For those of you who don’t know flexible dieting or IIFYM (If it fits your macros) is the process of tracking your calories & macro nutrient intake (protein, carbohydrates and fats). This method of ‘dieting’ is really popular as it isn’t necessarily a dieting method it is more of a lifestyle. This eating method allows you to be flexible in the things you eat every day, so you can technically eat whatever you want once it is inside these macro nutrient goals, it requires weighing out and tracking the calories and the nutritional composition of nearly everything that passes your lips. It is serious dedication and does take time but it means you don’t have to totally cut out your favourite ‘junk’ food, making it more sustainable.
In the past few months I have stopped tracking my macros and calories. I have started just trying to fuel my body with the freshest and most wholesome food possible. I am listening to my body in regards to how much food I need and when. This method is similar to what some people call ‘Intuitive Eating’, which is listening to hunger and fullness cues.
So, in this post I am going to talk about my experience with both ‘flexible dieting/IIFYM’ and ‘Intuitive eating’. My opinion obviously isn’t gospel. I just want to share my experiences with the two different methods. I hope this post can give you some insight into what might work best for you, because after all, everyone is different.
Pros of Flexible Dieting
I tracked my macros for close to 2 years pretty consistently. Although I don’t do it anymore I think it was a great experience for me and helped me learn a lot about food composition and how different mixes of macronutrients and calories effected my body. It also helped me to understand the things people generally deem as ‘healthy’ weren’t necessarily as healthy as I thought they were. So I do believe that everyone should track their food for at least a month, even if you have no weight loss or gain goals. I just think it will give you a much better perspective on what you are putting into your body.
Cons of Flexible Dieting
During my time using the flexible dieting method I learnt a lot and I think it was great for me starting off. As time went on this approach made me obsessed with food. I was always trying to ‘fit things’ in. Everyday I would be like ‘Okay, what can/will I be eating next?’. This obsession had me eating for the sake of hitting my calorie & macronutrient goal when sometimes I really didn’t need or want the extra food. Another problem that can, and did happen with me with flexible dieting is the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. I am a perfectionist and if I let myself have one thing that didn’t ‘fit’ into my macros I would treat the day as a write off and go on a huge binge – which was not healthy.
Pros of ‘Intuitive Eating’
Recently I have started ‘clean eating’ or ‘intuitive eating’. With this ‘method’ I am trying to listen to my body. I am only eating when I am hungry, and in each meal I try to make sure I am using the Precision Nutrition Principles outlined in Nutrition: Back to Basics. I try to include a portion of protein, carbs, fats and veg in every meal. This way there is less to plan, less to weigh and less to stress about. I am taking every meal as it comes and just trying to fill my body with the freshest and most natural food as possible.
Cons of ‘Intuitive Eating’
The cons that come with Intuitive eating include over eating. With no ‘limits’ on when to stop it can be hard to judge. Another issue is that all of the ‘superfoods’ are generally quite high in calories. So a healthy choice sometimes works out as a higher calorie choice, and although intuitive eating is moving away from the strict calorie counting, at the end of the day to lose body fat you need to be in a calorific deficit (burning more calories then you are consuming).
So to conclude I am really happy with my move from flexible dieting to intuitive eating as I am definitely eating food for health rather than eating as a slave to my fitness pal or other calorie counting apps. I believe my experience counting calories makes intuitive eating more successful for me because although I am mainly concerned about filling my body with the best food, I also am aware that even the best foods have calories in them.
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The Girl on the Go xx