Eating Your Cake and Dropping Weight: An Introduction to Flexible Dieting

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Your New Year’s resolution is urging you to lose that weight and live a healthier life, but that candy bar says otherwise. What if I told you that the candy bar you’ve been taught to avoid can actually AID in your quest for health?

It can with Flexible Dieting AKA, If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).

Yes, I know you’ll tell me that your metabolism isn’t that high or you gain four pounds by looking at one of those treats, but let’s look at science.

What is Flexible Dieting?

Flexible Dieting is not a diet, as the name suggests, but a scientific approach to eating. Basic weight loss is calories in vs. calories out, a balance of energy so to speak. These calories are made up of macronutrients, or macros for short; those being carbohydrates, fat and protein. By having a balance of those three macros, you will be able to lose or gain weight at the rate that suits you, while effecting your body’s composition.

This means you can eat whatever you want, as long as it fits your numbers.

But slow down, there’s more to it than you think.

Yes, you can eat anything, as long as it fits in those requirements. However, this is only important to your body’s composition. Actual health is a whole other story. By fitting in only “junk” food, you are not getting the vitamins and minerals (or micronutrients) that your body needs. A fair amount of people get this wrong and just go hog wild. Yes, they are trimming down, but they are not operating it as well as they could.

From my personal experience, having a balance of micronutrient dense foods (veggies, fruits, etc.) and other kinds (pizza, ice cream, etc.) is the best way to go. You should get your vital micronutrients before you move on to the fun stuff.

Have I sold you yet? Well here’s how to get started.

Steps to Flexible Dieting

Step One: Figure out your Macros

This is pretty easy. Look for a macronutrient calculator online. There’s many out there that takes the guess work out of figuring them out. You just plug in your weight, height, age and gender, then it will generate calories and macros that will correspond with your goals.

However, these are rough estimates, so feel free to play around with the calories until you find something that works.

Step Two: Get the Necessary Equipment

All you need is a way to measure your food and a way to track your food intake. You can use measuring cups for a rough idea for food, but a food scale will give you the most accuracy. Looking at the nutrition label will show you the calories and how much of each macro that one serving contains. A serving shown as grams next to the amount of ounces or size of cup. By weighing it out, you can be sure that you are getting what you see on the package.

You can track your intake using a food journal. But, like everything, there’s an app for that.

Myfitnesspal is a free app that helps track your calories and macros so you do not have to spend time adding everything up. There are many apps like it, but MFP has the largest food database out of them all, it is widely used for calorie and macro tracking.

Step Three: Adjust when Necessary

The dreaded plateau – This is what kills all motivation for the majority of New Year’s resolutions.

With any diet, gain or loss, you will hit it. With flexible dieting, you can adjust your macros accordingly. You can decrease or increase your calories and change your numbers. Maybe you’re a bit more carb sensitive, maybe you need more protein to build more muscle. Perhaps your calories are too low and you need to slowly bring your metabolism back up. These numbers can be changed based upon how your body responds. As long as you get enough protein, you can adjust fat and carb numbers to your preference.

It can be hard at first to put this into practice.  Brian Shellabarger, curator of 100down, a blog about his weight loss, says, “The biggest problem I run into with newbies who’ve read everything is that they log all their food, and then get to the end of the day and realize nothing fits what they have left. They don’t understand that IIFYM requires that you PRE-PLAN your daily food when you’re new (experienced people can get away with going meal to meal).”

So like everything, practice makes perfect. As you learn, you get better, opening up more opportunities to the joys of flexible dieting.


So go ahead, drop that extra fluff … and have that cupcake, but only If It Fits Your Macros.