I want to start by saying that I did not invent the idea of Flexible Dieting as it's been around for years and is now gaining more and more popularity with the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) movement.
I first discovered Flexibile Dieting on 2015 after reading a book by Lyle McDonald from www.bodyrecompostion.com called A Guide To Flexible Dieting which was published in 2005!
The truth about dieting for fat loss is simple.
You need to create a calorie deficit for an extended period of time and as a result you will lose body fat. Period.
What does that mean exactly?
In an oversimplified explanation, you need to BURN more energy (calories) than you eat and drink for a consistent period of time. This is known as being in a calorie deficit.
You can do this by increasing the amount of calories you burn through movement i,e exercise.
Or you can also do this by reducing the amount of calories you consume from food and beverages i.e dieting.
Now, the Clean Eating crowd get their knickers in a knot about Flexible Dieting because of the social media representation of it.
You can lose weight eating junk food regularly so long as you maintain a calorie deficit.
This isn't ideal and it's most likely not the healthiest of options but when it comes to losing body fat, it is possible.
However, most people CANNOT maintain a calorie deficit and include junk food regularly into their diet and here's why.
Simply put, junk food is calorie dense and nutrient poor. Meaning that you get a large amount of calories but very little nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) and is quite easy to over eat. Over consumption of calories leads to fat gain.
You can see how this doesn't work for some people right.
Does that mean you can't ever have a burger, snickers bar, or a beer with a mate whilst being on a diet?
It simply means you need to be diligent and you've got to know your numbers!
At the end of the day, your calorie intake will be responsible for 50% of your diets success.
So knowing your eating the right AMOUNT of food is far more important then the TYPE of food.
I'm sure we all know someone that eats 'heathily' but cannot lose weight (fat) no matter how hard they seemingly try.
95% of the time, that's because even though they are eating healthy, they are overconsuming calories.
Here's what you need to know;
1) You need to be in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time to begin losing weight/fat. For most people, a deficit of 250 - 500 calories below their TDEE is a good starting point.
2) To be in a calorie deficit you first need to know how many calories your body needs to consume per day to survive and function. You can do this using the Harris Benedict Equation to calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) or the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight.
BMR calculation for men
BMR = 66.5 + ( 13.75 × weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 × height in cm ) – ( 6.755 × age in years )
BMR calculation for women
BMR = 655.1 + ( 9.563 × weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 × height in cm ) – ( 4.676 × age in years )
3) Then you need to factor in the amount of physical activity you do per day and add this to your BMR to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Using the table below, simply multiply your BMR by the corresponding activity level.
Little to no exercise = BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1–3 days per week) = BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) = BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) = BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) = BMR x 1.9
4) Once you've calculated your TDEE and know how many calories you need to eat per day to maintain your current body weight, you can create a calorie deficit by subtracting 250 - 500 calories from your TDEE and begin to eat at this calorie level for 7 - 10 days and measure the outcome.
It's not only about calories though. Macronutrients are almost of equal importance
You need to ensure you're consuming enough of each macronutrient on a daily basis to privode with the right amount of nutrients it needs for muscle and tissue repair, energy and hormone production.
Protein (4 calories per gram) - Protein provides the body with the building blocks it needs to repair and rebuild active tissue such as muscle, skin, hair, organs, and nails. Protein also supports a healthy immune system.
The amount of protein you need per day will vary based on your training routine and activity level but most people who are exercising regularly to maintain or gain muscle mass need between 1.2 - 1.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day.
Carbohydrate (4 calories per gram) - Carbohydrates provide the body with its primary source of energy. They also facilitate the body's metabolism of fat and spare muscle protein. Carbohydrates should make up between 25-50% of your total daily calorie intake.
Fat (9 calories per gram) - Fat also provides the body with energy with it mostly being used by the body's tissues and organs (including the heart). Fat is also used to carry vitamins around the body that otherwise wouldn't be absorbed. Fat also provides cushioning and protection for the vital organs as well as insulation and it helps to delay hunger pangs because it is slower to empty from the stomach. Healthy individuals should consume around 30% of their total daily calories from fat.
Step 1 - Calculate total TDEE and subtract your chosen calorie deficit. This is your Total Daily Calories for weight loss.
Step 2 - Calculate total daily protein requirements using the formula above *Disclaimer - if you have pre-existing kidney issues please consult with your doctor before starting a diet.
Step 3 - Multiply your daily protein needs in grams by 4. E.g I weigh 96 kilos. 96 x 1.8 = 172.8 grams of protein per day. 172.8 x 4 = 691.2 Calories from protein.
Step 4 - Decide on your percentage of carbohydrates. Larger individuals tend to see better results on lower carbohydrate diets due to insuling resistance from previous dietary habits.
Step 5 - Add your calories from protein with your carbohydrate % . E.g I perfer 40% of my calories to come from carbohydrates. My TDEE is 3680 Calories. 40% of 3680 is 1471 calories. Divided by 4 = 367 grams of carbohydrate per day.
Step 6 - Subtract your combined total calories from protein and carbohydrates from your total daily calories as calculated in Step 1. For me it would look like this:
3680 - 1471 - 691.2 = 1517.* <- This is how many calories I have left to come from Fats.
Step 7 - Divide the previous answer by 9. E.g 1517 / 9 = 168.6 grams of fat per day.
So my daily calorie intake and macronutrients would look like this:
Total Calories - 3680
Protein (g) - 172.8
Carbohydrate (g) - 367
Fat (g) - 168.6
Now the fun part is choosing the food you want to eat :)
Understand this, EVERYTHING you eat and drink as a caloric value and contains different amounts of each of the above macronutrients.
Sure, you want 80 - 90% of your diet to be made up of lean cuts of meat, vegetables, fruits, grains and starches but you can also fit in some junk food so long as you consume you daily targets as calculated in Steps 1 through to Step 7.
This is what the Clean Eaters won't tell you.
You can have the foods you love and still lose fat!
You simply need to know your numbers and know how MUCH of your favourite foods you can eat daily without blowing your budget so to speak.
The easiest way to make sense of all of this is by using the mobile phone app called My Fitness Pal.
It's a free food dairy / calorie counter.
You add in the food you ate and the quantity you had and it calculates how many calories and how much of each macronutrient was in that meal, food or beverage.
Once you've got the hang of it, you are now in complete control of what you want to eat so long as you're staying within your calories and reaching your daily requirements for each of the macronutrients.
You can certainly eat or drink all of your daily calories with junk and be well under your daily protein intake and this happens alot. This will have negative effects on your body composition.
For the most part, aim to consume 80-90% of your calories and macronutrients from healthy, wholesome foods, and allow the other 10 - 20% to come from the 'fun' stuff.
Trust me, being flexible with your diet will help you stick to it far better, and it means you can eat your mums cooking without the guilt afterwards!
If you'd like some help with this, or would like a meal plan to follow, simply contact us via email ben@holeshotpt,com and we'll schedule a consultation to help get you on the right track.
P.S. I used this approach to get in the best shape of my life in early 2016 for my first national body building contest. I was eating cocopops daily along with steak, veggies, rice and coke zero for the 12 weeks leading into this comp: