We’ve all struggled with food at one point in our lives. If you’re lucky, those times were few and far between. If you’re like most of us, the struggle feels like a never ending battle. People obsess over food, misinformation runs rampant, yo-yo dieting reigns supreme and people shame, ridicule and bully each other over food choices https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa.
I’ve struggled too – after years of competing I had developed a binging disorder due to what I now know is being termed “orthorexia” (defined as those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”) I was so obsessed with an unrealistic expectation to eat “clean” and be “perfect” that when I would eat a food I deemed “bad” it would set off a chain reaction and I would loose control and eat until I was sick or physically in pain. Food started to control my life! I avoided social situations because I didn’t want to be tempted by the food. Even a date night of dinner and a movie were off the table for my husband and I because smelling food I couldn’t have was torture. I snapped at my kids too many times due to my hunger and irritability. This was NO way to live! I later found out, many seemingly “healthy” icons I looked up in the fitness world were having the same problem but were too embarrassed to search out help. I needed a new way of living and to reprogram these bad habits. I had all the signs and symptoms of metabolic adaptation: I had a lack of energy, I lost my enthusiasm for training, I was unable to lose weight, despite chronically low calories, I lost menstruation, and my thyroid levels were off.
That’s when I discovered flexible dieting. I put my own spin on it. As I trained competitors, coaches and trainers, I learned how to maximize results, not just in measurements of muscle and pounds, but also emotional growth.
An answer to the question, “what is flexible dieting?”
Flexible Dieting (Or commonly known as, “If It Fits Your Macros”) is simply the tracking of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) to achieve a body composition goal.
Macronutrients or Macros make up the majority of our diets. There are three main macros: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. One gram of each macro has a calorie value.
- 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
- 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories
Rather than typical calorie counting (e.g., eating 2000 cals a day) Flexible Dieters would track macronutrients (e.g., eating 150g Protein, 80g Fat, 170g Carbohydrate = 2000 cals) which more effectively influences body composition rather than just weight loss or gain. Flexible Dieting follows the belief that there are no miracle weight loss foods. No good or bad foods, just macro ratios.
When you eat food your body isn’t thinking “Healthy or unhealthy?” it is simply breaking down the food and processing the macronutrients. This is why flexible dieting method is effective… you can change your body, you can eat whatever you want so long as you hit your macro goals. With this said, for good health it is also important that you are getting enough micronutrients as well. One of the ways to ensure that you are getting the proper micronutrients is to track your fiber intake as well. The American Heart Association recommends eating 14g of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. I like the 80/20 rule as a guideline… 80% unprocessed whole foods and 20% other.
If you’re not in a calorie deficit you can eat all the “good foods” you want and go nowhere. Flexible dieting is effective because by tracking everything that enters your mouth, you stop the guess-work and take control over how & when you reach your goals. Flexibility is key because by focusing on your macronutrient intake rather than eating certain foods, you can still achieve your goals while enjoying life with everyone else. You can have your cake and eat it too! It’s important to be able to function in social situations and not feel ackward. Because you can eat whatever you want (in moderation) it’s more mentally & emotionally sustainable.
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