The definitive guide to the flexible diet for beginners


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The flexible diet or IIFYM (from English If it fits your macros), which means “if it fits your macros,” is a type of diet that helps people lose weight without feeling overly restricted.

Instead of focusing on calories, IIFYM focuses on meeting the daily requirements of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates). It was originally designed by fitness enthusiast Anthony Collova after feeling frustrated with traditional dietary recommendations.

The diet allows more flexibility since all the foods can be enjoyed as long as they correspond to the macros of the day. Therefore, know the basic principles of flexible diet, as well as the pros and cons of this approach.

1.Beginner’s guide to flexible diet

1.1 What is the flexible diet?

The flexible diet is based on that you can eat what you want, but within reasonable limits, and taking care of the daily requirement of the macronutrients.

Macronutrients, or macros, consist of four types of food molecules that the body can break down for energy. The three types of macronutrients that make up a diet are carbohydrates, fat and protein. Alcohol is the fourth macronutrient but it is not included in this type of diet.

1.2 How to follow the flexible diet?

Following the diet of IIFYM is quite simple and only requires a few steps:

  1. Macros calculation: they are used to determine how many grams of proteins, carbohydrates and fats you need each day to reach your goal of losing weight.
  2. Comply with the macros: once you know them you only need to stay inside them every day.

The IIFYM is generally used for people who want to lose weight, but can also be adapted for those who want to gain weight.

1.3 How to calculate the macros in the IIFYM diet?

The first step to start with the IIFYM diet is to calculate your macros. Most people use a free calculator on the IIFYM website, but you can also calculate it manually. You should follow these steps:

  1. Calculate your basal metabolic rate . The standardized equations are used to determine how much energy the body needs at rest, according to age, sex, height and weight. This is known as the basal metabolic rate or BMR.
  2. Adjust according to the level of activity. The BMR is multiplied by an activity factor to increase the calories according to the degree of activity. This is known as total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.
  3. Adjust according to weight goals. If you want to lose weight, reduce your calorie intake by 15-25%. But, if the goal is to raise, increase the calories by 5-15%.
  4. Determine your macros. The protein intake should be between 1.4-2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight, while the consumption of fat should be between 0.5-0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. All remaining calories are assigned to carbohydrates.

For weight loss, the idea is to reduce calories and increase protein to preserve lean muscle mass while losing body fat. After doing all the calculations, the final plan should tell you how many calories and grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates you will consume each day.

2.What are the benefits of flexible diet?

2.1 It can be a revealing experience

Since IIFYM focuses on macronutrients instead of calories, it can be a great educational tool for people who are not familiar with the composition of macronutrients in foods.

For example, a chocolate bar and 150 grams of salmon can have almost the same number of calories, but they are very different macronutrients. While the candy bar and salmon contain a lot of fat, the bar can be loaded with carbohydrates and the salmon is full of protein.

2.2 Help reach weight goals

So far, the research is not clear whether the manipulation of macros affects weight loss or not. Some evidence suggests that higher protein diets, such as IIFYM, can increase metabolism and maintain weight loss for longer. In spite of everything, research has frequently shown that reducing calories leads to short-term weight loss.

2.3 No prohibited foods

No foods are prohibited in the IIFYM diet, as long as you comply with the requirement of the macros.

This can be an excellent way to help people understand where most of their proteins, fats and carbohydrates come from. Allowing all meals can also eliminate some of the pressure and guilt associated with other more restrictive diet methods.

2.4 It is easy to follow

The flexible diet is easy to follow since it allows you to plan meals according to your lifestyle without feeling limited. For example, if you go out to dinner you can look up nutrition information in advance, and then adjust the rest of your meals for the day as needed.

3.Who is the flexible diet for?

This diet works for all types of people, including those who follow special diets such as vegan, vegetarian, paleo or gluten free. But, specifically, this kind of diet is for people who want to be more free when choosing their food, but focused on the goal of losing or gaining weight and monitoring the consumption of macronutrients.

4.What are the disadvantages of the flexible diet?

4.1 Still a diet

Despite being more flexible, it is still a diet. A lot of research has found that diets do not work in the long term, and the vast majority of people end up recovering at least part of the weight they lost.

4.2 Does not emphasize micronutrients

With so much focus on macronutrients, the importance of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals is somewhat ignored. Although the IIFYM encourages a diet of whole foods, it does not really follow up to ensure that people consume enough vitamins and minerals.

Research shows that many fad diets do not provide enough vitamins and minerals, so it is likely that at least some people who follow the IIFYM diet also fall short.

4.3 Does not consider the state of health

The flexible diet may not be appropriate for everyone, especially for people with health problems that require special diets. For example, people with diabetes need to control their carbohydrate intake, and people with kidney disease should observe their intake of sodium, phosphorus and protein.

4.4 It could increase the risk of eating disorderly

Although macronutrient monitoring can help people achieve their weight goals, it can trigger eating disorders in some people.

Research has found a strong relationship between the monitoring of diet, physical fitness and the development of eating disorders, especially in young women. Therefore, it is important for health professionals to detect eating disorders before recommending diets such as IIFYM.

Related Wiki Link: Flexible dieting Benefits & Disadvantages 

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