You’re ready. It’s time to get BIG. You’ve cut, leaned out, and you’re content with your bf%; the time has come to begin bulking and pack on that muscle. So what does that mean? More chicken, rice, and broccoli, just 6 Tupperware worth instead of 4? Maybe a tad more rice with each meal? No. It not only doesn’t have to be that boring, but that’s not even the best way to do it. Allow me to introduce you to the Flexible Diet, i.e, IIFYM.
IIFYM? What do you mean by Flexible Diet?
IIFYM (short for “If It Fits Your Macros”) and a Flexible Diet are borderline synonymous. They refer to a dietary system that allows any food that can be fit within your macronutrient allowance. Gone are the days of chicken, rice, and broccoli. Whether you feel like some roasted salmon, pesto pasta, or a four-cheese pizza, it’s all on the table. You simply need to make sure it fits (your macros). Say that, in a day, you have to consume 3000kcal, of which your macros must be:
- Protein: 180g
- Carbs: 400g
- Fats: 90g
Well, as long as what you eat throughout the day checks those boxes, without going over nor falling short, anything goes. You can hit that protein purely through Whey, the fats by chugging oil, and the carbs by shoveling in bread by the slice. Now, all of that obviously wouldn’t be ideal, as it isn’t the healthiest, but it would be viable. Balance is always preferred though, but with such an approach, comes an immense amount of freedom.
Can such a system really work, though? It doesn’t seem realistic that you could eat pizza daily, and gain muscle without layering the fat as well. But I assure you, it does work, and you can do it, as hard as that may be to believe. We know it, the literature knows it, and in 5 minutes, you’ll know it too. Stick around, and throughout this article, we’ll explain why it’s the best for you, and how to take it on.
Bulking Has Never Been Easier
For some, bulking is the time to relax. The easy part. You can eat till you’re full, and then some, rather than having to push through hunger to chisel your physique. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Some (including myself at one point) struggle to eat past a certain limit, and weight gain can therefore prove to be quite the challenge. But thankfully, with a flexible diet, you can break through that wall.
Leaning into your cravings & wants come time to eat makes all the difference, particularly in your appetite. Given that the barrier is, at the end of the day, mental, you’ll benefit that much more from prioritizing foods you enjoy, thus taking most of the strain out of the process. After all, it’s easier to push yourself when you’re actually looking forward to whatever it is that’s on your plate. I know I for one am that much keener on shoveling in one last serving of pesto pasta than I am on another soul-crushing portion of lifeless white rice.
And overall ease isn’t something to be scoffed at, as it can be a key factor towards remaining consistent, which, if you don’t know it by now, is THE key factor towards actually getting anything done long term.
A Flexible Diet Means Flexible Choices
The point above leads to this next one: This shift in dietary approach grants an extra degree of convenience that would otherwise be lost on the traditional, stringent “meal plan” structure.
With the ability to swap out your foods at a whim, your flexibility grows. You can opt for meals out, for alternatives should need be, or time meals differently throughout the day. It’ll help you stay more productive, allowing your life to not be dictated by your eating schedule. Gone are the days of whipping out a Tupperware at dinner. Gone are the days of having to forego an invitation because it would conflict with your ever-demanding routine.
Even when it comes to workflow! No cutting into a busy schedule to squeeze a meal in, or losing an hour a day to cooking on days when that isn’t a realistic option. If need be, you can order takeout. Use a meal substitute. Or skip a meal entirely and make up for it by divvying those calories and macros amongst the rest. The options that open up to you are plentiful, and the ease they bring with them makes all the difference.
With this approach, you get that bit of breathing room. And with that extra degree of breathing room, you’ll be able to enjoy the process, or more so avoid despising it. Discipline is important, but enjoying the process makes it a maker rather than a breaker long term.
The Mental Benefits of IIFYM
And thus we segway into our next point, which I would personally say is one of the truer highlights; the improvement of your mental state.
Now, YMMV, but generally, people prefer not having to deprive themselves of things they enjoy. Shocking, I know. People also prefer not to lack the time needed to properly coordinate their schedules. Two for two on groundbreaking revelations today. When these needs are met, as we’ve just explained they will be, a third benefit emerges, which is a healthy absence of lifestyle-related stress.
I, for one, know I work that much more efficiently, play that much more happily, and overall have an extra pep in my step when food and training are a joy rather than a burden. This difference often goes overlooked, but enjoying an aspect of your life makes it, and subsequently your life as a whole, all the better, particularly when it’s something so central to your well-being. One less thing to stress about means less stress overall.
And with less stress, comes greater overall performance. Your mental state improves. With it, your drive in other pursuits. Your fitness progresses and bolsters this further still, all the while elevating you to new heights, socially and professionally, as the foundational aspects of your character grow and strengthen. It’s a snowball effect, and it all starts here.
The Benefits of a Flexible “IIFYM” Diet Go Beyond Bulking
Now you’d think those previous points alone would be enough of a sell, but I’ve got one more banger for you; the growth that’ll come with this approach stretches beyond physical.
There are what some would consider cons to this dietary style, but where others see hindrances, we must see an opportunity for improvement.
There will be times when you’ll find yourself gliding down the slippery slope of temptation, after a couple of slices that genuinely fit into your macros lead to another that doesn’t, or how a single drink unlocks a chain of further, unwelcome ones to follow. But these moments of weakness are when you’re given an opportunity to choose strength, and build willpower that will cement a stronger work ethic long term.
And this is one example of many. You’ll find a challenge to be had in ensuring proper micronutrient balance, avoiding excessive financial strain when leaning into the convenience of takeout, and so on and so forth. With these though, you’ll subsequently come to improve your understanding of nutritional sciences, your management of financial matters, and all other skills necessary to handle what’s thrown your way. Because with conflict, comes resolution. And thus from a place of weakness, we find strength.
But How Do You Make The Most of This Newfound Potential?
All this said, though, it will very much be a challenge. Both in terms of the more immediate difficulties that may appear here and there, as well as the pressure to maximize your potential on this newfound path. The Dalai Lama didn’t seem to account for situations where you can fix something, but may fail to do so, and that exact worry is what could easily come to plague you today. But there is still no need to worry, as I’ve got just what you need to ensure that you do not fail, but rather are launched into the best version of yourself that you can be.
When charting new waters, guidance is key. Or, more apt for this specific metaphor, your boat. Because yes, you can stay afloat without one, but you will neither get very far by the hardiness of your breaststroke, nor be terribly efficient in the process. With a guiding, experienced hand, you can sail that much further through this metaphorical sea of self-improvement, and enjoy the process that much more; a bountiful voyage rather than a grueling struggle.
If this sounds like something that you’d prefer, click here to build your own boat, and set sail into those welcoming waters.