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IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) – The Flexible Diet (Part I)

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Whether you’re a competitive bodybuilder, a regular gym rat or someone just beginning their journey into the world of fitness; chances are you’ve seen the phrase “If It Fits Your Macros” (a.k.a IIFYM) thrown around on social networking sites and fitness related websites. If you have, you’ve also probably seen the controversy this topic can create between fitness gurus. So, who do you believe? The guy with the ripped 6 pack who preaches eating 6 – 8 meals a day consisting of chicken, broccoli and brown rice? Or the other guy with the 6 pack who claims you can get the same results while still enjoying the foods you love? Do both methods really work? Are calories really a calorie?

So, we here at Do You Even have decided to settle it once and for all; in this comprehensive four part series we will not only cover the who, how and why of IIFYM, we will also create an in-depth guide on how to implement IIFYM to cut, bulk or maintain your body in order to help you get that physique you’ve always wanted.

What is a macro-nutrient?

Macro-nutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macro-nutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts. There are three macro-nutrients:

  • Carbohydrate
  • Protein
  • Fat

What is a micro-nutrient?

Unlike macro-nutrients which are needed in bigger amounts micro-nutrients are only needed in small amounts within your diet. Theses nutrients help your organs grow.

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Is a calorie really a calorie?

Thermodynamics dictate that a calorie is a calorie regardless of the macro-nutrient composition of the diet.¹

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So now that we’ve covered the basics, What is If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)?

IIFYM is a flexible dieting approach where you disregard arbitrary food labels such as “junk food” and “clean food” and focus on your total caloric intake (calories in versus calories out), your daily set macro-nutrient targets (your fats, carbs, protein), and your micro-nutrient goals (your vitamins and minerals) in order to achieve your desired body composition.

However, we should mention that IIFYM is about fitting your ‘macros’, not your ‘micros’, so it’s very much possible to achieve your desired body composition whilst disregarding your micro-nutrient intake. However for health benefits it’s generally advised that you fill your vitamins and minerals for the day.

If your lacking behind with your micro-nutrient intake, a multi-vitamin is a good stepping stone to hit those targets.

Why would I use IIFYM?

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Why would I use IIFYM? I enjoy eating grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and brown rice 6 times a day!”

Well, the beauty of IIFYM is the fact that it allows ‘balance’ in your life. It allows an individual to lead a flexible lifestyle where their healthy/eating lifestyle can complement their social life rather than impede it.

All too often you hear about the bodybuilder who is cutting down for a contest or some other occasion, who cannot enjoy the fruits of his social life in fear they he or she may ruin their diet.

IIFYM is designed to ensure that you hit your desired body composition goals while still maintaining a balanced social life with a healthy eating lifestyle.

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How and why IIFYM works?

How can a burger from McDonalds be equivalent to a meal of chicken, brown rice and cashews? It’s quite simple, your body does not recognize whether the food your eating is ‘clean’ or ‘junk’. It will only recognize food’s for it’s nutrients, such as proteins, fats or carbohydrates.

For example; a McDonalds Seared Grand Chicken Burger is worth 501 calories which consists of 35.3g of protein, 15g of fat and 53.4g of carbohydrates.

Whereas, 130g of chicken, 25g of cashews and 120g boiled white rice is worth 520 calories which consists of 16.5g of fat, 55.2g of carbs and 37.9g of protein.

When you consume either of these meals, your body processes the food based on the macro-nutrient values (which you can see are extremely similar) and will yield the EXACT same effects on your body composition. These results are solely on body composition and do not take into account the micro-nutrients which your body needs in order to maintain your health. You can always opt for a multi-vitamin or try to fit foods into your macros with higher micro-nutritional values to help balance the ‘processed’ or ‘junk’ foods consumed.

Now, I’m sure that some of you will be asking, “What about the different types of fats in these meals? The burger will be higher in unhealthy saturated fats while the traditional meal will be much higher in the healthy unsaturated fats.” (Probably not in so many words, but you get the picture)

However, recently in the U.S, a professor of human nutrition decided to lose weight purely through calorie counting disregarding the rest of the nutritional values of the foods he consumed.

He spent 10 weeks in a caloric deficit and consumed “a steady stream of…Hostess and Little Debbie snacks…Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos.” Here’s the most interesting bit of all, “You might expect other indicators of health would have suffered. Not so. Haub’s “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20% and his “good” cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20%. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39%.”²

His results clearly showed that being overweight is what causes the majority of these effects, rather than the nutritional value of the foods consumed.

What’s in store for next weeks IIFYM article?

This wraps up part one of our IIFYM series.

Tune in for part two next week where we debunk a few of the myths surrounding IIFYM and share with you how to calculate your individual calories and macros tailored to suit your body/physique.

¹ Pubmed Study – Is a calorie a calorie?

² The Twinkie diet – Professors findings

 

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If you’d like you can follow us on the Official IIFYM Facebook Page. (pictured above)

 

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Want to get your own IIFYM apparel? Check out our Apparel Store.

We’ve allowed Facebook Integration on all of our articles so please post a comment below and let us know what you think of this first article, any questions you may have, anything you’d like added into the article, and any myths you’d like us to debunk next week for part two of the series.

Written by:
Omar Aldabel & Ediz Ozturk

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