Nutrition. There are a million options out there – paleo, juice cleanses, carb cycling, the list goes on and on. I’m the type of person who will try anything at least once. The latest nutrition program that I have tried is Macro Nutrition, also known as flexible dieting or macros. Lately, there has been a lot of talk about flexible dieting in the fitness community, so I thought I would break it down for all of you fine peeps with questions out there.

What Is Macros or Flexible Dieting?

Calories are calories, regardless of food type. Flexible dieting does not label food as “clean” or “dirty,” but rather categorizes food based on calories and macronutrients (which are protein, carbohydrates, and fat). Some people think all processed food is “dirty,” but not flexible dieters. While flexible dieters and nutritionists agree that generally, whole foods are more ideal for the body than processed because they provide more nutrition, they also recognize that eating foods that are considered “dirty” will not hinder your weight loss goals. One example is protein powder, which is processed and therefore categorized as “dirty” by some nutrition plans, but protein powder can help build muscle and can be fairly nutritious. As for me personally and my breakdown of “clean” vs. “dirty” foods, I try to consume 80-85% whole foods a day, leaving room for a reasonable amount of the “dirty” foods I love (like my delicious Vanilla Oreos).

Flexible dieting simply consists of playing with the amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats you intake each day in order to balance your nutrition for the purposes of meeting your goals – whether that is weight loss, increased strength, or muscle gain. Fitness competitors and bodybuilders have been using flexible dieting for years, but it’s now becoming more and more mainstream.

Flexible Dieting Lets You Eat The Foods You Love

Like any normal human being, I look forward to my next meal when I actually enjoy the foods I am eating. This was the problem I had with so many other nutrition options I tried – who really looks forward to tilapia and asparagus for every meal or a meal plan that requires a TON of prep and provides limited options when dining out (I’m looking at you Whole 30)?

After calculating my macronutrients, I plan my daily meals to include things I love and stay within my range of protein, carbohydrates, and fats for the day. When I first started flexible dieting, the nutritionist I work with (the amazing Erik Young) asked me to provide a list of my favorite foods. From that list, he customized three different meal plans to me individually based on my personal preferences and target macronutrient levels. Now, I create my own meal plans that fit my nutrients, which provides some nice flexibility for travel and flexibility in what I eat.

Flexible Dieting Improves Your Metabolism & Allows You To Eat More

When it comes to food, less really isn’t better. In order to improve or repair a metabolism you must slowly add food in over a period of time so your body has ample time to adjust. For example, if your body is used to eating 1000 calories a day and you start eating the normal recommended caloric intake of 1700 calories, you will gain weight, regardless of the type of food you’re eating. However, if you slowly increase food over time, your body adapts to the extra food and allows you to maintain your goal weight.

The last six months have proven this is true. Prior to starting flexible dieting, I was eating around 1700 calories a day, but now, I’m up to 2000 calories a day. And guess what? No weight gain – I’ve actually continued to lose because my metabolism has improved. Who would have thought?

Determining Your Macros

Each person’s macronutrient levels are different and are based on height, current weight, goal weight and current caloric intake. There are calculators you can use online, but I’ve found that using a nutritionist is the most accurate way to go – at least in the beginning.

I work with the OptimizeU and have been on their Macros Blueprint plan for the last six months. During that short time, I have lost more than 5% body fat, increased my lean muscle mass by 3 pounds (did you know for every pound you have in lean mass, you burn an additional 50 calories a day just at rest?!), and increased my energy – all while eating the foods I like (yes, I’m thinking about my Oreos again).

If you have more questions, feel free to drop them a line or call my nutritionist Erik Young at (480) 861-4191. I cannot say enough about the OptimizeU team and what they have done to help me get to my goal look (seeing my lower abs – yes, vein I know but don’t judge).

Bonus: OptimizeU has agreed to provide all LegallyFit readers a free consultation, so be sure to mention LegallyFit when you call or email!

Flexible dieting may be the latest trend in fat-loss, muscle increase, and improving strength, but over the last few months I have decided that it is the plan for me longterm (finally, something that works). Hopefully now when you hear flexible dieting or the words “macros” or “macronutrients,” you know what it means. Heck, maybe you’ll even give it a try for yourself – I don’t think you’ll regret it.