In today’s article, I want to compare two very popular bodybuilding nutrition approaches. Particularly those who follow a flexible diet and those who follow a set meal plan.
1. The Flexible Dieter: This is the guy who follows IIFYM. He weighs and calculates every single food he consumes and takes a very calculated approach. In fact, his approach is so strategic, that he is able to fit in a variety of different foods, daily, without every compromising his body composition.
2. The Meal Planner: This is the person who, as mentioned in the title, follows a set meal plan. This person has one or various daily meal plans and schedules that he/she sticks to. This approach does not allow for variety and often times includes a “cheat day”. However, it does eliminate any guess work.
So before we conclude that one is better than the other, let’s first address why these two approaches fail.
Why Flexible Dieters Fail
Lately it has seemed like flexible dieting and counting macros is the end all be all of bodybuilding nutrition…and with good reason.
Unfortunately, this approach still can lead to failure and does (for many).
The reason is simple…you’re doing it wrong.
A lot of these kids see posts from physique athletes and authority figures showing off ice cream, cake, pizza, and a variety of creative (non-nutrient dense) concoctions and assume it’s part of flexible dieting.
What they fail to realize is that these people, for the rest of the day, are extremely calculated in their approach. Every single food item is weighed and calculated and is comprised of mainly nutrient dense choices.
So instead, they eat these “yolo foods” all day, never weigh or calculate a single meal, have no idea how much protein, fats, and carbs they are actually consuming.
This, my friends, is NOT flexible dieting…it’s a poor excuse to eat shit all day.
Why Meal Planners Fail
The main reason meal plans fail is very simple…99% of them are not calculated.
They are typically 4-6 meals that consist of “clean foods” and depending on your goals, you’re either reducing servings or increasing servings.
The problem with this is, you still have no idea how many fats, carbs, or protein you are consuming daily. The macronutrient ratio is not effective and this will not allow you to maximize your results, period.
Not to mention, it is extremely restrictive.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk a little about the pros and cons to each when done correctly.
Flexible Dieting Pros
• Extremely calculated and easily adjusted (if you need to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain, it’s as simple as adjusting your macros).
• Allows for variety in your diet (Never give up your favorite foods).
• Ensures overall health (It requires specific micronutrient goals).
• Does not interfere with your social life (Never have to worry about bringing Tupperware to the party).
Flexible Dieting Cons
• Requires you to weigh and calculate every single food item.
• Constant food choices (“What should I eat next?”)
• No structure (Ending up with 300 grams of carbs left to eat with 2 hours left in the day is not fun).
Is flexible dieting for you?
I personally follow this approach and enjoy it. However, I do understand that it is not for everyone.