So, when it comes to eating in a Caloric Deficit to lose body fat, I find a lot of people seem to think they need to eat ONLY ‘Clean Foods’.
And look, while it’s great you’ve made this change and started eating ‘Clean Foods’ (Which is just real whole food BTW) throughout the week for weeks on end, at some point you need to ask yourself, how sustainable is that?
(Or it’s the same for any diet really you can never see yourself sticking to for the long-term.)
See this is the elephant in the room at times when it comes to Fat Loss,
While eating healthy/clean is great and you’ll 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 the odd weekend followed by getting back on the wagon again come Monday and you’ll be forever stuck in the ‘f*ck it’ cycle.
And yes, I’ve been there in the past so I can relate a little.
This is what I mean by the term Flexibility, or… eating Ice Cream & getting Lean.
The best thing about it?
So in short, YES you can still incorporate your wine/chocolate or whatever foods you love into your daily plan and still lose fat.
See like myself in the past, I used to be ‘anti’ most things.
I was one of those Strict Paleo/Clean Eating 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. Was was just shit really 💩
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 clients here at Doc Fitness, 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 Nutrition and the fact that it’s perfectly fine to do as long as you remain in a Caloric Deficit to lose body fat.
Don’t forget the overall principle at play here, if you’re not in a Caloric Deficit in the first place, you won’t lose anything.
Being more ‘flexible’ means being more in ‘detail’ with the Calories/Macronutrients (Pro/Carbs/Fats/Fibre) you’re consuming daily/weekly to manipulate body composition (‘How You Look’).
It stemmed from the ‘IIFYM’ (If It Fits Your Macros) community that has caused massive debates in the past from ‘Flexible Dieters’ eating ‘whatever foods they want’ as long as it hits their total daily calorie and macronutrient intake.
For example, it’s been proven in the past with;
Like I’ve said above and in the first 3 Articles of this series, Calorie Balance will always remain King. It does not matter if you eat all your Calories from Real Whole Foods or Mc Donalds, as long as you control the calories coming in & going out (your training) and remain in that deficit, you’ll lose weight.
Wonder has anyone considered an Irish version – ‘The Supermacs Diet’?
(Image courtesy of Supermacs.ie)
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 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 weight, first let’s start with a Mindset/Perspective 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.
Whether 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 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 because there is none to fall off in the first place? Again another perspective shift.
This leads us to that ballpark % of doing ‘better’.
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 you might 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.
Remember, they are not you and you are not them, you’re probably on totally different wavelengths right now and that’s fine,
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 obvious changes where you can.
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 everything in Life starts with the thoughts going through your head daily and once you shift your perspective – 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 health/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 we find blends well, a mix of getting in the essential Macro & Micronutrients Nutrients for Health & Body Composition followed by that 20% of what you love still being kept in 😉
*You could take this a step further and break up that ‘20%’ into stuff like;
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/body fat.
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 article – 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.
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 are minimally processed throughout the day,
The evening comes after work, he’s had the dinner and the kids are at him to get 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 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.
Don’t go off necking 99’s so fast…
Unless you closely track calorie intake, (and if you haven’t read the initial 3 Articles 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 100% ‘Eat Clean’ or restrict everything under the sun is not always easy,
Let’s say you’re 20’s-30’s, Lean, already highly active, no kids & don’t have that much going on in terms of stress in your life, 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 eyeballs and the sleep of a fish (do fish sleep?)
Here we could have a host of other factors at play like;
So you can see it’s not just that easy so ALWAYS remember the context.
Food Quality is a no-brainer for HEALTH and;
So the whole purpose of this article was to show you that there IS another way of shifting the body fat and toning/leaning up 🙂
But like anything, especially in this Fitness World where you’re filled with more sh*t than you 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:
Because, believe me, it’s a hell of a lot easier sticking to Real Food Sources where possible when losing body fat. Easier, because the foods are lower in calories and more filling.
Always chase Health, but don’t restrict yourself either.
Hopefully, this has opened you up to more of what I mean by incorporating the ‘stuff you love’.
Lastly, if you’ve read this far, thank you – my aim is to bring you evidence-based information that’s easy to understand so you can go away and implement things and actually see progress. So thank you & thank you for continuing to read and follow my ramblings 🙂
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1: Dr. Mark Haubs Diet Experiment (2010): http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/
2: Marc Halperns ‘Pizza to Veggie’ Scale: http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/the-pizza-to-veggie-scale-where-are-you-where-are-you-going