Flexible dieting or IIFYM (if it fits your macros) is the process of tracking your calorie and macro nutrient (protein, carbohydrates and fats) intake. This eating practise 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. Sounds great right? However, it requires weighing out and tracking the calories and the nutritional composition of nearly everything that passes your lips. It is a very popular ‘dieting’ practise, but everyone is different and it really takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you. I am going to share my personal experiences with IIFYM and the pros and cons for me personally.
Pros of Flexible Dieting
I have tracked my macros for close to 3 years pretty consistently. I think it has been a great experience in helping me learn about food composition and how different mixes of macronutrients and calories effect my body. It also helped me to avoid falling into the ‘fad diet’ trap that the media makes sound like the ‘magic solution’. There is no magic solution, and no, eating 12 avocados will not ‘make you lose 10 pounds in 3 minutes’. In my opinion, I do think it would be beneficial for everyone to track their food for at least a month, even if they have no weight loss or weight gain goals. I think it gives people a much better perspective on portion size and what they are putting into their bodies.
Cons of Flexible Dieting
Counting calories and macros can easily become obsessive. I fell into the trap of letting it take over my life. I was constantly planning the next thing I was going to be eating, even when I had just finished a big meal. I love food, but during this obsessive phase it became a game of numbers and I lost the enjoyment factor.
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.
A Bit of Both
I have now found a healthy balance, that works for me. I now track my calories maybe one day per week (to ensure I am on track with my portions sizes when I am working towards a goal), but for the most part my experience of tracking has given me the ability to estimate what I am consuming, while also listening to my body and giving it sufficient fuel.
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The Girl on the Go xx