Flexible dieting has emerged as one of the most popular ways to lose weight and stay lean year round. Also known as IIFYM or If It Fits Your Macros, this eating pattern is a favorite choice for fitness models and gym goers. It allows you to eat anything you wish as long as you meet your daily nutrient requirements. With IIFYM, you can have your cake and still lose weight or build muscle.
Calculating your macros is the first step to getting started with flexible dieting. If you’ve done it right but had little or no progress, reassess your diet to see what’s wrong. Common mistakes, such as not eating enough calories or overindulging in junk food, can stall your progress and keep you from reaching your goals. IIFYM offers more freedom than any other diet out there, but it’s not a free pass to eat cookies and pizza all day long.
So, here are nine common mistakes people make with flexible dieting and how to avoid them:
Counting Macros the Wrong Way
Flexible dieting is all about meeting your daily requirements for protein, carbs, and fats. These three macronutrients form the basis of your daily calorie intake. Your ability to determine and adjust your macros can make or break your progress.
Many dieters fail at calculating their macros. They either do it the wrong way or use other people’s macros. It’s essential to understand that your macronutrient ratio depends on your individual needs. Take the time to do research and learn the basic formulas for calculating macros. Eventually, ask a flexible dieting coach to figure out your macros.
Not Adjusting Your Macros
As you progress and get closer to your target weight, you’ll have to adjust your macros. If you were 200 pounds and had a sedentary lifestyle before getting started, you’ll need different macros a few months later when you’re 100 pounds and exercise three times week. Your macros depend on your body weight as well as on your goals, preferences, and activity level. Thus, it’s important to constantly adjust your numbers and plan your meals accordingly.
Not Measuring Your Food in Grams
Take the time to weigh your food, whether it’s peanut butter, cheese, or Greek yogurt. Tablespoons, cup sizes, and other measurements are going to be inconsistent. Use a digital food scale to make sure the results are accurate. Although it’s a lot of math involved, it gets easier once you get the ball rolling.
Not Counting Vegetables as Carbs
Most people who embrace this lifestyle don’t count vegetables as carbs. This is a big mistake that can slow down your progress. Vegetables, including kale, spinach, and cabbage, contain carbs and calories too. They also boast small amounts of protein and fat. Counting vegetable macros will help you keep your calories in check.
Eating Too Few Calories
Some dieters fail at flexible dieting simply because they don’t eat enough calories for their goals. If you want to pack on muscle, get at least 16 calories per pound of body weight per day. To lose fat, consume about 13 calories per pound of bodyweight. A diet that’s too low in calories may lead to fatigue, headaches, low energy, sluggish metabolism, and muscle loss. In the long run, it makes it harder to lose weight.
Not Tracking Your Supplements
Whey protein, fish oil, fiber capsules, and other supplements contain macronutrients too. Most protein powders boast 25 to 30 grams of protein per serving. Some contain carbs too. Fish oil is high in fat. Not tracking the macros in supplements can be detrimental to your goals.
Not Planning Your Meals
Meal planning plays a key role in IIFYM. Simply calculating your macros is not enough for reaching your goals. You also have to prep your food in advance and make sure you get the most nutrition bang for your buck. Meal planning will also save you time and money, so it’s worth the effort.
Ignoring Your Need for Micronutrients
Vitamins, minerals, fiber and other micronutrients are crucial to your health. Even the slightest deficiency can mess up your hormones, affect metabolism, and decrease physical performance. These nutrients aid in the growth and formation of bones, provide energy, support digestion, and keep your metabolism functioning properly. If you focus solely on macros, you’re missing out the big picture. It’s no need to track the vitamins and minerals in your diet but try not to ignore them. Take a multivitamin and eat whole, natural foods to prevent deficiencies.
Overindulging in Junk Food
Flexible dieting enables people to enjoy their favorite foods without the guilt. However, this doesn’t mean you should have pizza, coke, and pie every day of the week. Even if these foods fit into your macros, they may deprive your body of essential nutrients. Ideally, your diet should be 80 percent “clean.” Leave the other 20 percent for occasional treats.