Officially we’re two weeks in anyway… a couple of people got in early and started a week ahead, a couple of people started a few days late. Officially though, two weeks in and already we are seeing results and in many cases we’re seeing results for the first time with people who’ve been trying a lot of different things for a long time without success.
For those who somehow missed the several dozen other entries on the subject, I’ll give you a (really way too) simple run down of what Flexible Dieting means, and I’ll tell you something else you might find a little surprising and a lot interesting. Flexible Dieting means… well, it’s easier to say what it doesn’t mean is following a strict diet with only certain foods allowed, other foods not allowed, set meal times and frequencies, different rules for different times of the day, and so on. Rather it just means “meet your requirements with your choice of foods”.
A lot of other diets or weight loss programs will emphasise those other considerations either because it’s easier to market the idea of a complicated system that you’ll never get right without their help, or just because they don’t actually have a very good understanding of how things really work. At the end of the day, you could quite conceivably get all of that right, avoiding all of the banned foods and only eating at the right times, but still end up exceeding your energy requirements. Simply put, if you consume too many calories you won’t lose weight… no matter how well you adhere to all of the other rules. Conversely, if your intake is consistently at a suitable calorific deficit to result in weight loss… wouldn’t you still expect to lose weight even if you still included some of the “bad” foods or ate outside of the proscribed schedule? Of course you would.
So at the end of the day, total calories are by far the most important concern. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying to try to sell you something, or they’re just not very smart. Now the issue that we still have with the “total calories” model though is that most people just think that means “eat less” in all circumstances. If you’re not losing weight, you need to eat less. And less, and less. Still not losing weight? Still eating too much.
This is not just incorrect, but you can easily imagine just what dangerous and potentially damaging advice that is. Sadly, it is still the default position for most of the “it’s calories” people. No matter how little you’re eating, you could always eat less and that’s what you need to do in order to lose weight. It is a source of great consternation to me that I seem to be one of the only people who understands that this isn’t correct.
So that’s a lot about how I DON’T do it.
In my system, or primary concern is with ensuring that we meet or exceed a minimum total calorie target that I feel is suitable for weight loss, but also appropriate to meet the client’s needs in fuelling their lifestyle and produce results at training. So they’ll get a “no lower than this much, perhaps as high as this much” target calorie range that they need to hit more often than not. Within that range, we also have targets for our protein, fats and carbohydrate intake. The longer I’ve been doing this, the more I’ve made those targets a wider range with a “close enough is good enough” attitude. Fibre is something I’m beginning to place more emphasis on, and I’m starting to believe that ensuring adequate fibre intake is of much greater importance than really tight macro ratios in producing results. Also important is micronutrition, and I encourage my clients to enjoy a wide variety of fruits every day as well as their choice of vegetables to provide all of those important vitamins and minerals for good health. Lately you have a few people out there pushing this idea that fruit might not quite be the great, healthy choice that we’ve always thought it was… but let me officially explain right now that those people are complete imbeciles not capable of a logical, reasoned thought process, and you should summarily disregard anything and everything they have to say on the subject ever.
So there you have a pretty simple set of guidelines. Make sure you get at least this much, try not to go over that much… fit in as much enjoyable, nutritious foods as you can… but as long as you hit your target ranges more often that not… whatever’s clever, you know?
Now what’s interesting about this is that quite often people will get a bit carried away with this “flexibility” idea, and start to really abuse the concept, and treat it like they have free reign to just indulge on whatever they like! As if their body will just utilise whatever fuel they put into it as long as it is not in excess of their requirements, regardless of the source. “Dave says all that matters is that I hit my targets, and I’m still a bit low on calories…ICE CREAM IT IS THEN” for example. That sort of thing.
What do you think happens to my clients who take that sort of attitude to Flexible Dieting?
Well you might be surprised by the answer to that question. Almost every time, those are the people who get the very best results, immediately and on going. They’re meeting their requirements, not stressing out, not associating any negative feelings of guilt or failure with eating for enjoyment. They’re doing it confidently and easily, and will continue to do so for lasting results.
They have a plan that suits their tastes, suits their schedule, and delivers the results like no other. That’s what I do for people.