There are so many diet plans floating around in the media and on the internet, that is no wonder so many people (including so many fitness professionals & nutritionists), are totally perplexed and, in some cases, embarrassed to ask for help.
This is why, I believe, so many people try and make up their own diets, and go it alone without the right advice or guidance.
They are simply afraid to ask!
One of the latest “diets” to hit the big time, despite it having been around for a long time, is IIFYM.
I’ll be honest, when this acronym started hitting all of the insta posts and facebook statuses a few years ago, I had to google what it actually was… I had never heard of it.
Maybe I should’ve written this blog back then, but, when it comes to writing content, I work in mysterious ways… the inspiration is either there… or it’s not.
So, let’s work through the basics of IIFYM!
What is IIFYM?
Firstly, what the heck does IIFYM even mean….? It’s quite an easy one this, “If It Fits Your Macros”.
Basically, it is a diet that helps people to lose weight by tracking their MacroNutrients, rather than calories. As macronutrients, more commonly referred to as “Macros”, are the only place that calories come from, by tracking them, you essentially hit & maintain your weight loss calories.
So this leads us to another baffling questions…
What Are Macro’s?
This is actually one of the easier questions to answer. A macronutrient is a type of food needed in larger quantities within a diet, to deliver energy to maintain the functions of the body & its organs.
These MacroNutrients, which you will be familiar with, are Fats, Proteins & Carbohydrates.
So basically, macronutrients is like an “umbrella term” used to describe all three as a group.
What’s The Draw to IIFYM?
The biggest draw to IIFYM, is the unrestricted approach to food. By some peoples standards, and if you visited the official website of IIFYM, then they promote the diet as “Eat Whatever You Want” and still lose weight.
I can see the wider appeal for this, as you do not need to necessarily eat a “healthy” diet, just as long as what you are eating, fits in with your tailored Macro plan.
There is a BIG downside to this in my opinion.
You may lose weight by eating chocolate, pizza and beer, but are you actually going to improve your health, energy levels or reduce your cholesterol or improve your overall composition?
Yes, you may be slimmer, but will you actually have the energy to enjoy being slimmer? Hmmmm??? 🤔
Personally, I would always advise people to look at IIFYM as a way to accommodate social events, and certain foods that they do NOT want to remove from their diet, WHILST maintaining an overall healthier diet.
Take one of my awesomely gorgeous PT clients as an example. Overall 90% of her daily food choices are spot on. Balanced, healthy and enjoyable meals. But within her macro-plan, she has room to have a “pick me up” or “stress relieving” piece of chocolate or glass of prosecco, IF the urge arises. And as a self-confessed Chocolate-Monkey, this means a lot to her. There is no guilt should she indulge, as long as she keeps it within her Macros.
Since moving onto this plan, she has consistently lost weight! But ultimately feels healthier!
How Does IT Work?
IIFYM is personalised, so there is no guess work involved. Your daily macro-plan is based on personal details such as your gender, age, weight, activity levels, your goal and a few more factors. The formula calculates your daily calorie requirements for YOUR GOAL, and then breaks this down further to your individual Macronutrient needs.
These vary, according to your goals. So if you want to lose weight you will have a lower calorie requirement than if you wanted to gain lean muscle mass.
Your goal will also determine the percentage breakdown of your macros.
Just as an example, here is a randomly generated Macro breakdown. (please do not follow this breakdown, as it is not tailored to YOU!)
Some trainers who recommend an IIFYM diet, may also recommend the amount of fibre &/or sugar that you consume as well. But this isn’t always the case. Personally, I tend to recommend Sugars at the very least, in addition to fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Make Your Plan!
Before embarking on ANY diet, it is always good to have all of the facts, and know exactly what you are aiming to achieve and how you are going to do it. Planning is essential. There is a saying…
If you fail to plan, You should plan to Fail!
It may sound harsh, but it is true!
IIFYM allows you to plan, but with some flexibility, which is a perk that not many diets can boast. However, as I mentioned above, taking the “Eat Whatever you Want” attitude may get you weight loss results, but not the all important health benefits.
In saying that, if you are taking your first steps into “dieting” or haven’t ever tried to clean up your nutrition, then IIFYM may be an ideal opportunity to gradually alter your diet, without pressure or too much restriction. As it allows that element of flexibility.
You should really start by concentrating on how much you eat, rather than what you eat, and then make the necessary changes and improvements as you gain confidence in your decisions.
Remember, it is not FOOD that makes us “fat“, but how much food we eat!
Let’s Talk More About Macros
I have already mentioned that there are THREE MacroNutrients – Fats, Proteins & Carbohydrates – and this is where all of our calories come from. BUT, it is also important to remember that Sugar, Fibre & Alcohol all fall under the Carbohydrate group, and ALL contain calories. So drinks, nibbles and sweets ALL count towards your overall intake of calories from Macros.
Rather than ramp up the word count and make this blog super long, I have added three downloadable fact sheets about each of the macros, so you can read these now, or when you have more time. Check them out below.
Tracking Your Macros
When following a IIFYM plan, you need to track your macro intake as accurately as you can. There are some fantastic FREE APPS available on both Android and iOS that allow you to set up your own personal Macro goals to follow on a daily basis. Many of these now come with barcode scanners to allow you to just quickly scan your food and go. This makes tracking super simple and quick.
Personally, when I am tracking my Macros, I use MyFitnessPal, which is available as a website and an App on both platforms. Check it out and give it a try HERE. It’s free unless you opt to upgrade to Premium!
The Pro’s & The Con’s
I guess what I like about IIFYM is that it makes tracking easier, compared to overall calorie tracking. And as I said up the top somewhere, if you are tracking your macros, then you will generally be within your calories.
It also allows me to go out for dinner with my hubby, and enjoy a dessert completely guilt free.
So what are the other pros?
- You can eat what you Like!
- Convenience – You can fit your diet around you life
What I don’t like about IIFYM, is the ethos doesn’t really promote a healthier lifestyle, so what does it REALLY help people to achieve?
- You can eat what you like!
- Fails to tackle health issues like diabetes, heart health and digestive disorders.
- Offers no education to those who follow the general rule.
Can You Have the Best of Both?!
Absolutely! Like I mentioned above, my super gorgeous client manages to maintain a 90% healthy diet, whilst having the odd indulgence when she needs/fancies it. Leaving her feeling guilt free as long as it was within her macros. I personally follow the same approach when I am tracking my Macros.
Personally, if you are trying to lose weight, my advice would be to give IIFYM a go, but try to incorporate a healthier balance of nutrient dense foods within your daily meals. Making sure that you include a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbs to sustain your healthy range of calories, whilst creating a calorie deficit to improve your weight loss results.
If you want to calculate your Macro Breakdown, then you can either visit the IIFYM.com website, and use their tailored calculator or contact me directly and we can chat about your goals, and work out your plan.
Good luck with it!
Thanks for reading 🙂
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