by Tony Gjokaj September 06, 2020 11 min read
I've tried Intermittent Fasting, Ketogenic, and low-carb diets way before they were cool. To be honest, most of these methods were never sustainable for me in the long-term: I would eventually always stop them. Being that I grew up with a family whose meals were Mediterranean-styled, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs were always a part of my life.
Sometimes, having trouble eliminating food groups in diets is not because of willpower or discipline... it's because of adherence. To us, adherence is the most important thing in a diet, as it eventually breeds discipline and consistency.
It was not until I incorporated Flexible Dieting that my entire lifestyle changed for the better.
In this post, we will explore the Flexible Dieting system in its entirety. It's a system I have used through quite a few successful fat loss and muscle gain phases since 2013.
Let's explore this system!
Flexible Dieting is a system that revolves around the premise: "There's no best diet, there's only the best diet that works for YOU". We all have different preferences based on the culture we grew up around, the exercise style we train in, and more.
With Flexible Dieting, we take all of these factors into account. We do not eliminate food groups: we limit the bad ones.
And most of the time, we welcome carbohydrates in loving arms.
Flexible Dieting revolves around the following principles:
Now that we have these principles out of the way, let's dive into basic tracking methods and food labels.
"Nutrition Facts" labels will typically contain proteins, carbs, fats, and fiber - along with the serving size.
Be sure to look at the serving size for each, as they will contain measurements and grams as serving sizes. If you're eating foods without labels (meats, fruits, or vegetables), check the general MyFitnessPal macronutrients for these.
Below is a Nutrition Facts label from the FDA's website. You can read more about Food Labels here. We don't necessarily track Daily Value (%DV) as that is an average of a 2,000 calorie diet.
Now that we understand food labels a little more, we can dive into portion control methods that we utilize. These methods consist of ways we can better track what we put into our bodies.
Awareness plays a huge part in weight gain or loss.
It's important to be aware of what you eat, as it allows us to make healthier food choices overtime.
We are going to go over two-portion control methods you can utilize. It is recommended that you use both, but you can use one or the other.
Food Scales are used in Flexible Dieting to accurately track macronutrients (or calories) based on serving sizes. As most of nutrition fact labels contain cup measurements (or measurements in grams), we can accurately track serving sizes.
Today, meal tracking apps are the ultimate nutrition accountability partner.
Just like tracking your monthly expenses, it’s important to track what you eat. This is because you build awareness when it comes to what you eat. This also will help you understand what nutrient-dense foods contain solid amounts of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
When it comes to meal tracking, we would recommend a tracking app like MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal will help you track foods by searching in their database for the food you eat. I do this to track my food when I eat out at restaurants too: even if the calories aren’t exact, I have the food tracked and I’ll be more inclined to share my dessert.
With an app like MyFitnessPal, you can sometimes easily scan the product's barcode to get the food's macronutrients.
If this is not necessarily something you prefer, we can always use the portion control method in the next section.
If you don’t want to track your foods, portion them. This is where the Palm-Fist-Fist-Thumb strategy comes in! Here’s how to do it:
By default, these portions should put you around your “maintenance calories” (if you include physical activity).
If you find that after a few weeks you are struggling to drop weight, take out 1/2 portion of carbohydrates out of one-two meals and assess.
Flexible Dieting has helped me master the ability to eat healthy at restaurants and fast-food chains. Obviously, I prefer to choose healthier options for their vitamins, minerals, and fiber, however, Flexible Dieting allows me to indulge from time to time.
Here's a strategy I would utilize when eating at restaurants:
Now that we have some of the foundational Flexible Dieting stuff out of the way, let's dive into calorie and macronutrient calculations.
To start this section off, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Understanding these three, we can ultimately set up calculations to track your progress and goals.
The following steps are one method that we use in getting a more accurate estimation of calories based on our goals. While there are various ways to calculate calories, this has always been one of the more accurate to start with.
First Step: Get your “Base Calories”. Take your body weight and multiply it by 10. This will give you a base calorie intake. The base calorie intake is what you technically burn through daily without activity.
Second Step: “Activity Multiplier”. The activity multiplier is a generic estimation; you might need to adjust depending on how much energy you expend. This is determined by the following:
Third Step: Take your base calories and multiply them by your multiplier to get your “Maintenance Calories”. This will determine the calories you can POSSIBLY eat to maintain your current physique.
Fourth Step: Determine your phase (whether fat loss or gaining), then add/subtract from “maintenance calories”.
Macronutrients are the nutrients that contain calories: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Flexible Dieting tracks macronutrients over everything, as they supply the necessary nutrients based on our goals.
In this section, we are going to go over macronutrient recommendations to set up your Flexible Dieting goals. In following these recommendations, you should be able to ultimately build a well-rounded system that helps you optimize your nutrients.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps repair and develop new cells. These cells consist of our skin, muscles, nails, and physique.
Protein helps repair broken down muscles as a result of exercise. It also helps fight fatigue, which is especially important when it comes to dieting for fat loss.
The recommended daily amount for protein for someone who regularly exercises is around 0.8-1.2 grams per pound of body weight.
If we are using the maintenance calorie example above:
Fats are an essential macronutrient that helps regulate our health, hormones, creating new cells, and aiding in nutrient absorption.
There are four types of fats: saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated and trans fats are typically deemed as "bad" fats, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the "good" fats.
Here are a few guidelines when it comes to fats:
If we are using the calorie example above (maintenance): 25% x 2625 calories = ~656 calories. Since 1g of fat = 9 calories, 656/9 = ~72g of Fats.
Carbs are our body's main source of energy. If we do weight training and cardiovascular exercise, carbohydrates are beneficial for energy replenishment.
Carbohydrates are the last area we track, so we typically put the remainder of their calories into carbohydrates after handling proteins and fats.
Here's how we would calculate it based on the maintenance calorie calculation example:
As my maintenance goal is 2625 calories, I focus on accomplishing these goals by getting 175g of Protein, 72g of Fat, and 317g of Carbohydrates.
Now that I have the numbers, it's easy for me to make the necessary adjustments based on my goals. For example: If I was dieting, I would decrease the calories from carbohydrates, and add a little bit more to protein.
Having a plan like this makes losing fat, gaining weight, or maintenance a lot less stressful.
Dietary Fiber is another thing that should be considered when tracking macronutrients. A low fiber diet is with various issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and more.
Fiber is important for various things:
You should aim around 25-45g of fiber per day. Women should stay on the lower end, whereas men should be on the higher end. Usually, if you consume at least 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (alongside complex carbohydrates), you should get an adequate fiber intake.
Now we get asked often: "can we track calories only?"
While this is ok, you're going to be better optimizing your overall health and physique with macronutrients.
Here are a few reasons why we track macronutrients over calories:
Now understand that sometimes we can't always be 100% accurate with our macronutrients, so then we allow for some leeway ("underbudgeting" or "overbudgeting").
Here is how we would budget our proteins, fats, and carbs:
Know that when fat loss dieting, it's better to go over on calories (on the lower end) than under calories. Your goal is to eat as much as you can while still losing weight.
Now that we have most of the Flexible Dieting system down, we can dive into some practical on-the-go strategies that will help you enjoy your flexible lifestyle.
When tracking macronutrients, traveling is not necessarily an issue as many foods contain nutrition facts today.
For convenience, here are some strategies I utilize when traveling:
As I have progressively gotten better at eating out at restaurants, I don't usually have to rely on a food scale for my goals. When your diet and training tend to be very consistent, macronutrient goals are only modified when necessary.
Once you get the hang of Flexible Dieting, portion control, labels, and food scales, here are some simple strategies I utilize when eating fasting food or dining at a restaurant.
These tips consist of things you can consider when dieting flexibly:
With all of these tips, flexibility is the most important part. If some of these tips don't work for you, tweak them. Make them your own.
There it is - one big in-depth guide to Flexible Dieting!
In closing, I wanted to go over the Flexible Dieting Principles one more time:
Thank you for reading this post today. It is my hope that once you utilize this dieting system, you will live a lifestyle with healthiness, happiness, and all kinds of flexibility!
Any additional questions or comments? Throw them below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, Reforged Legion.
Go out there and seize your best life.
Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.
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In recent years, scientists have started to discover that depression is not just a "chemical imbalance".
It's much more complex than that, and a lot of evidence is pointing towards positive habits helping to alleviate or reduce the risk of depression.
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It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.
This can lead to decreased energy levels, mood disturbances, decreased performance at work or school, and can negatively impact overall health and quality of life.
If you're tossing and turning at night, you're not alone.
In this post, we are going to go over the 5 natural ways to ease insomnia.
Let's dive in!
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Despite its importance, many people do not get enough magnesium from their diets alone.
This is where supplements like magnesium glycinate can be helpful.
Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium that is easily absorbed by the body and has several potential health benefits.
In this post, we'll explore the benefits of magnesium glycinate and why it may be a valuable addition to your overall health and wellness plan.
Let's dive in!