It’s hard to lose weight, and people are always looking for ways to enjoy their favorite meals while still losing weight and getting healthier. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple — but sometimes it can be. “If it fits your macros” is an approach that many people take because it allows for versatility and enjoying yourself when you want.
But just what is this approach and is it actually a good idea for most dieters? Let’s break it down and find out! We’ll take a look at nutrition, meal plans, and the macronutrient ratio you need to focus on.
What Is ‘If It Fits Your Macros’?
The “If it fits your macros” diet, often shortened to IIFYM, is a popular diet that aims to break out of the traditional dieting pathway and allows for more flexibility. It was designed by Anthony Collova who wanted to focus on macronutrients, nutrients, and health rather than calories.
Macronutrients (macros) are broken down into four types of food molecules that the body can use for energy. In IIFYM, there are three types we pay attention to (alcohol is the fourth type):
- Protein (4 calories per gram)
- Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram)
- Fat (9 calories per gram)
The reason this diet is so popular is that it is really simple to follow and only requires you to do a few simple calculations per day. The first calculation is to determine how many grams of carbs, grams of fat, and grams of protein you will need to consume each day in order to meet your weight, health, and macronutrient goals (this is where the macro ratio comes in).
Then, you need to determine how to meet your macros on a daily basis. You will have to track your food intake to do so. All foods are allowed in this diet, but it is best to keep things simple, so you can make calculations quickly and easily. If you get meals delivered, it is best to work with a company that clearly lists out their macros instead of trying to calculate them yourself.
How Can I Calculate My Macros?
Everyone has different health needs and therefore, they need to customize the IIFYM diet to their own bodies, lifestyle, and goals. It is important to get your macro number correct because this dictates your success. There are many different calculators across the internet, but in general, you can break it down like this:
- Calculate your basal metabolic rate (which is basically the calories you need in order to survive). This is a standardized equation using your weight, height, sex, and age.
- Adjust your BMR for your activity level. If you work an extremely active job, you burn more calories than someone who works while sitting at a desk. Your BMR is multiplied by a specific number to get your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).
- Figure out your weight loss goals and then reduce your calories. If you want to gain weight, then you should increase the calories. Most people will end up reducing their calorie intake by 15-25 percent. Try not to go over that percentage, or it will negatively impact your results and the longevity of your success.
- Figure out your macros. You want to calculate what your macros should be. Protein intake should be about .7-1 grams per pound of body weight; fats should be .25-.4 grams per pound of body weight, and all of your remaining calories should go to carbs. If you’re working on building muscle, increase lean protein in your diet.
As you move through your dieting journey, the number of macros that you need, as well as your BMR and TDEE, will change. A good rule of thumb is to recalculate them whenever you notice that your weight loss or muscle mass are slowing down or you feel that you have “plateaued” in your weight loss.
How Can I Track My Macros?
To track your macros, it is best to use an app that keeps track of the numbers for you, such as “Lose It” or “My Fitness Pal.” You can also add everything together yourself, but this will take some time. At first, you will have to look up different foods and put everything together. It can get tricky counting sauces and condiments, but it is possible.
The reason we suggest using apps or meal delivery services that list out macros is that it can be hard to figure out macros on pre-made meals or meals from restaurants. Most apps will have the big chain restaurants preloaded into them, so you can even browse your macros while looking at the menu.
If It Fits Your Macros: Benefits
If you follow the IIFYM diet the right way, there are going to be a few benefits that you can expect to see over other types of diets. The first is that you have complete control over what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat. As long as what you eat fits into your macros, you can eat it. This means that if you want to have a slice of chocolate cake at 10 PM, you can have it.
This diet also encourages you to understand the foods you put into your body and how they fuel you. You will quickly see the difference in foods and how they make you feel. For example, a huge salad with a bunch of fresh veggies may have the same calories as a bowl of ice cream, but only one is going to make you feel full.
Once you learn how foods impact your body, you will be able to make smarter decisions and even determine what will make you successful. Another reason to choose this diet is that this is a high-protein diet, which will increase your metabolism, help with muscle gain, and help you maintain your weight loss for a longer period of time.
If It Fits Your Macros: Some Common Issues
Of course, there are some issues with this method as well. It is still a diet, so it can feel restrictive over time. There are going to be days when it is nearly impossible to track your macros, and that can lead to bingeing or taking a few days to have cheat meals, which will knock you off track.
Another issue some people face is that while they are focusing on the big picture, they aren’t careful to get all of the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. Speaking of staying healthy, this diet isn’t always good for people who require special diets, such as those who have diabetes or those with kidney disease.
It is possible to adjust the diet, but it will just make everything a bit trickier. If this is the case for you, speak to a registered dietitian or doctor.
There are some other issues that you want to consider as well, though they are the same as with any other diet. If you aren’t willing to put in the work to make your diet successful, you will end up with lackluster results.
You cannot expect to eat junk food and still feel good and look good. you need to balance out what you do with what you eat, how you feel, and what your goals are. Here are some foods that work great on this diet that are also healthy:
- Chicken, beef, and seafood
- Whole grains
- Starchy Vegetables
Remember that every diet is going to take some work, and you won’t be perfect from the first day. Still, that first day is when most people go wrong, and then they don’t try again. Instead of condemning yourself after one bad day or cheat meal, just try to push forward and be healthy with your next choices. Every day (and every meal) is a new opportunity.
Find a way to get the support you need in your dieting, and you will have more success.
Conclusion: Is “If It Fits Your Macros” The Right Approach for You?
At the end of the day, IIFYM is one of the most flexible dieting options out there for people who don’t want to completely surrender their lives to dieting and have the choice to eat foods they love, go out with friends, and indulge every now and again. At first, it takes a lot of calculations and math, but over time, it should become fairly easy, especially with the help of a meal delivery service and a fitness tracking app.
It is still important to know your body and take stock in your micronutrients, your sleeping patterns, and how you feel. You don’t want to get too stuck in your head, but you do want to take stock every now and again.
Any diet is going to have positives and negatives, and it’s up to you to determine what diet is the right approach for your health goals, your body, and your lifestyle. However, IIFYM is certainly a good approach for many people thanks to its flexibility.