What Is Flexible Dieting? IIFYM Uncovered
Flexible dieting also known as if it fits your macros is a nutritional approach that rather than excluding any foods from the diet focuses on the nutrients you want to ingest. Some say that a calorie is a calorie regardless of what it comes from. I would go a step further and say a gram of protein is a gram of protein regardless of the source. Of course, there are many different mechanisms that our body uses to absorb different types of protein, carbohydrates and fats but let’s talk about that in a minute.
In flexible dieting there are no ’good’ and ‘bad’ foods. Same goes for terms such as ‘clean’. This approach assumes that all foods can be consumed within reason if your nutrition is based upon healthy staples. The usual approach is that you should strive to eat healthy most of the times and allow yourself occasional treats which fit your macros. The way you establish those is by first setting your goals (whether it’s bulking, leaning out or maintaining) and comparing those to your current state by means of calculators you can easily find online. I will not get into the specifics of the formula now – you can find them here. Finally, you are left with 4 vital numbers – calories, fat, carbs and protein/day (in grams). Theoretically, you can fill that with whatever you like but you should stay reasonable.
I stress a reasonable eating approach due the misconception of flexible dieters eating nothing but junk and promoting an unhealthy diet. Common sense implies that if you want to be healthy all around you will go for a 100calorie fruit or veggie rather than a 100 calorie candy. But the point is – you can have candy from time to time or anything else really. Even super strict bodybuilders admit to having cheat meals. Arnold often mentions indulging in pie on occasion. So what is the difference between IIFYM and clean eating with cheats?
First of all crash dieting such as the super strict bodybuilder cutting diet leads to psychological issues and can cause an eating disorder. Dieting and cheating can easily turn into a vicious cycle of binging and purging. As we all know a typical bodybuilder is not mostly concerned with their health physical or mental. They use the tools and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve competition shape. But if you are a regular person – a fitness or bodybuilding amateur such a rigorous solution could do more harm than good.
Flexible dieting on the other hand fits in with the concept of wholesome mindful living. Even though it allows flexibility and doesn’t promote guilt over any foods, it encourages eating unprocessed healthy foods.
The second difference between IIFYM and dieting with cheats is its sustainability. It teaches you what foods are more satisfying and which calorie loaded. It teaches you to think about what you eat. It is a lifestyle you can adapt forever. It allows treats in social situations which makes it easier to adapt to.
The third factor is variety. There are no banned foods in this protocol. Rather , by counting calories and macros you learn how much a certain food ‘costs’. If you choose to eat a high calorie food, you limit the rest of your meals etc. Not programming guilt into the way you see ‘bad gods’ takes the lust away. It creates the no nonsense approach of ‘it’s just food’ and you are more in control of your emotions about food.
This style of eating has its limitations just like any other. The danger is that someone will treat it as an excuse to eat junk , perhaps even lose weight that way. The number of instagram photos of junk labeled #iifm is too damn high!With a balanced approach this diet can help lose weight reduce body fat and gain muscle. Within the last 6 weeks I lost 4 kilograms and maintained muscle. More importantly I have managed to keep my binging disorder under control even though I had occasional treats. The fact that you track macros helps develop a meal planning and prepping routine which helped me save money and stay on track.