Healthy Eating for Your Active Lifestyle

Basically, flexible dieting is a calorie-counting diet that goes a bit further. Not only do you track total calories taken in, but also the calories from the macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Depending on your goals, the aim is to get a certain number of calories in the form of carbohydrate, fat and protein. You can eat anything, as long as it fits in your macronutrient range. It is considered an “eat junk food or whatever you want and still lose weight” diet. Those who support the diet claim it is effective for weight loss for three reasons:

  1. lower calorie intake
  2. flexibility to eat what you want as long as it fits into the ranges
  3. sustainability, because it is not restrictive and is mentally and emotionally easier to maintain  

Let me start with the things I like about this diet:

There are no restrictions and all foods can fit.

Often diets are very restrictive. I believe in eating healthy foods most of the time, but there is also a place for small treats. I don’t like the guilt that comes with diets that label foods good and bad, clean or dirty. 

It does not cut out food groups.

Diets that do this may eliminate many essential nutrients. We need to eat a wide variety of foods for health. 

It recommends tracking fibre.

Although it disregards all other micronutrients (see comments below why I wouldn’t recommend this diet), it does encourage tracking your fibre intake, an essential part of a healthy diet.

While I like some things about this diet, I wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s why:

It is complicated.

Tracking calories can be daunting, and adding another dimension by also tracking macronutrients may become too tedious and hard to keep up long term. While tracking food intake can help with weight loss, this may be just a bit too much. It could also lead to unhealthy obsessive behaviour for some people. 

It does not focus on food quality.

While I like that it doesn’t label foods good or bad, the focus is more about quantity (number of calories) versus quality (the source of those calories). In addition to calories, whole foods offer micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and fibre, important for body function, feeling full and many other health benefits.

It can take the enjoyment out of eating.

If all you worry about is whether or not a food fits a certain criteria, it can take the pleasure out of eating all together. Food is meant to be enjoyed! 

Instead of trying IIFYM or flexible dieting for training or weight loss, my advice is to do the following:

  • Consult a registered dietitianfor a healthy eating or weight loss plan that is right for you and your goals. 
  • Spend time developing eating habits that work for you long term.
  • Choose a wide variety of healthy foods that you enjoy eating.  
  • Listen to your hunger cues

If you are already following IIFYM, my advice is to do the following:

  • Make sure your macronutrients are in an acceptable range, for example not extreme low carbohydrate, by consulting with a registered dietitian.
  • Choose whole, unprocessed foods most of the time. 
  • If you find that tracking is becoming overly stressful or affecting your life negatively, consider stopping the diet.


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Jennifer Michaelchuk, RD.

Registered Dietitian

Jennifer (BSc, RD) is a registered dietitian from Edmonton. She enjoys inspiring others to achieve their healthy living goals and make healthy food choices.

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