What is flexible macro dieting? The position of this diet is based on the idea that all foods and food groups can be part of one’s weight loss diet, as opposed to other diets that label certain foods as "bad" and even cut out entire food groups.
The macro diet is based on research showing that the quantity of food eaten is the most important factor in gaining or losing weight.
Macro Diet Basics
The macro diet claims that you can eat whatever you want and still lose unwanted fat if it fits your macros (IIFYM).
The term “macros” is used to describe the three main macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The macros diet provides an individual macro goal that is based on your REE (resting energy expenditure).
Your resting energy expenditure in combination with your daily activity forms your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).
When you consume fewer macros than your body requires, you'll start to lose fat. The sweet spot for that deficiency is about 20% but ultimately depends on your goals. By only promoting a moderate calorie deficit, you’re more likely to have long-term, slow but steady progress.
Here is an example from freedieting.com: A female has a TDEE of 1650 calories on her exercise day. Those calories get divided among the three macros:
- Protein: 30%
- Carbs: 45%
- Fat: 25%
There are nine calories per gram of fat and four calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates, which translates into the following;
- Protein: 124 grams
- Carbs: 186 grams
- Fat: 46 grams
Our subject then eats until she hits those targets.
Counting Macros in the Food You Eat
Once you know how much of each macro to eat, use a food log to track your macro consumption. This can be done easily with all the smartphone apps and other fitness tracking technology available today, most of which provide access to nutritional databases. Some examples are:
- My Fitness Pal
- My Macros
- My Net Diary
These apps allow you to search for the food you are eating in the app’s database, and you can adjust the weight or serving size, accordingly. The app will track the total macros you consume throughout the day.
You will also need a food scale (preferably digital) to weigh your food. Portions of vegetable and meat should be weighed fresh and raw since their nutritional value is tied to their weight. Planning meals out ahead of time can make it easier to equally distribute macros throughout the day.
Most advocates of this eating style say that healthy, whole foods should comprise 80-85% of one’s diet, while 15-20% can be reserved for foods labeled as “junk.” This is a subjective term, but things like chocolate, potatoes chips, french fries, and ice cream would generally fall into this category.
Flexible dieters should also be mindful of their fiber intake. Women should strive for more than 25 grams per day and men for 35 or more grams per day.
Macro dieting offers flexibility and a wide variety of food choices, so it is a great choice for dieters who don't want to be boxed into a restrictive diet plan.
Calorie Restriction Diets
When following a diet that restricts calorie intake, dieters see a variety of impacts on the body, as it puts the body into a state of repair and maintenance. Calorie restriction will also help you lose weight, but many people following these types of diets enjoy the health and longevity benefits.
A reduced calorie diet is one of the most effective methods to prevent and treat age-related illness. It has the power to quickly reverse heart disease and diabetes, even if a person has suffered from these diseases for years!
Calorie Restriction Prevents Many Diseases
Calorie Restriction has been found to prevent or cure:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Autoimmune diseases (Lupus, MS, Sjogren’s Syndrome)
- Inflammatory disorders
- Skin conditions
Dieters who reduce calories gain quality of life and possibly eliminate many health problems.
Other Benefits of Calorie Restriction
As you reduce your calorie intake, you may notice a difference in your sense of well-being. With time, weight loss will follow and continue until you have reached an optimal weight that you can maintain.
When following a CRON diet (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition), you have an increased emphasis on high-quality nutrition. CRON diets include a lot of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fish.
CRON dieters have reported some of these additional health benefits:
- Lower insulin
- Lower glucose
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved weight maintenance
- Decrease in inflammation
- Improved immunity
- More energy
- Better mental clarity
But be patient; while weight loss, improved energy, and mental clarity are noticed pretty quickly, it’s common for the maximum number of benefits of calorie restriction to take about 1-2 years. Over time, as your body adapts to the diet, your body will begin using its resources for maintenance and repair. If you continue the diet long-term, you will continue to experience these benefits, keep weight off and protect yourself from the diseases of aging.
Going On and Off a Low-Calorie Diet
Ideally, you want to be consistent and maintain a steady weight once you’ve plateaued. Gene expression studies conducted by Stephen Spindler have shown that the beneficial changes in gene expression after calorie restriction has been initiated happen quite rapidly. However, if you increase your calorie intake again, at some point the improvements in gene expression could be reversed very quickly.
Should You Try Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition?
If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, and you want to get on a better track for optimal health, then yes, a calorie restriction diet might be a great option for you.
Just remember: it’s not all or nothing. If you aren't looking to lose a lot of weight, you can restrict calories to a lesser degree. If you reduce just 10-15% of your calorie intake, you will experience many of the health benefits listed above.
Tracking your overall progress gives you the motivation to continue the diet. There is nothing better than seeing and feeling the changes you’ve made. If you continue to see progress in the right direction over time, this will help inspire you to continue what you’re doing.