Flexible Dieting: The Definitive Guide

By Mike Sisco | Guides

Mar 18

Flexible dieting is a dieting method that provides extraordinary results while eating the foods you love.

Yes, you read that right. You can eat the foods you love while losing fat and gaining muscle. But you have to be strategic and educated about it.

This guide will show you step by step exactly how to create your own flexible diet.

Pro Tip: Here’s the exact meal plan spreadsheet I use to create my clients meal plans. Click here to download it!

Lose Weight, Eat What You Want

What if I told you that you can eat with no restrictions and still get the exact body you want.

You can eat ice cream, pizza, brownies covered in melted chocolate icing with a glass of milk on the side. You can have pancakes with the rest of your family on Saturday morning. Or, dinner out to eat with friends.

Lunch meetings at work don’t have to ruin your diet, and you can eat what you want on the menu.

You Can Eat What You Want, And Get The Body You Want

I can show you a way to lose fat or gain muscle that allows you to eat what you want with no restrictions and get the body you want. It’s called Flexible dieting.

Flexible Dieting Isn’t A Typical Diet

Flexible dieting is a lifestyle that’s designed to get you in the best shape of your life… for the rest of your life.

I know what you’re thinking. How can a “diet” that allows you to eat whatever you want be worth a squarrels nut?

Flexible Dieting Can Be Used For Good Or Evil

Flexible dieting can be used for good or evil. Which is why we have to lay some ground rules and commandments.

Your Outline For Flexible Dieting

Here’s an outline for you to follow to make sure you foolproof plan:

  1. How much you eat is more important than what you eat
  2. You should tailor your daily food choices to your preferences, goals, and lifestyle.
  3. Forgive dietary lapses and “keep calm and carry on.”
  4. Long-term compliance is the key to sustainable improvements

Flexible dieting is a way to take your body’s basic energy and nutritional needs and use them to create an eating regimen that you’ll actually stick to.

You might actually enjoy it. Everything is more enjoyable when you’re in shape? #AmIRight?

The Four Commandments Of Flexible Dieting

Repeat after me. And if you don’t say these out loud  in the crowded office so everyone can hear you, IDK how I can possibly help you:

  1. Thou shalt not deprive yourself of foods you like.
  2. Thou shalt eat on a schedule that works for you.
  3. Thou shalt view dieting as a lifestyle, not a “quick fix.” I’m so serious.
  4. Thou shalt accept dietary blunders and calmly get back in the saddle.

Let’s dive into each commandment a little deeper, shall we? (see what I did there?)

Thou Shalt Not Deprive Yourself Of Foods You Like

You have to eat nutritiously if you want to live as long as yoda.

Yoda must've done flexible dieting to live longer

But, there aren’t any individual foods that cause you to gain weight or lose fat. That’s right, there’s no magic food that will help you lose 20 lbs of fat…….. Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz doesn't like flexible dieting

But listen closely, and I’ll teach you how you can eat what you like and still melt fat right off.

Understanding Energy Balance

The key to understanding Flexible dieting  is knowing how your body’s energy balance works.

There is a boring physiological reality when it comes to losing fat or gaining muscle. If you eat less calories than you burn, you lose weight. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight.

To lose weight you need to have a negative energy balance or “caloric deficit”. To gain weight you need to have a positive energy balance or “caloric surplus”.

Now the shocker. Eating more calories than your body burns of the cleanest foods in the world, cleaner than Mr. Clean himself, will cause you to gain weight.

You can eat a sugar and lard filled diet with all food purchased from the convenient store in Timbuktu and still lose weight.

Don’t believe me?

Pro Tip: Click here to download the spreadsheet I use to write meal plans. It makes meal planning quick and easy.

Mark Haub lost all his weight flexible dieting

To prove it Nutrition Professor Mark Haub at Kansas State University lost 27 lbs. eating nothing but junk food for 10 weeks to prove calorie counting is what matters most. Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos, and Protein shakes.

As the the first law of thermodynamics dictates, this resulted in a reduction in total fat mass.

Is Every Calorie Created Equal?

Before you go A-Woll on me let me clarify: a calorie is not just a calorie when it comes to optimizing your overall health and body composition.

I’m not saying specific foods you eat matters. However, the macronutrient content of the food does matter.

We’ll get to what a macronutrient is in a couple minutes.

Thou Shalt Eat On A Schedule That Works For You

To get and keep the body you want you should eat the foods you like. Every meal. Every day. For the rest of your life. I’m giving you permission.

I’m not just talking about semi-freedom. Not just nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies etc… I’m talking about USA style eating freedom.

The majority of your calories should come from typical “healthy” nutrient packed foods to maintain health and ensure your body is getting the vitamins, fiber, and minerals it needs.

But once your body’s basic fiber, vitamin, and mineral needs are met,  you can have pizza, brownies, and ice cream if your little wicked heart desires.

As a general rule of thumb, use Pareto’s Principle. To optimize health 80% of your calories should come from relatively unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods. Fill the remaining 20% with foods most “diet gurus” frown upon like Squidward.

I usually fill my 20% with something like brownies, milkshakes, cookies (OMG cooookkies), cookie cake, among the many other indulgences. They make me cry I love them so much.

It doesn’t matter your goal. Whether you’re training for the 2020 Olympics, or just trying to fit in your jeans you used to wear to dances in the 70’s (did they have jeans back then?). Flexible dieting will work for you.

This Isn’t A Theory

This is not theory. This is cold hard science. I’m not even sure how science can be cold and hard….

I’ve had great success using these exact methods with clients. It doesn’t matter if the goal is to lose fat, or gain muscle:

Daniel lost 60 lbs flexible dieting

Chad gained 50 lbs flexible dieting

Pro Tip: Click here to download the spreadsheet I use to write meal plans. It makes meal planning quick and easy.

These are clients I’ve helped transform their bodies using  the Flexible Dieting methods.

It’s possible to maintain a 10-12% bodyfat physique year round by following this a regimen like this:

  • Flexible dieting exactly as laid out in this article
  • 4 to 6 hours of weightlifting per week (I’m usually closer to 4 hours)
  • 1 hour of HIIT cardio per week (most of the time I do less)
  • Smart use of supplements

I eat several servings of fruits and veggies every day. But I avoid cravings by flexibly dieting and allowing myself to eat what I want.

The real key is balance. And it’s not even as hard as balancing on a gymnastics beam.

Thou Shalt View Dieting As A Lifestyle, Not A Quick Fix

If you beat yourself up over it, it means you don’t have a long term mindset. Having a long term mindset is key to comliance. Long term compliance is a key to sustainable results.

“The best diet is the one you can stick to.” Sticking to something makes you successful. If you’re successful with flexible dieting, it will be sustainable.

Sustainability is the #1 goal of Flexible Dieting.

Thou shalt accept dietary blunders and calmly get back in the saddle.

Normal diets restrict you from eating things you love. Not eating things you love leads to cravings. Cravings lead to cheating. Cheating leads to binging. When you binge fail to keep weight off. Then you quit.

I hate prescribing a diet that I know you’ll quit. That’s why I use flexible dieting.

Flexible dieting is the most effective tool I know to break the yo-yo dieting cycle.

Dieting Flexibly can even be… dare I say it…. enjoyable. What could be more enjoyable than having abs while eating things you love?

If you fall off the wagon and eat 3 more brownies than intended.. Who cares? Even moderate binging doesn’t add as much fat as you think.

So What’s A Macronutrient?

A macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and the macrominerals (potassium, magnesium.. etc).

Many people incorrectly think that macronutrients are just “the big three”: protein, carbohydrates and fats.You also need suffiecient macrominerals such as calcium and magnesium.

However, the 3 you should pay the most attention to are “the big three”. The macrominerals will take care of themselves if you follow the 80/20 rule.

Getting Started with Flexible Dieting

Before I show you how to create your own personalized flexible diet, let’s lay a few ground rules.

Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn’t mean you should.

To optimize your health you still need sufficient amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Here are some tasty nutrient dense foods I like to eat on a regular basis:

  • Avocados
  • Greens (chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach)
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Baked potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Whole grains like wheat, barley, oats, , brown rice
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, quinoa, and sunflower)
  • Beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto)
  • Lentils, peas
  • Almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • Salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna
  • Lean beef, lamb, venison
  • Chicken, turkey

The list could go on for days, but you get the picture. You may have several other things in mind to add to that list.

Eat on a schedule that fits your Preferences and lifestyle

In general, when you eat your meals doesn’t matter. How much you eat and eating on a schedule that fits your preferences and lifestyle is much more important.

This is an article I recommend reading if you aren’t familiar with how when and how often you eat affects fat loss.

Calculate The Number Of Calories You Need

The first step is calculating the number of calories you burn in a day. Remember, the key to fat loss is eating less calories than you burn.

Use This Calculator To Determine The Calories And Macronutrients You Need

The resulting number will give you a pretty accurate number of calories you burn on average in a day, also known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

The calculator uses the Katch McArdle formula to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), then multiplies it by your activity level.

The standard activity level multipliers are too high most of the time, so I use numbers slightly smaller based on my past experience with clients.

The calculator then calculates your caloric deficit. I recommend eating about 20-25% fewer calories than your TDEE to avoid feeling hungry all the time. The calculator uses a 25% deficit.

This means you should eat approximately 75-80% of your TDEE in calories. For example. My TDEE is 3,177 calories. So if my goal was to shed fat my daily calories would be 2,382 calories/day.

Convert The Calories Into Macronutrient Recommendations

Now you need to convert your TDEE into protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The calculator above does this for you. But here’s how to do it manually:

Eat 1.2 g/lb protein

If you’re a woman over 30% bodyfat, or a man over 25% bodyfat change this to 1 gram per pound of body weight. Use this chart to estimate your bodyfat percentage.

Eat .2 g/lb fat

If you’re a woman over 30% bodyfat or a man over 25% bodyfat, eat .3 grams of fat per pound.

Get the rest of your calories from carbs

It’s that simple. Here’s how it plays out for me:

Body Weight: 230 pounds

Calorie Intake: 2,541

276 grams of protein X 4 Calories/gram = 1,104 calories

46 grams of fat X 9 calories/gram= 414 calories

256 grams of carbohydrate = 1023 calories

Take note. I don’t recommend low carbs. And there’s good science behind why.

If you’re on a high protein diet, low carb diets don’t give you any extra fat burning advantages, as long as your calories are where they need to be.

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. So, if you’re as lazy as a sack of potatoes and don’t exercise, there’s no need for the number of carbs I recommend about.

this is not exactly flexible dieting

But I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you’re probably decently active. If this is the case, there’s no need to significantly restrict the goodness of sweet savory carbs.

Creating A Personalized Meal Plan

  1. Open Microsoft Excel or google sheets. Make a list of foods you eat every day that you actually enjoy.

    Pro Tip: Click here to download the spreadsheet I use to write meal plans. It makes meal planning quick and easy.

  2. Head over to MyFitnessPal and look up the foods on your list. In the excel document, list the protein, carbohydrate, and fat content of each food along with the number of calories in each serving.
  3. Manipulate the meals and pieces in the document.

Stick to The Plan

After you’ve made your personal plan, stick to it every day. If you get tired of one of the meals on your plan, simply replace it. You can change it every day if you’d like.

Creating a Personal Muscle Gaining Plan

Arnold was a flexible dieter before it was a thing

To gain muscle, you have to eat more calories than you burn every day on average.

Use This Calculator To Determine The Calories And Macronutrients You Need

The resulting number will give you a pretty accurate number of calories you burn on average in a day, also known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

The 10% Muscle Gaining Rule

To gain muscle without gaining much fat, I recommend eating about 10% more calories than your calculated TDEE. This is calculated in the calculator above.

If you are a “hardgainer” and are very skinny, having a hard time putting on weight, eat about 20% more calories than your calculated TDEE.

How to Convert Calories Into Macronutrients Manually

Here’s how the calculator comes up with your macronutrients for gaining muscle:

  • Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
  • Eat .3 grams of fat per pound of body weight
  • Get the rest of your calories from carbohydrates

Here’s what that would look like for me:

Body Weight: 230 pounds

TDEE: 3,116 calories

Calorie Intake: 3,116 calories x 1.2 = 3,740 calories

Calories from Protein: 230 lbs x 1 g/lb. = 230 g protein x 4 calories/gram = 920 calories

Calories from Fat: 230 lbs x .4 = 92 grams x 9 calories/gram = 828 calories


Calories remaining: 3,740 total calories – 920 calories from protein – 828 calories from fat = 1,992 calories

Grams of Carbohydrates: 1,992 calories remaining / 4 calories/gram carbs = 498 grams carbohydrates

Eating that many carbs will help you be strong as an ox. Being strong helps you build muscle. Building muscle helps you look good. Looking good is… good.

Women like men who look good. Men like women who look good. Some men like other men who look good. More women like other women that look good.

Bottom Line

I know you may be skeptical of this whole Flexible Dieting thing. I remember the first time I saw Flexible Dieting, I researched it for weeks on end because I thought it was too good to be true.

My dad always told me if something is too good to be true, it usually is.

But let me assure you. Flexible dieting works. It works like magic.

You can eat what you like AND get the body you deserve. Flexible dieting takes advantage of your body’s natural energy allocation mechanisms.

Try it for yourself. You’ll be on your way to a lifetime of sustainable results.

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