Getting The Most Out Of Your Flexible Dieting Plan.
Make no mistake, the beauty of Flexible Dieting is that you have appropriate target ranges to work towards, for total energy and for each macronutrient. So long as you are within those target ranges as consistently as possible, you will make good progress and see great results from training.
Consistent adherence really is the key to results, not any magical foods you must include, nor any enjoyable foods you need to go without to prove that you earned it. That being said, we can stack the deck in our favour with some great choices of foods that will be conducive to best results, good health, and will make adhering to the plan a joy rather than a chore.
First Suggestion: Lots Of Delicious Fruit.
In Australia and other countries it is recommended that we include 2 serves of fruit per day as part of healthy eating habits. As far as I'm concerned, this is a minimum requirement, not a maximum limit. Fruit is delicious, nutritious, and not particularly energy dense either.
All fruits are good but let me hit you with some particularly helpful choices for reasons in addition to pure deliciousness.
Watermelon is a good source of the amino acid L-cittrulline, which has been found to assist in recovery from training, reducing muscle soreness.
All fruits are good for Vitamin C, and a 100g kiwifruit will give you over 150% of your daily requirement which is very good indeed. Kiwis are also great for Vitamin E, Potasium, Fiber, and Actinidin - which you can't get anywhere else!
Also a good source of Vitamin C and fiber as well. Berries are considered to be a potent food in protecting the brain and cognitive function.
Again I reiterate; all fruits are good so enjoy plenty of them every day. To the right you can take a look at the macros and see how well a good size serve of delicious and nutritious fruits might fit into your targets. I have strawberries in the photo rather than raspberries but other than that, a pretty accurate depiction of what 200 cals of fruit might look like.
Before anyone asks; no I am not even remotely concerned about the sugar content. We do not track sugar on this program!
Next Suggestion: Nuts.
There are so many health benefits associated with nuts that I'm not even going to attempt to list them all. They are packed full of nutrients and healthy fats, and although they are relatively energy dense their fibrous nature mitigates this somewhat. It is estimated that digestion of nuts burns about 10% of the energy they provide.
30 grams of nuts four or more times per week is recommended. I tend to go for around 40 grams of mixed nuts most days. This is a great way to push closer to the optimal end of your target range for total energy.
Closer to your optimal fueling target, more fiber, and more micronutrients? Yes, these are exactly the things we want in our plan.
Another Suggestion: A Potato.
The recommendation is for 5 or more serves of vegetables per day. There is absolutely no reason on Earth why one of them shouldn't be a potato. Potatoes get a bad rap in some circles but they're actually very nutritious, especially with the skin left on. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew... probably best to keep them out of the deep fryer though, most of the time.
After Training: Recovery Snack
The old "anabolic window" myth about requiring a protein shake immediately after training is just that, a myth. So long as you get some protein within the next 4 hours or so, and meet an adequate total provision for the day, you'll be just fine.
For post-training recovery there's evidence to suggest that a carbohydrate source with both glucose and fructose is particularly beneficial. I like a couple of rice cakes with some raspberry jam, and a shake a little after that.
More Suggestions: Literally Anything You Like That Will Help You To Meet Your Requirements.
It's Flexible Dieting. You will see great results from training so long as you establish the habit of being within an appropriate range for total energy and macronutrient provision, most days. If there's something I've suggested that you don't care for, swap it out for something you're more enthusiastic about.
Contrary to popular misconception there is no good reason why you can't or shouldn't be successful while actually enjoying your meals. There is no reason why you can't still have cereal for breakfast, and for that matter the fiber from cereal grains is actually particularly beneficial. Your meals don't have to be fancy and it is also ok to choose something based on convenience.
What matters is that you plan to meet your requirements and be within, or at least close to some appropriate targets. If you have met your fiber requirement, had your 2 + 5 fruit and veg, are in the ballpark for protein... if you still fall short of your total energy requirement I literally don't care if you make up the difference with ice cream, or whatever it is going to take.
You achieve results from training by consistently providing as close to optimal total energy and macronutrient ratios as possible. You do not get extra points for doing so without eating things that you enjoy. That would only make consistent adherence (and therefore success) less likely... and hell, would it even be worth it?
It should go without saying that you must act in compliance with any dietary advice from a qualified professional in regard to management of a diagnosed medical condition.
For example: If you have fructose malabsorption, you may need to disregard the advice to eat fruit. If you have coeliac you can disregard what I said about eating cereal. If you are allergic to nuts then leave those out too.