What is IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) and why it can be misunderstood?
Firstly before we go into this, we need to understand what macronutrients are… Macronutrients are made up of mainly Proteins, Fats, Carbs and Fibre.
These days a lot of people track their food i.e. they record via apps on their smart phone (My Fitness Pal) how much carbs, fat and protein they intake a day/over a week. This is a great way of deciding if your in a calorie surplus (meaning your gaining weight) or a calorie deficit (meaning your losing weight).
Some coaches may decide to put their clients on food plans, meaning the client doesn’t have a clue on what their macros are, but hopefully the coach would know! But the food plan may simply be 4 meals a day consisting of chicken, broccoli and rice! Other coaches may choose to implement the macro counting – this would mean the client has either a set calorie goal to hit or set specific macros. For example a diet of 1800 calories or 150g protein, 120g carbs and 50g fats.
Every food we have has a set amount of protein, fats and carbs in them, some more than other. For example a pizza has more carbs and fats than a steak, a chicken breast has more protein in than a slice of bread. So, where does IIFYM come in to all this? We all enjoy certain foods, typically crisps, sweets, burgers etc. But when people are “dieting” they assume they need to cut all of these “treats” out. What this normally leads to after a period is a big binge out and unhealthy relationships with food.
What people are now doing is implementing the foods they love, into their macros. So for example if your craving a bag of Malteasers (182Kcal), rather than not having them you can work the 182Kcal into your 1800Kcal diet. Or if your counting your macros you’d work the 23g of carbs, 9g of fat and 3 g of protein into your set macros!
Where people commonly go wrong with this, or misunderstand is you still need a healthy balance of single ingredient foods. We usually go off a 70/30 split. So 70% is from single ingredient whole foods (that are more nutritious and don’t cause inflammation and water retention). 30% is then from foods you may be craving or want to eat at a social occasion (sausage rolls, burger etc.) It doesn’t mean you can have all of your 120g of carbs from a pizza, or all of your 150g of protein from burgers and hot dogs. What it does mean is that if your craving a slice of pizza you can work a few slices into your macros without worrying your breaking your diet or “cheating”.