IIFYM (aka flexible dieting) is all the rage right now. It is a style of eating that allows you to fit “unhealthy” foods into your diet and still achieve your dream body. Along with that comes figuring out how many grams of carbs, fats, and protein you should be eating. After you figure that out, you need to find a way to keep track of all of that to make sure you’re hitting your numbers.
This style of eating has its benefits, however, for some people tracking everything they eat every single day either isn’t realistic or sustainable. One of the most important factors when deciding to change your life by changing the way you eat is making sure that it fits your lifestyle so that you can stick to it.
So how do you go about living a healthy lifestyle without weighing and tracking all of your food?
Forget all of the tips and tricks that you’ve read about for a second. All of the low-carb, carb cycling, ketogenic, intermittent fasting stuff that you’ve heard about is icing on the cake. These tips can help you fine tune your progress, but they are not necessary for a general way of life. Keeping it simple is going to be the easiest way to stick to a healthy lifestyle without getting confused or overwhelmed, or simply not knowing what to believe.
If you remember anything at all, remember what I am about to tell you.
Whole foods first. Supplements should not be your go-to source of nutrients. They supplement where your diet is lacking. Most people can benefit from a daily multivitamin to help ensure that they get all of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that aid in our daily bodily functions, but you may not need all of the other bells and whistles if you are eating properly.
Consume protein with every. single. meal. Even snacks. You pair protein with either a carb source or a fat source. For example, plain fat free yogurt (protein) + fruit (carb). Protein helps preserve your lean muscle mass (necessary for fat-burn) and keep you full until your next meal. Which brings me to my next point…
Eat every 2-3 hours. You want to keep fueling your body so it stays in an anabolic state (muscle building). As mentioned above, protein helps keep you full and preserve lean muscle mass. If you are eating every couple of hours, you won’t feel like you are starving which is the case in many fad diets. I don’t know about you, but I get HANGRY. I get super irritable and cranky when I’m hungry so feeling like I’m starving is not part of my plan!
Eat proper portions. You don’t need to use a food scale to do this. Use your hand as a reference. Make each serving of protein the same size and thickness as the palm of your hand, pair that with a serving of carbs about the size of your fist and the same for veggies. Do this for every meal.
One meal a week, allow yourself to eat one of your favorite meals. This doesn’t mean that you each a whole days worth of calories in one meal, but this is a perfect opportunity to go out to your favorite restaurant and enjoy yourself. If you feel like you’re “giving up” everything you used to love, you’re never going to want to stick to it.
There is nothing wrong with measuring out all of your foods and keeping track- if that works for your schedule. Some people find that when they try to eat this way they don’t have enough time to make it work. This leads to feeling discouraged and giving up. There are so many ways to approach living a healthy lifestyle, you just have to make sure it can work for you. If you work 3 jobs and can only workout 2-3 days a week, that’s totally okay! but don’t expect to look like a bodybuilder. The easiest way to get discouraged and give up is to set unrealistic goals. If being a bodybuilder is your goal and you’re only working out 2-3 days a week then you would need to reevaluate your schedule. Could you get up earlier to get those extra workouts in? Could you afford to cut back on work hours? Set small goals, dream big, make necessary sacrifices, but be realistic based on your situation. If you try things one way and they don’t work, don’t give up, just try something else. Persistence gets you there, consistency keeps you there!
Do you find meal tracking realistic? What kinds of obstacles have you faced with your diet changes?