It’s far too common in the fitness world that people think they can’t eat the foods they like and still reach their goals.
It’s a well-entrenched idea that it has to be one thing or the other.
It couldn’t possibly be both…
Or could it?!
Now, it’s no secret that to lose fat you MUST be in a calorie deficit.
Sure, the debate rages over what’s best. Is it;
Any number of other diets
Or should you just close your eyes and pick food at random?
To a degree, it doesn’t matter.
A calorie deficit is what will make you lose weight and whichever diet allows you to stick to this consistently without feeling like shit or constantly craving certain foods is going to be the best…for you.
This being said the quality of your food does matter.
Yes, you can lose weight eating only junk food, BUT it will play havoc with your body and although you’ll lose weight you’ll be unhealthy.
Not to mention the role that macronutrients play when it comes to body composition.
The bottom line is this;
You need to eat a wide variety of different foods to get the necessary macronutrients, micronutrients and vitamins your body needs to function optimally. However, you can do this and still include the foods you like!
Why You Should Eat The Foods You Like When Dieting
Why should you have to exclude pizza, burgers, doughnuts and ice cream? I mean haven’t you ever noticed how when you can’t have something, you want it even more?
So, when you do this are you really surprised when you end up binge eating and messing up your diet?
You shouldn’t be, not really.
It’s inevitable that if you restrict food items from your diet that there will come a point where you can’t stop yourself.
When this happens, you’ll dive headfirst into pizza hut (or Krispy Kremes or wherever else) and eat way more than you ever would have if you’d just included pizza in your diet in the first place.
Include is the key word here, include pizza in your diet not have your diet consist only of pizza.
Flexible Dieting AKA How To Include The Foods You Like In Your Diet
Fortunately, it’s pretty simple provided you know your daily calorie allowance and macro breakdown. Once you know this all you need to do is allocate a little space in your diet for the foods you like.
A 170 lb man trying to lose weight would eat around 2,000 calories a day with the following macros breakdown:
Protein = 170 g / 680 kcals
Fat = 66g / 600 kcals
Carbs = 180g / 720 kcals
Now let’s say this guy loves ice cream and wants to include 2 scoops of his favourite ice cream in his diet for dessert.
Let’s also say his favourite ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough (because who doesn’t love cookie dough?!), 2 scoops of this ice cream have the following nutritional breakdown:
Calories = 280 kcals
Protein = 4 g
Fat = 15 g
Carbs = 32 g
So, when planning his food for the day or the week he would minus these calories from his total on the days he knew he was going to have ice cream.
When we do this, we see that the ice cream is only about 14% of his total daily intake which means over 80% of his daily intake can be made up from lean protein sources and a mix of fats and carbs.
This still gives our imaginary guy the flexibility to;
Eat the foods he enjoys
Stay in a calorie deficit
Have plenty of room for fruit and vegetables
Makeup over 80% of his daily diet with nutritious food sources
This strategy can be used to include chocolate, cookies or popcorn in your diet as a snack or dessert.
Skip Breakfast or Try Fasting to Include Bigger Meals
Maybe you’re meeting for a friend’s birthday and they love pizza, or you want to have a burger, just because, well…does anyone need a reason to want a burger?
Let’s look at how you’d include this in your diet.
Now because these foods can easily take up 600 – 1,200 calories in your diet or more depending on where you get them from we need to be strategic. Not only this but eating these foods can often be difficult for the following reasons:
It becomes hard to hit your protein goal when using most of your calories for one meal
They are low in vitamins and minerals which can be detrimental to health if eaten too often
Can leave you hungry later in the day as you blow most of your calories on one meal
The solution is to skip breakfast and use strategic fasting. For those not already using fasting, it’s an eating protocol that sees you stick to a particular eating schedule that allows you to fast for part of the day.
If you’re going to be eating your pizza or burger and chips for dinner, then you would skip breakfast and fast throughout the morning. During this period, you can drink black coffee, tea and sparkling water, anything with 0 kcals, which will help stave off hunger.
Then at lunchtime you would eat a high protein meal with lots of vegetables and some fruit, this will help you meet your protein goals and keep you feeling fuller for longer. (Our imaginary guy from before would allocate 300 – 500 kcals to this meal)
Mid-afternoon you would have a high protein snack, something like an omelette with a mix of eggs and egg whites, vegetables and maybe some cheese can work well. (Our imaginary guy from before would allocate 200 – 400 kcals to this meal)
By the time dinner rolls around you’ll still have 1,200+ calories available for your pizza or burger and can now eat the burger or pizza without worrying about going over your calories or missing your macro goals.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend doing it all the time as you’ll likely miss out on important minerals and vitamins which will negatively affect your health.
You’ll also struggle to properly hit your calorie and macro goal which is detrimental to your progress. However, used once a week for big meals or daily for small treats will be no problem.
It’s not only possible to eat the foods you like and hit your goals, it’s also pretty damn easy to do.
All you need to do is;
Account for it in your total daily calories
Work the rest of your diet around it
The strategies laid out in this post are perfect for including small, daily food items you enjoy or a weekly larger meal or drinks without messing up your diet.