How to get lean AND enjoy food!
So, you've got a couple of months until your holiday, and decided its time to get lean. This must mean one thing..
Plain chicken, rice and broccoli for the next few months then, right? Not quite!
A common misconception when starting a fat loss phase is that how ever long you plan to be dieting, your foods have to be plain and boring. People often spend hours watching their favourite pro bodybuilders & physique athletes on YouTube and see them eating plain source of protein with a side of rice 6+ times a day and assume this is the way it's done. I mean after all, if it works for them, it'll work for you, right? Actually yes AND no.
A diet is only as effective as it is adherable. So that IFBB pro you were watching, the one who competes for a living? Chances are dietary adherence is not a problem for them. But for the typical trainee (myself included) an approach this strict is often not necessary to yield the results people typically look for from a dieting phase. Cue the words FLEXIBLE DIETING!
In a nutshell, flexible dieting is exactly that. You have a calorie target based on your goals which is made up of a split of the three macro nutrients (carbs, fats & protein) and you eat foods of your choice to hit your daily macros. Sounds great doesn't it? Not so fast!
Flexible dieting is the approach I personally use when dieting down. Due to the ability of having a greater deal of food freedom it generally means a greater level of adherence however it can also be a pain due to having to keep a log of everything you eat daily (there are apps to make this easier like "MyFitnessPal").
It can also take a few attempts to find the macro split that works best for yourself. Also for if you're someone who doesn't have a great deal of nutritional knowledge it can be difficult to allocate your macros evenly throughout the day, resulting in either eating all your food too soon in the day or on the other hand getting to the end of the day and still having an obscene amount of food to eat.
A method I use to combat this is to pick three meals of my choice that I will eat everyday indefinitely (this isn't a problem as they are meals I actually want) and then use the remainder of my calories to eat whatever I fancy on the day - all the while staying in my calorie deficit and thus losing bodyfat. Below are some meal ideas that are pretty clean and very palatable you can incorporate into your own macros;
- 5% fat beef mince chilli con carne with basmati rice
- Egg pasta & chicken with reduced fat pesto
- Lightly dusted lean fish fillet with baked chipped sweet potato
- 5% fat beef mince Bolognese with wholemeal pasta
- Fajita seasoned chicken breast wrap with light mayo
Please note, the above meals are suggestions for MACROS only, so if you decide to use any of these please ensure you're getting your micros in aswell (greens etc).
So to summarise, if you'd like a bit more freedom without sacrificing results - with a responsible head and a bit of prior planning, the "if it fits your macros" approach can make the road to getting ripped A LOT more bearable for you too!
Thanks for reading!