For most people embarking on a health and fitness journey, nutrition is the most daunting part, and that’s completely understandable.
After all, we view fitness as a dedicated activity each day and something that we can enjoy and look forward to, whereas nutrition is something that needs constant consideration and can feel confusing with so much different information out there.
There's no need to fear, we're here to guide you.
We believe the key to nutrition is sustainability, and we love teaching our clients a variety of sustainable ways to approach nutrition — and one of those approaches that we've found works long-term is flexible dieting.
Tried to track your intake before? Heard of flexible dieting but not sure how to implement it into your diet? Or looking for a long-term approach to nutrition that doesn't restrict you? Keep reading to learn exactly what flexible dieting is, and why we love it!
What is flexible dieting?
Flexible dieting is a strategy that incorporates variety and flexibility into your lifestyle long-term. Despite the name, it's not an actual diet! This is all about approaching your nutrition with a sustainable approach — being able to incorporate foods of all kinds into your meals while staying on track with your goals.
Just to be clear — while you can technically hit your macros by only eating chocolate, ice cream, and pizza, it doesn’t mean you should! The idea is to make room for those treats while mostly consuming nutritious, filling, and satisfying foods.
Why flexible dieting?
There are many benefits to this approach, the most obvious one being its sustainability! Flexible dieting is an amazing tool that has helped many of our clients reach their goals and maintain them.
Flexible dieting is also incredibly useful for anyone wanting to gain lean muscle. When building shape, a calorie surplus is required which involves eating higher volumes of food — something that can make many of us feel full and uncomfortable. In this situation, flexible dieting is perfect to incorporate higher calorie options as opposed to a lot of food volume.
With proper planning, it's possible to avoid feeling too full while staying on track and enjoying favourite calorie-dense foods in moderation.
Implementing flexible dieting
At Move With Us, we don’t believe in “good” and “bad” foods. We love to incorporate all food groups and believe in 80% whole foods and 20% soul foods. This is a really good place to start — simply allocate up to 20% of your calories to your favourite treats daily, while ensuring the rest of your meals are based on nutrient-dense choices.
Because it's based on incorporating a healthy amount of ALL food groups, flexible dieting is a great approach to break the potentially harmful “clean eating” mindset and enjoy your favorite foods unconditionally. Your diet doesn’t need to be boring or bland — it’s all about a sustainable approach you're going to love long-term!
What about micronutrients?
By tracking and following the flexible dieting approach correctly, you are bound to hit your macros — but what about the micros? It’s a common concern that incorporating potentially more calorie-dense processed foods can make it more difficult to get your vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
Here’s why you shouldn’t be too worried if you’re maintaining the right balance in your diet:
- By ensuring your intake is 80% whole, nutrient-dense foods with plenty of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, you're extremely unlikely to develop micronutrient deficiencies.
- No need to rush to a supplement store! Vitamin and mineral supplements are only necessary if you're deficient or unable to absorb particular micronutrients, which has to be confirmed with a medical practitioner.
- By consuming predominantly whole foods from all food groups, you're also ensuring that you’re getting enough fibre. Sufficient fibre intake is very important for digestion and gut health! Healthy women should aim for 25-30g of fibre per day (although when in a calorie deficit, you may naturally consume a little bit less), which is a great target to promote optimal digestion and satiety.
Bottom line: Just because you’re allocating some of your macros to treats, doesn’t mean you need to overthink the rest of your intake. Simply ensure you’re eating plenty of nutritious foods, enjoy your favourite treats — and you’ll be just fine!
We like to track our food using the Meal Guides tab of the Move With Us App! But while we think it's the bees' knees, you can always use different apps like My Fitness Pal and Easy Diet Diary. While all these options are slightly different, each will allow you to track your calories and macros, which is all you need to start on your flexible dieting journey.
A common question we get asked is, "what do I do if I end up going over or under my calories or macros?"
Technically, by hitting your macros perfectly you should also be hitting your calorie target, as each macronutrient contains a certain number of calories, and the sum of them all is your calorie target. In other words, they should match up.
However, that’s not always what shows up on your tracking app! Slight discrepancies are possible, and can usually be explained by rounding up values, incorrect user-generated entries, tracking net vs total carbs, and other factors. We recommend using the following guide points when your macros are over/under:
- Calories: within ±50 calories of your target
- Protein & Carbs: within ±10g of your target
- Fats: within ±5g of your target
We also recommend picking a point of focus if you’re noticing these discrepancies - either aim to hit your calories or macros as closely as possible. This ensures the most consistent approach every day!
Overall, a balanced diet, including 80% whole foods and 20% soul foods, is one of the most sustainable approaches to nutrition. In turn, we believe sustainability is one of the most important determinants of your journey's success.
Flexible dieting can help achieve that balance, so we highly recommend giving it a go. Start your journey in the MWU App today.