News No Comments 26 June 2018


In the previous article, we saw how to set an effective cut and the ways in which to do so. We talkedabout macronutrients, andbefore that about flexible diets: but what does "flexible diet" mean? Howflexible can a diet be? Let's find out!


The IIFYM "flexible diet" has spread like wildfire, overseas (and recently also in Italy), amongst fans, professionals and experts in the sector during the last years. Let's see why it is the most misunderstood concept of the new "fitness era".


For an athlete, the pros could be:

- Monitoring of caloric intake and macronutrients
- cleaner bulks and more "sustainable" cuts
- Ability to "recover" from slip-ups
- Ability to alternate food sources
- Less frequent "fridge-raids"
- Ability to give into "whims" from time to time
- Less of a yo-yo effect (entering and exiting the bulk-cut phases in a more thoughtful manner)

For an athlete, the cons could be:

- Everything must be counted: for some it is convenient, while for others it is stressful
- Impossibility of wisely managing social events (not always)
- Orthorexia, maniacal behaviour, obsessive-compulsive disorders

However, we will see why trainers push more and more towards a "macronutrient" approach and why amateurs, non-athletes and/or intermediate users increasingly worsen their metabolic and aesthetic condition.

The law punishes persons that release diets without having an appropriate professional title (naturopath, trainer, pharmacist, dietician without prescription, guru, etc.) with abuse of the profession, while the law is not clear - and in fact interpretable - on the issue of a dietary "recommendation" for healthy people. A recommended diet must be characterised by the "non-prescription" of food combinations, mandatory choices, weight of food or other. Assigning macronutrients, a range of macronutrients - or even better, weekly "medium" macros, as a matter of fact does not constitute a crime. Anyone can do it autonomously with any calculator or smartphone app, and that clears the fitness professional from charges. But is this approach really suitable for everyone? Obviously not, because it excludes an essential part of work that should take place upstream, called: FOOD EDUCATION. It is necessary to "train" the user/patient/customer to choose food carefully, to assess its combinations and sources from different points of view. If it is true that a calorie is a calorie, it is equally true that the human being is biology and not mathematics. Too often we forget that most of the processed food contains all kinds of additives, and manipulative processes (even homemade) actually change some of the intrinsic characteristics of the food.

Factors most influenced by the sources and "processes" are:

- Organic/digestive stress
- Additives (which acutely do nothing, but chronically it depends)
- Modifications and influence on the microbiota (which then determines digestive/assimilative efficiency)
- Inflammatory processes
- Digestive and assimilative speed
- Mechanisms of interaction/competition between the various macro and micro nutrients

The choice of focusing on an IIFYM approach that we erroneously assess as "flexible" must be implemented only when it is flexible for a given subject, and does not cause stress or excessive acting out. As such, an approach such as: I eat ice cream since it falls within the macro, I go out for dinner 2-3 times since it falls within the macro, I drink a mojito and eat chips on Friday night since it falls within the macro, is not beneficial.

Take Home message:

Is monitoring macronutrients useful? Of course it is!
But there are ways to manage macros that are better than others; moreover, it is suitable for many, but not for everyone (such as those who continuously travel for work)

Author: Mattia Lorenzini
Personal trainer, expert in sports nutrition and author of the informative project CorporeSano – Food&Training System





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