What is Flexible Nutrition?
Let’s talk about first why IIFYM (“if it fits your macros”) sometimes gets a bad rep. A lot of people appear to take the concept of fitting anything into their diet as long as “it fits” to the extreme and because of it there is a picture painted that flexible dieters live solely on junk food. You know what I'm talking about...those accounts that all you see is the ice cream, pizza, donuts, and burgers. Even though don’t get us wrong, we LOVE ice cream, pizza, and donuts. Especially our beloved donuts. But what's important to remember is that just because IIFYM allows flexibility, that doesn’t mean you should eat junk day in and day out, 24/7 just because "it fits". No doubt you'll feel lethargic, fuzzy, and not quite as energetic as you might want. And if you’re cutting, you’ll probably run out of macros before you know what’s hit you!
But here’s what macros is truly all about. We like the term “flexible nutrition”. Flexible nutrition is about eating a diet you can maintain and enjoy, while keeping the body you want. It's actually NOT about counting calories or macro-nutrients. Yeah, you heard us right. People miss the mark when they get too obsessed with the numbers aspect of it. But it's NOT about eating donuts, pizza, and burgers and hoping for the best either. It's about finding the simplest, most effective ways to get the body you want with as little effort and anxiety as possible!
I think it’s safe to say that we all to one extent or another want freedom from food restrictions and restraints. Will we ever be able to kick the dieting mindset to the curb?! We just want to live and love our lives, right!? We've found that flexible nutrition and using macros as a guide, has truly given us that freedom.
It didn't happen overnight. Or in 6, 8, and 12 weeks. It's happened cumulatively over the course of the past few years. It takes a LOT of patience, a LOT of perseverance, and a LOT of practice, but the end result is so very worth it. FOOD FREEDOM. In order to find the most success through this process you have to not only plug your numbers into MyFitnessPal and try to hit them each day, but MORE importantly, you have examine yourself. Truly dig deep to uncover who you are as an individual, and WHAT is keeping you from reaching your goals. You have to be in it for the long haul.
This process is NOT meant to be a quick fix, and the quicker you recognize that, the more success and peace of mind you'll find. Flexible nutrition is about creating your own rules from a set of fundamentals, taking responsibility for your nutrition, and empowering yourself. Because you're worthy and capable of the success that oftentimes feels SO out of reach.
What are macros?
PROTEIN: 1g = 4 calories
Protein is composed of amino acids, many of which our bodies cannot produce on their own--they must be supplied by the diet! It plays a crucial role in muscular growth and muscular repair, also known as "the building blocks of the body". When you exercise, you break down your muscles and you need to consume protein to rebuild them. Protein is considered the superior macro when it comes to body composition. It is crucial to consume enough protein. Inadequate protein results in muscle loss, especially when in a calorie deficit.
CARBS: 1G = 4 calories
Carbohydrate intake is vital to physical and mental energy. Carbs get broken down into glucose: our bodies preferred fuel source. Glucose can be stored in the muscles (as glycogen) and accessed as the body expends energy during workouts etc. If you don’t get enough carbohydrates—your mental and physical performance will suffer! (And you’ll probably be constipated). Complex carbs take longer for your body to digest, releasing their energy gradually and keep you feeling fuller for longer. In general these foods are less processed, higher in fiber and include vegetables, fruits & whole grains. Refined/processed carbs (i.e. candy, junk food) are stripped of nutrients and often loaded with sodium, chemicals, trans fats & preservatives. They stimulate appetite and leave us feeling unsatisfied. They can also cause fluctuation in blood sugar and insulin levels.
FAT: 1g = 9 calories
Dietary fat plays an important role in vitamin absorption, making & balancing hormones as well as the formation of our brain and nervous systems. Fat is also a source of energy and provides us with essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot produce on our own. Saturated fats (butter, coconut oil etc). Our body seems to know what to do with naturally occurring saturated fats and a moderate intake can even make us healthier. A lot of saturated fat combined with a lot of processed carbs IS unhealthy. An unbalanced intake of saturated fat can cause weight gain and other health problems. Unsaturated fats include omega 3 & omega 6 fatty acids. These acids must come from our diet and getting enough is important! These fatty acids assist with healing as well as the function of the cardiovascular, nervous & immune systems. Trans fats (a.k.a. hydrogenated fatty acids) are mostly found in industrially processed foods. They change how other (healthier) fats are processed in our body and increase the risk from many chronic diseases.
Why choose macros?
Following just about any diet can result in weight loss, but that loss will be a combination of fat and muscle. This is the “skinny fat” look. While most people want to lose weight--what they really mean is they want to lose fat. What sets counting macros apart as a weight loss strategy is that it maximizes fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. This achieves the “lean & toned” look we all want. In order to lose fat you must be in a calorie deficit, meaning your caloric intake is lower than the number of calories you are burning.
If you give it a real shot, you’ll see how macros encourages a lifestyle change. A change of behavior. It encourages a shift in how you view food. It provides you with the tools you need to make it something you can sustain over a lifetime. It will teach you how to fish and how to make your metabolism to work for you.
Life is to be enjoyed, and flexible nutrition can help you find balance and happiness in yours. The truth is you can’t dodge food forever. It’s around every corner, at every birthday, every family gathering, every celebration of life, and to think that you’re going to abstain from certain foods for forever is quite frankly unrealistic and depressing.
Flexible nutrition (a.k.a. tracking macros) is the scientific approach to nutrition that guides you in finding a system that works for you in order to achieve your current goals. True flexible nutrition isn't about living by any set of rigid rules but instead by flexible guidelines. Key word being FLEXIBLE. This is a lifestyle change, and you should view it that way!
Want to learn even more about macros and how to gain this “food freedom” for yourself?