Ahmad Chehade, PharmD. Candidate
Does it fit your macros?
We’ve touched on weight loss and the basics of nutrition several times here on Orbis Health, but today let’s talk about one popular approach to dieting. “If It Fits Your Macros,” also known as IIFYM or the Flexible Dieting method, has been a popular approach amongst health and fitness communities over the past few years. It has shifted away from the idea that the only way to lose weight or become lean is to eat “clean foods,” such as your typical broccoli, chicken, brown rice and the like.
IIFYM is a great concept; the idea is that as long as your macronutrients (your fats, carbohydrates, and proteins) add up to your target, then you’re on the right track towards achieving your goal weight and physique. But is this true? Is it true that individuals you see eating pop tarts, pizza pockets, chocolate, and burgers are in fact sticking to a diet? Is it really possible to eat this way and still appear to be in good shape? Well, let’s get to the bottom of it today.
In the past, we’ve already talked about macronutrients. These are usually our main nutritional focus whenever we consider going on a diet. However, many of us tend to forget our micronutrients. These are the vitamins and minerals that are essential to our body’s internal functions.1 They are important to the body for several processes including the production of enzymes, hormones, and proteins.1 Micronutrients may not be needed in excess but are necessary to maintain good health.
The “flexible” part about IIFYM
Now, let’s get into the thick of IIFYM, and discuss how micronutrients fit in. In the past, IIFYM has gotten a bad rap, as many people have used it as an excuse to eat whatever they desire while somehow still working towards their goals. This isn’t how IIFYM works.2
IIFYM dieting works like budgeting and depends on your unique metabolism, as not everyone has the same metabolic rate. Also, it’s important to note that everyone’s metabolism can vary and change over time. We’ll touch more on the topic of metabolism in the future.
Based on your body composition and total daily calorie and macronutrient intake, you have a “budget” of proteins, carbs, and fats you can have in one day.2 The higher the budget, the more you can eat in a day. For example, if your daily budget is 250g carbs and 75g fats, you’ll have more room to enjoy foods you like compared to a daily limit of 125g carbs and 50g fats. Again, the daily budget and ratio of macronutrients that’s right for you will depend on your unique traits. How do you determine all of this? This part is a little more complicated and is also something we’ll cover in the future.
The great part about flexible dieting is that it doesn’t involve the “cheat meal” approach, where individuals eat healthy all week, then treat themselves to just one day of eating whatever they like. Flexible dieting allows you to keep your day-to-day sanity while still working towards your goals. That being said, it’s important to note that flexible dieting does not mean you can spend an entire day eating junk food, even if it does fit your macros. This is for two reasons. First, junk foods are typically more dense in calories, carbohydrates, and fat than anything else. This means you’ll use up your daily budget a lot quicker than if you were eating more wholesome and healthier foods. Second, junk foods are often low in micronutrients, which means you’ll gain calories but not receive any of the micronutrients your body needs to function.
What to take out of all of this
IIFYM is not a new breakthrough. The truth is, it all comes down to the concept of comparing calories in versus calories out. The only difference is, rather than having a set-out plan on what to eat for the day, IIFYM involves tracking your total micro and macronutrients, without being too strict on what you eat. If done well, this can be a nutritional approach that is both enjoyable and realistic.
We know that much of what we covered today may sound like it’s intended for more highly active or athletic readers, but the truth is anyone can apply the idea of IIFYM to their everyday life. At the end of the day, it all comes down to consistency and being aware of what and how much you are putting into your body. As always if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.