When people ask me what flexible dieting is, I tell them it’s advanced Weight Watchers. It’s not meant to belittle the diet, I think it’s a fair description. Instead of a point system, you track how many grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates you eat on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter when, what, or how, your primary concern is to hit those numbers, hence the word flexible. Many people thrive under this diet because of that freedom, but like any diet there will be struggles. As a practitioner of this diet (which is damn important for giving advice for all you armchair quarterbacks) here are a few keys to get the most out of IIFYM.
1. Avoid eating out
The most frustrating thing about calculating macros is finding out later on that they were inaccurate. It’s the cynic in me, but I have my doubts about the macros restaurants post on their website. Even if you use your best judgement, there’s so much ambiguity. What oils are they cooking with? Is it a fatty cut of meat? Remember, it tastes good for a reason.
2. Experiment with different eating patterns
Just because you have the freedom to eat whenever you want doesn’t mean you have to. Flexible dieting was the counter to the six meals a day bodybuilder eating pattern. But that works for a lot of people. Don’t change for the sake of changing. Similarly, you can use flexible dieting within an intermittent fasting eating pattern. Find what you are most comfortable worth and stick with it.
3. Make measuring a habit
This works in conjunction with #1. If you eyeball a handful of nuts and are off by a few ounces, it can ruin your macros for the day. I suck at estimating and I know I suck at it. Using a food scale is tedious, but you can rest assured that everything is accurate. Habits are hard to break, both good and bad. Once you start using a scale on a regular basis, it won’t be such a hassle.
4. Take advantage of IIFYM’s purpose
Dieting is a mental game, cravings will happen. The purpose of IIFYM is that you are able to fit some junk into your diet if you want it. Do people abuse this? Absolutely. But, if you feel like having some ice cream after a bad day at work, do it! The whole point of flexible dieting is the freedom to eat dessert without the guilt if you plan for it.
5. Take a break
Not necessarily from your diet, but from tracking it. Odds are you generally eat the same foods every day and have a grasp on their macros. As I mentioned, it’s important to make measuring a habit, but it can be mentally debilitating after doing it for a long time. As long as you trust yourself to get back on track, I recommend everyone take a few days off from tracking every now and then to give your mind a reset.