The flexible diet has been a big turnaround in the fitness industry. This approach to eating has helped many to understand that they don’t need to follow a strict meal plan to achieve their goals. Gone are the days when you carried around a pack of containers and could only eat cod and cucumbers.
The flexible diet has helped many people understand that magic foods do not exist. Our body composition is the result of our daily intake of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fibre). This revelation cleared the minds of many people.
When used correctly, the flexible diet provides an excellent balance of flexibility and stability. You must build your day around all the three macronutrients.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients or macros (macros) are the three main sources of energy for our body.
Proteins are a complex of amino acids that, in the body, perform the function of muscle repair and growth. The main sources of protein are chicken eggs, dairy products, meat, fish, beans, soy.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy used by our body including muscles and brain. Carbohydrates are either simple and complex. Simple ones are absorbed quickly and give a powerful jump in insulin, which is not always good. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, take longer to be absorbed and provide a lasting boost of energy.
The main sources of simple and complex carbohydrates, respectively, are:
- Various sweets (sugar, candy, cookies), chips, and some starchy foods.
- Oatmeal, rice, whole grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, vegetables, etc.
Fats are essential for the body. They help cells interact with each other, absorb vitamins, and maintain a certain hormonal balance. Fats can be categorized either as unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.
Unsaturated fats have a positive effect on heart health and cognitive function, saturated fats are good for testosterone production, but trans fats are harmful and can cause various metabolic disorders.
- The main sources of fat are olive oil, nuts, avocados, fish, and egg yolks.
Pros and cons of a flexible diet
A flexible diet has many benefits:
- You can choose any foods that you like for your diet.
- You are sure that you are giving your body everything it needs.
- It is relatively easy to do it and thus less stressful.
- You do not have any restrictions; you do not divide food into “bad” and “good”.
- You donat feel excessive hunger because you are consuming enough protein and fat.
- You can see consistent results.
- You can safely visit family and friends, dine in restaurants and attend holidays without remorse.
The disadvantages of a flexible diet include:
- Permissiveness on this diet can drive some people to an eating disorder. Unfortunately, the forbidden fruit is always sweet. Not everyone can manage to limit themselves to one piece of chocolate or one cookie. It is therefore so easy to lose control over yourself after tasting something sweet.
- Some foods are not good for health. For example, fried foods and smoked meats that can be carcinogenic and or contain trans fats. So if you look at it from the point of view of weight loss, then a flexible diet works, but if you consider its impact on health, then some questions remain unanswered.
Tips for Flexible Dieting
Below are tips to help you avoid extremes and follow a flexible diet properly.
Trying to “pick” the grams you need every day is not only time consuming but also borders on disorder eating. You don’t need perfection with your macros because there is still a variation on food labels. The numbers on the label do not always correspond to what you actually get.
Unless you’re preparing for a show, it’s okay to deviate 10 grams each day. Don’t worry about your desire for perfection. Focus on being as consistent as possible, because that’s so much more important than anything else.
Let’s say your friends invite you to a restaurant. Your first reaction is to go to their website and find information about their calories, but there is none. What would you do? Won’t you come?
Sometimes you should still go and have some fun!
Some people on flexible diets are afraid to eat out because there is no information about the health benefits of the meals or fear it is wrong. This does not make sense because instead of being flexible and evaluating macros, they prefer not to go.
Eating out may not be the best idea when preparing for a competition or when you have a serious goal with a deadline, but for regular folks like us, eating out once or twice a month won’t ruin your plan.
Increase the variety
Diet variety is very important because it allows you to be more creative with your flexible dieting meal plan and provides a balanced macronutrient profile. Often I see people on flexible diets eating the same thing day in and day out.
This is fine if you like the consistency of your meal plan and eat nutrient-dense foods, but it may be too harsh to follow throughout the year.
Watch only calories and protein
Tracking calories and protein can make a flexible diet plan easier and less rigid because you don’t need to track carbs and fats. All you do is strive to reach your daily protein and calories.
Trying to hit one target (calories) is much easier than trying to hit all three macro targets (protein, carbs, and fat). Even if you don’t track macros, that doesn’t mean you don’t know roughly how much you are consuming.
Try this tip if tracking macros is difficult, you’re new to a diet, or just need a break from tracking everything.
Customization based on goals and lifestyle
This is the best advice for making a flexible diet a lifestyle, not just a diet. If your goal is to enjoy life and stay fit, calorie tracking and portioning may be most appropriate.
If your goal is serious, you need a more rigorous approach. If your goal is to compete or be shredded, you should track macros and weigh all foods. This will give you maximum control over your body.
Bigger goals = tougher approach
It all depends on your goals. The beauty of a flexible diet is that you can and should adjust your diet to suit your lifestyle, and your rigour should be consistent.
The Flexible Diet is not a rigid system with no room for error, like other diet plans. This is a personalized approach that is very popular today.
You can get lost in the jungle of calculations and analysis, but this approach should be fun! Be honest and conscientious in keeping track of calories, and you will be on your way to success.