Flexible dieting – ever heard of it? It’s also known as the macro diet, or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). Essentially it involves tracking the protein, carbohydrate and fat ratios that you eat within a 24-hour period, as well as dietary fiber. Not calorie counting per se, but counting your grams in each one of these fields. The science is there – you’re taking care of some essential elements the body needs to function on a daily basis. What I want to dig into though is the micros that become overlooked in these macro fads, as well as the quality of food choice. My hope by the end of this article is that you’ll understand the essential component that micros play to support a macro diet.
Let’s dive in headfirst. Macros, or macronutrients, refer to the three most important energy sources need for your body to function properly. They’re easily consumed in large amounts for normal growth and development, used as the building blocks for the body. Let’s take a look at the three macros and at dietary fiber, a necessary component to a healthy diet:
- Proteins – used by the body to support existing lean muscle and build new muscle tissue.
- Carbohydrates – used in the body as a source for energy.
- Fats – help give you that feeling of fullness, they’re also used extensively to support organ and brain tissues.
- Dietary Fiber – the part of the plant that is not digestible. There are two main types of fiber: (1) soluble fiber dissolves in water, ferments in the colon and can be prebiotic, while (2) insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, is inert in the body (not used metabolically), ferments in the large intestine, can be prebiotic and absorbs water in the digestive tract, making it easier to have consistent bowel movements.
So with these three macros (and fiber) in mind, it would make sense to give some extra attention as to how much of each you eat. Overeat and you’ll put on body fat, eat less and you’ll lose weight.
Due to so much hype surrounding this fad, most people are led to believe that they can meet their daily macro requirements with junk food. Just take a look at any social media platform and you’ll see many fit, attractive people posting pictures of eating all the pizza they can handle, shoving their faces full of pop tarts, downing a box of doughnuts, etc. Because of this, many assume that “flexible” would mean “eat whatever you’d like.”
In fact, flexible dieting means you have a flexible 24-hour period in which to meet the required amounts of each macronutrient while not having to be so stringent with quality. To the common layperson who already has issues with discipline in their eating, this style of diet fits their prerogative. Don’t get me wrong – you can still lose weight by restricting calories, regardless of quality. But it says nothing of your health and longevity at a cellular level.
Let’s assume you’re looking to lose weight. Talk to any nutritionist or personal trainer worth their salt and they’re going to have you lose more calories through exercise and create a caloric deficit by negating food intake. Because of this process, you’re creating a nutrient gap. If left unaddressed, you’ll feel your energy waning and your body not functioning fully. An easy fix for this is a quality multivitamin. Honestly, it’s a simple way to give your body all that it’s missing when creating a caloric deficit.
Another way to address this nutrient gap is to consume quality foods that include clean, lean meats, healthy fats and plenty of good veggies – organic whenever possible. This will ensure your body functions at optimal levels, receiving both macro- and micronutrients. A multivitamin is still a good idea since you’ll still have a nutrient gap.
Now comes the good part.
Why is quality important? Have you ever heard it said that “you are what you eat”?
It’s true. As you ingest, you digest. As you digest, you assimilate. As you assimilate, you become. Food and drink fuel you at a cellular level. What happens when you put gas in your car? It runs. When your gas is impure? It sputters, running but not as well as it should. You pay for quality gas so why not pay for quality food? Why not run optimally?
What are micronutrients? Nutrients required in small amounts for normal growth and development.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to the body, necessary for hundreds of processes. They aid in strengthening bones, healing injuries, boosting your immune system, converting food into usable energy and repairing damage at a cellular level.
Now that sounds pretty important, right?
I recently read a Facebook post that said…“If you eat and sleep well, exercise and always drink water, you will die anyway.” What a strong excuse – I mean argument – for taking the lazy way out and never living up to your potential! Let me encourage you with this quote from another Facebook post: “I really regret eating healthy today. – Said No One Ever.”
Put quality into your body and you will get quality back in life. Why just exist and survive when you can live and thrive?
I personally don’t consider flexible dieting a fad or a diet. In fact, you would do well to become familiar with eating quality foods in the right quantities and turn this into a way of life. And now that all the basics are out “on the table,” don’t be afraid to enjoy a cheat meal now and then. Haha, I know, what a way to end a lecture, right? But do keep in mind that quality is foundational at a cellular level, as it dictates how well your body will function over the long-haul.
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