Tracking macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and eating them in the right balance is one of the most efficient and effective ways to lose body fat while maintaining or gaining lean, strong muscle.
Another term for tracking macros is flexible dieting. And when I first learned about the movement, I didn’t always support it because I let social media teach me what it was all about!
If you search #iifym, #ifitfitsyourmacros or #macros tags on Instagram, you’re bound to start forming your own opinion about what “flexible dieting” means for people who practice it.
Before I was familiar with it, I swore it was some sort of witchcraft!
Donuts, burgers, pizza, ice cream AND abs? No way.
I believed these three things, which turned out to be myths, about flexible dieting before I dove deeper and experimented with it myself.
"FLEXIBLE DIETING" AND "HEALTHY DIETING" CAN'T BE USED SYNONYMOUSLY
I assumed that if you COULD fit burgers and pizza into your macro prescription for the day – why wouldn’t you? And therefore, a flexible dieter couldn’t be “healthy” because they’d only be focused on the appearance of their abs and not on the overall health and function of their body. I now realize that flexible dieters need to reach for a variety of whole, real foods to hit their macro goals on a daily basis.
And fortunately, I’ve got plenty of data to show amazing whole-body improvements including better skin, deeper sleep, more consistently energy, improved mental clarity and fewer mood swings. I also witnessed mindset changes around food – turns out that removing the “goods”, “bads”, “allowed” or “off limits” labels we often put on foods makes for a much more enjoyable eating experience for many, especially chronic dieters.
FLEXIBLE DIETING IS USED BY BODYBUILDERS - NOT US "REGULAR PEOPLE"
I mean, can you blame me? The only people I saw promoting the style were contest prep bodybuilders. I appreciate their being so vocal on social media, though, because eventually I started to see that these flexible eating athletes were taking a much more balanced approach to fat loss than I realized.
Macro tracking, the once-secret-weapon in the bodybuilding world, is here to stay and it’s spreading into the mainstream. It absolutely can work for anyone who applies the science and puts in some time to see change.
FLEXIBLE DIETERS THINK THAT EATING WHOLE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IS THE SAME AS EATING SUGARY CEREAL OR ANY OTHER CARB
Truth be told, I am a little embarrassed I thought this one for a hot second.
This argument is born out of the “everything gets broken down to protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body” so therefore the source of the macronutrient doesn’t matter (and, in that same vein, food quality doesn’t matter). There are indeed some [loud] science-illiterate individuals out there making this argument. Most of the #flexibledieting pictures we see are of treats, sweets and cheats because it’s super boring to scroll through the lean proteins, complex carbs and vegetables that make up the majority calories.
Just like you’re snapping selfies on a good hair day – they’re showing off the fun foods that make appearances in their eating pattern 10-20% of the time. We only know a snippit of someone’s life via the window they want us to see, so it’s important to remember social media is often an incomplete and sometimes exaggerated version of the flexible dieting reality.
Now that I’ve had time to practice a flexible dieting approach for myself, things are different! I’m embracing macro tracking most days of the week so I can feel, look and perform my best.