Although the name implies it, flexible dieting is not a diet, it is an approach to nutrition. It involves meeting daily targets of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) that have been calculated specifically for you in order to reach a specific body composition goal.


With that being said, your primary focus when flexible dieting is to reach your daily targets, with the selection of food being left up to you.

Extreme Diets Suck

Typical weight loss diets often advocate removing certain foods from your diet, making them almost impossible to adhere to long-term due to their rigid demands. On the flip side, flexible dieters can create a more workable diet which will likely have a much higher adherence rate.


Something that seems to fly right over the head of so-called “fitness gurus” when they devise outlandish, extreme diets is that no matter how great something sounds on paper, it won’t work if it’s not practical and has some leeway; we’re humans, not machines.


In reality, it’s all about balance. You can achieve your body goals while still incorporating your favourite foods into your diet. However, one of the major pitfalls of IIFYM seems to be that some people use it as an excuse to disregard things like micronutrients, dietary fibre, the quality of protein sources, and essential fatty acids.

Finding the Balance

Your diet does not need to be entirely comprised of nutrient dense foods. This is actually the upside of flexible dieting in that it promotes balance and elasticity in one’s diet. Someone who wishes to incorporate some foods that are more nutrient-devoid/empty calorie can do that assuming they still reach their overall needs at the end of the day.


It may take some time to wrap your head around this concept, but you’re only fooling yourself if you truly believe that a slice of pizza or grabbing some ice cream with your significant other is going to sabotage all your effort in the gym.

A Typical “Clean” Diet vs A Flexible Meal Plan

Typical “Clean” Diet


  • Meal 1: 6 egg whites, 80g dry oats, 10g almonds


  • Meal 2: (Pre-Workout) 1 scoop whey protein mixed with 40g dry oats, 1 tbsp Flaxseed oil


  • Meal 3: (Post workout) 2 scoops whey protein mixed with 50g simple-carb solution (i.e. waxy maize or pure dextrose)


  • Meal 4: 180g chicken breast, 60g  cooked brown rice, 150g steamed broccoli


  • Meal 5: 1 scoop whey protein mixed with 40g dry oats, 1 tbsp Flaxseed oil


  • Meal 6: 1 scoop casein protein, 10g mixed nuts, 100g steamed asparagus

Total Macronutrient Breakdown: 235g protein/215g carbs/80g fat
Total Calories: About 2,520

Example Flexible Meal Plan


  • Meal 1: 545g nonfat greek yogurt mixed with 75g blueberries and 50g Cheerios, 3-egg omelet with veggies and salsa


  • Meal 2: (Lunch at Nandos) 1 butterfly chicken breast, spicy rice, 2 serving frozen yogurt, coke zero


  • Meal 3: (Post-workout) 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese mixed with 1 scoop whey protein and 10g mixed nuts, 2 low-fat vanilla ice cream sandwiches


  • Snack: 2 Milky Way fun size bars


  • Meal 4: 1 serving cooked spaghetti noodles covered with half cup marinara sauce and 150g of 93% lean ground beef

Total Macronutrient Breakdown: 235g protein/215g carbs/80g fat
Total Calories: About 2,520

Now, tell me, which of the above two meal plans would you genuinely like to eat? I would guess the majority of readers are going to choose the flexible plan over the usual bodybuilders diet.

Setting Up Your Own Flexible Diet

We all have foods we enjoy the most, and there’s no reason why you can’t still have them regularly, even if you’re trying to lose weight. The key is finding the balance, staying within your macro targets and staying consistent.


Start by downloading an app on your phone called MyFitnessPal. From there you can set your target macros and start tracking your food. The app will do all of the hard work for you, all you’ll need to do is scan barcodes, weight out certain foods and use the search function to find foods.


Over time you’ll see where you’re going over on certain macronutrients and adjust portions accordingly, until eventually everything becomes easy and you can start to play around with different meals and food choices.

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