If It Fits Your Macros or #IIFYM is a current nutrition trend which allows for a very flexible nutrition plan. The basics behind the plan is that you must stick to a specific calorie count every day, which is broken down among your 3 main macro nutrient groups.
These are, protein, carbohydrates and also fats. There are several handy smart phone apps that allow you to track your macros and calories at each meal, and make sure you stay on track each day without eating beyond a certain amount, allocated to you. How you hit these totals each day, “apparently” doesn’t matter. Your carbs can come from Coco Pops, your fats from peanut butter and whatever else you crave can be eaten at any time….. once it fits your macros!
Now the big question. Does it work?
For me, as with most things health and fitness related, there is an argument to be had for both sides. I believe lesser experienced individuals, who haven’t had much of a history of training and / or nutrition, that are just looking to begin a healthier lifestyle can achieve great results with IIFYM. The same however can be said of virtually any fad diet, or detox out there. If you take any sedentary adult, who has never worried about their food intake and suddenly start them on a training regime and have them follow virtually any nutrition plan they will see results.
Outside of beginners, you will also see some very experience people, even athletes using IIFYM as their main nutrition principal. It is at this point that the easy going policy can become much more detrimental depending upon the individual themselves. Anyone with the discipline and knowledge to follow the plan with proper structure can achieve fantastic results, while also allowing for occasional “treats” in their food plan. However anyone who does not know how much various foods effect their metabolism can often make poor choices just to suit their taste buds rather than their training goals.
The main problem with choosing the wrong foods, even when staying within you daily macro guidelines is that not all foods are created equal. Not to mention that the exact same food intake can have a different effect on two different people.
Let’s look at carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s main energy source and are a crucial component of a healthy nutrition plan. Carbs often get a bad name, but I find in most cases this is because people are eating their carbs at the wrong time of day, or choosing the wrong type of carbs, or worse, doing both. Eating carbohydrates will cause a glycemic response in the body, meaning that the sugar levels in your blood will change. As a general rule, most of us will want to keep our blood sugars at a very steady level throughout the day, with a peak created directly after an intense workout. I firmly believe that there is a place for carbs in every nutrition plan, and even some fast acting sugars for directly post workout. But the problem arise when a person’s decision making is poor, or perhaps even their will power is weak.
I quite often see and hear people speaking about how they can “get away” with eating chocolate, or ice cream or any other treats they enjoy, because they have made it fit their macros. But by eating these high sugar, and high carbohydrate foods, they are in turn depriving their bodies of the much needed healthy carbohydrates to fuel their training and recovery.
The same of course can be said of proteins and fats. Choosing 30g of protein from egg whites, or having 30g of protein from a cheap Greek yoghurt is going to have a completely different effect on muscle repair, recovery and growth. All proteins have a different bioavailability, which illustrates how much of the protein we retain and use after consumption. Sure the Greek yoghurt might taste great, and you might have some macros “left over” so you can add some chocolate buttons, (I have actually seen people do this and think it’s not only healthy but necessary), but your muscles won’t have half as much protein available to actual use for repair and growth.
My final say on IIFYM is that it can work, but only if you are educated and dedicated and know what you are doing. If you follow IIFYM just so you can be lazy and “treat” yourself, then you are wasting your time. You might be in better shape than you were 12 months ago as a beginner, but that progress will come to a grinding halt.
Don’t get lured in by the promise of jellies after training. Be realistic, you know what is or isn’t healthy food so you can still be a “flexible dieter” but just made intelligent food choices and your results will continue to get better and better the more you understand your body and learn how it responds to different foods.
For help creating a healthy nutrition plan specific to you, your schedule and of course your health and fitness goals be sure to get in touch www.coachsfitnesscentre.com/contact-coach
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