What if I told you dieting doesn’t have to be as hard as people make it out to be? Sounds to good to be true right? Well, let me introduce you flexible dieting, and meal prepping.
Flexible dieting, or “if it fits your macros” (IIFYM), is a relatively new dietary approach to dieting and has taking the fitness industry by storm. Flexible dieting is a less restrictive approach to dieting, and allows individuals to include any food items to their diet, as long as they doesn’t exceed their individual macro nutrient requirement.
Macro nutrients (or macros for short) are the three most important nutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. Traditional dieting would consist of the daunting task of counting individual calories, where as flexible dieting primary focus is meeting your daily macro nutrient requirement. If an individual hits their macro nutrient goals for the day, they would also hit their caloric goal, hence why counting calories is no longer of important. Hypothetically speaking, you could eat ice cream all day, and still achieve your fitness goals as long as it fits your macros’. (Key word being hypothetical)
Meal prepping is the method of prepping meals in advance, making it easier for people to stick to their diets. All it requires is some time set aside each week, and some planning.
The very first step to meal prepping according to your macro nutrient requirements is determining your BMR (Basal Metabolic rate) which is an estimate of how many calories you need a day to maintain your current weight. There are several different formulas for determining estimated calorie needs, with the Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation being the most reliable according to the American Dietetic Association. The equation is as follows: for females = 10 x (Weight in kg) + 6.25 x (Height in cm) — 5 x age — 161; for males= 10 x (Weight in kg) + 6.25 x (Height in cm) — 5 x age + 5. These equations are also multiplied by the same physical activity factors to estimate daily caloric needs.
After calculating your daily caloric intake, break down your macro nutrients to determine how many calories you’ll need to consume from each macro nutrient in order to meet your goal. There’s no magic ratio, but the 40/40/20 plan is what has worked best for me personally, and what I use to design my clients nutritional planning guideline. For example, if your’re consuming 1800 calories a day following a 40/40/20 plan, it would break down to 720 grams of protein, 720 grams of carbs, and 360 grams of fat.
It’s important to remember that protein and carbs each contain 4 calories per gram, while fat contains 9 calories per gram.
Step 2 .
Now you’ve figured out your caloric intake and macros, it’s now time to put together your grocery list.
Like I’ve stated before following a flexible dieting plan, technically allows you to eat any food items along as it fits your individual macro nutrient requirements, but I’ve found that sticking to a whole foods which include lean cuts of meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and generally whole foods gives me the best results, because whole food is more filling, and has less calories then processed food items. I’ve also found that trying to meet my daily macro requirements while consuming whole foods can become a chore, which is an answer to over eating, and cravings.
Here’s a list of a traditional food items:
Protein: Eggs, egg whites, skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, top round steak, flounder, cod, pollock, wild salmon, can tuna, and pork tenderloin.
Carbs: Oat meal, steel cut oats, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, yams, brown rice, white rice, quinoa, and couscous.
Fats: Olive oil, flax-seed oil, fish oil, almond butter, cashew butter, almond, pecans, walnuts, natural peanut butter, and avocados.
You’ve determined your BMR, put together a grocery list, and went shopping for all your food items, and now your home ready to start prepping, so the next step is to gather all of the necessary items such as: Measuring cups, food scale, food containers, and your macro nutrient requirements written down, along with your pre-calculated food measurements.
In the final step of meal prepping your simply portioning out your meals.
Stick to the rule of three’s: one protein, one starchy carbs, and some fats. The perfect fuel combination of protein, fat, and carbs provides you with long-lasting energy and prevents spikes in blood sugar, along with staving off cravings.
At first you want to start out by keeping your meals as simple as possible until you get comfortable prepping your meals according to your macros.
You’ll eventually learn to visually measure your food. For example one egg contains 6 grams of protein, there’s about 7 grams of protein per oz meat, 1/2 a cup of rice has approximately 44 grams of protein, 1 oz of almonds contains 14 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein, and e.t.c.
Meal prepping can seem like a tedious task in the beginning, but after a few weeks, it becomes part of your routine, which is the goal.