Flexible Dieting Article Part 1
by: Landon Nix
Flexible dieting can be described as counting macronutrients or a more refined way to count calories. Your macronutrients, or macros as I will often refer to them, are made up of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. When you choose to count macros as opposed to calories, then you are in complete control. Being in control of your diet means that you have more control over the progress you will see and feel. In a standard American diet, most people do not consume enough protein. I have seen so many people count calories and plateau in just a few short weeks. This is because most Americans will consume a heavy carb/fat load and less protein when tracking calories alone. Less protein every day means that your body is potentially in a catabolic state, not where you want to be if your goal is to improve upon your physique.
For those reasons, counting calories alone is not as effective as counting macronutrients.
We know already that macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. What does this mean as far as calories are concerned? Here is the breakdown: Protein is 4kcals per gram, fat is 9kcals per gram, Carbohydrates are 4kcals per gram. Applying this is where it can get fun because it is so individual-based. An example diet for a 210lbs male eating 2,000 calories a day may look like this: Protein: 200grams/ Fat: 45grams/ Carbs: 200grams. This set-up would put the person right around 2k calories. That is just one of the many ways you could set a 2,000 calorie diet up with macros. Like I mentioned before, this is a more refined way to count calories. You will still end up with a total calorie number at the end of the day. However, macro counting is more suitable for burning fat and gaining muscle, which most people desire.
When clients first begin tracking their macros, they will notice some physique changes within the first 4 weeks. This is primarily due to their increase in protein intake daily. Protein has the highest thermal effect on the body of any macronutrient, so what does that mean for you? Basically that your body will have to work a little harder to digest that food, which means more calories burnt at rest. Not to mention, eating an adequate amount of protein daily will help your body stay in an anabolic state or a muscle-building state.
Now that you know what flexible dieting is, we can get into how and why we use this form of tracking food as nutrition coaches. Every nutrition coach will have a different way of setting these things up, but as a coach on the Relentless team, we follow the set-up that Jeff has taught us and crafted through his coaching years. There is a tracking system we use that keeps up with daily macro intake for each client. Through this tracking system, we get a day to day look at how each client is doing and what improvements can be made.
I will be the first to say, I have used different forms of helping clients track their food, from food journals to the client telling me things they eat regularly and attempting to make adjustments around the information they give me. The client that chooses not to track their macros will typically have a more challenging time seeing the progress that they want. I know it may seem like a ton of work up front, but the 5 minutes you spend every week updating your tracker can and will be the difference in seeing progress versus plateauing. The easiest and best means of tracking macronutrients is through free apps on your iPhone or Android. My two favorite apps to use are “My Fitness Pal” and “Lose It.” The applications are simple to use and require minimal effort when tracking food, plus you can save any home recipes that you come up with that maybe macro-friendly. My Fitness Pal provides you with a barcode scan, which makes it even easier to track.
Landon Nix is one of Relentless Forever’s coaches. Landon has been on our team since 2018. After working his way back from a shoulder injury while as a minor league baseball player, he decided to turn his passion for baseball into coaching others to achieve better health and fitness.