Now that you are getting the hang of Flexible Dieting, ask yourself if you’re guilty of any of the following. If you are…… you may need to bring in a bit more flexibility!
#1 Avoiding Meals Out
If you used to eat more meals out than in, we hope you have cut back on restaurant food. But eating out is a part of everyone’s life once in awhile so learn to do it responsibly.
What does any sane flexible dieter do when they go to a restaurant?
They do three things –
Look at their current macros and decide what “type” of dish they’re going to order.
For instance, someone on a bulk might go all out and decide on ordering something pretty high calorie, like a burger and chips with dessert. Someone on more modest macros could go for a stir fry with some rice, or steak and potatoes.
Then we have those poor souls on “poverty macros” for whom a salad will be more or less the only choice.
Decide on a Specific Dish
The assertive flexible dieter will metaphorically weigh up what they’ve got left to play with in terms of calories/macros for the day, and decide how much they want to “spend” on this meal.
Count the Macros
If you’re going to a chain restaurant, you can bet your boots there’ll be calorie (and possibly even specific macro) information on their website, on your app, or even on the menu itself.
If there isn’t any information specified, they’ll take an educated guess.
- For tips on eating out, see my article for Propane Fitness here – http://propanefitness.com/flexible-dieting-and-eating-out/
Pretty simple, right?
Unfortunately though, far too many newcomers to flexible dieting see eating out as something to be avoided.
Worried that they won’t get their macros spot on, they give restaurants a wide berth. Cos, you know, the chef adding an extra half a tablespoon of oil, or not knowing the exact amount of rice you’re eating is pretty much the end of the world…..
Meals out and socialising are all part of flexible dieting, so embrace it, and don’t sweat if you’re not in complete control.
#2 Being a Slave to the Scale
When starting out counting macros and tracking food intake, I tell me clients to weigh everything.
I believe it’s vital to get an idea of exact quantities for every food you eat on a daily basis. Once they’re comfortable with this though, I let them eyeball green veggies, and even lean meats. I don’t ask them to weigh fruit, and state that how accurate they are with weighing and measuring depends on their goals…..
If you’re dedicated to getting shredded and in the final few weeks of a diet, then everything should be weighed and measured.
For general fat loss though, this is just overkill, even for those looking to get “beach lean.”
And for people just after a better physique and feeling healthier, weighing each individual lettuce leaf is, well, absurd, and goes completely against the flexibility aspect.
There is undoubtedly a time and a place for being attached to your scale, and that’s when shit starts to get serious and you’re in comp prep.
For instance, I had lunch this past weekend with a couple of my mates. Steve (of https://www.facebook.com/revivestephenhall and http://stephenhallrevive.com/ ) is just 8 weeks out from his first natural bodybuilding competition and looking diced. He DID quickly whip out his scales and weigh his chicken and burger bun before he started his meal.
This, in my eyes, is perfectly acceptable. Doing this means he stays on point with his progress, keeps accountable and it enabled him to come out and have lunch with us. Had I (currently reverse dieting) done this, I’d have expected a barbell to be delivered straight into my chops.
#3 Being Mr or Mrs Precision
So your macros are set at 200 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat.
Does that mean you have to hit 200 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat every single day?
Much like the above, it comes down to what your goals are.
For the vast, vast majority of people, being within 10% of the numbers (provided that’s not 10% over on every one, every day) is absolutely fine.
A bit more serious? Aim for within 5%, or even 5 grams of each. Even the aforementioned contest preppers needn’t nail each macro on the dot.
In fact, the more I personally see how clients progress, the more flexible I am with my recommendations.
I’ve moved from giving every client precise macro targets to hit, to giving many a calorie range and a minimum protein target.
For example, instead of getting a tracking newbie who’s prepping for photo shoot to eat 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs and 60 grams of fat every day, I might ask them to get between 2100 and 2200 calories, and a minimum of 180 grams of protein each day.
Provided they’re sensible with their food choices, they’ll still get a decent amount of fiber and essential fats, and will find the whole process much easier.
Just as an example of how being consistent, rather than perfect works perfectly well, check out this post from Nick Cheadle of http://nickcheadlefitness.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/nickcheadlefitness–
“I use MyFitnessPal to track my macros & log my foods for the day.
Yesterday, for the first time in my 154 day streak, I hit my macros dead on, along with meeting my nutritional guidelines.
Yep – for the first time.
My point? You don’t need to be a dieting nazi when it comes to meeting your daily macros to see results. Consistently getting within 2-5g of your protein, carbs & fats is going to suffice & give you accurate enough feedback to ensure you can tweak your diet accordingly moving forward. So relax! You aren’t always going to be able to hit your numbers spot on.”
Oh, and in case you think Nick’s probably in “ok shape” doing this, I’ll let you decide for yourself –
#4 Spending More Time on MFP than actually Eating
Behind the wheel, the barbell and the Adidas Ironworks squat shoe, MyFitnessPal is undoubtedly the greatest ever invention.
That being said, it’s a tool to make flexible dieting easier, it is not your boss, your bible or your best friend.
If you spend more than 5 minutes each day working out macros and calories, you’re overthinking things. MFP is there so you don’t have to make your own spreadsheets or spend hours pouring over calorie guides.
Spend less time with your head in your phone, and more time cooking and eating tasty food.
#5 Asking “I’ve got x grams of ….. left, what can I have?”
These forum posts are the bane of my life.
I love the fact flexible dieting teaches people about nutrition, as well as moderation, but the sheer number of people posting these requests baffles me.
For one thing, if you have 30 grams of fat left, and no carbs or protein, you’re basically limiting to necking some olive oil, or eating butter off the spoon. 100 grams of protein? Say hello to egg whites and dry tuna.
Hitting macros perfectly for the sake of perfection is miserable – rather than looking at each macro individually, aim to hit calories and roughly get your macros right. (As per point 4.)
30 grams of fat left? That’s 270 calories. How about you have some peanut butter instead?
Sure, 45 grams of PB will give you 23 grams of fat, 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of carbs, but that comes to 267 calories of predominantly fat, so close enough.
THE WRAP UP: YOU ARE MORE THAN JUST YOUR MACROS
Like I said right at the very start, the idea of flexible dieting is …..
By removing unnecessary restrictions, you take the stress away from food and fat loss. While your friends are going batshit crazy about avoiding gluten and dairy, you can eat bread and cheese without worry.
Going out for a meal? No need to scour the local area for places that only serve grass-fed beef – a flexible dieter can eat anywhere.
By being so inflexible though, you’re setting yourself up to be just as dogmatic and ritualistic as those who follow clean eating plans and rules-based diets.
So chill out, keep your macros in mind, but go out, enjoy life, eat some good food and embrace flexibility.