Flexible dieting is a way of eating where we focus on our daily calorie intake and more specifically our daily protein, carbs, fat, and fibre intake, and allow for more variety when it comes to food selection when hitting these targets.
From the nutrition basics section of this program you already know what macronutrients are and that they contain calories.
By using a food tracking app called My Fitness Pal we are able to weigh and track in the foods we eat each day, with the goal of reaching our desired protein, carb, fat, and fibre targets each day, and by default sticking to a specific calorie target towards fat loss (a calorie deficit).
Using My Fitness Pal
Using My Fitness Pal is pretty straight forward and you can find it in your App Store. Below I have included a video running through the basics of using the app and tracking your foods.
Notes: this video was recorded quite some time ago so there may be some small changes to the app, however still pretty much the same.
Setting Your Own Macros
When it comes to fat loss and more specifically faster fat loss we have to be open to consuming fewer calories, but still include sufficient protein and plants to maintain lean mass and good health.
This means that we generally have to consume fewer carbohydrates and fats to lower our total calorie intake and see the fat loss we expect.
In addition to this, we include the training to hold onto our muscle, and the cardio/steps to waste more energy to ensure that we are in a calorie deficit.
You should expect to be hungry when you are looking to drop body fat, as the reduction of calories is necessary to see weight loss and this reduction will increase both hunger and cravings, as your body would prefer you to simply maintain your current weight. We are actively working against this.
Fat Loss Equation – Calories
If our goal is definite fat loss, there are a couple of ways we can work out a suitable calorie intake for us. Below I will show you the formula for this, and you can choose which you feel would be most suitable, depending on your current body fat percentage.
Plan your calories on your GOAL body weight
Goal body weight x 26 = calories to consume each day
Example: goal body weight of 60KG x 26 = 1,560 calories per day
Plan your calories on your CURRENT body weight
Current body weight x 26 = calories to consume each day
Example: current body weight of 70KG x 26 = 1,820 calories per day
As a sports nutrition specialist I would usually use a multiplier of 26-33 for fat loss, depending on how active clients are and what their goal is. 26 is what I would deem a healthy minimum and if you are not seeing weight loss at this intake (based on your goal weight) you should consider increasing your activity levels.
Fat Loss Equation – Protein
Set your protein intake at 2 grams per kilo of either your GOAL body weight or your current body weight, again depending on how lean you are.
Plan your protein on your GOAL body weight
Goal body weight x 2 = protein to consume per day
Example: goal body weight of 60KG x 2 = 120g of protein per day
Plan your protein on your CURRENT body weight
Current body weight x 2 = protein to consume per day
Example: current body weight of 70KG x 2 = 140g of protein per day
Fat Loss Equation – Fat
Set your fat intake at 0.5-1 gram per kilo of your body weight, based on personal preference. If you consume more fats you have to consume fewer carbs (to stick within your calorie target – we’ll get to that in a second).
An alternative to setting your fat intake can simply be 20-25% of your total calories.
Based on body weight
Body weight x 0.75 = fat to consume per day
Example: body weight of 60KG x 0.75 = 45g of fat per day
Based on percentage of calories
Calories x 0.25 (25%) = fat to consume per day
Example: 1,600 calories x 0.25 = 400 calories from fat per day (44.4 grams of fat)
The grams of fat for this equation is worked out by going 400 divided by 9, as there are 9 calories per 1 gram of fat.
As you can see either equation in this instance still resulted in a very similar total fat intake per day. I would lean towards the percentage of calories option.
Fat Loss Equation – Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred energy source, however they are not essential, whereas protein and fats are. This is why we worked out our protein and fat needs before carbohydrates.
To keep things as simple as possible, whatever amount of calories that are left over after allocating our protein and fat needs will go to carbohydrates.
Below is an example of how to set this up to give you a better understanding of how to do this for yourself.
Putting It all Together
Let’s assume that you are currently 70KG body weight, not necessarily overweight but looking to notice your waist get smaller and maybe some abs pop through over the next 6 weeks.
70 x 26 = 1,820 calories per day
70 x 2 = 140g of protein per day
1,820 x 0.25 = 455 calories allocated to fat
455 / 9 = 50.5g of fat per day
140 x 4 = 560 calories allocated to protein (1g of protein =4 calories)
50.5 x 9 = 455 calories allocated to fat (1g of fat = 9 calories)
560 + 455 = 1,015 calories allocated to protein and fat together
1,820 – 1,015 = 805 calories remaining for carbohydrates
805 / 4 = 201g of carbohydrates per day
Our daily fibre target is 15g per 1,000 calories consumed.
Using this example of 1,820 calories consumed, you would use the following equation:
0.015 x 1,820 = 27g of fibre per day.
Ideal Food Selection
These foods will make up the most of your diet and will contain natural sources of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) and fibre. Aim for 80% of your daily foods to be from these sources and the remaining food in your day can be anything you choose to eat. E.g. chocolate, ice cream, sauces, flavours, restaurant/take-away, and any other enjoyable food sources! Still always aiming to hit your macronutrient targets for the day.
Some days you might feel hungrier than others so you might fill most of your carbohydrates with something filling like roast pumpkin, sweet potato, cabbage, mixed beans, and fruit. Other days you might be on the go and need a fast snack so you grab a muesli bar, a fruit juice, or an Up & Go. Flexibility around your lifestyle, and variety is key!
Plant Based Sources
All Vegetables – aim for 200g+ per day
Rice – All Types
Potato – All Types
Fruits – aim for 1-2 serves per day
Natural Peanut Butter
Macadamia Nut Oil
Salmon (high in protein)
Eggs (high in protein)
Things To Avoid
1. Consuming all/most of your carbs before bed rather than around training (doesn’t serve a purpose towards performance improvements).
2. Consuming most of your protein intake for the day in only 1-2 meals, and having very small amounts throughout the day. Research suggests that having a fairly balanced intake of protein spread across the day is ideal, with a minimum of 20g of protein per meal. If you are smaller and require less protein per day you might consider having fewer meals per day (3-4) to ensure these meals all contain sufficient protein.
3. Having mostly liquid based meals on lower calorie diets (doesn’t help with satiety). Aim to increase food volume where possible to reduce hunger.
4. Consuming high fruit intake when on lower carbs (fruit gets stored in the liver not the muscle so other carb sources are ideal for training performance improvements and filling out your muscles). When not on very low calories/carbs there is no concern about fruit intake. Stick to the general recommendations of 1-2 fruits per day.