We all know that counting your calories is an important factor to reach your physical goals; you want to stay at a caloric deficit if your goal is to lose weight, while you want to take in an excess of calories if you’re looking to gain weight and muscle. However, for some people, simply counting calories just doesn’t provide the results that they’re looking for.
As important as counting calories can be, there’s much more to it. This is where the dietary technique called IIFYM comes into play. IIFYM stands for “If It Fits Your Macros,” and is a growing revolution in the fitness and dietary world. In addition to counting the individual’s calories, IIFYM takes into account the amount of macronutrients the individual is taking in as well. While it takes some time to learn what the primary macronutrients needed are, and how they function, IIFYM could be the solution for all your physical aspirations.
Macronutrients, or “macros” for short, is the term for the three major nutrients an individual can ingest: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. IIFYM takes into account how much of each macro an individual ingests on a daily basis, and how they can alter how much of a macro they take in in order to meet their fitness goals. Through this plan, it becomes a lot easier for an individual to keep track of their calories while also customizing the meals they are able to eat based on what macronutrients they need to take in, making a more pleasurable experience for the eater.
Counting calories is relatively simple, but it can also be both a blessing and a curse. For example, Let’s say that there are two people, one who ate 200 calories worth of a cheeseburger, and one who ate 200 calories worth of broccoli. The person who ate 200 calories of broccoli would take in much more macronutrients than the person who ate 200 calories of the cheeseburger. The richer the source of macronutrients, the more likely the food can help you to reach your goals.
Restrictive Dieting vs. IIFYM
IIFYM also eliminates the concept of strict dieting and allows a more free-form way of eating. Common diets often restrict the amount of a certain food group is allowed to take in (low-fat / low-carb,) whereas IIFYM allows the eater to eat all three of these food groups, but in a more structured manner. The truth of the matter is that all three of these food groups are of utmost importance for the individual to take in, and that eliminating an entire food group from the individual’s diet could, in fact, be detrimental to the individual in reaching their physical desires.
Restrictive dieting can also cause a severe decline in an individual’s physical performance. Those who cancel out a certain food group, like fats or carbohydrates, often find that they don’t have the energy needed over time to carry on with their workouts. A caloric deficit isn’t the only way to achieve your goals anymore, it’s taking into account the foods that fuel you that is the key.
How to avoid doing it wrong
IIFYM is no foolproof system, there are plenty of ways to screw yourself over and hit a physical plateau, but if you can make sure that you avoid the following, you should be successful in your IIFYM venture.
First off, as important as macronutrients are, you don’t want to forget about taking in some crucial vitamins and minerals, also known as “micronutrients.” Micronutrients are essential to your training recovery, and can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Secondly, you also want to make sure what sources you’re getting your protein from. If you’re eating heavy steaks are fried foods, you could be consuming an extreme excess of calories. Meanwhile, if you’re getting your protein from various plants or non-animal sources, you could be missing out on some very nutritious EAAs (Essential Amino Acids,) which are key ingredients to supreme muscle growth. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry. You can still receive your fair share of EAAs through rice, beans, tofu, quinoa, and soy.
Thirdly, and arguably the most important, you must know and understand the difference between good carbs/fats and bad carbs/fats. It’s easy to pick sugary sweets over a possibly more bland option, but you may not be getting an adequate source of fiber and other micronutrients through these choices. The job for the carbohydrate micronutrient is to fuel you with an immediate form of energy. However, complex carbohydrates (the healthy kind) will help to keep this spike of energy maintained throughout the day, while sugary sweets will give you a quick blast of energy, but often wear you down almost immediately afterward. Likewise, fat is also just as essential as carbohydrates, even though it doesn’t always get as great of a reputation. Food favorites like pizza, cookies, and potato chips are obviously not an ideal source of fats, but foods such as peanut butter, egg yolks, and certain nuts can provide some great healthy benefits to your cardiovascular system and cholesterol levels.
As we mentioned, it is important to count your calories, and if you’re already used to doing so, you’re definitely on the right track. But, if you’re not used to keeping track your sources of macronutrients, you could indeed be hurting yourself in the long run, and preventing yourself from reaching your goals. IIFYM could be what stands between you and your physical desires. If you’re interested, feel free to check out this IIFYM calculator to figure out which type of plan would be best for you to reach your goals!
What experiences do you have with the IIFYM movement? Share with us in the comment section below!