2 Potential Problems With Flexible Dieting (IIFYM)
What’s up, guys?
Sean Nalewanyj on www.SeanNal.com – www.RealScienceAthletics.com,
and today I want to address two potential
drawbacks, two things to just be mindful of
when it comes to utilizing a flexible dieting
approach, also known as IIFYM or If It Fits
And these points are especially important
when you’re in a cutting phase and you’re
eating in a calorie deficit.
Now, as you guys already know, I generally
am a big supporter of maintaining a flexible
mindset towards nutrition.
I think it’s the best long-term approach for
most people, with the basic idea is just being
that you don’t necessarily have to eat clean
24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order
to build muscle and lose fat effectively.
And that as long as the majority of your diet
is coming from nutrient-dense, minimally processed
whole food sources, then it’s okay to allotted
a certain percentage of your calories toward
your favorite treat foods to make up the rest.
And the usual breakdown you’ll hear, that
I also think is a good basic approach, is
about 80 to 90% clean food and then 10 to
20% of whatever you want as long as it fits
into your calories and your approximate macros
for the day.
And the obvious benefit there is that your
diet is gonna be more enjoyable, you’ll feel
less restricted, and that’s gonna help you
increase your long-term adherence and help
you maintain just a healthier relationship
with your food, and it’s just a more realistic
and sustainable way to eat overall.
Now, that said, there are certain instances,
and again this mostly applies to people who
are following a cutting diet and who are aiming
to lose fat, where at least during certain
periods being too flexible can actually work
And the potential issue that some people can
run into is where they’re just too focused
on the idea that losing fat is all about maintaining
a calorie deficit, and then as long as they’re
burning more calories than they consume that
they’re going to lose fat and so that’s really
all it comes down to.
And it is true that if you’re in a calorie
deficit you will lose fat and that you aren’t
going to lose fat without one, but in addition
to that you also have to consider the very
important factor of hunger management.
In other words, not only do you need to eat
in a calorie deficit but you also need to
set your diet up in a way to where you feel
is full and satisfied throughout the day as
possible, because the more you’re able to
keep your appetite under control the more
likely it’ll be that you’ll stick to your
diet long term and the better you’re gonna
feel throughout the entire process.
So, even though treat foods like ice cream,
or pizza, or cookies, do give you a certain
level of psychological satisfaction, the downside
is that they’re extremely energy dense, meaning
they pack a lot of calories into only a very
small volume of actual food.
Now, if you’re bulking and you’re having trouble
hitting your overall calorie needs for muscle
growth then that can actually be a helpful
thing, but if you’re cutting it can have the
So just to give you one quick example, a chocolate
chip muffin from Starbucks weighs a 115 grams
and contains 440 calories.
Now, technically speaking, if you were able
to fit that muffin into your calories for
the day and it kept you in a net deficit overall
then, yes, you’d still end up losing body
But rather than just eating one small muffin,
you could instead eat 125 grams of chicken
breast, 200 grams of sweet potato, and 300
grams of mixed vegetables, which equals out
to the same calorie total, meaning you’re
getting more than five times the food volume
for the same number of calories if you were
to go with the cleaner meal of protein, carbs
and veggies, rather than the muffin.
Not to mention that it’s also going to be
a lot more nutrient dense as well.
So if hunger is a big issue for you, if it’s
making it hard for you to stick to your cutting
plan, and this is especially going to apply
the leaner you get and the lower your trying
to drop your body fat percentage, then you’re
likely going to be better off to utilize a
less flexible approach, at least for the time
being, and just focus mainly on maximizing
your food volume relative to your calorie
So that might mean having a smaller percentage
of your food allotted to these treat items,
or only incorporating treat foods maybe every
two or three days rather than everyday, or
just eating mostly clean throughout the week
and then having one larger re-feed day where
you eat at maintenance and you treat yourself
a bit more.
There’s no single approach here, because everyone
is different, but the bottom line is that
you need to find the proper balance for yourself
between maintaining a deficit while also managing
And if treat foods are taking up too many
calories and aren’t leaving you physically
satisfied, then having a higher percentage
of your diet come from minimally processed
lower calorie whole foods is probably going
to work better for you.
So, that’s the first issue, and then the second
issue is the concept of trigger foods, meaning
certain foods that cause you to compulsively
overeat once you’ve had just a small taste
So some people might be totally fine eating
two cookies as part of their overall calories
and macros for the day and then just moving
on without issue, but for other people eating
certain high-sugar-high-fat foods in moderation
can be really difficult to do especially while
they’re in a calorie deficit and their cravings
are a lot higher.
And so instead two cookies ends up as four,
and then six, and then they feel disappointed
for having gone off track so they just figured
what the hell and they let things spiral even
So if you’re someone who does have issues
controlling themselves once they get a taste
of, say, a slice of pizza or a brownie or
something and then that’s all you can think
about, again, you’ll probably be best off
to eat these foods less often or even just
abstain from them altogether, at least for
a temporary period while you’re dieting, because
when you’re in a deficit the taste of everything
basically just gets enhanced and certain high-fat-high-sugar
foods basically feels like you’re on drugs.
And it can be really hard to stop once you
I mean, if someone had a drinking problem
and was addicted to alcohol you wouldn’t tell
them to just go ahead and have only one drink
per day or two drinks per day because it’s
pretty much a guarantee that they wouldn’t
So when it comes to being really hooked on
certain foods, it may not be as strong as
someone who’s addicted to alcohol or drugs,
but it is a similar concept.
So if you’re in a deficit and you know that
you’re gonna have a really hard time controlling
yourself, again, you might be best off to
just cut out certain foods altogether, at
least temporarily, until you’re eventually
back at maintenance and your hunger levels
aren’t as high.
So, thanks for watching, guys.
I hope this advice was helpful.
If you have been struggling to lose fat or
gain muscle and you need some help getting
on to the proper path, you can check out my
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Thanks for watching, guys.
And I’ll see you in the next video.