If you want to succeed where others have failed…

I shot a video blog in the gym but there was a bit of background noise from the radio and so on so here’s the text version to go along with it.

If you wanted to succeed where others have failed, what would you do? Should you do the same as everyone else, or something different? Do what hasn’t worked out for anyone, or do the opposite?

When it comes to dieting for weight loss, we know the statistics say that 95% of the time diets fail to result in long term, sustained weight loss. Worse than this, the reality of dieting in the conventional sense is that not only do people regain the weight they have lost, but they continue to gain weight and end up more over weight than they were in the first place.

Those are the stats and I might dig up the studies and add links later but really, you know this is true already. It’s a common story from people who’ve done whatever diet and “it was good, I lost 10kg. But then when I stopped I put on 15kg”.

Why this happens is pretty simple. All diets that result in weight loss do so by restricting energy intake. Either by using meal replacement shakes, low calorie meal plans, excluding certain foods, or whatever. The people selling them might try to tell you there is some other reason to do with the inherent goodness or badness of certain foods… but that’s bullshit. It is about energy intake.

Now the problem here is that these by definition are not sustainable approaches. You temporally reduce energy intake, and temporarily lose some weight. Then what?  You go back to your old eating habits and regain the weight. You go back to your old habits either because the diet has a duration built in, or just because you’re fed up with eating things you don’t like and missing out on the things you do like.

So, you return to your previous eating habits, your previous energy intake, and your previous weight. That’s best case scenario. Quite likely you actually over eat and go beyond your “normal” energy intake as a result of having restricted for so long. Worse still though, is that for however long you have been restricting energy intake you have actually been training your body to run on less fuel, to conserve energy, and prioritise the storage of energy within fat stores.

You gain weight, or more specifically you gain fat by habitually consuming an amount of energy that is in excess of your requirements. While dieting, you train your body to get by on less energy. Therefore when you return to your regular eating habits, they are effectively more excessive than they were previously.

I could bore you with the science on this, but do you really need it? You’ve observed this happening enough times already. You know it is what happens.

Now, this applies to people who are in training with an athletic condition goal too.

Active people have a higher energy requirement than less active people. People participating in sport, even more so. People training for a lean body condition need to provide a suitable amount of protein and energy so as to allow the body to priortise fueling the muscle at the expense of body fat.

In my observation over several years, people who are training but not seeing results are usually not over eating. If they are just training and not paying any attention to diet, maybe they are. If they are training and paying some attention to diet, especially with calorie targets or a “clean eating” approach, they are usually not eating enough to provide the energy and resources that they require to facilitate results.

So then. What happens?

Training regularly, not gaining any weight, not losing any weight, not leaning out or seeing any changes in body composition. Usually, people will start to talk about going on a cut. Cutting carbs, eating clean, whatever you call it, whatever method… it’s reducing energy intake just the same as people going “on a diet” would do. However in this case, we’re failing to see results at training due to not being adequately fueled, and we reduce even further.

This may result in some small change in condition, but it will be temporary at best as the level of dietary restriction is unsustainable. Or worse, upon failure to see further changes in condition the athlete may conclude that further restriction is called for.

This can, and frequently does spiral out of control with disastrous consequences.

Let’s cut to the chase here.

Dieting, in the conventional sense serves no purpose other than to train your body to run on less fuel and to conserve whatever it can. The very opposite of what you want you want if you have a long term weight loss goal.

In active people training with a performance or condition goal, your requirements are quite high and you will not see results in terms of improved body composition (aka more muscle, less fat) by slashing further and further below those requirements.

Rather, active people should do the exact opposite. The exact opposite of what most people do. When you want to succeed where others have failed, you do something different.

Therefore. Rather than slash intake for a temporary result, then eventually gravitating back towards your usual habits and usual (or worse) condition, maximise intake towards the uppermost, optimal amount of total energy that you could expect to utilise for performance, recovery, and positive adaptation to training.

Train the body to put more and more energy and resources into lean mass where you want them, enabling greater performance and improved condition. When you return to eating more in accordance to your appetite, you’ll still be at a suitable amount, but less than your body has gotten used to.

Where do you think it is likely to draw energy from to make up the difference?

Dieting trains the body to run on less, and then it doesn’t know what to do with a normal amount. Fueling up trains the body to put more and more to good use.

The Evolution Of IIFYM

Update: This is something I originally published on the formerly ‘official blog’ quite a while back, covering the Evolution Of IIFYM approaches, through Flexible Dieting and beyond. As to the “beyond” part… I’d like to think I’m one of, if not THE leading guy who has taken these approaches beyond the primitive “any amount that’s in deficit will result in fat loss, so just keep restricting further and further into deficit forever” applications.

I’ll include some graphics and links to my more recent articles expanding upon some of these points, and you’ll see just how far the concept has evolved since.

IIFYM.

If. It. Fits. Your. Macros.

You all know the back story already, I presume?

It all started on body building forums, where questions would be asked to the effect of for example “I’m bored of eating such n such, is it ok if I eat such n such instead while trying to lose fat and gain muscle?”. And the answer would be that it was fine, so long as total energy intake was still appropriate and macronutrient ratios were not negatively impacted. In other words, whatever you have a hankering for is fine, “if it fits your macros”.

They eventually changed it to “flexible dieting” because idiots would make strawman style “so you’re saying vitamins and minerals aren’t important? just macros?” arguments and so forth.

Obviously you do need to meet ALL of your requirements. However, it is neither necessary nor helpful to start obsessing over tracking and basing your food choices on micronutrient content. If you get a good mix of fruit, veg and other choices in accordance with the official Healthy Eating Guidelines you’re unlikely to be deficient in anything.

I would only very occasionally see anyone ridiculous enough to  suggest that we should be focused upon tracking micronutrients per se, but it was a common argument of a “false dichotomy” nature with the inference that if one pays attention to their energy and macronutrient intake, they must by definition also be going out of their way to neglect their micronutrient requirements. Clearly, a preposterous argument… although we’ll come back to this point briefly in the next installment.

So, certainly it is still important to ensure appropriate micronutrient provision in accordance with the Healthy Eating Guidelines, as discussed already. Strictly speaking though, for “results from training” including weight loss, total energy and macronutrient ratios are what makes the difference. Not “clean eating” or whatever arbitrary labels you want to slap on to individual food choices that mean they’re “bad” or “good” for weight loss, muscle gain or health in general.

For my own system I changed it one step further, from “flexible dieting” to “Flexible Fueling” because my people aren’t on a damn diet. We are fueling UP for best results and we know that means we have minimum requirements that we need to exceed… rather than trying to restrict to low levels of energy. I really wanted to emphasise the rejection of that “dieting” mentality, because what we do is the opposite.

Now you can do this macronutrient thing by percentage of total energy or by the gram. Most people seem to talk about percentages of total energy and that’s how I used to do it too, but as activity level and level of performance goes up, so too does total energy requirement. As this total energy requirement goes up, it becomes both unrealistic and unnecessary to expect a large percentage of this to come from protein.

As a side note at this point, to talk only about macronutrient percentages without also establishing an appropriate or optimal total energy intake is entirely pointless, as well.

For this reason… well, I decide on a case by case basis but increasingly I am basing my recommendations on a “by the gram” basis for what is an adequate protein provision, although my prediction of what might be optimal may be a higher target based on percentage of total energy. Again… experience and intuition starts to come into this and I wouldn’t say there is a hard rule on how best to interpret the numbers and work them into practical targets in every individual case.

Now here’s the trick though.

It does come down to calories, for the most part. But failing to see progress, fat loss or weight loss does not automatically translate to “not in calorific deficit” aka “still eating too much”.

People with a poor understanding still jump to the seemingly obvious “whatever you’re eating now, slash 500 calories as you’re not in deficit” line whenever someone reports a plateau or lack of progress. That isn’t “IIFYM” though, it is just “calorie counting” and energy restriction, and it is no better than any other form of crash dieting.

What IIFYM should mean and what Flexible Fueling certainly does mean is running the numbers to determine what this particular individual’s requirements are in total energy, protein, fats and carbs respectively to ensure results from training. What should be adequate, and what should be optimal. Cutting below what the maths and good sense tells us is “adequate” is quite literally “less than adequate” and therefore not conducive to ongoing results.

A little more on maintenance calories real quick.

cico maintenance
Is your lack of progress because your intake is too high to allow fat loss, or too low to facilitate improved performance and condition? Click the graphic for the full article that goes with it.

A lot of people are under the impression that if for example you are currently maintaining weight and not really seeing any changes in body composition on 2500 calories per day, increasing intake beyond 2500 would result in fat gain due to being “in excess of maintenance calories”.

However, this may not be correct.

If 2500 calories per day is a sub-optimal energy provision relative to your needs, increasing towards the optimal amount would mean more energy being made available and being utilised to perform, recover and adapt to training. This should not result in weight gain (unless that was your aim) and should in fact result in more energy being drawn from fat stores to fuel non exercise activity. It is for this reason that it is sometimes possible to actually lose weight after increasing energy intake.

Again, Calories In / Calories out is the rule… but it is about the most appropriate, most optimal energy intake relative to your needs, and not about just slashing calories ever lower to starve weight off.

Beyond Calories In / Calories Out.

Don’t get me wrong. CI/CO is a valid rule and no one with a shred of sense should really dispute this. However, the way this rule is often applied in real life leaves a lot to be desired. I would suggest more people move away from the “calorific deficit” model in favour of pushing upper, maximum usable calorie targets for optimal performance, recovery and results from training.

To facilitate improvements in performance at training requires MORE fuel, not less. To recover from more intense, more productive and more effective training sessions requires MORE fuel, not less. To build lean mass and change your body composition requires MORE fuel and in particular, adequate provision of protein. Not less. More.

Now, this is something to be built up to strategically as often referred to as “Reverse Dieting” elsewhere. What people fear when you start talking about increasing towards maximum usable intake is something to the tune of “but don’t I need to be in deficit to lose fat?”, and the answer is… technically yes, but let’s think about it a little differently.

Assuming you have any fat whatsover to lose. It becomes complicated to explain because every situation is different and there will be a time to dial in a more significant but still strategic deficit after having established and maintained maximum usable intake for a suitable duration of time. In this case we’d still be looking at a reasonably high energy intake, suitable for performance and recovery, but it will be somewhat less than we’ve gotten used to, encouraging the body to draw even more from fat stores to make up the difference. Certainly our targets at this stage would still be higher than many other people would be restricting to in similar circumstances with the other approach.

But that all comes later. Assuming we’re still in the “Reverse Dieting” stage though, we are building up towards the maximum, most optimal level of energy we can put to good use in fueling our lifestyle, performing at training, recovering, and adapting with creation and maintenance of lean mass at the expense of body fat. Clearly, however high this amount is, by definition it is still less than the amount it would take to fail to see improvement in condition and reduction in body fat at that level of activity.

Only in surplus, or excessive total energy intake would we fail to lose body fat. Maximum usable intake is by definition not “excessive”, as excessive would mean “more than we have a use for”. So while technically we are in deficit of what would be required to fail to see improvements in body composition, our focus is not on “being in deficit” which usually translates loosely to “under fueled and trying to force the body to burn fat to compensate”.

Interrupted Energy Restriction Strategies.

There are always various ways you could approach working towards and establishing the levels of fueling that best suit your needs and facilitate the best and most sustainable improvements in athletic performance and condition.

interrupted energy restriction strategy

This graphic represents the latest variation upon the Flexible Fueling approach, and you can read more about it on my blogspot, filed under Interrupted Energy Restriction Strategy.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Your plan my vary, but mine always includes a heap of delicious fruits.
Your plan my vary, but mine always includes a whole heap of delicious fruits.

Great quote, innit? And when it comes to getting your nutrition right to ensure success in seeing great results from training… well… it’s not always true, but it often is.

Some people just have generic “good” eating habits. They have a conventional meal schedule and happen to mostly choose foods that are conducive to meeting an appropriate total intake without needing to think too much about it.

You know some people like this, no doubt. They just eat “the right foods”, right?

Nope. That’s a reasonable conclusion to come to, but it isn’t correct. Certainly they’re making good choices of foods, but by no means does this infer that you can’t be successful with some other choice of foods. For results from training, including weight loss goals, what’s important is that we do indeed meet an appropriate total energy intake. There’s a little bit more to it that we’ll get to shortly… but for the most part that’s what it comes down to.

Now, other people might have a less conventional meal schedule, and less conventional choices of foods. When people are successful in maintaining their goal weight range and body condition via less conventional / more ecclectic eating habits, it can be easy to imagine that there’s something special about the set of circumstances that is especially conducive to good results. They’ve “tricked the body into burning more fat”, or something like that.

Clever marketers and bro-scientists will even come up with fancy explanations to convince everyone else to start doing the same for magical results, because only they have the secret to fat loss. They haven’t though. They’re simply making the choices that best suit them in attaining an appropriate total intake. However quirky those choices or that schedule may seem to the rest of us, there is nothing “special” about them other than that they happen to best suit that individual to achieve an appropriate total energy intake. That’s all.

What about everyone else though? We’ve talked about people who just have conventional, every day, run of the mill, basic “good” eating habits. We’ve talked about the people who march to the beat of their own drum with a meal schedule and food choices that might seem unusual or eccentric to the rest of us. People in either of those camps might be highly successful in making progress towards their goal, or in maintaining a suitable weight and athletic body condition, for no other reason than because their total energy intake and the ratio of macronutrients within that total is appropriate. Whether because they have good intuition, because they’re doing what someone’s told them, or by trial and error… they happen to be in the habit of consuming an appropriate intake of energy and other nutritional resources.

But what about the people who aren’t so successful, and the people for whom an appropriate total intake is not so easily so easily attained?

My observations vary.

Often when an active person first comes to me frustrated with unsatisfactory results from training, we find that they have been working to inappropriate total energy targets. Usually targets that are too low, and insufficient to provide the energy and other resources necessary to fuel for performance, and then to recover and adapt to training. This is easily addressed.

In the vast majority of cases though, and especially with people who are new to regular exercise and training, the issue is simply that they do not have any set meal schedule, much less a real plan to meet appropriate total intake and macronutrient targets. This may be in part due to being convinced that there is a “special” way that this has to be done, and that special way not being a good fit to their preferences and lifestyle.

With no plan, no targets and no set meal schedule people are likely to alternate between missing meals and going hungry, and then over eating later on… often on less than ideal choices as the body is demanding maximum energy as quickly as possible. Despite being hungry a lot of the time, the end result is quite likely to be excessive total energy intake while still falling short of the mark on other nutritional requirements.

The same can be said for when people are trying to shoehorn themselves into a particular approach that does not suit them. Not being terribly enthusiastic about the “allowed” selection of foods, you tend to under eat. Under eating inevitably leads to over eating, as described in the paragraph above.

A healthy diet that is suitable to produce results from training doesn’t have to look a certain way. It needs to meet certain requirements in providing energy and other nutritional resources, which will vary from one person to the next depending on a variety of circumstances. How best to meet those requirements will also vary from one person to the next, and the only “best” way to achieve it is whichever way best suits you.

What best suits someone else is irrelevant. This is about you.

Bottom line: Plan to ensure success. Set your schedule however best suits you. Know your requirements, and plan to meet them with the choices of foods that best suit you.
There is nothing difficult, unrealistic or outlandish about any of this.

Going back to the title of this entry, a slight variation on the theme is “if you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail”. Being prepared to fail doesn’t mean that failure is inevitable, but it does mean that you consider it an acceptable possible outcome.

Why accept failure, when you could ensure success?

New Team DaveHPT Online Coaching Testimonial

One of the absolute STARS of my Flexible Dieting & Online Coaching system over the past few months, pro musician Dean “The Beast” Gaudoin tells you all about the program.

And the results you can see for yourself!

Four Week Progression on DaveHPT Flexible Dieting

DaveHPT Flexible Dieting 4 Week TransformationThis is a FOUR WEEK TRANSFORMATION from already lean and athletic to amazing. How do you think I did this? Ban carbs? Paleo diet? Create a greater calorific deficit? Clean eating perhaps?

No.

This is the correct way to bust a plateau in an already fit and active human being. By providing more of the resources necessary to thrive and reap the benefits of exercise. Week one shows the client on 2000 calories per day. Now, what would about 98% of fkn idiots out there calling themselves trainers or coaches do in this situation? Slash calories to 1500 per day maybe? Or lower?

Screw that. Fortunately as I am a genius of unparalleled intellect and understanding, I proscribe the following: hard minimum of 2200 calories per day, with no maximum limit.

Week 4 shows the client on over 2500 calories per day.

IF YOU WANT RESULTS FROM TRAINING YOU MUST, MUST, MUST PROVIDE THE NECESSARY RESOURCES. I am so sick of fkn morons out there ruining people’s physical and mental health with starvation diets and restricting food choices as if your body doesn’t fuel, or you “earn” results by proving how determined you are by going without things you enjoy and forcing yourself to eat stuff you don’t like.

If you train productively and hit appropriate nutritional targets with suitable quantities of whatever foods you like to eat, you will see results. You will NOT see these results by depriving your body of the energy and other resources it requires.

Now. I start my next season of online coaching this weekend the 1st of March. If you’re ready to get serious and take the appropriate action to realise your dreams in terms of training for your goal body type, stop fucking around with destructive, disordered garbage invented by unscrupulous marketers and pushed by clueless imbeciles.

I have a story

I’ve been listening to some ManOwaR the past few days as I’m getting ready to go train. It’s great stuff to get you fired up and ready to go.

My goal physique and ideal pre-training mood music.
My goal physique and ideal pre-training mood music.

All of a sudden I remembered that I was actually wearing a ManOwaR shirt when I first joined a gym, about 20 years ago. Yep I’m that old.

Now a bit of background people so far haven’t heard about. At this time I was 19 years old, and I’m pretty sure I weighed 50kg. That’s BMI 17 for those of you who are keeping score. I’d lost a lot of weight due to recently spending about a week and a half in hospital for some kind of asthma & bronchitis related lung failure.

So I would have been skinny at the best of times, which still wasn’t as uncommon in the early – mid 90s as it is today, but having just gotten out of hospital I was actually underweight and I’d been told in no uncertain terms that I needed to start exercising to get healthier and stronger or else I’d be seeing a lot more of the inside of a hospital ward. In case anyone out there needed another “skinny does not necessarily = healthy” story, you just got one.

So I signed up at a local gym and I remember I was wearing my ManOwaR shirt as pictured above, and when asked my goals I pointed to the faceless warrior on the shirt and said “I want to look like this”. I already had the hair believe it or not. So the trainer laughs, makes the obligatory steroid joke and then goes on to ask me about my nutrition.

Boom. Here’s the problem. I can’t even remember the conversation as I would have just switched off right away. I didn’t eat healthy. I didn’t eat any meat. I didn’t really eat any vegetables either. I’d heard it all before and knew there was no way I was going to change my eating habits and start eating a traditional bodybuilding diet or whatever else. Not because I didn’t want to… well… I didn’t want to eat meat, but not because I didn’t want to eat healthier or was stubborn or whatever else. It just wasn’t a possibility to me. Why? Who knows.

SO I can’t even remember that conversation but I do remember the one with the hospital’s dietitian however many days or weeks earlier. Something like this:

So you don’t eat any meat?
No.
Couldn’t you try some?
No.
What about chicken, would you eat chicken?
No.
How about fish? You don’t eat fish?
No.
Well what about lamb? Would you try lamb? Lamb is nice!
No.

At which point the guy just throws up his hands in frustration, tells me “LOOK YOU’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO EAT MEAT” and storms off.

Now some of you out there no doubt can relate to this. Maybe it’s not because you’re vegetarian, but you don’t eat the text book “healthy” diet and aren’t good at trying new things. And when you get a trainer or a dietitian who is SHIT AT THEIR JOB… I’m actually get mad right now thinking about it. Like it was going to be a revelation to me that how I’d been eating wasn’t healthy, or like I’d never been told “just eat it, it’s good for you” before and was going to suddenly go “oh ok, if you say so” and start eating like a normal person as if by magic or spiritual awakening.

What someone actually good at their job might have done is talk to me about vegetarian protein sources, and how to put together the best balanced diet out of the limited choices available to me. Or perhaps even sent the psychologist to speak to me instead. Instead though, when you’re dealing with someone who is SHIT AT THEIR JOB they just think “well I eat like this, why can’t you? You’re just going to have to”.

20 years later I’d like to say things have changed and we have a better understanding of such issues… but we don’t. I still see trainers making comments like ” I feel like shaking them and saying why don’t you just grow up!” …. that’s a cut n paste direct quote from a conversation the other day. Worse, so many trainers out there promote such restrictive diets backed by fear mongering that even if you don’t have issues with food to start with, you’re sure to develop them before long.

Anyway… I can’t remember exactly when I quit training again, but by age 25 a similar thing happened again. Back in hospital and this time it was to get half my thyroid removed due to a tumor. Except this time I was fat. So out of hospital and I join a different gym, but still with that “don’t even talk to me about nutrition, just give me the exercise program and I’ll get stuck into it” mindset. Now… this is really what most people are doing in the gym, right? It’s just damage control. I knew I couldn’t eat healthy enough to ever really be in shape, but I figured I could do enough to not get any fatter or any more unhealthy.

Now at this point things went better than expected. Perhaps due to sheer perseverance and consistency, I actually made some progress. At some point I believe around age 28 I actually started introducing a few new foods, for example lentils and rice. By my 30s I’d added tofu and other soy products, and by mid 30s even some vegetables like capsicum and spinach. At this point I started to think about becoming a PT on the grounds that so many people would ask my advice and ask why I wasn’t one already. Ironically if you click around the internet a bit, you’ll read a lot of stuff about soy, legumes and even rice being deal breakers because they don’t fit into some fad diet protocol or other. Not to mention all the bread and cereal I still eat. And the fruit. Bullshit.

Age 36. BMI 25. "Shit diet".
Age 36. BMI 25. Shit diet.

SO… mid 30s I finally go out and get qualified as a PT. I can’t even remember if I learned how to do calorie targets as part of my qualification or elsewhere, but I decided to prove myself by getting back down to BMI 25, or 68kg which I could remember weighing in at in my early 20s.

Well… I did that, but decided it was too skinny and I’ve been gaining ever since, a little at a time. Currently sitting at about 80kg or about BMI 28 if you prefer.

Now the moral to all of this… that’s a 20 year story and of the past 5 years or so I’ve known and increasingly understood how calorie intake and macronutrient ratios influence body weight and composition. Also I know to make sure I’m getting enough fiber, and enough vitamins and minerals from cereals, fruits…. and I’m still not very good with my vegetables but I’m getting better. Imagine if someone who wasn’t SHIT AT THEIR JOB had have let me know this was possible 20 years ago, instead of just telling me “eat like everyone else” and making me feel like I could never be healthy, strong or in athletic shape because there was something wrong with me?

Maybe that’s something a lot of you can relate to.

I had no choice but to believe in Flexible Dieting. Fortunately, it does work. If anything it is a MORE strategic approach than traditional dieting, as you are actually determining targets that correspond to your nutritional requirements, and you’re coming up with a plan to hit them with the appropriate amounts of foods you enjoy. How is that not a more sound strategy than just eating random amounts of “allowed” foods, and assuming that by eating those foods you automatically end up at appropriate intake?

Any coach or self appointed health expert who tries to tell you that flexible dieting can’t work and you need to just take their cookie cutter meal plan the same as they give to every one else as if we weren’t all individuals with our own preferences and unique idiosyncrasies is full of it.

Don’t allow their laziness and incompetence to hold you back.

Flexible Dieting For Weight Loss and Recovery

Simply put, Flexible Dieting means meeting your nutritional requirements with a plan based around all of your favourite foods.

The only reason to “go on a diet” should be to ensure and develop a habit of consuming an appropriate intake to suit your lifestyle, and to train your appetite to match those requirements.

Once your requirements, your appetite and your intuition (re: choices of foods) are in tune, you’ll feel like you are just eating whatever you fancy whenever you’re hungry, and you’ll be seeing better results from training than ever before. Sadly as we all know, this is precisely the opposite strategy that most people have in mind when they think “diet” and adopt restrictive, starvation plans requiring the elimination of any foods that they enjoy eating. The results of these conventional diets are the opposite as well.

For Weight Loss:

Contrary to popular belief, you do not lose more weight by eating as little as possible, and you don’t “earn” weight loss by forcing yourself to eat things you don’t like and depriving yourself of any indulgence. Quite often, my weight loss clients actually eat MORE following my guidelines than they have done previously, and there is no guilt involved when they include some indulgent foods within their plan.

Here’s what we need to consider when building your Flexible Dieting plan for weight loss:

  • Expected maximum calorie target to fuel your lifestyle and maintain your goal body type, long term.
  • An interim maximum calorie target, at a suitable deficit to promote weight (fat) loss, shorter – medium term.
  • Minimum calorie target required to fuel your lifestyle and see results from training. Regularly falling below this target would be detrimental.
  • Suitable fibre intake, and a suitable balance of macronutrients. That’s protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables for an adequate supply of micronutrients. That’s your vitamins and minerals.

Within that target calorie range, we know that absolutely everything we put into the body WILL be utilised as fuel, for recovery and to adapt to training. Obviously some choices of foods will be easier to fit into a plan to meet these targets than others, but there is no need to avoid anything entirely or to start feeling bad whenever you eat something that’s “bad”. If you enjoy it and can fit it into your plan and still hit your targets, it’s all good and will all be put to use. Even ice cream.

For the fussy eaters:

If you’re good at eating your vegetables, get a good variety and this should go a long way towards meeting your fibre and micronutrient requirements. If your choices are more limited; include the ones that you do like regularly, and if there a few that you “aren’t crazy about, but can stand now and then” you should try to include a little of those as often as you can, too.

This is all about making the best choices for the most suitable plan that you can stick to. It is NOT about trying to force feed yourself things that you can’t stand. If your success with this plan inspires you to experiment with and include some new choices of vegetables all the better, but if not, hey it is still an improvement. You don’t have to be perfect.

Fruits are another excellent source of micronutrients (fibre too), as well as being absolutely delicious and enjoyable. I encourage you to indulge on a variety of fruits every day, within the context of a plan that meets but does not exceed your targets. Don’t listen to any idiot who tells you fruit is not a great choice. Tell them to shut their damned dirty lying mouth.

For Recovery:

If you’ve been a victim of crash or yo-yo dieting with conventional, restrictive approaches you already know how damaging they can be to both your body and your mind. The first thing, and perhaps the hardest thing that people need to understand about recovery is that it does not mean “accepting defeat” and giving up on the idea of your goal body type. It means the opposite.

Here’s my best advice on how to use Flexible Dieting to create the mindset for recovery:

  • Focus on exceeding your minimum requirements to ensure you are fuelled up for great results, rather than on restricting intake.
  • Train productively to build your goal body, rather than just exercising “to burn calories”.
  • Understand that so long as you are within your target range for total intake, every calorie you take in will be put to good use in making you stronger, healthier and happier – regardless of the source.
  • Stop thinking that results from training (and for that matter, your worth as a human being) is dependant on having the willpower to abstain from anything enjoyable at meal time. You’re here to enjoy life and indulge your passions. You have to do the work too, but that is something to take pride and satisfaction from.
  • Believe in your own potential for greatness, and be motivated by that belief.

Isn’t this exactly what you need? If so, jump to my new Flexible Dieting sign up page for a whole lot of important free information.