What is Flexible Dieting | What is IIFYM? | What is the Macro Diet? Nutrition Basics Part I

Here at Arkitect Fitness we know that exercise is only half of the battle when it comes to achieving your goals. The other half is nutrition. In this series, we’re going to teach you about the fundamentals of nutrition, so you can maximize your results. Before we begin, it’s important NOT to go into this with any preconceived notions about nutrition, as much of what the general public believes about nutrition, isĀ not science based.

At Arkitect we use a strategy called “Flexible Dieting” which is sometimes also referred to as IIFYM (which stands for If It Fits your Macros) or “the Macro Diet.” The way this nutritional strategy works is you calculate a goal number of calories, proteins, carbs and fats to eat each day. The overwhelming majority of science over the last 100 years has shown as that total calories is the biggest determining factor in weight loss. That means it matters less what the “source” of those calories are. That doesn’t mean that the other nutritional factors aren’t important. It just means that if you want to gain weight you have to eat more calories than you burn, if you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. Yes, it’s the same boring “calories in vs. calories out” that we’ve heard for so many years. And there is a reason we’ve heard that for so many years…because it’s the truth!

Other Nutritional Factors

These things are still important, but they become almost irrelevant if the first rule of weight loss isn’t followed, which is: being in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you eat)

  • Macronutrients (proteins, carbs, fats)
  • Food Source: Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods
  • Meal timing: When you eat or when you eat specific foods
  • Micronutrients: Vitamins and minerals
  • Supplements

We will be talking about all of these things later on, but for now lets focus on the basics!

Keys to a Successful Diet

  • Sustainable: if you can’t do it for a long time and/or possibly the rest of your life, it’s not really going to provide you with the results you want. If the your diet goes right back to square one once you stop the diet, what use is that?
  • Science Based: If a diet isn’t based on science, it probably won’t work. If there is real science behind the methods you use, it gives you much greater understanding of why the diet is working, and empowers you to get better results from it.
  • Easy to implement: If a diet is too hard to stick to…you’re not going to stick to it!

Types of Weight Loss

Many people think that if they lose weight, they simply “burned fat.” Nothing could be further from the truth, unfortunately. Your body weight is the sum of everything inside of you. That means your body fat, muscles, organs, bones, and even water. That means if you weigh yourself today, and again tomorrow, if you’re a pound lighter, you did not lose a pound of fat. You may have lost SOME fat, but likely most of that weight change is in water weight.

It’s very difficult to measure how much of your weight loss has come from body fat, and how much has come from other things (like losing muscle tissue, or your organs shrinking). To accurately measure that you need expensive and time consuming equipment. Instead, what we focus on is methods that we know help to produce weight loss from decreasing our body fat. Specifically, the amount and ratio of macronutrients that make up our calories.

The Three Macronutrients

The three Macronutrients are:

  • Protein (1g=4 calories)
  • Carbohydrate (1g=4 calories)
  • Fats (1g=4 calories)

As you can see, each macronutrient contains calories. So if you ate a food that had 1g of protein, 1g of carbs, and 1g of fat, you would have by default eaten 17 calories total. In other words, macros are just a more detailed way of counting calories. Because each macronutrient is used in different ways by your body, you can have very different results compered to someone else eating the same amount of calories, but different ratios of macros.

The nice thing about flexible dieting, is it doesn’t matter where your macros come from, as long as you are hitting your target numbers. For example, one medium sized banana has about 27g of carbohydrate. 1 serving of sour patch kids also has about 27g of carbohydrates. Flexible dieting states that it doesn’t matter which you choose. To your body, the carbs are the same. The banana certainly has more vitamins and minerals than a serving of candy, however micronutrients do not play a direct role in changing your body composition. The banana may also be more filling, but that’s a discussion for another day.

How to Hit Your Target Macros

Now that we know it’s all about calories and macros, we must know two things:

  1. What our target macros are
  2. How to hit them!

If you’re a member of Arkitect, you receive target macronutrients when you join. If you aren’t a member, we recommend working with a nutrition coach (we do offer this service to people who are not local to us!), but there are also some decent online calculators that can help get you started. Once you have your target macros, the next step is to track them. We recommend a digital food journal like MyFitnessPal. There are a lot of options for your smart phone, but MFP is one of the easiest to use, and it’s very popular, which means its food database is enormous. In the next artcile, we’ll take you through how to set-up your MyFitnessPal account and start tracking.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail at Tony@ArkitectFitness.com

AUTHOR

Dr. Brett Scott

Arkitect Fitness

"We help athletes and active adults
lose weight, get fit, and optimize performance."
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