Nina Silic: My Top Benefits Of Flexible Dieting
by Nina Silic:
Flexible dieting is a fairly new concept and has taken the health and fitness industry by storm over the last few years. You may have heard of it being referred to as IIFYM or “If it fits your macros” and although it has been scientifically proven to be a successful form of “dieting”, it had initially received a bad wrap from the old school dieters in heath and fitness and it still does. I know that any time I have ever been on a diet, the foods that are typically listed have always been chicken, tuna, lean meats, broccoli, egg whites, sweet potato whole grains (sound familiar?). But lets be honest, unless you are an A grade bodybuilder (and even then), who wants to eat these foods and these foods ONLY all of the time just to stay in shape? After 3 years of yo-yo dieting and only eating the typical “clean” foods and trying to stick to a strict diet, I kept falling off the wagon and I know many of you have been there too. But what if I told you there is another way to get great results without feeling deprived or restricted? Would you try it? Giving flexible dieting a try over a year ago was the best choice I could have made in regards to food for so many reasons and here is why…
So what is flexible dieting?
Many of you may be familiar with the concept of flexible dieting but you may still be wondering what it is and how it works? IIFYM means you track your daily intake of food. This can be done in an app like MyFitnessPal where you simply plug in all the food you eat in a day. It may sounds tedious but believe me its so simple and you become better at it over time. This allows you to keep track of your total calorie intake for the day and, if you want to get into more depth, you can track and hit quotas for your macronutrients too (Macronutrients = protein, carbohydrates and far). This means you can choose ANY foods you like throughout the whole day while making sure you do not go over your numbers for the day. Yes, it is that simple! No catches, no gimmicks just track your food and try to hit your target numbers as close as you can. Many people (including myself) even do competition prep using IIFYM, but this just means we get a little more strict and accurate with the numbers we need to hit.
No Food is off limits
Yes, you read that right! NO food is off limits. WOW! What kind of diet is this? Well, I am going to start you off with a scenario to give you a better idea. Everybody loves chocolate, right? Personally, I don’t really eat much chocolate on a regular basis and I rarely have cravings for it. On occasion, I will have a few squares here or there. Now, what if someone told me I was not allowed to eat ANY chocolate for a few months because that was NOT part of my new “diet”? Suddenly, now all I can think about is eating chocolate… and instead of the few squares I would usually have, I now have the desire to eat the entire block! Sound familiar??? This is why I LOVE flexible dieting because no food is ever completely off limits, which means you have all the power to decide whether you want to sacrifice your calories on some chocolate or have something else instead. Now, this doesn’t mean let’s just eat chocolate and ice cream all day because you still need to make sure you get an adequate amount of protein and fiber in a day. So, in order to hit your numbers you may need to eat 80% nutrient dense foods but, if you want to have some cake or ice cream (and it fits into your targets) then you can treat yourself and it’s no big deal.
Reduce hours of meal prep
If you have ever followed a strict meal plan you know that you need to prepare all of your food to try and make sure you follow it 110%. In the past I was known to spend up to 3-4 hours every weekend (don’t judge me I was on a mission) preparing all of my meals for the week ahead of time so I could just grab them and go out of the fridge/freezer every day. Spending that long preparing food not only made my kitchen look like a tornado had swept through it, but I’d honestly rather spend that time doing absolutely anything else (and who wouldn’t), like catching up with a friend for coffee or just having some “me” time. Flexible dieting gives you that freedom! If you have a crazy busy day you can always grab some food on the go or quickly pop into the super market and put a meal together. A quick fix for me is usually a tin of chili tuna, cottage cheese, and some greens which I can grab from any local supermarket. Another option would be some low fat Greek yogurt and berries. I also always pack my protein shakes too just in case I need to have a quick snack and don’t have time to nip out of work. I still like to prepare my lunch the night before, but it usually involves some left overs from dinner. Even though some organization and preparation is the key to success, you no longer need to cook every little thing. There are so many options you have access to, and you get those 3-4 hours of meal prep back to do what you wish. Win win win!
Cut out the binging and the guilt
If you have ever been on a strict diet and been told you can have a “cheat” meal then you will most likely be all too familiar with binging on food. It’s so common amongst dieters to deprive yourself of certain foods and once the weekend comes you binge on food that you know you can not eat during the entire week, and most likely ruined all of the hard work you put in all week long. Flexible dieting helps prevent binges. When you allow yourself to have food in moderation you will have little or no desire to binge on any foods because you can make them fit into your daily intake. You can absolutely have your cake and eat it too and there is no need to feel guilty about it or spend any extra hours in the gym.
Have you ever turned down a friendly catch up for dinner because the thought of deviating off your diet plan was too much to bare? Or have you ever packed your own food and took it to an outing with friends in order to stick to your plan? Well now you can say YES to all social outings and enjoy the food around you instead. All you need to do is estimate what you eat when you are out. It’s also great to plan ahead! If you know you are going to have a big dinner planned, you might need to simply eat a little lighter throughout the day to accommodate for your extra food in the evening.
Makes you smarter about food
Now you don’t have to track all of your food forever. But tracking your food over time means you will become more educated about the nutrient content of foods. Some items of food may surprise you when you realize what they actually contain. So, tracking in your app makes you aware of what you eat. Over time you can just eat mindfully and you will get to know exactly what your body needs and be able to have a healthy and balanced relationship with food while getting your desired results.
So ditch the fad diets and just eat real food and the foods you love! If there is a way to achieve results whilst eating any foods your heart desires (in moderation) then you need to give it try because you absolutely have nothing to lose and all the cake to gain.
Berry Banana Smoothie
1 scoop vanilla pharmapure
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup water
Blend and enjoy
Tip: Top with honey and gluten free muesli
Gluten free wrap bread base
chopped chicken breast
any chopped mixed vege (eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, pumpkin, onion)
1 – 2 tblsp organic tomato paste
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees (celcius). Bake the pumpkin for 1 hour (I usually bake this the day before). Lightly sauté the veggies in a non stick pan. In another pan sauté the chicken break. Cover the wrap base with tomato paste. Add the cooked chicken breast and veggies on top. Season with salt and Italian herbs. Bake for 10 minutes or until base is crunchy
Tip: You can top with some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
With over 20 years of dance experience & a thriving passion for health and fitness, Nina Silic is now the General Manager of Muscle Worx Australia, one of Australia’s leading sports nutrition retailers, and an IFBB Bikini Pro Athlete. She loves helping people reach their fitness and health goals on a regular basis and loves to create new recipes in her spare time.