What is IIFYM and how does it work?
What does following a “flexible diet” really mean? The terms “flexible dieting”, “if it fits your macros” and “IIFYM” are interchangeably used when you’re tracking macros. The term “macros” is short for macronutrients, which consist of proteins, fats and carbs that are in the foods you eat. Typically, your body requires a specific amount of each depending on many factors including your age, height, weight, activity level, etc; so, this will be different for everyone. The amount of protein, carbs and fats you eat every day make up the total amount of calories you consume on a daily basis.
The principle behind following the IIFYM diet, is that you can eat whatever you want, as long as it fits your macros. So yes, you can enjoy things like pizza and bagels, if they fit into your macros that day, AND you can still reach your health and fitness goals! Now that’s not to say you can eat your daily carbohydrate goal in the form of donuts and candy – you want to be mindful of your sugar and sodium also. This “rule” of paying close attention to your micronutrients as well, prevents you from eating a bunch of junk food to “meet” your macro goals for the day.
The key point here that I want you to keep in mind, is that most of your food choices should still consist of making healthy choices, choosing whole foods, limiting processed foods, etc. but you have the flexibility to enjoy foods you love without guilt, without restricting yourself and without it working against you! If you are interested in tracking macros, check out my online training page for coaching options!
FAQ: Are calories and macros the same? If I’m hitting my macros, am I hitting my calories?
- If you are hitting your macros, you are essentially hitting your calories. Macros (remember – protein, fats and carbs) makeup your total calories. Let’s see how we would calculate this!
Let’s say your daily macro goals are the following numbers: 140g protein, 50g fat and 170g carbohydrates
- There are 4 calories per 1 gram of carbs
- There are 4 calories per 1 gram of protein
- There are 9 calories per 1 gram of fat
- So for example,
- 140g protein *4 = 560 calories
- 50g fat*9 = 450 calories
- 170g carbs *4 = 680 calories
- =1,690 calories for the day
Intro to Tracking
I recommend using a tracking app, like MyFitnessPal. It’s user-friendly and one thing I love about the app is that it has a bar code scanner, which makes it easy to input foods with wrappers or packaging.
- “How do I know how much to enter when plugging in my food?”
- You’ll need to weigh the majority of your food to know exactly what serving size to put into MFP. If you weigh 4 oz. of chicken, select the serving size option to reflect 4 oz. of chicken in the app.
Tip: Ignore the goals MFP sets for you. I honestly have NO idea where those numbers come from or how they got those. Regardless, they’re never right. So, follow your macro calculations, as those are set for you specifically. You can upgrade to the premium version if you want to customize the “Nutrition Goals” to your own goals.
Tip: Tracking can be a VERY overwhelming process at first. BUT – I PROMISE you that the more consistent you are with doing it, the more honest you are about entering what you really ate and the more experience you have doing it over time – it WILL get easier and it WILL become second nature to track your food.
Tip: Plug as many of your meals into the app the night before. Meal prep will also be super helpful, especially in the beginning stages of tracking. Plugging your meals in ahead of time allows you to make changes to serving sizes or explore different food options, if needed. It’s much less of a headache to make those changes beforehand, so you can really get as close to hitting your macros before you even begin prepping your food.
Here are some review points and next steps to help you get started:
- Start tracking the food (and drinks!!) you consumed today and start playing around on MFP by entering some foods that you know you eat most days
- After you’ve input those foods into MFP, see where you fall short (in regards to your protein/carb and fat goals)
- Make serving size adjustments as needed.
- The easiest and least stressful way to make sure you hit your macro goals every day is to prepare some foods in advance, and do some meal prep for the week.
If you’re new to meal prepping, check out this awesome blog post where I break down some helpful tips for meal prep beginners!
I hope this was helpful to you!