What is Flexible Dieting, anyway? Your most common IIFYM questions answered.



What is Flexible Dieting?
Flexible Dieting, or If It Fits Your Macros, is when you track specific macronutrient numbers to gain a certain body composition. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight flexible dieting is a foolproof way of achieving those goals.

Why is it called Flexible Dieting?
The science behind it (yes it is science) is that fat loss or gain is dependant on calories in vs. calories out. If you eat less than your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) then you will lose weight. Even if you are eating fast food everyday, you will still lose weight. Just like you can eat a surplus of healthy foods and gain weight. If we eat more than our body uses, it stores as fat. If we eat less than our bodies use then we lose fat. Calories in versus calories out. Period. Science. Therefore, this gives you some flexibility in your food choices unlike many diets that only allow certain foods. With IIFYM, you can eat it as long as it fits your macros. If you meet your macro goals, you will meet your body composition goals.

What are "macros"?
Simply put, macronutrients are Protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Also, in terms of flexible dieting Fiber can be considered a macro. Not to be confused with micronutrients, which are your essential vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient numbers are also very important for the body, but not the purpose of this post.

Can't I just count calories?
Macros = Calories, Calories do not = Macros. The caloric break down of each macro is as follows:
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
So something with 10 grams of carbs will have 40 calories. Something to be aware of is in America, food labels are allowed to round their calorie numbers but not their macronutrient numbers. Also, if you are using an app like My Fitness Pal, or My Macros to track your foods those too can easily be off on calories. That is why it is better to pay attention to macros, not calories.

What if I just want to eat all my calories in carbs?
Don't we all. Each macro has a big role to play.
Carbs give us energy. They help our bodies and minds function. If we eat too few carbs then we feel sluggish and foggy. This is why "low carb" or "no carb" diets are not safe for your body.
CARBS ARE NOT THE ENEMY! They will make you think sharper, run faster, and squat deeper!
Protein feeds our muscles. Without enough protein, generally .8 grams - 1 gram per pound of body weight, we will lose lean muscle mass. Protein is just as important, if not more important, when you are cutting weight than when you are maintaining or trying to gain.
Fats help regulate hormone levels. Fat is another macro that gets a bad rap. All of the systems in our body rely on fats to function. "low fat" diets are very dangerous to the body, especially for women.

So, what your saying is I can eat fried chicken and donuts everyday?
Well, that is a big debate in the IIFYM community. If your only concern is body composition, the way you look, then technically if it fits your macros eat whatever the heck you want. MY PERSONAL OPINION and that of many flexible dieters is to practice the 80/20 rule.

What is the 80/20 rule?
80% of the food consumed comes from healthy nutrient rich foods, and the other 20% comes from your "not so healthy" foods. For me, it's candy. I eat candy every single day. I also eat lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I want to know I am also getting enough FIBER and MICRONUTRIENTS for my body. Both are VITAL for the internal health and functionality of our bodies. Health starts from the inside out. So I say.... Eat your veggies! ...and if you still have room for a candy bar at the end of the day, well then eat that too. 

What ratio of each macro do I need?
That will depend on your goals, TDEE and personal preferences.
The best resource other than a personal macro coach is the IIFYM website.
http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/