My husband was joking with me the other day and said, "Your Instagram is probably confusing the sh*t out of people, with your healthy meal photos one day and bacon avocado cheeseburgers the next!"
I think he's probably right, especially for people who haven't been following me for long. So, I thought I would take a minute and deconstruct my diet, so that you know there is a method behind the seeming gastronomic madness.
I follow a flexible dieting plan because I am a human being who wants to enjoy my life and feel good for the long haul. I don't want to suffer and be miserable for short-term results.
Flexible dieting means simply making sure you meet your protein, carbohydrate and fat macronutrient goals without worrying so much about where those macros come from. 1 gram of carbohydrate in the form of a doughnut is the same as 1 gram of carbohydrate in the form of brown rice. So why torture yourself all the time? (If you are confused about macros, or need a quick brush-up CLICK HERE. )
Unfortunately, this message can become easily convoluted - especially on social media - when people are posting things like "PIZZA GAINS!" and boxes of Pop Tarts with the hashtag "IIFYM." The thing you need to understand about flexible dieting is that the goal is to eat clean most of the time. We cannot forget about micronutrients. Your body needs vitamins, minerals, fiber and things like that to function best. Also, even though a portion of a doughnut may have the same amount of carbohydrates as a portion of brown rice, the doughnut has more fat and and less protein, so it is not a direct equivalent. (If you need a refresher on micronutrients, CLICK HERE.)
What you walk away with is getting the majority of your fuel from clean, whole, and unprocessed foods, but not denying yourself treats, as long as you're staying within your budget. The reason for this is your healthy lifestyle has to last your entire life. You cannot expect yourself to drop calories to the floor, micromanage your diet to only eat "good" foods and think you can keep it up forever. You will crash. You will binge. You will self-loathe. You will go back to square one, or possibly worse. Besides, what are "good" foods in this day and age where people are told to be paranoid about everything that they put into their mouth?
We need to have a healthier relationship with food before we all succumb to eating disorders.
What I do is this: I eat a controlled diet during the week. I work out, a lot. After Friday's 3 hour conditioning killa, I eat whatever I want to, making mostly sure it stays within my maintenance caloric goal. Since my week tends to have me under-eating a bit (It is just how things are working best for me right now), I am freer to enjoy cheeseburgers and a beer on the weekends. Maybe a brownie or some ice cream, too. Granted, I don't fill my weekend with this kind of food by any means, but I don't deprive myself. As long as I am keeping to my energy requirements, this way of eating has worked very well for me. It also works for vacations, business trips, and stretches of busy life where you cannot meal prep and eat according to plan. It is, indeed, flexible.
Should I be flexible dieting?
Flexible dieting is for pretty much everybody. You can do it whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle, or maintain your figure. Beginners and pros alike can use it successfully. But, to do it correctly takes some effort and practice. You need to figure out your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and calculate your calorie needs along with basic macronutrient needs. Usually, one starts with .65 - 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (lean body mass is your bodyweight minus your bodyfat), then 20-25% fats, and then fill the rest with carbohydrates. Or you can do percentages, some of the more popular ones are: 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate, 20% fat or 35% protein, 40% carbohydrate, 25% fat. It is crucial to track this food until you know your portions and your body. Once you've got the hang of it, you can eyeball your food and relax. Keep in mind that if you start slipping, you might have to go back to measuring portions again until you've gotten a grip on things. It is easy to eyeball bigger portions because we want them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that "calories in = calories out" is king. You may have a flawless macronutrient composition, but if you are 400 calories over, you are still going to gain weight. Likewise, if your macros suck but you are still eating less than your calorie requirements, you will lose weight. The macros are only in the game for health and performance. So, if you have one day where you are off the res and eating random things, willy-nilly, just keep your calories in check and you'll be a-ok.
And, there you have it. That's why you see all kinds of food photos on my Instagram page. And now you know the context in which to take them.