We at LDNM practice flexible dieting, and try to include the proper and effective infrastructure for this within all our guides; given we feel it is more sustainable than a restrictive diet and weekly cheat meal routine. However, we also detail that ‘clean eating’ is also perfectly fine to utilise if this is your preference.
We feel abstaining from the foods you actually like and then binging on them till you feel sick once a week is not something that will produce a healthy relationship with food, nor sustainable results in regards to your goals (muscle gain, fat loss, etc). What we prefer is to help people learn their macros and calories, then incorporate the foods they actually like within meals (daily) in moderation! Yes, that’s right, I eat something shop bought (and maybe even processed!)- crisps, chocolate, sandwiches, etc- very regularly, and utilising a diet plan with realistic levels of carbohydrates and calories allows for this more succinctly. Eating these foods in moderation will also reduce cravings, the likelihood of you going off the rails and binging, and stop you seeing these foods as bad/reward foods that you associate with that regretful feeling in the hours and/or day after a cheat meal/day/weekend!
The notion of flexible dieting means if you have a vice food such as crisps, and have some fats and carbohydrates left over at said meal, simply weigh out a portion of crisps that fits this remainder and eat those bad boys! This works especially well in meals where adding more carbs (and/or fats) would ruin the balance and satiety of said meal. The same goes for foods such as chocolate, cereals and generally any food seen as an ‘unclean food’; although I’d like someone to tell me the definition of clean eating and an ‘unclean food’. If your calories are more restrictive, opting for a higher volume and/or ‘reduced fat’ food source is a good tactic; popcorn, low fat mature cheddar cheese, baked crisps, etc.
It is also evident that you can still gain excess body fat by going keto/paleo, and/or eating only clean foods, and/or simply not counting macros/calories. This article titled Too Much of a Good Thing is another interesting read, and the article Do I Need to Count My Macros? An example of people snacking without properly knowing the calorific intake on a low carb diet is where people will have around 50g of nuts, which could be up to 30g of fat in a small snack. This is 270 calories in a small snack, and if you are simply eating as many fats and protein as you want you need to remember the calories still add up! You can gain fat ‘eating clean’ and/or having no carbs.
Another point to note is that you don’t have to avoid dairy or gluten, and if you are doing so but you are not intolerant of either, do you know why? Not simply “because it’s healthier”, but do you know the actual reason why? Again here I am not going to tell you to gorge on gluten-containing or dairy based products, but realise they’re fine in moderation if you’re not intolerant in our opinion.
Flexible dieting also lends itself more fittingly to a sustainable lifestyle, given it’s more accessible for most people in my opinion. Utilising this style of eating takes the ‘diet’ out of your personal nutrition, turning it into a healthy (and enjoyable) part of your lifestyle, rather than a restrictive eating pattern you (perhaps) don’t enjoy for the majority of the week that ultimately has a finite lifespan. Flexible Dieting means that you don’t have to fear eating out, or social occasions where you can’t feasibly control what you’re eating or what’s going in/on your foods. It also means you don’t have to run on a punishment and reward style system: eating nothing you enjoy for 7-10 days after a weekend away, or Stag-Do with your friends, given that you broke from your regular diet.
For example if we are going out for a meal, which (in general) tend to be higher in fats- and carbohydrates for some people- than regular cooking/meals, we will account for this by lowering fats (or carbohydrates) accordingly in the preceding (and following) meals. Some places like Nandos and GBK actually put their meals’ nutritional breakdowns online, so if you would really prefer not to break from your meal plan/macros you can plan ahead easily and simply. However, this isn’t to say you can’t account for this higher intake in the preceding meals and simply have a relaxed meal or night out knowing you’ve accounted for the increased calories/macros slightly at least. In reality we will all binge at some point, so don’t overthink it when this happens- simply use it as motivation to smash the coming weeks of training.
Again, flexible dieting allows for you to use shops as a ‘get out of jail free card’ for a reasonable price in comparison to opting for a cleaner approach permanently- and for you to hit your macros at the suggested time. Such as occasionally utilising a ready meal for lunch or post workout if you haven’t prepped food for said day at work, or buying lunch from Subway, Costa, etc. This article about Fast Food Choices is also a useful read!
We are not telling you that you cannot ‘eat clean’, and then have a cheat meal at the weekend- if this is what you prefer to do and it works for you then so be it! We are just presenting another way to build a diet that you may enjoy and can (arguably) have more flexibility with in regards to incorporating so called ‘bad foods’ in to your diet occasionally, and more successfully coping with the unpredictable-ness that is life!
For some people clean eating is perfect, more so for those with the ability to make these clean foods foods/meals delicious, vary in taste and not seem dull. For those with a more hectic lifestyle, or lesser ability in the kitchen, flexible dieting can be a great tool to help you maintain your diet and prevent blowout cheat meals. And like previously stated, we feel flexible dieting can potentially help you enjoy your diet more, increasing your chances of sticking to it and making continued and impressive progress towards your goal given you are leading a sustainable lifestyle.
Ultimately what I am trying to convey is that if you do not feel your lifestyle is balanced or sustainable due to your diet then maybe you should consider flexible dieting. This isn’t to say that junk foods form the basis of your diet, but that you work your favourite foods in to your diet on a daily basis, and learn how to build meals actually enjoy. It shouldn’t be life vs diet, but one maintainable and enjoyable lifestyle where you practice balance! Consistency is key to progress, so a diet that you can stick to 95% of the time, that includes some ‘bad foods’, vs a more mundane diet that works great when you stick to it, but only 70% of the time, is arguably more efficient.
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