IIFYM is a term that has appeared on almost every fitness website over the past few years. But first, what does it stand for and second, what does it even mean?
And no it has nothing to do with your mother.
IIFYM stands for If it fits your macros.
A Macro is short for macronutrient. There are four macronutrients.
- Alcohol (unlike the above macros, alcohol is not necessary for survival.
Nutrition labels measure these in grams. One gram of each macro yields the following number of calories:
- 1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories
- 1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
- 1 gram of Alcohol = 7 calories
Micronutrients consist of the following
The basic theory is that as long as you eat at below your recommended amount of calories you will lose weight.
No matter what you eat.
It’s that simple.
If you consume more calories than you expend you will lose weight.
Two ways to do this are:
- Eat less calories
- Do more activity
This is dictated by the law of thermodynamics:
(Calories consumed) – (Calories expended) = weight gained/lost
Lets use the following example:
You consume 2500 calories/ day for four weeks. You expend 3000 calories each day.
3000 – 2500 = -500 calories
-500 x 28 days = 14,000 calories
3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat
14,000/3,500 = 4
So over four weeks you lose 4lbs of fat
So as long as your food intake “fits your macros” you will lose weight.
Following this plan you can eat all the twinkies and cookies and still manage to lose weight.
Speaking of Twinkies this professor lost 27 pounds over 10 weeks eating twinkies and other “bad food” following IIFYM.
To my surprise the professor experienced no negative impact on his health markers. From this study it seems that weight gain causes all of the nasty health problems not necessarily what food you eat.
How to implement IIFYM?
Find your recommended daily macros based on your weight, height, age and activity levels. You can go to www.myfitnesspal.com to track all of your food intake.
A good guideline is bodyweight in lbs x14-15 = estimated calories expended
- For fat loss – 500 calories from this number
- For muscle gain +500 calories to this number
Stay within the range everyday eating whatever it is you want.
Benefits of IIFYM
It allows you to be more flexible with what it is you are eating. Personally I don’t agree or see much benefit of a complete junk food diet. But I do see that it is close to impossible to eat healthy unprocessed food all the time. With IIFYM you can keep your weight on track while enjoying all types of food, whether they are “good” or “bad” foods.
With diet control it is very easy to become obsessed about every single thing you put in your mouth. A lot of the time the negatives from the stress that food puts on you can outweigh the positive qualities of eating the food itself.
IIFYM eases a lot of that stress.
Problems with IIFYM
Like all things involving nutrition there is no magic pill that will suit everyone. IIFYM is another style of eating that you can use to help you with your body composition goals. While getting your macro nutrients will essentially result in success it should be noted the importance of getting a plentiful supply of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). The best sources of these are through fruit and vegetables.
Another problem with IIFYM is underestimating the amount of calories you are burning and eating. If you are using this plan but still are losing no weight after four weeks you are still eating too much food.
Some people will get great results using IIFYM. The key with this and all other nutrition practices like carb cycling, intermittent fasting and so on is whether or not it works for you. If you are looking to lose weight I would recommend to stick to a relatively strict eating plan for the first four weeks.
After this phase you can implement more flexible diet plans like IIFYM which allow for a more sustainable lifestyle.