The Ultimate Guide To Flexible Dieting

If you've never been able to KEEP the body you want for more than a few months (you always regain most of the weight)... you’re not alone. 

In fact, an insane 95% of people who lose weight will regain it.

Here's the problem...

Creating sustainable results requires you first learning nutrition methods you can actually sustain.

And really, most of us can't (and don't want to) spend the rest of their lives... 

Not eating carbs.

- Saying "No" to date nights with our significant others.

- Only eating "paleo" foods

...the list goes on, but you get the idea. 

If you find yourself yo-yoing between being lean and "on a diet", and enjoying foods but disliking what you see in the mirror... you need to find a diet that fits your lifestyle, because that's the only way to get sustainable results. 

This is exactly why flexible dieting is such a powerful nutrition philosophy we use with many of our online clients. 

It allows endless room for customization, and working any foods you desire into your nutrition plan... without hurting your results.

This makes all the difference for your adherence and consistency. which in turn creates life-changing, truly sustainable results.

Building a lifestyle with flexible dieting

You want a nutrition strategy that keeps your training performance in the gym high, keeps your physique looking lean and athletic, and is actually sustainable so that you can stay this way long-term. 

We’ve worked with hundreds of clients just like you. And in our opinion as coaches, there are 3 pillars that your nutrition strategy must be built upon: 

→ PILLAR #1: Your nutrition needs to provide adequate macro & micronutrients to optimally fuel your training, the raw materials needed for optimal hormone production & muscle growth, and everything you need to stay healthy long-term. 

This is the piece of nutrition overlooked by the If It Fits Your Macros crowd. 

Your nutrition is more than just hitting macros… the composition of said macros determines your performance, your recovery, your health, and much more. 

→ PILLAR #2: Your nutrition needs to allow some flexibility so you can live your life without feeling like a social outcast. You should be able to enjoy some drinks, date nights, etc., and know how to make those work with you nutrition, rather than ruining your results. 

This is an incredibly common struggle we coach new online clients through. 

We attract many hard charging individuals who feel like they’re “letting themselves down” if they’re not “eating clean” 24/7… but I’d argue that structured flexibility like we teach our online clients is essential to staying to actually keeping your physique lean and health, as it makes you nutrition so damn sustainable. 

→ PILLAR #3: Your nutrition must have a clear structure. 

Another very common mistake the clients we tend to attract are making is this… they’re already eating in a “clean” or “health-conscious manner”, but have no clear macro parameters aligned with their specific goals, no target rate of loss to make adjustments around, no customized intake of carbs/proteins/fats to tweak if performance & recovery aren’t ideal… you get the idea. 

Specific results require a specific plan. 

Clear diet parameters need to be in place to give you structure, and create a simple, long- term plan for you to follow even after we’re done working together. 

So, if you’re ready to learn how to achieve the best of both worlds… the physique you’ve always wanted and a flexible nutritional lifestyle you can fit to any situation, let’s dive in.

Creating your flexible diet structure

Your diet structure is the method you'll use to measure and control your calorie intake. 

95% of the clients we work with online track macros, for two reasons:

1. The individuals we work with want ABOVE AVERAGE results. The more specific the results you desire are, the more specific we need to be able to get with your nutrition. 

2. Tracking macros allows a much larger degree of flexibility than a meal plan or portion-based diet, more opportunities for education, AND the quickest results for most. 

Tracking macros used to be branded as “overly-restrictive”, but really it’s quite the opposite for most of our clients… 

Tracking macros gives you tons of freedoms. 

- Freedom from the pain of never feeling confident in your body. If you’re not following a structured nutrition strategy, creating the lean, strong body you want will be very hard. 

- Freedom from guilt associated with eating certain foods. Through tracking macros, I can teach you how to make foods you used to consider "bad" work in your diet. Once you realize you can stay lean and drink wine, guilt is replaced with happiness and more flexibility in social situations. 

- Freedom from worrying that you overate or under-ate. Tracking your macros allows you to make up for overdoing it, with no harm done to your progress (we'll talk about specific methods for this later). It’s as a mere ~5 minutes out of your day you’ll spend tracking macros, to create exponentially more freedom in the rest of your life.

Setting your macros for flexible dieting

The first step in achieving the physique & lifestyle you want is setting the proper macros. Regardless of if you want to... 

a.) Get leaner 

b.) Maintain your current body composition 

c.) Build muscle while staying lean 

...you have to have your macros set up properly to achieve the results you want. So don’t skip this step.

STEPS:

Step #1: First, you’ll need to know your maintenance calorie intake (a.k.a. the intake you maintain your current body composition at.) 

You have a few options here: 

a.) Use this calculator

b.) Multiply your bodyweight by 13-17. (13 would be a sedentary office worker, 17 would be an extremely active construction worker.) 

c.) Start tracking everything you eat in MyFitnessPal. Take your weight first thing every morning. Adjust your calorie intake up or down as necessary until your weight stays stable for 5-7 days. (This is the most accurate method, but also takes the longest.) 

Regardless of which method you used, you should now have a number that is roughly you maintenance calorie intake. 

Step #2: Now you need to establish your starting calorie goal, depending on your body composition goal. 

→ If you're the rare person who wants to stay exactly the same - Just chill here at your estimated maintenance. 

→ For Fat Loss - Multiply maintenance intake X .85.

[*EXAMPLE: Gerald, a 200 lb man, has a maintenance intake of 2,800 calories per day. To determine starting cutting calories, multiplies his maintenance intake by .85. 

2,800 X .85 = 2,380. Gerald's fat loss intake is 2,380 calories per day. 

 Generally, creating a calorie deficit of ~3,500 calories will lead to ~1lb fat loss. So eating 500 calories below your maintenance calorie intake every day for 7 days, should lead to about a pound of fat loss. (500 x 7 = 3,500) 

Keep in mind, this is just a baseline. You will likely have to adjust this in the near future. Your fat loss won't happen linearly on this intake.]

→ For Building Muscle - Multiply maintenance intake X 1.1-1.15 to build muscle while staying relatively lean. 

[*EXAMPLE: Gerald, a 200 lb man, has a maintenance intake of 2,800 calories per day. 

To determine building calories, he multiplies maintenance intake by 1.1 2,800 X 1.1 = 3,080 Gerald's lean gaining intake is 3,080 calories per day. ]

Step #3: Determine your macros. 

All the foods you eat are made up of some combination of the following macronutrients (macros)

- Protein: 1 gram of protein contains ~4 calories  

- Carbohydrates: 1 gram of carbohydrate contains ~4 calories 

- Fat: 1 gram of fat contains ~9 calories 

So when we talk about "tracking your macros", these are what you'll be tracking. 

→ Protein: Set between 1 - 1.2g per lb of body weight (multiply body weight x1-1.2).

[*EXAMPLE:  200 lb Gerald needs 200 grams of protein. 

200 X 1 = 200. 800 of Gerald's 2,380 kcal/day will come from protein. (Remember, protein contains 4 calories per gram.) 

200 X 4 = 800 kcal Protein intake will be relatively high, at 1 gram/lb of body weight, daily.]

The cool thing about protein is it’s much less likely to be stored as fat.

To illustrate this point, This 2015 study took 48 randomized, resistance-trained men and women and had them either: 

a.) Consume a minimum of 1.36g/lb of protein daily. 

b.) Maintain current dietary habits for eight weeks while undergoing a standardized resistance training program designed to increase lean body mass. 

From the study: "Compared to the control group, the high-protein group consumed significantly more calories (+ 490 kcal)and protein (3.4 vs. 2.3 g/kg) from primarily whey protein shakes, leading to a diet that was 39% protein, 27% fat, and 34% carbohydrate. Both groups significantly increased FFM (muscle mass) and significantly reduced FM (body fat) compared to baseline, but the reduction in FM (body fat) was significantly greater in the high-protein group compared to the control group (−1.6 vs. −0.3 kg). Accordingly, body weight gain was also significantly less in the high-protein group compared to the control group."  

The high-protein group ate ~490 calories more than the lower protein group, and lost more fat. 

Protein also has the highest thermic effect (TEF) of all the macros... meaning that you actually burn more calories digesting protein than you do the other macros.     

- Protein: 20-30% of calories consumed are burned via TEF  

- Carbs: 5-15% of calories consumed are burned via TEF  

- Fat: 0-5% of calories consumed are burned via TEF 

When you eat more protein, you're actually increasing the calories out side of the energy balance equation, since you're burning more calories via TEF. 

Finally, lean protein is the most satiating food. Protein fills you up more than any other food. 

Focusing on eating lots of high-satiety foods makes getting and staying lean much easier. 

 All of this is exactly why we’re setting your protein intake first - it’s just too important to ignore.

→ Fat - Set at .3-.4 grams/lb of body weight. 

[*EXAMPLE:  Back to Gerald, weighing in at 200 lbs. 

200 x .3 = 60.     Gerald will be eating 60 grams of fat daily. 

To determine how many calories this is, multiply by 9. (Remember, fat contains 9 calories per gram.) 

60 x 9 = 540.  Gerald will be eating 540 calories from fat daily.]

Fat is essential. You need a certain amount of fat to maintain proper hormonal function, and prevent fatty-acid deficiencies. 

Most need a bare minimum of .3g/lb for health and optimal hormone production - so consider this the “floor” you don’t want to take fats below. 

Really, you can take fats as high as you want from here… BUT, realize that there aren’t many additional benefits to eating more fat past the .3-.4g/lb mark, but additional fat will mean you have less room for carbs in your diet (which do yield many more benefits for your training, and buildng the body composition you want).  

So for most of our online clients, fat intake will fall somewhere .3g/lb-.5g/lb. 

 → Carbs - Now that you have your protein and fat intake determined, simply fill your remaining macros with carbs. 

[*EXAMPLE: Gerald has a goal intake of 2,380 calories per day. 

Subtract the 800 kcal coming from protein. 

2,380 - 800 = 1,580 calories.  Subtract the 540 calories coming from fat.

1,580 - 540 = 1,040 calories.  Gerald has 1,040 calories remaining to fill with carbs. 

To determine how many grams of carbs to eat, divide by 4. (Remember, carbs contain 4 kcal per gram.) 

1,040 / 4 = 260 Gerald will be eating 260 grams of carbs per day.]

Counter to popular belief, carbs should not be avoided. 

High-fiber carbs (most carbs from whole foods) are the second most filling food next to lean protein, and aid tremendously in recovery. 

Now, as a reader of this blog, you likely have a LOT in common with our badass women & men we coach online - just like them, you don’t just want to be lean - you also want to build muscle and be able to perform in the gym. 

This is exactly why adequate carb intake is so important. The reality is, the majority of the training that individuals like you & our online clients do is fueled by carbs.

To understand why under-eating carbs is a problem, you need to gain a quick understanding of your energy systems...

So, if you look closely at the energy system that creates energy for the majority of intense activity from ~15-60 seconds (the anaerobic-lactic system), you'll see that it's fueled by carbs. 

If your goal is to build your leanest, strongest body composition, a good amount of your training will be fueled by this energy system. 

A lower carb approach means that this energy system will essentially be "short on fuel" - you ability to train intensely will suffer. As a result, you'll continue to struggle achieving the levels of performance & adding the lean muscle needed for the physique you want. 

This is a common mistake made by both women and men, and is exactly why most of our online clients undergoing the body recomposition process are typically following a higher carb approach.

Tracking Your Macros Accurately While Flexible Dieting

So now that you have your macros set, if your body isn't changing, we know an adjustment to your intake is needed.  

But, if your macros are all over the place, it's impossible to know how many calories we need to decrease your intake by to resume progress.. If you're consistently several hundred calories off-target, we don’t have an accurate baseline to adjust from.  

This applies to under-eating calories, as well as overeating. 

This is why it’s crucial to be at or near your macro goal daily. No diet adjustment will make up for a lack of compliance. 

We typically give online clients macro ranges of +/- 100 calories / 20g Protein / 20g Carbs / 10g Fat to aim for. 

On a similar note, ensuring that you're tracking food in your food log accurately is also very important. 

When a nutrition client's progress stalls, the first thing we do is ensure they're tracking accurately. This usually results in weight loss resuming. Again, we want you to be WELL-FUELED & eating as many calories as possible while moving towards your end result… slashing calories without good reason doesn’t help either of these causes. 

You can actually read about the whole system we use to determine if we really need to drop you macros here.

Now, tracking accurately does require measuring most of your foods - at least for awhile. I know it’s a pain in the ass... but not as much as “mostly” tracking for years and never getting results, right?

Tools to help track accurately: 

→ A food scale 

→ A set of measuring cups 

→ A set teaspoons and tablespoons 

The Most Common "Tracking Mistakes": 

→ Untracked cooking oils: Even if you don’t apply it directly to your food, but rather line the pan with it, it still gets absorbed. This can add up to hundreds of un-tracked calories. 

→ Dressings, toppings, and condiments: The two biggest culprits here are salad dressings and condiments like BBQ sauce. Both are sneaky high in calories, and all too easy to forget to track. 

→ Estimating instead of measuring: We're typically pretty terrible at estimating our food intake accurately. 

Guidelines: 

 Don’t track using metrics like: small/medium/large. One medium banana. One large avocado. 1⁄2 bowl of rice. 1 steak. This leaves a lot of room for error. 

→  Weight measurements (in grams) are by far the most accurate: Weigh as much as possible with a food scale. Measure the rest with cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons.  

→ Weigh your meats raw (but thawed) and track them as such. 

The best food choices for flexible dieting

As you’re pretty clear on by this point, your nutrition needs to both fuel your body optimally AND allow you dietary flexibility to enjoy your life outside of your body composition pursuits. 

Admittedly, this is a tall order, BUT 100% doable if you’re willing to embrace the philosophies we teach our online clients. It’s part of what we do so much differently around here, that not only allows you to reach your goal physique for the first time ever… but actually KEEP your results for a lifetime. 

In a nutshell, we could describe our philosophy on food selection as… 

80-90% Whole Foods / 10-20% If It Fits Your Macros. 

Let’s dive into each component of this, and why this specific balance is so key to your results:

→ 80-90% Whole Foods 

The reality of the society we live in is, it’s way too easy to overeat. There's a reason you don't see thousands of people walking around with lean, strong bodies every day.  

Most of the highly-processed food around us is designed to be hyper- palatable… meaning it's literally engineered by a team of scientists in a lab to make us crave more. 

Pair this with the fact that most highly-processed foods are also very calorie-dense and low on nutrients, and you have a combination that makes stay lean quite a challenge… as you've likely experienced. 

This is why it's smart to follow a whole foods approach with 80-90% of your nutrition. In the simplest terms, 80-90% of your food should have either: 

a.) Grown from the earth 

b.) Had a face at one point 

Basically, you're eating mostly foods that a caveman would have eaten in the Paleolithic Era (with a few exceptions like white rice, oats, dairy).

These paleo-ish foods are packed with nutrients that will make your body feel amazing, and aid your training performance and recovery.  

Specific to fat loss, they’ll also keep you full much longer than their highly-processed counterparts. 

Really, people make getting and staying lean a lot harder than needed by eating foods that digest extremely quickly, and leave you hungry again in 30 minutes. 

One of the most underrated fat loss hacks is simply learning how to build you meals around lean protein & high-volume foods.  

With our online clients, we call this “teaching you how to auto-regulate your appetite”, and it's a major emphasis of our first few weeks working together.

THE SIX KEYS TO PUTTING YOUR APPETITE ON AUTO-REGULATE WITH SMART FOOD SELECTION:

KEY #1: Auto-regulating your appetite makes getting (and staying) lean much easier. It essentially comes down to prioritizing the two most satiating foods: 

1. Lean proteins  

2. Fiber-dense carbs 

These are the cornerstones to build your meals around to achieve maximum fullness while keeping calories relatively low. 

No matter the situation, these are always your two key components you’re chasing. 

So when cooking for yourself/choosing your own food, it basically comes down to ensuring you have: 

- A lean protein source 

- A fruit or veggie 

From here, you’ll add more carb-dense or more fat-dense foods depending on your macro needs, but this ensures you get a solid amount of fullness from every meal, and makes it much less likely you’ll overeat.   

On the flipside, when you’re not the one cooking... simply identify the most protein-dense & fiber-dense food available, and eat a lot of that, while keeping the portion-sizes of the foods you know aren't protein-dense smaller (e.g. if you're having brisket, maybe have 1 bun, but enough meat for 2-3 sandwiches, and limit the sides). 

Similar to the above, if fruit and/or veggies are available, go hard on these as well.    

If you stick to this strategy, it's pretty hard to overdo the calories too much.

KEY #2: Don't drink your calories. 

Liquids will digest much quicker, meaning you’re hungry again sooner. If you’re using milk as a protein source while dieting, swap it for cottage cheese or greek yogurt. 

Use mostly whole food protein sources instead of protein powder. Absolutely nothing wrong with protein powder, and it does make hitting your protein goal much easier... but it also digests quickly, and doesn’t do near as much to keep you full. 50g of whole-food protein (e.g. 8oz chicken) is much more filling than two scoops of protein powder. 

KEY #3: Eat protein at every meal. 

You know that protein is the most satiating food, so it makes sense to make it a priority to help control calories. It’s been shown that the “satiating dose” (a.k.a. The # of grams you need to get to maximize the filling effects of protein), is ~20g. 

So be sure to tick this box with your meals & snacks to keep hunger low. To the same point, it’s MUCH smarter to spread your protein out relatively evenly across the day, rather than front-loading or backloading it. This ensures you get the “satiating dose” with each meal, instead of just a few.

KEY #4: Try to avoid foods that are high in multiple macronutrients.

Example: you could eat... 

6oz ribeye for 493 calories (36 pro/39 fat) 

 - OR - 

8oz sirloin (51 pro/9 fat) + 1 large avocado (10 carb/24 fat) for the same amount of calories, but more protein. 

Generally avoiding foods high in multiple macros will make eating lots of food volume on your diet much easier. 

KEY #5: Find lower calorie versions of oils, dressings, and condiments.

- I'd largely recommend swapping olive oil for calorie-free cooking spray.

- Find a lower-calorie BBQ sauce or use steak sauce. 

- Swap high-calorie salad dressing for a fat-free vinaigrette. 

Often a few easy swaps here (that you won’t even notice) can give online clients hundreds of extra calories to work with in a day. 

KEY #6: Meal Prep for your weekdays.  

Being prepped ahead nearly guarantees you'll never "not have the right food available" or "run out of time" to eat in accordance with smart nutrition principles most of the time. 

All of our online clients that get the best fat loss results meal prep ahead. I can't emphasize enough what a difference maker this is. For more on meal prep, I highly recommend you check out The Meal Prep Guide.  

But remember, eating like this 80-90% of the time is great for your physique and your health... but it doesn't have to be 100% of the time.

→ 10-20% If It Fits Your Macros 

As long as you're eating mostly whole foods, you won't have a problem with insane cravings or constant overeating. Your fat loss will come easier because you’re full more often, and you'll crush your training in the gym. 

This means you can use an If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) approach the other 10-20% of your diet, without hurting your results, or your health.

10-20% IIFYM means that you can use these calories and macros to eat and drink whatever you want. Wine, pizza, chips and queso... seriously, whatever. 

As long as you still make these foods work in your calorie and macro goals, your results and health won't be affected. 

See, getting and staying lean doesn't come down to "eating clean foods" - but rather to calories-in - calories out. 

→ If Calories In > Calories Out, you’ll gain weight 

→ If Calories In = Calories Out, you’ll maintain weight 

→ If Calories In < Calories Out, you’ll lose weight. 

Now, am I saying that calories are the only thing that matter? Not at all. As you can see below, it’s much more complex than that. This is exactly why we have clients track macros, and not just overall calories:

But the point is, calories are the overruling principle that we can’t ignore. And we can often manipulate this understanding in our favor. 

So as long as you're smart with your food choices 80-90% of the time, you can work less nutritious foods into your macros 10-20% of the time without hurting your health or results. 

This approach means it’s ok to go on a date night with your significant other, and not feel like you wrecked your progress for the week. 

It’s ok to have some drinks and be social on the weekends.There aren’t any foods that you have to give up, as long as you make them work within the flexible dieting framework.

Lifestyle Adherence tools for flexible dieting

Now that you understand the basic premise of what to eat, let's break down the tools we give our clients to create a flexible, sustainable lifestyle.

Before we dive in, it’s important to remember… you’re getting flexible 10-20% of the time, not 60-80% of the time. 

If you’re hitting your macros entirely from Pop-Tarts and protein shakes, you won’t feel or perform the way you want to. 

But again, there are a lot of flexible dieting tools you can use to make sustaining your results much easier. We focus heavily on educating clients how to use these tools, and it’s a massive part of why my clients get such great, sustainable results. 

[Also, realize that you don’t have to use any of these tools, but they’re pretty handy when you’re ready to get “more flexible”.] 

 → Flex Days - 1-2x/week I like to give nutrition clients the option of taking flex days - these give you more freedom to eat or drink what you want. 

The concept of a flex day is simple - you’re going to make sure you’re at your daily calorie goal and protein goal. We need these two factors in check to create fat loss. 

From here, you’re free to let carbs and fats fall where they may within your calorie total. 

→ Intermittent Fasting - Intermittent fasting isn't fat loss magic. It is however a great way to save up some calories to "spend" later in the day.  

On days you know you'll be going out or eating a high-calorie meal later in the day, offset this a bit by fasting until noon-2pmish. Black coffee and other zero-calorie drinks are perfectly fine. But outside of that, avoid calories. 

A lot of my online nutrition clients always fast on Saturdays to allow for more flexibility in the evenings. 

→ The Pre-Drinking Meal - Years ago, I was frustrated trying to figure out why I personally couldn't seem to balance fat loss and drinking alcohol.

Then I had an epiphany, of sorts...

Drinking itself doesn't really affect fat loss that much. 

Even if a large chunk of your calories are alcohol, as long as you're in a calorie deficit, you'll still lose fat. 

Obviously alcohol is void of the nutrients you need for satiety, muscle growth, etc., so I'm not suggesting that you make it the majority of your calories.  

But the point is, it's not alcohol itself that kills your fat loss. It's drunk-eating thousands of calories after the fact that truly kills your progress. 

I realized this problem was really being exasperated by starting drinking on an empty (and hungry) stomach in an attempt to "save up" calories for booze. 

While a good idea in theory... if you start drinking on an empty stomach, you'll be absolutely famished by the end of the night. Not to mention, willpower also drops as you drink. 

This combination almost inevitably leads to drunk eating. The strategy I came up with to prevent this?  

Drink on a full stomach with "the pre-drinking meal". 

You know that lean protein is the macro that keeps you full, longest, and fibrous carbs are the second most filling. 

So, "the pre-drinking meal" is simply a combination of these two elements (25g+ lean protein / 25g+ fibrous carbs), while keeping fats low to “save calories”. 

Personally, I usually go with lean ground beef made into sloppy joe meat on a sweet potato. Many clients like a big spinach & chicken salad. This keeps you full through most of the night. 

This strategy helped me better manage drinking tremendously, I’ve seen the same ring true for clients since. 

I always tell clients: “Even if eating this meal before going out pushes you over your calories for the day, I still always push clients to implement it. Think of it as damage control. You're much less likely to drunk eat with this strategy.”  

→ Low-calorie drinks - You can easily drink thousands of calories without realizing it. 

The easiest fix? Get liquor with diet soda or water. By switching to diet soda, you're saving yourself ~100 calories per drink.  A beer is also only ~100 calories, but you can drink A LOT more beer... so I'd stick with liquor when feasible (not recommended for day-long drinking events).  

Great options: 

- Vodka water 

- Vodka soda 

- Whiskey or rum & diet 

- Soda or water & tequila 

→ Macro Splits - Your nutrition strategy has to fit your lifestyle in order to achieve sustainable results. 

One of the most common struggles new online clients complain of on our initial strategy call? 

“I feel like I can’t enjoy a date night with my significant other, or a few glasses of wine on Friday night without going far over my calorie goal!”

Sound familiar?  

For clients with struggles like this, customizing your macro split is KEY to helping you adhere in the long-term. 

See, if we know our clients will be very compliant to the macros goals we give them during the week, but are likely to splurge during the weekends... why not give them macros that increase on the weekends and are lower during the week? 

A few different options here: 

Option #1: The 11/3 Macro Split

Basically, on the 11/3 split you’re in a calorie deficit for 11 days. This is enough time to create a solid amount of fat loss. This is followed by 3 days where you return your calories to maintenance levels, with the calorie increase ideally coming from carbs. 

From the super important “doing some shit you can actually stick to” perspective - this gives you more calories to get more flexible with every other weekend. 

Personally, I DON’T like this approach for clients in a shorter fat loss phase (e.g. a client that needs <12 weeks to finish the diet). Over the course of 12 weeks, the client will have spent 18 days at maintenance - NOT losing fat, and will likely add 2-3 extra weeks in a deficit. 

In situations like this, where we can achieve your desired fat loss outcomes without being TOO aggressive (generally, this means losing <1% of body weight), the best thing we can do is just get your diet done with, and get you back out of a deficit long-term, instead of dragging things out. 

 But again, for longer fat loss phases (>3 months), this is a smart approach. 

Option #2: The 5|2 Macro Split 

This is my most popular macro split with online clients. This is very similar to the 11/3 split, but on a weekly basis. 5 days in a deficit, followed by 2 days at maintenance. Again, we’re generally increasing calories via carbs. This split is a superstar when it comes to adherence, because it works GREAT for clients that like to enjoy their weekends a bit more, as you’ll have increased calories every weekend. 

For my online clients that need the “flexible lifestyle” to make their diet sustainable, this is my favorite prescription. 

Option #3: The 6|1 Macro Split 

This is a great approach for online clients in shorter fat loss phases (<12 weeks), where our goal is to get the fat off of you ASAP, while maintaining your lean muscle. 

Similar to the above examples, here you’re spending 6 days in a deficit, 1 day at maintenance (again with the increase in calories coming from carbs). This gives you a chance to refill your muscle gylcogen stores - this will lead to better training performance, and help you maintain (or even build) more muscle (so it’s smart to put this immediately before or on your hardest training day of the week)

Plus, the reality of shorter diets is, you’re often in a larger deficit to get the job done on time. 1x/week to get a bit more flexible with your food choices helps a TON when it comes to sticking the diet out. 

Option #4: High/Low Days

I most commonly use this approach for online clients in short, aggressive mini-cuts (usually 3-6 weeks in a 20-25% deficit)

Here, the goal is QUICK weight loss, while still maintaining all your lean muscle. Your “low” calorie days are paired with off days from training, because energy will be much lower on these days. 

Your “high” calorie days are paired with training days - you’ll have more energy (meaning you’ll be able to push your training harder), and be eating more calories when your body needs it MOST to maintain muscle (post-workout)

Typically, this equates to 3-4 high days (on training days), 3-4 low days (on off days)

Option #5: Protein-Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) Days 

This is a strategy that I learned about years ago from Lyle McDonald, and have seen great success implementing PSMF days with my more advanced clients. 

We used this exact strategy extensively in my client Rachel's transformation to photoshoot lean (CLICK HERE to read the blog that gives you her exact process and strategy)

Typically, when I make a macro adjustment for you, it'll be a reduction of ~5-10% of your weekly total calories - roughly 500-1000 calories for most clients. 

Now, obviously these calorie reductions have to come from somewhere. We can either drop a 100-200 calories from every day of the week (which really bums most people out), or we can knock out that entire deficit in one day, and leave food intake the same the rest of the week. 

The goal is to keep calories as low as possible, while still hitting your protein goal. Basically, you just focus on eating lean proteins and lots of veggies. 

So your day could look something like: 

- Fasting until noon (black coffee only) 

- Meal 1: Chicken breast + lots of veggies 

- Snack: Tuna mixed with non-fat cottage cheese (actually super good

Meal 2: Lean ground beef or turkey with seasoning, mixed with salsa and veggies 

- Meal 3: Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt mixed with whey protein 

Nothing magic about this approach, but it makes the diet much easier to adhere to for most people. When you nutrition coach with us, we always prioritize finding a diet you can adhere to over all else.That's how we create sustainable results.

→ Shifting Calories - Ever eat too many calories on a Saturday and think...⠀

“Well, my diet screwed"? 

I know I have, and it usually leads eating tons of extra calories the next few days with the “F it” mindset.  

In reality (in a fat loss setting), what you do with your calories and on a daily basis makes very little difference, as long as what you do on a weekly basis is on point. 

A single day of over-eating is easily correctable. As long as your weekly deficit is the same and you’re hitting your protein goal daily, you should get very similar results. 

I like to call this shifting calories. You’re saving up calories ahead of time or eating less in the following days to keep your weekly calories on point.

This approach is amazing for online clients, because it gives them a lot more flexibility within their diets. Understanding this concept allows you to finally be free from the “F it” mindset we easily fall into when falling off track with our diets.  

→ Macro Planning - Planning ahead is always the key to staying on track with your nutrition. 

This is why I encourage all my online clients to plan their days out in MyFitnessPal the night before - weekday or weekend. 

When you go into the day with a good idea of how you need to eat to enjoy your life AND hit your goals, you'll be much more likely to succeed. 

Don't try to wing it with your macros as the day goes. Plan your day out ahead of time.  This exactly why we hold most of our new online clients accountable to planning their food diaries out the night before, and sending them to us for review.

The next step

The goal of this guide (and coaching with us) is to empower you through education. To help you finally STOP guessing when it comes to your physique (and confidence), and start achieving.

The next step? 

Realize that all the knowledge you've gained from this guide doesn't equal change. 

If you're fed up with years of unsuccessfully trying to change your body (or never being able to sustain your results), invest in a coach. 

If you've read dozens of guides like this in the past but still don't have the physique or confidence you want, invest in a coach. 

If you're overwhelmed by the content of this book, invest in a coach. 

If you already knew most of the strategies in this guide... but can't get consistent, invest in a coach. 

If you're a coach ready to give yourself and your clients more education & better results, invest in a coach. 

Truly, everyone can benefit from being coached. 

If you're ready to change, we're here to coach you. 

Click here to apply for online coaching with our team ←


About The Author

Jeremiah Bair is a certified nutrition coach, strength coach, and owner of the online coaching business Bairfit. Check out his Podcast and Instagram for more educational content.

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