What is Flexible dieting?
We love flexible dieting at Amplified Fitness, also known as IIFYM (if it fits your macros), because you can choose to eat anything you want, as long as it fits into your macronutrient goals for the day. This doesn’t mean you can just eat whatever you want all day and get results (we wish!). Your food choices are controlled by your macronutrient guidelines.
Flexible dieting, is a method of dieting that revolves around meeting daily macronutrient intake targets, not on what you eat to get there. You have your calorie goal, your macro nutrient goal, and if it fits you can eat it. There are no meal plans and there are no food restrictions, you just have to consistently hit your macro numbers.
You can think of macronutrients as your food budget for the day. We will give you the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to eat. What you fit into that budget is up to you.
Food Choice is individual! Flexible dieting can be utilized alongside ANY specific dietary protocol and can accommodate for ANY individual dietary needs or preferences whether it be paloe, “clean eating”, gluten free, keto, those with insulin resistance or anything else you can think of, but how?
The single most important variable in changing body composition is nutrition. A large percentage of your results are going to come from your nutrition choices. Some diets aren’t sustainable and lead to a poor relationship with food and body image. Our chief aim is to tailor a nutrition plan for you that is:
You should be able to continue improving your body composition without drastic highs and lows.
Who wants to live in a world where you’re not allowed an occasional slice of pizza or cake?
If it doesn’t work, why do it? We aim to get you the best results as quickly as possible. Consistency and patience are key on this journey. More on that later.
Proper nutrition will yield results beyond what you see in the mirror. Your brain function will improve. You will have more sustainable energy. Your overall quality of life will improve. Your workouts will be more satisfying.
Flexible dieting is a change in the way you live – for the better. Commit now to changing the way you eat and view food. Commit to this lifestyle change. Patience and consistency will yield what you want.
Nutrition is not one size fits all. Our bodies are unique and respond differently to food. Our aim is to offer a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle.
What is a macro-nutrient?
Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Every gram of each macronutrient contains calories.
1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
1 Gram of Carbohydrates = 4 Calories
1 Gram of Fat = 9 calories
The way your body responds to each macronutrient is very different. Although protein and carbohydrates have the same amount of calories per gram, the effect on your body is not the same. This is why counting macros is much better than just counting calories. Also, some foods burn more calories to digest than others. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). Animal protein and leafy greens take much more energy to digest than white bread and candy. This is why counting macronutrients is so important. It is a way to make sure your calories are coming from foods that support lean body mass, muscle repair, and growth.
1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
Muscle is made up of protein, and consuming complete protein provides all of the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) needed to build muscle. Protein intake is also essential for shedding those unwanted (fat) pounds. First, it helps you burn more calories because of the thermic effect of food (TEF).
Fat has a TEF of 3%, carbs have a TEF of around 8%, but protein’s TEF is between 20-30%!
So one-quarter of the protein calories you eat will be burned just from eating it. By increasing protein intake in your diet, you are burning extra calories (since the extra protein will be replacing either carbs or fat intake). Also, protein is needed to maintain and build muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) will be, since muscles are such high energy burners. When they are bigger, they will require more energy, which means extra burned calories for you. Protein also increases satiety or fullness, people report feeling less hungry after meals when eating higher protein. This leads to less snacking and greater compliance with their diet (less cheating).
With all of that said, I’m sure you aren’t surprised to see if your diet is higher in protein that what your used to. The protein in your plan will be based off your lean body mass. It will change depending on your goal, but you will always have enough protein to ensure adequate recovery between workouts.
Tip: If you see your protein requirement and it’s a lot more protein than you are used to eating, don’t jump right into it. Try a more gradual approach. Start by eating 50-75% of your required protein at first and add 3 grams a days until you reach your goal. This will help you digestive system get used to the higher protein and help to avoid digestive issues. You can make up for the lost calories in these early days by adding 1 extra gram of fat for every 3 grams of protein you subtract for the day.
We like everyone to consume protein from whole food sources like meat, fish, dairy, and high protein veggies. But, we know life gets in the way sometimes and you’ll need to reach for a shake to hit your goals.
Try to make sure that you are getting at least ⅔ of your protein requirement through whole foods.
If you have no dietary restrictions, whey and casein protein are our top choices. Whey is fast digesting and great for post workout recovery. Casein digests slower and will keep you full longer.
Some of these powders are very high in carbs and added fat. Don’t waste your money on extra carbs and fat! Look for powders with:
Less than 2 grams of fat – Less that 5 grams of carbs – More that 20 grams of protein – Per Serving
Costco has great options if you are looking for the most bang for your buck.
If you do have dietary restrictions, egg, pea, and hemp proteins are our next favorite. They all have great amino acid profiles.
High Protein Food Sources:
Wild Game – elk, deer, moose
Canned Meats – Tuna, Salmon, Chicken
High Protein Vegan Friendly Foods:
Oatmeal Quinoa Lentils Pumpkin Seeds Amaranth Flour Soy Artichoke
1 Gram of Fat = 9 calories
If you aren’t paying attention to your fat intake you can get into trouble really quick, but fat isn’t the enemy! Fat is vital for many important functions in your body:
- It provides the structure of cell membranes and nerve fibers
- It transports nutrients throughout your body
- Your hormones are produced from fat
Your goal with this our flexible dieting plan will determine the amount of fat you will be consuming. But, even if extreme fat loss is your goal, you will still be provided enough fat to maintain healthy bodily functions.
It’s easy to consume too much fat because fat is contained in so many of the foods we eat, especially on a high protein diet. A lot of high protein animal products are high in fat.
Eat Lean Protein.
Some good lean protein options are: chicken, turkey, deli meat, white fish, egg whites, and non-fat greek yogurt.
Watch your sauces and dressings.
A lot of salad dressings are loaded with fat. Opt for fat free options or use sparingly. The great thing about oils and sauces is that a little goes a long way.
Be conscious of how you cook.
One of the easiest ways to unknowingly add too much fat to your meal is cooking with too much oil. Put a small amount of oil in the pan and rub it around with your hand or opt for cooking spray.
Other great cooking alternatives are the oven, crockpot, and BBQ.
High fat food sources:
1 Gram of Carbohydrates = 4 Calories
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rep over the past decade, and in some cases rightfully so. Carbs are very easy to get your hands on. Bagels, donuts, candy, chips, soda, and the list goes on.
These foods + lack of activity = disaster
The truth is, carbohydrates aren’t the enemy, you just need to earn them. Your body stores carbohydrates as glycogen. If you’re a super active person and constantly using your glycogen storage, carbs will be used to restore it. If you aren’t very active and aren’t using your glycogen storage, those carbs will be stored as fat instead of glycogen. As long as you follow your macro plan, you will be eating the right amount of carbs to support energy levels and reach your goals.
High Glycemic Index VS. Low Glycemic Index Carbs
The Glycemic Index is a way to measure how fast a food will raise your blood sugar levels after you eat them.
High Glycemic Index (Simple) Carbs are very fast digesting and raise your blood sugar quickly. They typically have less nutritional value (less vitamins and minerals) and less fiber. Because of their fast digestion, they won’t keep you full as long.
Tip: A great time to eat simple carbs is immediately post workout. They spike your insulin and will lead to quick restoration of muscle glycogen.
Example of High Glycemic (simple) Carbs
Low Glycemic Index (complex) Carbs are slower digesting and don’t raise your blood sugar as quickly as simple carbs. They are often rich in fiber, keep you full longer, and are packed with more vitamins and minerals.
Complex carbs usually contain much less carbs by volume than simple carbs.
= 7 carbs
= 2.6 Fiber
= 28 carbs
= .4 Fiber
So, choosing these foods will keep you full longer AND you can eat way more of them which will obviously keep you satisfied even longer.
Example of Low Glycemic Index Carbs
Since complex carbs are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, we give you a fiber goal to hit every day to go along with your macros. Hitting your fiber goal with help to ensure a well balanced diet.
(Please see our Get drunk not fat article. Click here)
1 Gram of Alcohol = 7 calories
Alcohol is not free of calories! We’ve had clients in the past kill their progress because they mistakenly think vodka is calorie free because there is no protein, carbs, or fat. Alcohol is very calorically dense.
To track your alcohol you will take from your carbohydrate or fat allowance. You will take the total calories and divide by 9 for fat or 4 for carbohydrates.
1 shot of vodka (1.5 oz) = 97 calories
FAT – 97/9 = 10.7 – You can choose to count this as 10.7 grams of fat toward your fat allowance
CARBS – 97/4 = 24.25 – You can choose to count this as 24.25 of carbs toward your carb allowance
As you can see, a few drinks can add up very quickly. Even faster if you pair a drink with a mixer loaded with sugar. Alcohol also lowers our inhibitions and most people eat like Jack ass’s when drinking. Drinking calories+eating like a jackass=Disaster.
Tips: If you want to see the faster results, try to limit your alcohol consumption as much as possible. The negative effects of alcohol reach far beyond extra calories.
Weighing and Tracking your food
Weighing and Tracking your food is going to be a very important part of your success on our flexible dieting program.
Fat secret and myfitness pal is a great app with a huge food database.
Weighing and tracking for at least a month or two is very important because it will teach you about what foods contain various macronutrients and how to judge portions. This is a very valuable tool because once you’ve learned this, it will be very easy to stay on track long term without having to plan every meal.
Weighing and Measuring – Cooked vs. Raw
The weight of your food is going to change when you cook it. When cooking meat, you will lose a lot of weight due to the loss of water. For things like rice and oatmeal you will gain a lot of water during the cooking process.
Weighing things raw is the most consistent for tracking because the way you cook foods can cause changes in weight. A steak cooked well done has a different weight than a steak cooked medium.
Our rule: You can choose to track your food cooked or raw. Just make sure to pick the right one! The differences in the steak example above are so minor that it won’t make a huge impact. We want you to weigh and measure your food whatever way is most convenient for your food prepping preferences. If you are anything like us, we like to cook about 3 days worth of protein at once, so weighing it per meal after it’s cooked is much more convenient.
Meal Prep Tips:
Prep your meals for the middle of the day. This could be 2-3 meals a day depending on if you are eating 4 or 5 times a day. Most people have time to make breakfast and dinner, and this is where you can add more variety.
The foods we usually prep are: a couple lean meat choices, vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate source or two.
Buy a food scale. This way you can be sure you are counting everything accurately. You can find inexpensive digital food scales at most grocery stores or Amazon. Weight all your solids on a scale. Do not use volume tools(cups and spoons) to measure solids.
Prepare balanced meals. Try to split your macronutrients evenly throughout your meals. This will help make sure you stay full longer and never need to binge eat to hit your macros.
Set aside time right now that you will use to meal prep. Planning when you will be prepping will keep you on track. Most of our team does meal prep Sunday and Wednesday night. It only takes about an hour and you’ll have most of your meals for the week. If you aren’t down to eat 3-day old meals, that’s ok! A great technique is to prep extra food during dinner that you can eat the next day.
Have some easy accessible protein and vegetable sources on hand – Ex: canned chicken, tuna, deli meats, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, canned green beans, chopped bell peppers, etc…
Meal Prep Hack
If you think you don’t have time to prep, buy a crock pot. Throw in some frozen chicken breasts, rice or sweet potatoes, vegetables, and seasoning before you leave the house in the morning. When you come home it will be ready for dinner and have leftovers for the next day’s lunch.
Tracking your macros.
For example lets take a 150lb female who works out at least 3x/week that wants to lose body fat. Her nutrition estimations would be
Cal=1650 Pro=125G Fat=46G Carb=185G
We can even take this a step further in making this more simple and simply give the individual a calorie number and Protein number. I do this for many of my beginning clients to make things as simple as possible. The simpler the plan, and the less rules to follow the more likely you will adhere to the program which is the most important factor of any nutrition plan.
***Keep in mind this is an estimation and adjustments will be made based off progression.
This will put her in a caloric deficit(A caloric deficit is required to lose fat) and will put her at enough protein to sustain and/or grow muscle. She can eat the foods she enjoys as long as she meets her numbers.(macros)
But how do you know what to eat to hit you numbers?
Macro counting is definitely a skill and you become better and faster at it over time.
Keep it simple! Eating your Grandmas homemade fettuccine alfredo will be hard to track. Stick to basic ingredient dishes, and nutrient dense foods. As you become more experienced you will find it easier to track all foods.
You will need to download the app “fatsecret” on your cell phone. You will also need a digital kitchen scale. Simply enter in what you ate into the app and it counts it all up for you. Too many calories? Reduce your portion sizes. Not enough protein? Reduce Carbohydrate and/or fat and eat more calories from protein sources. You get the idea. Its as simple as that, and that is the beauty of Flexible dieting. The less rules we have to follow, and the simpler we can make nutrition the more likely we are to adhere to the program which is the most important factor of any nutrition program.
How would you like to have a coach calculate your custom macros, a coach to keep you accountable, and a coach to check in with? We’ve got just the online nutrition program for you. Simply fill out the form below and an Amplified coach will be in touch with you within 24 hours.