This is my quick yet purposeful edition of “Mythbusters”. I felt this was important to address this flexible style of eating often comes with a lot of criticism and negative connotation. As of recent, there are so many athletes, coaches, and everyday people following this idea of “IIFYM” or “Flexible Dieting”. If you are one of my clients or athletes, you know that as a company, Honor Your Nutrition NEVER refers to our coaching style as “IIFYM” (if it fits your macros) nor do we use the word “dieting”. In my personal opinion, IIFYM refers to the idea that it is okay to eat junk food, little to no greens and vegetables, as well as processed food in copious amounts as long as it “fits your numbers”. This is something I strongly disagree with as a coach of nutrition and proper fueling practices. I also try and avoid the word dieting at all costs. The word “diet” often carries a negative connotation. It is something that many people view as a restrictive idea, a struggle, and a sacrifice. I want my clients and athletes to be comfortable with their system of nutrition and fueling and I want them to be able to make educated, responsible choices while still achieving balance in their lives and not feeling incredibly restricted.
My intentions in this short piece are to address the 5 most common myths that I often hear about Flexible Nutrition. To ensure you that true coaching of Flexible Nutrition does not include an “IIFYM” approach, and to hopefully encourage someone who has shied away from this method of nutrition to give it a try!
1. Flexible Nutrition is so innovative and brand new!
Although we all like to think that when we discover something was when it came to fruition, that is often not true. Flexible Nutrition is a system of monitoring amounts of macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, & fats) intake for an individual – specific to their lifestyle, age, activity level, and goals. THIS IS NOTHING NEW! It has been around for years in the bodybuilding world (and the world in general – Weight Watchers is a very successful plan that follows FN ideology!), and then slowly made its way over to performance sports like powerlifting and weightlifting. In the past year, the buzz word “macros” in reference to Flexible Nutrition, has nearly taken over the CrossFit/functional fitness world. However, the Zone diet was actually designed along the lines of a similar concept and was meant to be executed in a similar fashion. I find it amusing when I hear individuals talk about Flexible Nutrition or “counting macros” like it is this incredible new discovery. Yes, it has gained a good deal of momentum and popularity in our fitness circle recently – and I am really happy about that because I think it is a system that can be properly utilized by everyone. However, it is important to understand that this concept is nothing new! It has been around since the beginning of nutrition education and is the very basis on which most successful nutrition plans work.
2. It is too time-consuming for me to weigh and measure food.
Often, I hear from people that they want to learn more about Flexible Nutrition but don’t want to worry about weighing and measuring food because it is too time-consuming and too much of an intricate. I get it. The concept of having to track, count, weigh, and measure may seem like it takes up extra time and energy if you are not familiar with it. However, if you 1) already prep your meals, 2) carry around your phone, and 3) are serious about your nutrition as a means to properly fuel your body and help you reach your goals – then it really is not that time-consuming. The things in life that you prioritize and make time for will be the things you will be successful at. It is a matter of deciding if this is important enough to you. It takes little extra energy to place a plate on a scale before loading it up, or to read a nutrition label on those “protein bars” you eat every day! Not every single gram of everything needs to be weighed and measured. But, with this system of tracking intake comes an awareness that is invaluable. You don’t have to be perfect, but the general education that comes from starting to understand how much of each macronutrient goes into your body daily can allow you to make some serious changes in your nutrition and your training. Like the old saying goes – if it is important to you, you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse!
3. Flexible Nutrition only works for high-level athletes or “genetically gifted” individuals.
This myth is often one that I hear whenever I post a picture consuming something that is a “treat”, or a “20% food”. (At HYN, we refer to 20% food as treats that we incorporate into our nutrition plan 20% of the time, ensuring that the other 80% are micronutrient dense foods.) I can’t even count the number of times I have heard “you can only eat *insert 20% food here* because you are an athlete/young/have good genetics”. This could not be further from the truth. As has been stated, the pictures most people see (of my ice cream bowls or amazing pizza-for-one nights) are 20% of what my daily diet looks like (#5 will elaborate even more on that). But, like I always explain, #ChickenPicturesAreBoring – no one gets amused by seeing nightly pictures of my incredibly exciting chicken breasts and asparagus, so those plates get posted less often. On that note, this system really does work for everyone. That is the essence of this style of nutrition – it is FLEXIBLE. It can be tweaked and molded for anyone, of any age, with any history, and any training schedule or future goals. I have had successful clients in all different demographics, and success looks and feels different to everyone. No, I do not make “treats” off limits to anyone, nor do I ever give a list of “restricted foods”. Instead, I teach my clients and athletes the correct amounts of each macronutrient they should be consuming and why – according to their personal situation. I view it as my responsibility as a coach to educate them on how to occasionally fit fun foods or special cravings into their life without feeling guilty about it or derailing their goals. We should all learn to enjoy life and food while not losing sight of our ultimate goals and aspirations… that is being flexible!
4. All “macro counters” eat the same way.
To group “macro counters” in one huge category is like using the word “human” to describe someone. Following a Flexible Nutrition plan simply means that you are tracking intake and trying to meet a specific number of protein, carbohydrates, and fats per day. It does not, in any way, describe what your diet is actually consisting of. Some of my clients are paleo, some are vegetarians, some vegans. I have clients that eat like an 8-year-old on an unsupervised grocery trip (yes, I work hard on helping them change that), and I have clients that consume less than 40g of sugar daily. I have a handful of clients with dietary limitations for health reasons and others for limitations due to personal reasons. I have diabetics, pregnant women, and celiac clients among many others. Flexible Nutrition is not a cookie-cutter system. You cannot simply tell someone “I follow Flexible Nutrition” and have them understand what your daily nutrition is made up of. That is the underlying beauty of this system. It can truly be molded to work for anyone and can be embraced by people who all have different beliefs and needs when it comes to what they put in their bodies! No-one should be ostracized for what or how they eat and I love coaching this system that is all-inclusive and gives people a common platform to jump off from!
5. Flexible Nutrition encourages a diet filled with low-quality foods.
I know this was the myth you were all waiting for. Save the best for last right?! I know, I know, I confused the WHOLE world when I wrote an article entitled “How Donuts Gave Me Abs…” and everyone is up in arms that Krissy Cagney is running a nutrition based company called “Doughnuts & Deadlifts” – because that promotes a poor message when it comes to nutrition, right?! Well… not really. If anyone has spent more than a minute paying attention to look past the blog titles or company names – and actually spoke to me, or her, about the topic – it would be understood. Flexible Nutrition is not a system based on “how many donuts, Oreos, and cake can I eat in a day”. It is a system that very clearly outlines the appropriate intake needed by a person. It then allows them to eat responsibly and fill that intake however they would like. No food is off limits, but quality food is the priority. That statement cannot be argued. It is the same 80/20 rule that so many of us are already familiar with. I do not encourage that an individual fills their daily intake with low-quality food, but I also know it is not always necessary to completely remove it from your intake. By putting a “bad” label on foods, or using the term “cheat” when referring to nutrition, we are implying that a person is doing something wrong by consuming a certain food. That is referred to as “food shaming” which is a very real and serious issue that can lead to guilt, unhappiness, and poor relationships with food. Some individuals have struggled with this their entire lives, and others develop it later on in their life after trying to be restrictive for a certain period of time. Being able to live life and enjoy it’s great pleasures responsibly – like doughnuts, pizza, Oreos, and ice cream – is a lovely ability to have. We are able to keep our goals in line, while also being human and feeling a sense of “flexibility” in our nutrition habits.
If you are interested in reading more on the topic of Flexible Nutrition, are looking for a set of personalized macronutrient numbers, or some in-depth nutrition coaching, you can head over to my website at HONOR YOUR NUTRITION. For recipe ideas and tips follow @honoryournutrition and @ncapurso22 on Instagram.
One of the most common questions I get from my nutrition clients is about supplementation in addition to nutrition. It always comes up as a question because I rarely volunteer the idea on my own. I believe that a proper approach to nutrition prioritizes overall caloric intake, then macronutrient balance, then micronurrient and vitamin balance, followed by nutrient timing, and FINALLY supplements (see chart below). As I often explain at my seminars – “it is like watching your house burn down and worrying about what cable channels you have access to”. If we don’t prioritze the basics of nutrition, no supplement in the world will help us.
After explaining that, I then explain that I do take a line of supplements, and I do believe in them (otherwise I would not be taking nor promoting them). I use an array of products that TEN Performance has developed. This company is pretty unique and their products are developed by doctors through a top notch process that is different from many other companies. My daily bundle includes: Hydrocell Enhancer (HCE), Bound B Vitamin Complex (BBC), Velvet Deer Antler Extract (AGF), Regenabolic PM Nightime (RPM), and Pro Metabolic Enhancer (PME). All of these supplements come in liquid form and are either taken sublingual, or can be added in your water. I also use their grass fed whey protein (from cows not treated with hormones) if I am short of my protein goal for the day, as well as their BCAA which are unflavored and as pure as you can get.
My intentions with this “A Closer Look at Supplements” series is to highlight each of these products a bit in order to help my clients and blog followers understand a bit more about my personal supplement regiment. Hopefully, these efforts will allow you to decide which products could benefit you personally – as everyone’s needs and wants are slightly different.
VOLUME I: Pro Metabolic Enhancer “PME”
When/How?! – I take PME immediately upon waking, usually while making a pot of coffee. I take one serving, sublingual (2/3 of a dropper of liquid under my tongue) and let it sit there and absorb for two full minutes before swallowing. I try not to eat or drink anything for 10 minutes after taking it.
TEN Performance has created an amazing product in their Pro Metabolic Enhancer (PME). As a nutrition coach and consultant, many of the issues I see with my clients come from a metabolism that is damaged, or off track. That damage is not often severe and simply needs a kick start and a bit of resetting to get back on track. A properly balanced and timed diet, along with TEN’s PME supplement can help remedy this metabolic issue in a fairly short period of time.
PME is a formula of concentrated lipotropics. Lioptropics are best known for their work as liver decongestants where they promote the breakdown of stored fats in the liver. In the modern American way of life, stored fats in the liver are a common issue that can lead to sluggishness and weight gain. By breaking them down, we are making the stored fat cells more mobile and able to be used as energy by your body. Aside from the very important lipotropics, PME is filled with a very high potency B vitamin complex (B6 and B12) which is known to naturally boost metabolism and energy levels. I find that this helps my clients to push through workouts on days where they would have been exhausted and decided to skip a training day.
The very crucial combination of these lipotropics, B vitamins, and Guarana extract (natural energy source that allows the body to recognize being “full” sooner) provides a thermogenic effect to your body, increasing BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your body’s capability to burn fat. It also will enhance energy levels and endurance by allowing your body to produce higher amounts of oxygen in your blood. All of this, in turn, will help burn fat and improve lean muscle retention.
I use this product daily, and love to recommend it to my clients because the benefits are too great to keep it a secret! Almost everyone I come in contact with can benefit from the effects of PME – especially my female clients. Along with a daily well balanced diet, proper timing of meals, and a consistent training program, using PME will be an amazing addition to your life in order to help you reach your goals!
If you are interested in PME or any of TEN Performance’s other products, head over and pay them a visit HERE ! Be sure to use “capurso10” at checkout for a sweet discount!
For more nutrition assistance or to get started on a personalized Honor Your Nutrition program CLICK HERE!