Blog Nutrition 101 | Flexibility Part 4



Nutrition 101 | Flexibility Part 4

  • by David O' Connor
  • 22/09/2016

So now that you’ve (hopefully) gone through Part 1,2 & 3 of this Nutritional Series, you know the principles behind food & where to get started with fat loss and toning up. But with that comes the un-talked about elephant in the room at times..

The fact that, while eating healthy is great and you feel better on all levels ~ if you don’t allow yourself some degree of flexibility, you’ll either go insane, develop a bad relationship with food or binge every weekend followed by getting back on the wagon again come Monday.

I originally wrote this Blog over on our Doc Fitness Gym website that’s basically based upon NOT placing restrictions on yourself (unless you clinically need to) while still getting results week by week as long as overall Calorie Balance remains negative.

The caveat?

You’re a lot Happier.

You don’t see it as a Diet.

You’re not a fool thinking you need to be low-carb, no gluten, no dairy, ‘only’ Clean Foods Only jazz. Or god forbid the shakes… But we won’t go there 🙂

^^I’m not knocking anyone following similar type diets – and funnily enough I don’t see myself as part of any particular ‘camp’ either, just what I see as a normal way of living really providing your body with the Nutrient Dense food it wants but not also enjoying the finer things in life with a little moderation..

Saying that if you Don’t like my opinion – change the channel.

So YES you can still incorporate your wine/chocolate or whatever foods you love into your daily plan and still loose fat.


See like myself, in the past I used to be ‘anti’ most things. I was one of those Strict Paleo/Clean Eating only types that was blinded by all the marketing hype out there in the Health & Fitness World. I was going down the route of creating a bad relationship with food, I avoided a LOT of social events and I didn’t get much stronger in my training either.

I limited a TONNE of foods because I thought I had too.

But then came the weekend where Binge Fest 101 kicked off – Clean Eating on the weekends was non-existent – and I fooled myself into the usual: ‘it’s grand because I’ll be back on track Monday’.

Anyhow this is not the point – I want to talk about You. And like we coach our members here daily this is what we usually get;

“I’d go hell for leather for a few weeks, then something would come up, put me off & I’d go back to square one every time…”

“I just can’t keep it up. I’d do great most days but then I’d have a cheat meal, which turns into a cheat day which turns into a cheat weekend etc.”

Which then leads to this…

or one of my Favourites,

“Going Low-Carb is great when I do it but I can’t keep it going any longer than about a week or 2. I’d lose some weight, put it back on again, feel bad, eat more and then I’d get back on the wagon and the cycle would happen again.”

Now firstly, ‘Carbs’ or ‘Gluten’ or whatever is what this blog ISN’T about – it’s about being more Flexible in your daily Nutritional Plan and is it an OK thing to do? so let’s get to it..


Being more ‘flexible’ means being more in detail with the Calories/Macronutrients (Pro/Carbs/Fats/Fibre) you’re taking in to manipulate body composition (or in English ‘How You Look’) like we’ve gone through in the first 3 Blogs of this series.

It stemmed from the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) community that has caused massive debates in the past from ‘Flexible Dieters’ shoving really anything down their throats as long as it hits their total daily calorie and macronutrient intake.

For example it’s been proven in the past with Subway Only Diets, Mc Donalds & Dr. Mark Haub doing a ‘Twinkies’ diet and Yes, still losing weight.(1)

Why? Remember, Calorie Balance will always remain King.

Wonder has anyone considered an Irish version – ‘The Supermacs Diet’?


Now don’t get this wrong,

I’m not saying you have to be bracketed as a ‘flexible dieter’ or ‘IIFYM’ person because 90% get the whole Idea plain wrong.

Health First – then a small bit of moderation never killed anyone, right?

But first let’s dive into the mindset aspects first…


Putting this whole Flexible thing aside for a minute, if you’re stuck or hung up or clean eating 24/7 that you think you need to lose the fat/weight, first let’s start with a Mindset Shift & a look at the bigger picture here.


It doesn’t exist.

If you aim for perfection with healthy or clean eating, who are you fooling?

If you aim to get your training/Workouts in 100% week in week out, who are you fooling?

If you aim to get perfect sleep every single night so you can perform to the fullest every day, who are you fooling?

I live in the real world and like we coach Clients here online & at Doc Fitness, we have a ballpark % figure we aim for with most things.

With ANYTHING - The Ultimate Goal is just to do better. Click To Tweet

Wether that’s 0.001% or 10%, one baby step forward every day in any aspect (Eating, Training, Mindset etc.) the goal is just to do better than you’ve done before and build up to momentously doing more and more over time.

This small but crazy powerful Mindset Tip programs you to accept the fact that 100% doesn’t’ exist, you WON’T fall off any wagons again because there is none to fall off in the first place? Again another mindset shift.

Now obviously this is a lot more in depth than it appears in a blog but you get the overall idea. So next it leads up to that ballpark % of doing ‘better’.

2: AIM FOR 60-80%

If it’s setting Weekly Goals to bring you closer to your long-term goals or the Intake of Food/Nutrients you take in daily.

It’s simple, aim for 60-80% completion for your goals (Which should be enough to keep you moving forward),

& 60-80% of the food you intake daily being Real, Whole Nutritious Food designed to fuel your body and give it what it wants to perform as best it can.

The other 40-20% of Food? We’ll get to that in a minute… 😉


If you’re trying to start training or even push it to the next level, firstly who are you surrounding yourself with?

People that couldn’t be bothered with the same interests as you or goals or people that are in a similar position to you going after similar goals?

Again this is not the purpose of this post but I wanted you to ‘remember’ that point too…


This is so easy but yet we miss it completely. If you live in an environment (see what I did there) where maybe family members ‘eat differently’ to you or don’t fully support what you’re doing.

So what? – that’s THEIR BUSINESS what they do. Not Yours.

And when you realise this, you can appreciate your viewpoint vs. theirs a lot more.

So without bitching and moaning about ‘having’ to eat the same as them – make some changes.

Designate a press to Yourself. Fill it with your Weekly Nutrition.

DO BETTER by cooking meals as normal but maybe eye-balling out More Protein/Veg for yourself for example.

We have 100’s of Fathers/Mothers doing it daily without full support from their other halves (yet) so why can’t you?

^^I wanted to write these few points first because I strongly believe that every thing in Life starts with the thoughts going through your head daily and once you shift your mindset – good stuff starts to happen.

So now let’s see HOW you can have moderation in your Fat Loss approach..


In the past I called this a ‘Rule’ which Clients still felt ‘restricted’ upon, so even accepting the fact that everything you do is a guideline is powerful, too.

60-80% is just a ballpark figure with the main reasons being;

– You need to account for where you are RIGHT NOW – Remember the goal is to do better. So if 80% of your Nutrition daily consists of highly processed foods. Then dropping this to 75% is progress isn’t it?

– You find what works for you, the more we lean towards to higher ranges of Real Whole Nutritious Food (80-90%) the better for Health etc. (We’ll talk about this more below)

This is nothing new really – it’s the main principles I want you to take away – similar to Strength Coach Marc Halperns ‘Pizza to Veggie Scale’ (2);

So if you’re starting near the Pizza Side, so what? The goal is to edge further up the line I.E: To do Better.

Marc accompanies the graph with;

“Move to the right, as far as you need. Your perfect place is a blend of health, lifestyle, and values.

Out there on the far right, at the tip of the arrow, is diet perfection. Forget it. Choose more salads and vegetables, but don’t try to be faultless. When it comes to diet and nutrition, especially in terms of caloric restriction, doing more, better, is where things work best.

Less candy. More veggies.”

So just like Marc’s graph portrays, you start from where YOU are & work from there.

Hence why I use the 60% starting point ballpark guideline – as you get more in tune with our heath/nutrition you can progress from there so let’s take a look at this visually;

The idea here is simple, doing better, you might start off around 60% Real Whole/Minimally processed foods & 40% of the ‘not so real’ food and that’s FINE. From here you can eventually progress it up a notch. How long that takes depends on how you create new habits etc.

70/40 is a basic progression from 60/40..

From here you can aim for the Sweet Spot which I find to blend a nice mix of getting in the essential Nutrients for health followed by that 20% of what you love still being kept in 🙂

Down the line you can further tweak this to the following if you want to take things up a notch:

So hopefully you get the overall idea of what your day ‘can’ look like, OR your overall week (it doesn’t have to be a daily thing). Remember the goal is to do better.


Let’s take an example of a Male, (we’ll call him Ben) needing to take in roughly 2,200 calories as a starting point to Lose weight/Bodyfat.

He aims to stay within the 80/20% ballpark guideline depending on his day to day lifestyle.

(NOTE: 2,200 Calories is just the figure used for this blog – so don’t go mindlessly using that figure!)

So 20% of 2,200 k/cal = 440 k/cals Daily.

Or 20% of 15,400 k/cal (total week) = 3080 k/cals weekly of the more processed foods Ben loves we’ll say.

Some days/weeks he’s over that 20%, but mostly he’s in the  10-15% range. Again, he doesn’t restrict himself but makes sure his health always comes first ‘before the foods he loves‘.

So today Ben has kept his usual routine, Real Whole Food that’s minimally processed throughout the day..

The evening comes after work, he’s had the dinner and the kids are at him to get them ice-cream.

Let’s say Ben’s total calorie intake for the day right now adds up to roughly 1900 k/cal from what he’s consumed throughout the day so ‘he’s room left‘ for that 10-20% of what he loves and because the kids are at him for ice-creams he decides to go along and grab a 99 Cone with them.


First let’s compare an average medium sized 99 to what Ben might have had instead with his Dinner..

In this case it was roughly 2 cupped hand sizes of Spuds (White Potatoes – 240grams) with a small heaped teaspoon of Kerrygold Butter (7grams);

So the calories are roughly the same, Macro Nutrients are a tad different but this will make no difference in the overall grand scheme of things because remember Calorie Balance will always be the Main Driver in shifting the body fat.

This is fine as long as Ben doesn’t have a medical issue (Intolerances to certain foods, Diabetes etc.) and will continue to drop body fat as long as he remains in an overall negative calorie balance..


Don’t go off necking 99’s so fast…


Unless you closely track calorie intake, (and if you haven’t read the initial 3 Blogs before this part 4) incorporating the stuff you love ain’t as easy as it sounds. And this is where Food Quality can play an important role when it comes to shifting the body fat and getting in the shape you want (Body Composition).

Because you always need to remember the Context. Knowing that you DON’T have to be 100% ‘Clean Eating’ or restricting everything under the sun (unless you’ve a clinical issue) it’s not always this easy,

If you’re 23-26, Lean and already highly active, then it’ll be far easier to incorporate the foods you love without consequence.

Compared to the 46 Year Old, overweight Father of 3 that’s running his own Business with stress levels up to his eye-balls and the sleep of a fish (do fish sleep?)

Here we could have a host of other factors at play like;

– Emotional Eating triggers

– Intense Sugar Cravings from bad habits picked up

– Lack of Sleep leading to fast foods choices

– The body ‘hormonally’ not being able to deal with the foods he loves as well as the 23 year old for example. Which could further leads to more cravings etc.

So you can see it’s not just that easy so ALWAYS remember the context.

Food Quality is a no brainer for HEALTH &;

– Getting the Nutrients you need to function daily

– Energy Levels

– Feeling Fresh

– MORE Satiety (Fullness) after meals

– Less of an overall ‘need’ to track calories as closely


So the whole purpose of this blog was to show you that there IS another way to shifting the body fat and toning/leaning up 🙂

But like anything, especially in this Fitness Realm where we are filled with more sh*t than we can handle you need to look at this with an Open Mind and remember the context of it all,

You CAN incorporate the foods you love to drop Body fat provided you stay within your Caloric intake like I went through in PART 3 OF THIS SERIES, but again, don’t think it’s just as easy as that because two main factors are in play here:

  1. How you feel after a Meal ~ (Feeling Full/Hunger Levels)
  2. How you respond to certain foods both Physically & Psychologically

Because, believe me, it’s a hell of a lot easier sticking to Real Food Sources where possible when losing body fat.

Always chase Health, but don’t restrict yourself is the goal of this blog so hopefully it’s opened you up to more of what I mean by incorporating the ‘stuff you love’.

So if you haven’t, and care about learning Nutritional Principles for life – please go over Blogs 1, 2 & 3 and share this with any friends you’ll KNOW will benefit from it ~ If I had this information when I first started, things would have progressed 10 times faster and easier 😉

But we live and learn eh? And lastly, if you’ve read this far, thank you – I’m always grateful to see people progressing their knowledge and wanting to improve themselves in any aspect of life so a virtual fist bump goes your way.


Coming out of College with a Belly, Double Chin & being dropped from my local Sports team (Hurling for my Irish Followers) ~ If I had known what I’ve put in this free video series I would have saved YEARS of getting no where in the gym.

If you want to know where to get started with Training for Toning Up (at home) for life – I’ve put together this free 2-Part Video Series & PDF to show you where you need to start with your training, how to progress and actual coaching videos to get you doing if from home before you commit to a gym. Click the picture below to download it and get it sent to your inbox now:


1: Dr. Mark Haubs Diet Experiment (2010):

2: Marc Halperns ‘Pizza to Veggie’ Scale: