What is Flexible Dieting?
Here is a quick rundown of flexible dieting, also known as counting your macronutrients. There are three main macronutrients required by humans that provide energy in the form of calories: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You are allotted a certain number of each macronutrient for daily consumption based on your goals. Your goal can be anything from losing weight, to gaining weight, or maintaining weight while trying to lean out. You are able to reach these goals eating whatever foods you wish as long as you hit your predetermined numbers. With flexible dieting, no foods are off limits or considered bad, and there is no need for clean eating or cheat days.
Clean eating may have a different meaning for everyone, but for me, it is mainly associated with the paleo diet. This diet restricts dairy, grains, sugars, and processed foods and focuses on vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, and lean meats. Quality of food, rather than quantity, is the focus. The problem with this diet is that it leaves you with a limited amount of carbohydrate-dense foods and a ton of foods filled with fat. There are two problems with this: 1) It is very easy to consume too many fats and proteins since they are more of a focus. 2) energy levels can dip quite low due to a lack of carbohydrates.
I am not saying the paleo diet doesn’t work. In fact, a large percentage of my diet is still paleo – but not limited to it. I still incorporate grains and dairy in my diet on a daily basis, and sugar on certain occasions. I found that my body didn’t respond well to the paleo diet physically and I lacked energy most of the time, especially with my high activity level. The paleo diet is great for individuals who may be consuming too many carbohydrates/sugars and are lacking nutrient-dense foods. It also teaches the importance of basing your diet around protein and vegetable consumption.
Cheat days are those days where you binge on ice cream, cookies, pizza, or whatever your favourite guilty pleasure, after eating clean for a certain period of time. I used to have a cheat day once every two weeks and it often left me feeling bloated and sluggish for at least two to three days afterward. When you cut out carbohydrates and sugar over a period of time, eating them again shocks the body and makes it harder to metabolize the foods you deprived yourself of for so long. Flexible dieting deviates from this kind of behavior and focuses on balance and moderation.