Restrictive diets are a thing of the past. Eating like an old-school bodybuilder is just not necessary to get you the results you want. Want to burn fat and eat from a range of foods that you enjoy? Want to build muscle but don’t fancy eating boiled chicken breasts seven times a day? Good, then we’re on the same page and the results you get will be sustainable forever.
Flexible dieting is a revolution in the diet and nutrition world that will help you create sustainable habits that are realistic and personal to you. It’s not a fad diet or some money making scheme, it’s the real deal and will teach you actual nutrition principals that can change your life forever! Before you can start this life changing approach to your nutrition you need to understand these 5 essentials before you can become a flexible dieting king or what I call an FDK!
1. Understand Basic Macro Knowledge
Flexible dieting is based around the nutrition fundamentals, macronutrients (macros) and calories. Where old school dieting methods are based solely on calories, flexible dieting realises that not all calories are created equal and that you need to consider what those calories consist of. Macronutrients are the nutrients we need in larger amounts hence the word ‘macro’. These are the three nutrients: Protein, Fats & Carbohydrates. We all need a suitable amount of each within our diet to live healthy and achieve our fitness goals.
Protein is deemed the most essential nutrient in the body. Protein is used to build and repair body cells including: muscles, skin, hair and nails. Protein breaks down into amino acids. It is a requirement that your diet has a range of amino acids that can be obtained through eating a variety of protein rich foods.
Fat is an extremely important nutrient in the body in that it is required to produce hormones, protect cells, aid in the absorption of vital nutrients amongst the many other essential body functions. Eating dietary fat does not make you store excess body fat, in fact certain types of fat will help you lose stored fat including the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) that must be obtained through your diet.
These are your bodies’ main fuel source during intense exercise. We require carbohydrates to maintain our performance during training but also to supply fuel to our brains. There are two types of carbs, complex carbs and simple carbs. Complex carbs digest slowly providing you with more sustained energy. Simple carbs typically digest quicker providing fast energy; great for recovery after intense training.
2. Measure Your Intake
To successfully hit your daily macro goals you need to measure your nutrient intake. There are a number of ways you can do this. 1. Weighing out your food gram for gram and recording the amount of each food you’re having. This will give you nutrient values for each food you’re eating. 2. Recording food labels with their prescribed amounts and writing this down or by using a tracking app.
The most effective way of weighing your food is by using digital food scales that will record the amount; recording in grams (g) that you’re having. Food scales will become your best friend for keeping your flexible dieting regime under control and allowing you to hit your macros to a T.
3. Learn How To Read Food Labels
Food labels; usually found of the packaging of the food you’re eating or online will provide you with some vital information so you can track your nutrient intake and stay on course with your macro targets. The main things you want to focus on are: Amount, Total Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fibre.
Amount – All food labels legally state the per 100g nutrient values and some with a serving size value.
Fat – The total dietary fat value of the food. Usually further breakdowns include unsaturated fats, Saturated Fats and Trans Fats. For the goals of tracking macros you only need to focus on the ‘Fat’ value.
Carbohydrates – These are the total carb values for the food. Sometimes these are broken down further into ‘of which sugars’ too. Focusing on ‘macros’ you want to look at the bigger number when choosing the carb values.
Protein – There is only ever one protein value for foods so use this amount for this nutrient.
Fibre – Often overlooked on food labels, fibre plays a key role in regulating bowl movements and supporting digestion and nutrient absorption. One of the main functions of fibre is t keep you fuller for longer. Fibre is usually more evident on carbohydrate-based foods so look out for these values to make sure you’re hitting your daily fibre quota.
4. Track Your Intake
Now you understand macros and know how to measure your nutrient intake, it’s now time to track what you’re eating. You can do this by either keeping a food log by hand using a mobile tracking app. Tracking your intake by hand would involve you writing down the amount of each food you’re eating and recording the macros for each. This can be a timely process so if you want live in the future I would recommend you use a food-tracking app such as My Fitness Pal or My Macros+. My Fitness Pal is a user generated food database with nutrient values of foods from all over the world. You can search their extensive database of foods or you can manually input foods or recipes you create or scan food labels to give you the macros instantly.
5. Mix & Match Foods
Focus on range and quality when it comes to hitting your macro targets. If you’re used to eating the same foods every single day then now is the perfect time to start introducing variety. Following a flexible diet regime allows you to eat from a whole spectrum of foods as none are no longer labelled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, instead foods are either ‘nutrient dense’ or ‘non-nutrient dense’. In most cases it makes sense to go for nutrient dense foods in order to get those micronutrients but there is flexibility there to include some non-nutrient dense foods at times too. Focus on eating a variety of wholefoods first and foremost and get creative by adding in vegetables you’d have otherwise avoided and consuming a range of dietary fats.
If you’re struggling to decide what to eat and can’t get out of your habits then grab my ‘Macro Friendly Cheat Sheet’ so you can start incorporating more variety and flexibility into your diet.
If you start following these 5 essentials to flexible dieting you’ll become an ‘FDK’ – Flexible Diet King and truly master of your diet for life! There are no secrets or short cuts when it comes to burning fat or building muscle. Your results will come from consistently managing your macros and fine-tuning your nutrition to keep you moving forward to your goals.
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