Maybe you've heard of flexible dieting, maybe you haven't, so first of all, what is flexible dieting? Essentially, it is a calorie controlled diet where you eat all the foods you like, as long as you stay within your calorie allowance. Simple as that! Now let's take a little look further into this.
Surely you can't eat what you want on a diet??
As a matter of fact you can! Every time I am asked this question, I reverse it and ask why not? Then I proceed to explain that everything in this world has a calorie allowance, you can eat 500 calories of chocolate or 500 calories of broccoli, it's still 500 calories. The difference is, there will be a lot more broccoli gram for gram and it has a lot more nutritional value.
Seriously, with this method of eating, nothing is off limits, you just have to consider portion sizes of foods to suit your calorie allowance.
How is this a diet then?
The term 'diet' is used as a negative all the time. However, a 'diet' is someone's food and drink intake, not just in the short term, but the long term too. So what I eat today, is my diet. I am not necessarily restricting anything, it is just the food and drink I put into my body. By slightly reducing/increasing particular portions in my diet, I don't remove anything, I just manage my diet better to reflect my goal to either lose or gain weight.
Now consider your own diet for the past week. Everything you have consumed both food and drink. And now imagine completely changing that to some other diet some weird person told you to do to drop a stone in ten days. Then what happens? You go back to your old diet and regain weight. Instead, how about we look at small changes to portion sizes and amounts of food that better reflect their calorie allowances in your current diet? Sounds better already right? That's because it is.
How does it work?
First of all, you need to know how many calories you can have. Each person is a little different. The most ideal way to do this is by wearing a heart rate monitor, they're in most smart watches now, you track and write down your total calorie burn at the end of each day for two weeks then figure out the average by adding them all together and dividing by 14. This is your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Alternatively you can find a TDEE calculator online but be cautious this figure may be less accurate so you might need to add or takeaway calories as you go.
Once you know this, you take away 20% to try and lose weight or stick at this figure if you want to maintain. We use the 20% rule so you don't damage your bodies metabolic rate. As a guide, 20% aims for a loss of around 1 pound per week. This allows us to lose weight steadily over time and the majority will be fat, not muscle wastage. This also means, when we go back up to maintenance calories, we won't gain weight we have lost because our metabolic rate shouldn't be damaged.
From here, you can eat whatever you like as long as you track your calories accurately. And accuracy is key! People underestimate their calories by approximately 50% on average. People who are tracking, fail to log around 600 calories per day on average. So you can already see the problem right? Anyone who says flexible dieting didn't work for them or calorie counting didn't work for them, has probably just fucked it up!
You can eat whatever you want as long as you fall within your allowance. This works because you quickly learn you can eat more if you eat more fresh foods and less processed. You don't need to starve, you just need to adjust. There's nothing wrong with having a chocolate bar every day, it just doesn't need to be a family bar.
To track, we use our own app but for anyone that isn't currently working with us, you can download MyFitnessPal for FREE. It has every food ever on their, just make sure the measurements are accurate for what you enter. Calorie tracking couldn't be any easier!
Steps to follow
This is flexible dieting, and you could go and have a diet of chips if you wanted, but it would do you no good nutritionally. So here are my steps to make flexible dieting a way of life forever allowing you to gain control of your life;
70/30 - 70% good foods, 30% bad foods. By this, your diet should be made up of fresh fruit and veg and unprocessed meats. Then topped up with the naughty stuff like a biscuit, a bag of crisps or a slice of pizza. If you can keep within this limit, you should still be getting plenty of good nutritious foods in your diet to keep you healthy.
Calorie Banking - Lets say you have 2000 calories a day, but you know you are going to have a heavy Saturday night and maybe consume 4000 calories plus what do you do? Save some calories in the bank through the week. Spend 4 days prior with an allowance of 1500 to compensate. Think of your calorie allowance as weekly rather than daily if you are a weekend binge eater.
Macronutrient consideration - Carbs, Fats and Protein. I will keep this simple, aim for a higher protein diet if you can. It is not essential, but proteins tend to fill you up, they have a high thermic effect, and best of all they allow us to hold onto our lean muscle tissue.
If you slip up, NO ONE CARES! Just get back to it the next day. Don't beat yourself up over a slip up, it will happen at some point, just keep the bigger picture in mind. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
And that's it, flexible dieting works! Remember, all diets work on the principle of calorie deficit, so why shouldn't your diet just reflect this? It makes it sustainable because you will always be eating foods you enjoy so it will never feel overly restrictive. As always please drop any comments. Thanks for reading!