Pop Tarts, pizza, ice cream and whey.

These are some of the foods that many people associate with IIFYM/flexible dieting/”that macro diet”, or whatever you would like to call it.  While these foods can absolutely be incorporated into a well-balanced diet, if your goal is fat loss, then having the bulk of your food coming from such sources is almost a surefire way to set yourself up for failure.

Those who have been using flexible dieting for a while will know about the 80/20 guideline.  This guideline suggests that 80% of your food sources come from whole, minimally processed, nutritious foods (think vegetables, whole fruits, and animal proteins), and that the remaining 20% of foods can be from whatever your heart, or stomach, desires, ie, the fun stuff.

The 80/20 Rule was developed by Alan Aragon and states that 80% of your diet should be from minimally processed foods & 20% should come from “junk food”

Particularly when you are in a fat loss phase of dieting, this guideline can be a great tool.  Sticking to more whole food sources will give you the biggest bang for your buck, as far as the volume of food per calorie.

The more volume of food you can eat when dieting, the fuller you will be, and the less likely you will be to over consume calories and blow your diet.  Trust me, when you are in the deepest darkest depths of a diet and you are down to poverty macros, every calorie and morsel of food counts.   No more sharing with others.  A hand reaching for your plate can result in a trip to the ER, (for the owner of the hand). Bond between parent and child can become null and void, and you will fight the dog for that grain of rice you dropped on the floor.

There is always a little suffering involved when you are trying to get six pack abs, but the degree to which you suffer can be minimized with a little intelligent planning and some hunger control strategies in place.  Also, it will be much easier to meet your micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) needs provided you are eating a variety of whole foods, which may just help you to feel better in general.

Here is a top 10 list of tools I employ when dieting:

1. Include protein in every meal.

This is a no-brainer.  Protein is the most satiating macronutrient of the three.  Whole food sources are the best for hunger control, although a whey shake can easily substitute in a pinch. However, due to reduced volume of the shake in the stomach, you may get hungry quicker.

2. Eat fewer meals.

If I have less calories to work with, I don’t want to waste what I have on meager unsatisfying snacks, and meal portions that look like they are for a toddler.  I want to feel as stuffed as possible.  Eating fewer meals allows you to pack as much physical volume into each meal as you can.  Therefore I cut out snacks and stick to 3, sometimes 4 meals per day.  Which leads me to strategy number 3

3. Control hunger between meals.

Since I’m not snacking, I sometimes get hungry between meals.  There are a few things that can help with this.

Coffee is a natural appetite suppressant.  Black is best.  But its also disgusting.  So I use Splenda tablets, which I always carry with me, or stevia, Truvia, any non-nutritive sweetener will do, and if I can, coffee whitener, because you don’t need much for flavour, its fairly low calorie, and it saves me the calories that I would otherwise use for milk or cream to use somewhere else in the day.

Just filling up with fluids between meals can help to keep hunger at bay until its time for the next meal, and it helps to get your fluid intake in.  Water, tea, diet soda, or any 0 calorie beverage all work well.  Some people also find chewing gum helps.

4. Load up on vegetables, fruits and fibre.

When I do have a meal I try to include a high volume of cruciferous vegetables, lower calorie fruits, and high fibre items, such as whole grains.  Fruit and veg will give you the biggest bang for your calorie buck.  Broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, citrus fruits, and many others will fill your plate and stomach very quickly without using up much of your calorie budget.

Whole grains will add up in calories a little faster, but the effect they have on slowing down the rate of digestion of a meal are worth the price.

5. Pick foods that rate high on the satiety index.

Foods such as potatoes, apples, grapes, whole eggs, legumes, and oatmeal all rate highly on the satiety index.  Using more of your calorie and macro allotment on foods such as these will keep you more satisfied at each meal, fuller for longer, and thinking about food less.

6. Make your food tasty, but not too tasty.

Highly palatable foods can trigger overeating as they bypass normal satiety signals and stimulate the pleasure/reward system in the brain.  At the same time, you don’t want your food to taste like cardboard, so use herbs and spices to add flavour while only negligibly impacting calories. Be a little more stringent with added sauces, condiments and oils, as these can be higher in calories.  Except for Frank’s hot sauce. You can put that shit on everything.

7. Leave your treats for the evening.

Another tactic I use personally is leaving my treats for the last meal of the day.  This ensures that I am less likely to overeat and go to bed feeling satisfied.  If this is a carby meal it can help with sleep as well.

8. Plan ahead.

Figuring out your meals ahead of time can go a long way in keeping you on track as well.  After all, failing to plan is planning to fail.  This doesn’t necessarily mean doing meal prep, so much as just figuring out what you are going to eat before the day starts instead of leaving everything to chance.  If you are going out to eat somewhere, most restaurants have menus online or downloadable as pdfs, and more often than not with macro breakdowns so you can plan what you will get before you get there.

9. Limit trigger foods.

If you have foods that you absolutely can not control yourself around, then its probably a good idea not to keep them around.  Or at least limit exposure to them and try to get them in single portions so that you have to leave the house to get them.  Go get a slice or two of pizza, or an ice cream sundae, or a large cookie from a bakery, or a donut.  You get the idea.  Just don’t buy a box of donuts or cookies, or a pint of ice cream, just to put your willpower to the test.

And finally.

10. Be consistent.

We all have moments of weakness.  Or weekends of weakness.  Just don’t let them snowball into weeks and months and they probably won’t have much impact on your long term goals. Strive to consistently make the choices that will keep moving you towards your goals.  A day or two of hedonistic indulgence might set you back a little bit, but if you are consistent more often than not, you will get there.

Enjoy life.  No diet should replace family and friends.  That is the entire point of flexible dieting. Having the ability to enjoy the small pleasures in life, while having six pack abs (if that’s what you want) at the same time.

While this is not a completely exhaustive list, it is more than enough to give you a few tools to help you diet successfully.  If you have any questions or would like some additional help setting up your diet with our 1-1 private coaching, or would simply like to discuss this article, please feel free to contact us at Macros Inc. or chat with us on Facebook.

Bon Appetit!