Dieting and Flexibility For The Win

by on August 7, 2015

Dieting and Flexibility For The Win

By the Dynamic Duo


We have something to fess up on…

We have tried a lot of diets. More than we care to admit, but it’s time to share the mistakes we have made so that you don’t make the same mistakes. Trial and error goes a long ways in this bodybuilding game, but if we can save you a few bumps in the road, why the heck not right?

We tried low carb diets and we flattened out like two string beans, not to mention our training performance suffered. So we had to cross that one off the list.

We tried a “eat whatever the hell we wanted” kind of diet and that led to us blowing up like two twin marshmallow mans. So we had to cross that one off the list.

Then we tried a “clean eating” type of diet and that led us to feeling restricted and going on a binging spree when we had a once per week cheat day. So we had to cross that one off the list.

You see, when it came to finding a diet that would work for us, the question we never sought to ask was “does it have the potential to have downsides?”

We want to share with you the only diet approach we take on now. It might seem different but read until the end and you will figure out why it can work for you too.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the article we want to make it clear that this approach is better suited for those trying to be in decent or better shape. So we could say those that are anywhere from beginners to intermediates athletes. Advanced athletes such as bodybuilders, Men’s physique, Bikini, and Figure would be better off not having so much flexibility as we explain in the article ahead due to having to walk a tighter rope with nutrition adherence day to day. Getting stage lean is not an easy task and we don’t want to convey a message that it’s easy, because it is certainly not.

How to Have Variety and Flexibility in Your Diet

Most diets are structured all wrong. You heard us: All wrong. Let us show you how.

When someone hears the word “diet” they automatically think that its short term and that it has this arbitrary number on it like “12 weeks.” So what tends to happen is a lot of rigid dieting taking place. A rigid diet consists of a set meal plan like chicken or fish with brown rice or sweet potatoes and vegetables, where you follow this type of eating for 7 days a week and “X” amount of weeks or months.

Now let’s be real here, who can be expected to eat the same thing over and over for weeks or months and not expect to lose control along the way. A colleague of ours once said “We do not have unlimited willpower. Last I checked, I didn’t have a motherboard and microchips — we are not robots. Despite our ability to develop willpower strength, use of self-regulation is fatiguing and depletion is possible.” – Kori Propst

This is spot on when it comes to will power and having this sense of rigidness when it comes to dieting.

A 2002 study out of The Journal of Appetite showed an all or nothing, rigid approach to dieting (i.e., meal plan aka cookie cutter type diet) has actually been associated with overeating, increased bodyweight, and eating disorder symptoms, while flexible dieting has shown a stronger association with lower bodyweight and the absence of depression and anxiety. (4, 5)

Moreover, in 1991, Westenhoefer and colleagues compared rigid control and flexible control eating. (6) Rigid control is characterized by a dichotomous, all or nothing approach to eating, dieting and weight, aka cookie cutter diet or meal plan.

Flexible control is characterized by a more gradual approach to eating, dieting, and weight, in which “fattening” foods are eaten in limited quantities without feelings of guilt, aka flexible dieting.

Outcomes showed that flexible control was inversely correlated with body mass index, while rigid control was not directly correlated with BMI, higher rigid control was associated with a higher BMI in both men and women and with higher energy intake and lower success for women, but not for men, and flexible control on the other hand, is actually associated with decreased food intake.

As you can see, a very rigid diet such as a meal plan or cookie cutter diet where you’re either on the diet or off can lead to a lot of problems. This is not a sustainable diet, this will teach you nothing about nutrition or your body, and it will cause problems with schedules, work, family, kids, vacations, and activities.

Flexible dieting doesn’t require being rigid.

How to Incorporate Foods that You Like

One of the biggest reasons adherences on diets fail is due to these diets having so called “magic behind them.” One of the big magic tricks you see is restricting foods. Some very common food restrictions consist of:

  • Breads
  • Potatoes
  • Dairy
  • Fruits
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Sweets

A study supporting flexible dieting done by Loria-Kohen and colleagues took two separate dieting groups designed for weight loss. One group was allowed to eat bread and the other group wasn’t allowed to eat bread. The results showed that both groups were successful in reducing body weight and improving body composition. Moreover, the researchers stated “the inclusion of bread did not get worse the improvement of nutritional parameters and favored a better evolution of dietetic variables and greater compliance of the diet with fewer dropouts.” (1)

When you restrict foods you like, you start having problems with the diet. Just like these subjects in the “non-bread” group had the highest dropout rates. Hmmm wonder why?

This restricted eating is termed in the scientific literature as “Restrained eating.” It was introduced by Herman and his colleagues to describe a tendency to restrict food intake in order to control body weight. (2)

There is more data to show that rigid restraint (restrained eating) is associated with a greater tendency to overeat and poorer weight control, while flexible restraint predicts better weight control and reduced overeating .(3)

As you can see, restricting foods from your diets leads to bad relationships with foods, binging, and less adherence on the diet.

Flexible dieting doesn’t require restricting foods. It allows you to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient dense foods along with some non-traditional foods in moderation.

Homemade Apple Pie is Better for you Than Brown Rice

You read the headline, scratched your head, rubbed your eyes, and re-read it…we caught ya!

All joking aside, let’s compare apple pie vs brown rice. Obviously, brown rice is healthier due to being a complex carb, more nutrient dense, lower energy density food, more vitamins and minerals, etc. On the contrary, with apple pie, it’s not as nutritious, high energy density food, and is considered “fattening.”

But what if apple pie was your favorite food and you couldn’t eat it for a 20 week diet due to being on a meal plan that restricted foods? We almost guarantee the craving for apple pie will override the strictness of the meal plan and you will end up blowing your diet and having a slice or perhaps a whole apple pie.

Now, what if you had some flexibility and you used flexible dieting and you could have a small slice of apple pie a couple nights a week? Do you think you would end up blowing your 20 week diet now?

The point is, apple pie is not better for you than a brown rice, but what if that slice of apple pie refrained your from completely blowing your entire 20 week diet?

Now you will learn how apple pie can be part of your diet…no joking around.

Self-Monitoring is a Great Awareness Tool

Weight loss occurs because of the low energy intake. Any diet can produce weight loss, at least temporarily, if intake is restricted and energy output is increased. The real value of a diet is determined by its ability to maintain weight loss and support good physical and mental health over the long term. The goal is not simply weight loss, but health gains. Most of these fad diets cannot support optimal health over time. In fact, these fad diets can create or exacerbate health problems such as eating disorders, etc. (7)

Some of these nutrition programs are just fads and will do more damage than good. They rarely support good physical and mental health and habits over the long term.

A 2005 study from The New England Journal of Medicine showed that “lifestyle modification” practices that include keeping daily records of food and calorie intake and physical activity resulted in significant weight loss. These results also confirm previous reports from Klein, Sheard, Pi-Sunyer et al. 2004. Of the benefits of lifestyle modification (i.e., keeping daily records of food and calorie intake and physical activity) used alone for inducing weight loss. (8)

Moreover, a 1993 study from The Journal of Behavioral Therapy showed self- monitoring is necessary for successful weight control. Specifically, the monitoring of: Any food eaten, all foods eaten, time food was eaten, quantity of food eaten, and grams of fat consumed was positively correlated with weight change, while no monitoring at all was negatively associated with weight change. (9)

The above studies support why flexible dieting and tracking your food aka macro counting works. You have complete control over what you are putting into your body, you’re not excluding food groups, you are not suffering, you are simply counting your daily macronutrients, eating whole and minimally refined foods, getting adequate micronutrient intakes, and transitioning it into a lifestyle. And you are also maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family, peers and not being a hermit.

Wrapping this Up

Finding a nutrition program shouldn’t be that complicated. Your body see’s protein, carbs, fats, and short chain fatty acid fermentation through fiber. (10)

Anyone who can tolerate a given food, and truly enjoys the food, should not force the avoidance of it. This strict, all-or-nothing approach to dieting is a recipe for disordered eating in susceptible individuals.  We are big believers in respecting your own personal taste preference, and letting that override the rules and formalities of any given fad diet.

Here are some take homes for you:

  • Find a nutrition program that’s going to be sustainable and long term, not a 12 or 20 week quick fix diet.
  • Ask yourself these questions: Will the nutrition program A) fit your life-style, goals, and schedules? And B) do you see yourself using this nutrition program for weeks, months, and even years?
  • The nutrition program should allow you to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends and allow you to have balance.

With these 3 take home points you will be in a better position to lose fat, keep it off permanently, be happy, and maintain this lifestyle for the long haul.

As the old saying goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time.”

Can you see why this is the only diet we would ever recommend now?


  1. (Loria-Kohen. 2012)
  2. (Herman & Mack 1975; Herman & Polivy 1975)
  3. (Westenhoefer, von Falck, Stellfeldt, & Fintelmann. 2004; Westenhoefer et al. 1999)
  4. Stewart TM, Williamson DA, White MA. Rigid vs Flexible Dieting: Association with eating disorder symptoms in no obese women. J of Appetite. 2002
  5. Smith CF, Williamson DA, Bray GA, Ryan DH. Flexible vs Rigid Dieting Strategies: Relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. J of Appetite. 1999
  6. 1991, Westenhoefer
  7. Whitney E, Rolfes S. Understanding Nutrition. 13th edition. 2013
  8. Wadden et al. Randomized Trial of Lifestyle Modification and Pharmacotherapy for Obesity. N. Engl. J. Med. 2005
  9. Baker R, Kirschenbaum D. Self-Monitoring May Be Necessary for Successful Weight Control. J of Behavior Therapy. 1993
  10. Gropper SS. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Sixth edition. 2013

Eric & Chris Martinez, BA, Dip. ISSN, CISSN, CSCS
Owners of Dynamic Duo Training
Blog site: