loss or fat loss goals, but will help keep up your discipline towards your diet plan, as you can look forward to the next ‘cheat’ meal.
So in the long run, flexible dieting is a very successful and sustainable form of dieting as it allows for that flexibility in food choices, which can often be lacking in many other forms of dieting. This then means you can fit it in and around your lifestyle/social life and still enjoy some of the foods you enjoy and may otherwise miss out on, whilst still achieving your goals and keeping up health and performance. But you must be careful not to abuse the freedom this allows and become carefree of what is going in your mouth. Plus, when it comes to that short timeframe and you are looking to fit in that killer dress, then nothing beats good, nutritious food and some serious discipline.