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Photo: Denise Bush/iStockphoto.com. Photo: Denise Bush/iStockphoto.com.

Eating to achieve one’s health goals is simple in that if we want to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we eat (and vice versa if we want to bulk up and build muscle). But genetic, environmental, lifestyle, psychological and social factors can affect our individual nutritional needs making them more complex. And unlike the law, our food choices are not free from passion (sorry, Aristotle!).

“Flexible dieting” isn’t a diet; it’s a nutritional concept where you have a daily calorie and macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein and fat) target and as long as those specific numbers are achieved, then food selection is left up to your personal preference. Here’s the skinny on how it works.

I’ll use myself as an example. As a certified nutrition coach, I know that based on my body type, lifestyle and fitness goals that my daily caloric needs are about 2,800kcal and that ideally those calories would come from 40% carbohydrates (280g), 25% fat (90g) and 30% protein (210g). The method I use for myself and my clients is fairly sophisticated, but there are many decent online tools that can give you a sense of your own needs. My numbers are a bit higher than the needs of most of my clients as I move and stand all day and am trying to gain muscle. Most folks will require fewer calories and based on their bodies may have a different % macro split.

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