Eating Clean, IIFYM or Flexible Dieting Explained
Weight loss isn’t a linear process that never changes. Weight loss is always evolving, and different methods pop up all the time that attempt to promote different types of fitness routines. However, something that seems to change the most in the world of fitness and dieting is eating habits. One moment you’ll be a low-carb diet, and the next you’ll be following a plan that promotes eating lots of fats. With so many different choices, it’s difficult to pick a discipline and stick to it.
I’ve worked with many clients over the past few years and they've always asked me questions like “What’s better: low-carb or low-fat?” or “Should I really be cutting sugar/saturated fat/gluten from my diet?”.
In this blog I will give you a review of three methods that has been shown to be the most effective to my clients, but they all have their pros and cons and as we established earlier this month, the perfect diet is the one you can sustain on the long-term.
Clean eating relies on eating foods that are seen as clean. This means anything in its whole food form, that isn't processed, isn’t refined or loaded with sugars and fats can be considered clean. It’s got nothing to do with actually cleaning the food itself, though items like vegetables are commonly eaten in clean diets.
Foods like eggs, fish and lean meats count as clean food, and water is the main drink to help hydrate your system. Processed foods such as canned luncheon meat, bread and chocolate don’t count as clean and are omitted from clean eating.
Pros of Eating Clean
Eating clean is a great way to care for your physical health. You’ll be getting plenty of good mix of nutrients that will keep you healthy, hydrated and full of energy. The foods are also readily available because the applicable foods are usually natural, fresh and in abundance.
People who are able to sustain a clean eating diet long-term will generally see quicker improvements in their energy levels, health, fitness and body composition than those who are following other nutrition methods.
Cons of Eating Clean
If your lifestyle consisted in many takeaways and eating out, you may feel that you’re severely limiting yourself to what you can and can’t eat after starting to eat clean. It can lead to periods of binge eating if you’re mentally not prepared or dedicated to clean eating.
In addition, preparing clean foods can take much more time intitially with planning and cooking and it will require a lot of additional shopping trips as well. Besides, you have to be on top of your game in terms of motivation and self-discipline to stick to the plan.
IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros” and is a simple method of eating that relies on counting calories and nutrients from the foods you eat. Assuming that what you eat fits your nutritional needs, you can eat virtually anything.
This is ideal for people who want structured control over their nutritional intake and it’s great for people that are already counting calories and macros.
Pros of IIFYM
IIFYM eating is great for you if you'd like to learn more about foods, their calorie intake and nutritional value and it gives you a great structure to your eating habit so you would have more control.
It’s also a good option if you don’t want to manually prepare your own foods or if you find yourself lacking any time to cook a meal. Some tracking aps have built-in barcode reader options so they can pull the nutrition data from their wast database at the click of a button.
Cons of IIFYM
Unfortunately, if you only focus on protein, carbs and fats as quantities and less about their quality, IIFYM can lead you to neglect micronutrients. Micronutrients are all the minerals and vitamins your body needs to run your body smoothly and recover from everyday stress and exercise.
This can lead to certain nutrient deficiencies causing energy level fluctuations, loss of performance in all areas and n severe cases health issues. Vegetables and fruits are important to ensure you consume a wide range of micrnutrients but if your diet doesn't incorporate them, you might find yourself needing to take supplements just to make up for it.
Flexible dieting is essentially a combination of IIFYM and clean eating, allowing you to eat a little of the foods that you would be restricting on stricter diet but keeping majority (80%+) of your food intake to wholesome, fresh ingredients.
You also keep your nutrients under control by logging and monitoring what you eat. It helps you stick to eating healthy foods but still gives you enough flexibility so that you can give in to your cravings now and then.
Pros of Flexible Dieting
Flexible eating offers the best of both IIFYM and clean eating. Your food choices will be based on healthy and wholesome ingredients but you’ll still have plenty of room in your daily meals to indulge in the foods that you love. It’s not as restrictive as clean eating and there’s no chance that you’ll lack nutrients like an IIFYM diet.
Cons of Flexible Dieting
The initial time investment in planning, shopping and cooking just as with clean eating until you learn more about the foods and get into a routine and you still need some self-control if you’re serious about losing weight.
Which method the best is for you depends on what your fitness goals are, how fast you'd like to see results and for how long you're planning to stay with the diet.
If you have a 3 month period to prepare your body for an important event, like a wedding and you are willing to do whatever it takes, eating clean might suit you for that time. Just make sure you have a maintenance plan in place for afterwards otherwise you might find yourself putting all the weight back.
I recommend flexible dieting for everybody who is looking for a long-term solution and a full lifestyle change. It gives you the best of both worlds, it’s sustainable and can be flexible enough to make it easy for you to switch to healthier eating habits step by step.
The results may take longer to be visible, but if you establish the diet that suits your lifestyle the best for the rest of your life, you will never have to worry about gaining weight again.
If you’d like to learn more about flexible dieting, then don’t hesitate to contact me.
My name is Calumn, founder of CD Fitness Coaching. You’ll find me in and around the gym and helping like minded people get the results they deserve. I enjoy everything from keeping fit, yoga, snowboarding, coffee and making people happy. If you would like to be a part of the bigger community join my Facebook group, Healthy Living With CD Fitness Coaching is a must.