If It Fits Your Macros Diet! It is the meaning of the acronym IIFYM and the motto of this diet, which literally means “if they are the right nutrients for you”.
Sounds appealing, is it really, or are there some big drawbacks? Most diets fail, maybe even this one? To find out, find out what it is and how it works!
What Is The IIFYM Diet?
The IIFYM ( If It Fits Your Macros) diet was born in the field of bodybuilding as opposed to very strict diets ( rice, chicken, and broccoli to say the great classics) which seemed to be the only way to achieve one’s aesthetic results.
They have begun to include other foods as well, including those considered “unhealthy”, and have seen results nonetheless.
Hence the IIFYM, which is more a lifestyle than a diet: you don’t have to eliminate certain categories of foods, you don’t have to eat at certain times, it doesn’t impose specific foods.
The only thing that matters is to return to the daily calories and macronutrients and the important thing is to reach this quota, regardless of the food chosen: quality comes after quantity.
Basically, you could live on pizza, sweets, sushi. This is precisely what makes this diet is palatable you have the possibility to choose any food you want. Who was waiting for nothing but such a diet?
It is perhaps the only diet to argue that calories matter it is not eating or not having breakfast, not eating only vegetable protein sources, or the avoidance of food categories that allows us to achieve a result.
At the base, there is the energy balance and immediately after the distribution of macronutrients.
At the base there is the energy balance even in diets that do not consider them by chance (not too random), all the dietary schemes for weight loss that allow you to eat at will say to avoid processed, fatty foods and to prefer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fibrous foods.
Without knowing it, by eating this way you are most likely low-calorie and therefore lose weight.
The weight loss diet that says calories don’t matter and makes you eat the super palatable fatty and sugary foods included is yet to be born. Maybe because it would be a colossal failure?
To set up an IIFYM diet you need to know:
- Current calorie intake
- Goal – Do you want to lose (decrease calories), maintain or gain weight (increase them)?
- How much space should you give to each macronutrient?
Like all diets, the first thing to know is the energy requirement and how many calories do you need on average each day to maintain body weight?
To know it, you can proceed in two ways:
- For a week or more, mark on a calorie counter app everything you eat (and drink) and weigh yourself in the same conditions (e.g. just woken up, before having breakfast)
- You rely on formulas and calculators.
In the first case, if you do not change the weight you have found your normal calorie, in the second it is still better to check in practice if it is a reliable value, since often too high values are given.
In the next chapter, you will find a practical example that can be more immediate to understand what to do.
With regard to caloric cutting and the distribution of macronutrients, IIFYM does not give any indications you have to customize.
For a gradual weight loss without drastic cuts, remove, for example, 15-20% compared to the norm caloric or 350-500 kcal. To gain weight, on the contrary, add.
Once the energy is set, it is the turn of the macronutrients: how many carbohydrates, fats, and proteins?
The quantities are to be set according to the needs and depend on many factors not covered by this article.
To give a parameter, the guidelines for the adult population provide 45-60% carbohydrates, 20-35% fats, and 0.9 g / lbs proteins.
Furthermore, for example, sportspeople, especially if they have good muscle mass and low lean and low-calorie mass, can raise the protein share.
IIFYM Diet Example
Let’s see a practical example of what to do to set the nutrients for a person who weighs 200 lbs and who, after recording what he eats on his calorie counter app for 2 weeks, deduces that the average calorie intake is 3000 kcal per day.
The first thing to do is to calculate 15-20% (for the calculation example we consider 20%) of 3000 with a proportion: 15: 200 = x: 3000, from which we obtain that x equals 600.
The calories that will therefore be reached every day in the low-calorie diet are 2400 kcal (3000-600).
After energy, it’s the turn of the nutrients: how many carbohydrates, fats, and proteins? For example, it chooses to obtain 50% from carbohydrates (1200 kcal), 25% from lipids (600 kcal), and the remaining 25% from proteins (600 kcal).
At this point, to obtain the grams of macronutrients to reach, it is necessary to remember that 1 g of carbohydrates and 1g of proteins correspond to 4 kcal, while 1 g of fat corresponds to 9 kcal.
Therefore, using the elementary math that you never forget, there are 300 g carbohydrates, 67 g of fat, and 150 g of protein.
In relation to weight (it is better to evaluate if / lbs rather than the percentages to establish the macronutrients), they are 3 g / lbs of carbohydrates, 0.67 g / lbs of lipids, and 1.5 g / lbs of proteins.
Benefits and Advantages IIFYM
First of all and not at all obvious is the greater compliance to the diet, as opposed to rigid dietary regimes.
In fact, given the absence of restrictions and the possibility of choosing foods based on what you prefer, it is more unlikely to abandon the diet after a short time.
This adherence means that there is greater sustainability of the food plan, precisely because it is customizable and allows you to insert foods that satisfy you – because today’s food also serves this as well as nourishment.
These characteristics make the IIFYM can be followed in the long term aspect at the base for the achievement of a result, especially when you want to reach a physical form very far from the initial one.
Another advantage is that it can also be followed by less motivated subjects, hearing the word “diet” already start off on the wrong foot convinced that they will have to live the rest of their days based on boiled chicken and plain salad?
Unfortunately, many, since “diet” is not commonly understood as a “lifestyle” but as a diet to lose weight (therefore low-calorie diet ) with sad food restrictions. With this idea of deprivation, surely the less motivated would never start (or immediately give up) an inflexible diet.
With all these assumptions, the advantage is also the greater probability of achieving the result. Not such a trivial benefit if you think about how many people start a rigid diet, achieve the result, start eating as before and lose it even finding themselves worse than before.
Even if not everyone admits it, after all, it is common knowledge that the results of weight loss (but also of weight gain) require time and constancy precisely because there is this (essential) condition, the diet plan must be actionable and sustainable.
Disadvantages of IIFYM
At first glance it seems that there are not many criticisms to be made – no restrictions, no constraints (if not staying in the macros), no set times in which not to eat.
The problem arises when only junk foods are chosen “because so much is part of the macros “.
If being well is not a priority it can be valid as a justification, otherwise, it cannot – health is not determined only by quantity, but also by quality.
Fried foods, foods with a lot of saturated fats, trans and cholesterol and with a lot of sugar and salt, a low intake of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes cause complications.
For this, following the IIFYM pattern requires some skills that are not built in a day:
- Self-management and self-control skills,
- Knowledge of food composition.
Even if you can literally eat what you want, it is clear that filling the macronutrients with only over palatable, unhealthy, and high-calorie foods makes no sense, of course, it can lead you to the goal because the calorie intake is a great determinant, but one person it’s not just a number on the scale.
Eating these foods you will still be hungry during the day as they are not very satiating or you will seem to “eat little” (at least visually) as they are densely energetic.
There must therefore be famous common sense (another ability to manage IIFYM well) in the choice of foods. A proposal starting from the expense is to choose:
80% “healthy” and nutrient-rich foods
20% foods that you like and consider “unhealthy” that satisfy you
In fact, to keep an eye on health, it is necessary to limit “empty calories”, that is, those foods that are very caloric but with few useful nutrients, such as ultra-processed foods (UPFs) that have excessive amounts of sugars, saturated and trans fats, salt and very low in fiber, micronutrients.
Not that in themselves “unhealthy foods” are a problem when occasional (such as including them in 20%), but if consumed very easily they make you exceed the recommended quantities both sugars and saturated fats should not exceed 10% of the intake daily caloric, while the trans 1%.
The consumption of UPFs is negatively correlated with health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases, mortality):
- A 10% increase in UPF consumption is associated with a + 4% metabolic syndrome,
- Consumption of 4 servings/day of UPFs is associated with all-cause mortality of 62%, with + 18% for each additional serving,
- A 10% increase in the consumption of UPFs leads to a 10% increase in the risk of cancer (ratio 1:1), especially in the breast.