The world of fad diets. It’s out there. Continually trying to tell you their way is the right way. Don’t eat carbs. Don’t eat fats. Eat a lot of protein. Don’t eat too much protein. Makes me wanna stab my eye with a carrot sometimes. And that’s saying a lot because I’d rather eat a carrot.
So in hopes to keep the metal masses a bit on the up ‘n’ up, we figure that it’s best to give you the insight to making your own choices depending on your fitness goals. It seems forever and ever in the fitness world you would get scoffed at if you didn’t follow a bodybuilding diet that’s stayed the same for 340 years. Now we’re slowly learning a lot of people who go to the gym shockingly AREN’T bodybuilders (mind blowing) and might wish to occasionally eat a whole cake because WHY THE HELL NOT? But is it possible eat a whole cake and still look good naked/on the beach/at your family reunion/guest starring on The Big Bang Theory? I don’t know, because I haven’t eaten a whole cake.
Raise your hand if you have ever eaten a whole cake? Ok, just checking.
For some people, following a Flexible Diet allows them to be much less strict with what they eat while staying in pretty damn good shape. So how does flexible dieting work?
Kind of simple. It’s the basic idea of tracking “macros” to reach a body composition goal. So how Macros work are like such:
1 G of Protein = 4 calories
1 G of Carbs = 4 calories
1 G of Fat = 9 calories
Pretty standard nutrition knowledge. It follows the concept that there are no good or bad foods, just macro ratios. But how does this equate to fitness goals?
“I’ve always had the mindset that to achieve my fitness goals that I had to eat strictly clean. That sugar and carbs were the devil and tracking my food seemed tedious.” says Billie-Jean Nye, who is a Canadian-based Bikini Competitor, that practices Flexible Dieting. ” I felt like I could never follow IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) because of these reasons. When really I was just scared to switch from what I knew… what was comfortable. I already weigh out of food all the time anyways, so what’s adding the step to enter it into a program, right?”
Before she started applying it to her training, she followed pretty typical competitor programs, without second guessing what she was putting into her body. And was hesitant to give the Flexible Diet a try.
“When I decided to switch to IIFYM/Flexible dieting I was skeptical at first,” she continues. “After seeing post after post of people eating pop tarts and ice cream I was pretty sure this was never going to work for me. But I had no idea what it meant to track my food and know exactly what was in it. IIFYM isn’t just about eating those types of food. But it does leave you the flexibility to fit those in when you can and when you need them!”
Which is the point of Flexible Dieting. To not mentally beat yourself up for having a treat while you occasionally indulge in fun or treat foods. And for her second bikini competition she gave it a try, after seeing some of her fellow competitors have success with it. But at first it brought the worry that allowing room to add in Oh-look-a-brownie type snacks would set her back many steps from all the hard work she achieved through the discipline. Later that worry dissipated, much to her delight.
For Vegan Fitness Guru Blair Wyatt, she was able to find almost a “food sanctuary” in Flexible Dieting, after dealing with the struggles of an eating disorder.
“I have been practicing Flexible Dieting for almost three years now, and coming from previous struggles with binge eating and orthorexia, I have never felt more at peace with foods of all kinds, especially in prepping for shows!” says Blair. “Being vegan, Flexible Dieting made it a BREEZE to ensure that I was meeting my daily macronutrient intake leading up to my most recent show. Honestly, hitting fiber is never a concern for me anymore, and my intake of fruits, veggies, and whole food sources has increased dramatically since making the lifestyle change.”
For both competitors, removing the added stress of eating everything exactly as planned on a daily basis has helped both of them stay relaxed and focus on the fun part of competition, which is of course the gym.
“I’ve taken the term “cheat meal” out of my vocabulary and wow does it feel good!” exclaims Billie-Jean. “I no longer have to deal with the guilty feelings I would get after my cheat meal …. or often my cheat day. Now I eat for my goals and if I want something like chocolate or fries… well, I make it FIT! IIFYM has really helped me reclaim a positive connection with my food.”
And for plant based competitors that think following the tired and true bodybuilding formula of diet is difficult, Blair reassures that Flexible Dieting makes that the same concerns anyone has about going vegan and being an athlete are null and void.
“There are so many amazing resources and new foods out there for vegans, I was able to stay low carb, hit my protein, and come into my show feeling and looking better than I had ever imagined. Brands like Beyond Meat and Gardein have fantastic meat alternatives that offer a great deal of protein for minimal carbs, low fats, and they also include fiber and other vitamins, unlike the animal products I previously consumed.”
While there are some doubters in the public eye saying that flexible dieting doesn’t work due to it’s lack of restrictions, an optimist would quickly point out that any healthy diet, in order to work, requires discipline to keep it on track. And also one diet plan might work well for one person and not the other. This goes in the fitness world just the same. Where some competitors stick with the traditional bodybuilder diet leading all the way up to stage day, competitors like Billie-Jean have found what works best for her and her goals.
“I enjoy making whatever I want and just making it fit within my numbers.” Nye states. “It has given me a better understanding of food and what is in it. I now know exactly what I am putting into my body and I am making sure to get the proper nutrients I require. I am now 5 months post comp and only about 4 lbs up from my stage weight. I have energy and strength that continue to grow while I still remain fairly lean.”