Has the “fitness” industry got food all wrong?
I am a strength and conditioning coach in ACLAI Health and Performance, I really don’t like the word “Fitness” or “industry”. Put those words together and they make me cringe. I personally think that the “fitness” industry is open to any Joe Soap and I would not like to be compared or in the same realm as them. Within the fitness industry there are so many people latching onto flexible dieting and these are my thoughts on the subject.
Flexible dieting…. IIFYM (If it fits your macros)
What is it? In layman terms flexible dieting involves calculating how much food intake you have in a day on a calculator which allows you to get your calorie intake and the macronutrient breakdown (How much protein, fats and carbohydrates are in your food). From there you can play around with the calories and macronutrient breakdown depending on your goals. So if you want to lose weight, you’d decrease your calorie intake and if you want to gain weight you increase your calorie intake. Flexible dieting allows you to eat all your favourites like chocolate and ice cream while maintaining low body fat. the ratio that flexible dieting for unprocessed food to processed food is 80/20. If you still find that hard to conceptualise there are lots of youtube videos to explain it, however, I am not writing this to promote flexible dieting. I am writing this to get you thinking about how I see our food.
My own 1 year experience with flexible dieting.
Everyday involved me sitting down, typing my food into an online calculator (my fitnesspal) and eating alone because I didn’t want to eat my mam or dad’s unbelievable and healthy dinner because I didn’t know exactly what was in it and I couldn’t type in a chicken curry with 30 different ingredients into my fitnesspal because it probably would have taken around 2 hours to do so. Eating became science, it became nutrition and not food. It became less flexible. Food became boring and unsocial apart from that one post hitting social media telling people my macronutrient (macros) breakdown.It became obsessive.
I, like a lot of fellow flexible dieters began to eat a lot of food products. Food products have labels on them which give you a calorie and macronutrient breakdown, like a protein bar. I had never eaten a protein bar before flexible dieting but now it was easier to eat them than a piece of fruit because I had less work to do. Now it wasn’t all bad, I had a six pack but sometimes a six pack just doesn’t do it when you don’t sit down and enjoy your lunch and dinner with your family because you’re too busy timing your carbs.
Who I think flexible dieting is good for?
I do think that flexible dieting has it’s place. It is really useful for high level athletes especially fighters who have to make weight and bodybuilders of course. I myself am a boxer and if I had to make a drastic weight cut, I would resort to flexible dieting and using my fitness pal to make sure that I am getting the right macros for training and still losing weight. But, for your average person I don’t think it builds a good relationship with food. Food becomes numbers.
Why I think flexible dieting is not flexible at all.
Now, my thoughts of travelling might be different to yours but when I travel I like to embrace the culture and the food. I’m not going to go to China and try to find some food franchise like McDonalds so I can work out the macros. I’m going to go to a market and eat some Chinese dish that I can barely pronounce. When I go back to Sri Lanka I don’t think it’s possible to ask my grandmother what exactly is in her curry and then whip out my weighing scale and get some wifi so I can calculate how many calories are in it. Instead, I’d rather look at the ocean and enjoy every mouthful for what it is with the company of my family and friends.If I went to my nan’s house in Cork for a Sunday dinner and took out a weighing scale to weigh my dinner, she’d probably give me a clout and tell me to eat all my veg and meat. As simple as it sounds, she’s right.
Let me ask you this, when was the last time you enjoyed a good homemade dinner with friends or family? Throw away your phone, your weighing scale and sit down with a group of your friends and family and eat all the healthy, real food there is. It’s pretty hard to over eat vegetables and wholesome, unprocessed food.
This article was written by Shakira Coonghe Bsc