If It Fits Your Macros, Right?
Ryan Milton Sept 2014
Pizza, pop tarts, Oreos, fried chicken, as long as it fits your macros right? Chances are over the past few months you have seen someone into fitness post a picture of a box of pop tarts and pizza for dinner with the acronym IIFYM. That stands for if it fits your macros. This is a fairly new idea that you can eat whatever you like and still burn fat or build muscle as long as the food you eat fits in your daily macronutrient intake. Can you really eat cookies and pizza all day and get ripped?
What are macros?
Macro’s or macronutrients are Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. These are the basis for all that we eat. IIFYM lifestyle takes a big turn off from traditional diet approaches and preaches that macros are the same for all types of food. This means that the carbohydrates from a potato are no different from the carbohydrates of an Oreo. A carb is a carb. A protein is a protein. A fat is a fat. All macros are equal and it doesn’t matter what you eat, but more so how much.
Is it true?
You definitely can fit some cheat meal type foods into your day to day lifestyle and still get the results you want. This does not necessarily mean cake, ice cream and hot dogs should be your go to foods for every meal. There is more to think about then just if it fits your macros.
Daily you need to hit a fiber goal. Fiber is necessary for many of the body’s natural functions and some foods simply are stripped of fiber content. You cannot eat pizza and white bread all day and hit a fiber goal. Shoot for somewhere between 30-40 grams of fiber a day from sources likes Fruit, Vegetables, Oats, Brown rice, sweet potato etc.
Micronutrients are what the IIFYMers tend to forget about. They are the vitamins and minerals you can’t get from the “Cheat” type foods. Most of these foods have been stripped on their micronutrients that your body needs to function properly. Although not tracked on an IIFYM diet it is important you reach these goals also. This will require that daily you still eat fruit & vegetables in the very least.
IIFYM gives you the freedom to eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros. But this can get tricky very quickly if done incorrectly. Say you wake up and go out to your favorite restaurant and pack down a giant breakfast burrito. Track your macros on that and you probably have taken a huge chunk out of your daily macro intake and still have the entire day ahead of you. Now you feel like Einstein trying to breakdown how you will survive the rest of the day without going over your goals.
I support things that help people reach their goals. And for more than a handful of people IIFYM is it. The flexibility to eat “Cheat” style foods helps people sustain healthier eating habits in the long term. I believe IIFYM is done best when there is a healthy balance between the good and the not so good foods. Spend a majority of your day focusing on traditional style nutrition eating fruits & vegetables, and protein & carb sources to ensure that you hit your fiber and micronutrient profiles. Then at some point squeeze that daily “cheat” style food into your macros. It won’t hurt anything if it fits your goals and if it keeps you on track to a healthier and happier you than that’s all that really matters.