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The Benefits of Flexible Dieting

Weight Watchers. Keto. See food, eat food. There are hundreds of diets out there. But for the average joe, do we really need a diet that is really that strict?

Insert flexible dieting. Like any diet, there is good and bad. What flexible dieting allows someone to do is still enjoy foods that they enjoy, but still being able to achieve their goals. 

However, flexible dieting can go completely wrong. Because it gives you the freedom to allow your to eat your favorite foods, people will use it as an excuse that they can eat that whole bag of chocolate covered pretzels because it fits into their diet. 

But it always comes down to if you’re consuming less calories than what your body is using in order to lose weight. Essentially, a flexible diet allows you to eat what you like as long as it fits your macros. 

However, why would someone want to take a flexible approach to their diet. 

Majority of people when they hear the word “diet” they think of eliminating, or rigidity. Removing certain foods from their diets like sweets, breads, and perhaps even eating very little if anything at all, has been found to a less optimal approach to dieting.  

A study performed by Suchaumberg et al. looked at correlations with people who were using a rigid diet. They found that:

  • There was less weight loss and less weight loss maintained 
  • People were more food focused
  • Had higher body mass and BMI
  • More common overeating
  • Had higher levels of depression, anxiety, and mood disturbances
  • More frequent and more severe binge eating
  • More symptoms of eating disorders
  • And a poorer body image

Looks like that rigid diet wasn’t working too well. 

This tells me that we cannot become obsessed with the food that we eat. There are a lot of negative effects associated with strict diets. And working with clients who try to make their diets perfect 100% of the time really struggle and have a hard time enjoying everyday life. 

Another study by Loria-Kohen et al. looked at people who took bread out of their diets over a 16 week period. They found that the people who took bread out fell off their diet more than people who continued eating bread. The study also found that the people who did not eat bread fell out of the study than the other group. 

This study is interesting because people who make their diets more rigid are going to have a harder time sticking to their diets, as well as having a more difficult time losing weight. 

So flexible dieting is an option that we should consider doing not only for the physiological benefits, but the psychological benefits as well. 

Now the question becomes is how do we move to a more flexible diet?

We need to set our priorities. What are the goals for each person in terms of their health and fitness and what are they willing to do in order to achieve those goals. A bodybuilder or physique competitor is going to have to sacrifice a lot more than the soccer mom who wants to look sexy for her husband. 

A flexible diet is not black and white. It works on a range and continuum type of structure. So lets say you have a set amount that you want to hit for your macros on the day. When the day concludes you find that you have consumed 20 grams more carbs than you wanted and 15 grams less protein. 

No need to bad mouth yourself and convince yourself that you are a failure. Reflect on what things you could have done a little differently and just work on being a little bit better the next day. 

Flexible dieting takes time to learn and master. But I promise that it is a strategy that will pay off in the long run if you stick with it continue to improve each and every day. 

That’s the beauty of flexible dieting. It allows us to not get upset with ourselves if we don’t hit our specific targets for the day, or whatever goals you set for yourself. 

Our diet is a part of our lives. Not our entire lives. If we are going to spend hours of our days worried about what I’m going to eat at my next meal, or taking food to family gatherings because their food doesn’t meet your standards, then that’s a overwhelming issue that needs to be addressed. 

Life is to stressful and short as it is. Don’t make your food choices and decisions become another stressor in your life to achieve your perfect body. There are other ways we can achieve that goal. 

If you need help with your nutrition, let me know. Become a Morton Fitness Online Client and I can help you achieve your goals through nutrition and exercise. 

Resources

  1. Schaumberg, K., et al., Dietary restraint: what’s the harm? A review of the relationship between dietary restraint, weight trajectory and the development of eating pathology. Clin Obes, 2016. 6(2): p. 89-100.
  2. Loria-Kohen, V., et al., Evaluation of the usefulness of a low-calorie diet with or without bread in the treatment of overweight/obesity. Clinical Nutrition, 2012. 31(4): p. 455-461.

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