What Is Flexible Dieting?

Christian Coulson
Updated: June 10, 2020
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Flexible Dieting, also known as Macro Counting or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a nutritional concept based on the idea that you can eat any foods you’d like and still reach your desired level of fitness.

It consists of being aware of the right balance of macros (protein, carbs, and fats) you need to consume to optimize your body composition.

However, before calculating your right balance of macros, you’ll first need to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

There are a few reasons why diets fail, but since Flexible Dieting is not a diet, but a nutritional concept, it is considered a very sustainable and successful approach to losing weight and keeping it off. (1)

Macros Are How You Get Your Calories

Each gram (g) of a macro has a set amount of calories.

  • 1 g of Carbs = 4 calories
  • 1 g of Protein = 4 calories
  • 1 g of Fat = 9 calories

Tracking calories by themselves is an excellent way to lose weight; however, to optimize body composition you should be tracking your macros to allow proper nutrient distribution.

Let’s take a look at how calories are calculated. 

We’ll use the nutrition facts of a pack of Oreos as an example.

The green number is the total amount of calories per serving and the red numbers are the grams of each macro (fats = 7 g, carbs = 24 g, protein = 1 g).

Since 1 g of fat = 9 calories and we have 7 g of fat in a serving of Oreos, we can multiply 7 g x 9 calories = 63 calories.

Nutrition facts Oreo example.

Tracking your Macros

There are different applications you can use to track them, such as:

  • MyFitnessPal
  • My Macros+
  • Calorie King

MyFitnessPal is the one I recommend as it has a huge food database and it is relatively easy to use.

Like mostly any diet or meal plan you follow, you’ll still need to weigh or measure your foods using a food scale or measuring cup.

A food scale that measures in grams will be more accurate than measuring by volume of food. When measuring by volume the way you accommodate foods inside the cup can influence the amount you use.

For instance, have you ever tried to pack your car for a road trip and find yourself having to rearrange things for everything to fit? That is precisely what could happen when using a measuring cup.

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Flexible Dieting Vs. Other Diets

Since Flexible Dieting is not a diet, you can still apply it to any dieting style you’d like.

  • Keto + Flexible Dieting? Heck yeah!
  • Paleo + Flexible Dieting? Yeap
  • Vegan + Flexible Dieting? Yes
  • Intermittent Fasting + Flexible Dieting? You get the idea, right?

Being Actually Healthy

Technically, you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros, and achieve a decent body composition.

However, enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and fiber should be consumed to maintain overall health. Micronutrients and fiber can be found mostly in whole foods.

The following are some recommended guidelines for flexible dieting:

  • At least 80% of your daily calories should come from whole/nutrient-dense foods.
  • You should consume 14 g of fiber for every 1,000 calories, with a minimum of 25 g and a maximum of 75 g per day. (2)

To summarize, Flexible Dieting is an excellent way to understand food composition and your body’s macronutrient requirement. Since it is not a diet, but a nutritional concept, you can apply it to any other dieting style you want to try; and even though you have a lot of freedom to eat whatever you want, whole foods should still dominate the majority of your calories.

I hope you enjoyed this article about what is flexible dieting!

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