A Dietitian’s Honest Review Of Flexible Dieting

by | Jul 26, 2021

Flexible dieting has been trending in the health and fitness industry for years. Simply put, it’s a weight loss approach that encourages all types of foods as long as they fit your macros. People rave about this because it’s highly adaptable and removes food labels like “good” or “bad”. But, does it live up to the hype and work for everyone? 

Before I dive into this topic, though, allow me to introduce myself for those of you who are new around here!

My name is Tony Stephan, and I’m a dietitian business coach. I help RDs make more IMPACT and more INCOME through nutrition coaching. However, before becoming a dietitian business coach, I was an RD nutrition coach. I served thousands of nutrition coaching clients over a time span of 12 years. My successful nutrition coaching business is what led me to where I am today. Now let’s review flexible dieting and see if this weight management approach may be right for you or your clients!

How Does Flexible Dieting Work?

Flexible dieting requires having an estimated daily calorie target and subsequent daily macro targets based on the individual’s goals. (You can read about calculating estimated energy requirements for flexible dieting here!) This approach may work for weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain. Those targets can also be adjusted depending on factors like type and duration of activity, age, medical history, and more.

Benefits of Flexible Dieting

As a dietitian, I understand the main benefit of flexible dieting is in the name itself: flexibility. There are no off-limit or forbidden foods as long as what you’re consuming fits into your macro goals.

This is great! It can help develop realistic eating habits that help you or your clients work toward health and fitness goals! This also makes it easier to maintain results over a long period of time. 

Flexible dieting may also promote a sense of freedom because you aren’t restricting yourself to certain foods. This would be as opposed to highly restrictive diets such as Paleo, Atkins, or Whole30 with plenty of food rules. Studies show the more rigid the diet and the more restrained you feel, the less likely you are to stick to it. 

Potential Drawbacks 

While flexible dieting has several advantages, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. 

If you don’t have a basic understanding of food and macros, this may not be appropriate. Flexible dieting may also lead to obsessive, controlling eating behaviors (see: orthorexia) and an overall unhealthy relationship with food. 

If you’re a dietitian nutrition coach, it’s important to evaluate the appropriateness of this approach and constantly assess for potential obsessive behaviors in your clients. Then you can refer out as needed. If you’re not a dietitian nutrition coach, I’d encourage you to consult with one you trust and see what alternatives might be best for you! 

The Takeaway

Flexible dieting can work for your health or fitness goals. This approach is very adaptable and easy to follow without being restrictive. Flexible eating habits have been shown to result in more sustainable weight management outcomes. However, it’s important to note this may not be appropriate for everyone! 

So tell me what YOU think. Whether you are a dietitian or not, what are your thoughts on flexible dieting? Is it a sensible approach to weight management, or is it simply another fad that needs to go? Send me an email at tony@tonystephandietitian.com — seriously, I want to hear from you!

If you’re a dietitian looking to start your own nutrition coaching business, you are in the right place. I’m proud to be a part of the movement of dietitian entrepreneurs who are making more IMPACT and more INCOME! Check out some of our FREE resources below.



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