You may have seen posts or read articles about fitness enthusiasts or professionals who follow eating strategies such as IIFYM (if it fits your macros), where it matters less about what you eat and more about meeting your exact number of macronutrients of carbs, fats, and protein. Cupcakes post workout? No problem!
Or you may notice a trend of those who just follow a less strict, more moderate eating philosophy where they drink wine, have fries, and eat dessert on a regular basis. You may have even seen me post about my daily love for chocolate and how I manage to get in my piece of dark chocolate, chocolate protein shake, and healthy chocolate pudding all in the same day. You may have also seen me throw around phrases “like don’t eat less and exercise more.”
However, I do want to throw in a few words of caution, when it comes to these philosophies. We usually all have a very strategic, well thought out plan behind them. And if it is effortless to, it is because we have put a lot of practice into it and have a developed healthy habits around it. Here are a few things to consider.
You still need to incorporate healthy, whole foods. Typically foods that are labeled as bad for us, are not as nutrient dense or have as much benefit to our health as things like animal proteins, certain starches, fruits and vegetables. Butter and sugar combined? You are not going to get the health benefits, or satiety, as you would as if you some type of animal protein and vegetables, and perhaps some potatoes too. You can get more nutrients and feel more satisfied from eating healthier foods more often, than you can from eating pop tarts and granola bars all day long. There is always room for treats but it is all about balance.
You still need self control. This type of flexible, moderate eating may seem like people are just eating anything and everything they want, but that is definitely not the case. No matter what kind of diet you follow, even if it is one you created for yourself, you still must give and take a little. A few glasses of wine at dinner? Maybe that means you leave out the bread. A whole dinner of indulgence? Back on track tomorrow. Chocolate after dinner. It is probably just one piece.
Eat less, exercise more clarified. Essentially, yes, there needs to be a caloric deficit to lose/maintain weight/fat. But..there also needs to be hormonal balance. And hormonal chaos is created when we go to extremes of eat less and exercise more. Think about a time when you may have decided to amp up your workouts to 5 days a week for 1-2 hours a day.
What happens? Exercise makes you hungrier. At the same time you decided to start eating very strictly lowering your caloric intake. What happens when you eat less? You become hungrier. Your hunger jumps up along with your cravings and your energy drops. And the problem beyond that is that this is not sustainable. You will not be able to maintain this way of eating and that is one of the key ingredients to fat loss/maintenance! Sustainability.
Finding a balance between what you eat and how you workout is so crucial. If you are working out a lot more, eat enough (not more than) to meet your needs. If you are working out less, don’t eat quite as much because your body is not demanding as much from you.
A little self control can go along ways and build a lot of confidence within ourselves. I am a fan of the less strict philosophy, but it does come with some work and a plan.