There are a seemingly infinite number of ways to construct a diet, some are far more restrictive (or arduous to follow), including the likes of keto, vegan, paleo, or carnivore.
Can each of these diets “work” to a certain extent?
But, a bigger consideration you need to address is what works best for your lifestyle, goals, and preferences.
Today, we’ll discuss a way of eating that can help you achieve any goal you want -- muscle gain, fat loss, body recomposition, or weight maintenance -- AND it doesn’t entail you have to adhere to any wonky times of day to eat or remove entire macronutrients from your diet.
It’s called IIFYM.
What is IIFYM?
IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros.”
It is a form of flexible dieting that allows you to accomplish your fitness and physique goals without overly restricting which foods you can eat.
As opposed to solely tracking calories for weight loss or gain, you instead focus on your intake of the main macronutrients:
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
- Fat: 9 calories per gram
- Alcohol: 7 calories per gram (note: alcohol should not make up a considerable portion of your daily macronutrient intake if you’re concerned about overall health, longevity, cognitive function, athletic performance, and/or body composition)
What Foods Can I Eat on IIFYM?
Any food is “allowed” on IIFYM, with that caveat that you still hit your protein, carb, and fat macronutrient goals for the day.
So, if you want to eat lean red meat instead of chicken breast, that’s ok. If you want to have a scoop of ice cream at the end of the day to finish off your macros, that’s ok too!
Remember, you can use whatever foods you want to so long as you stick to your macronutrient targets.
Now, this can be taken to the extreme (and it has been by many doofuses on social media) where you only get your carbs and fat from ice cream and pop tarts and your protein from protein powder. While this could technically work for losing weight, it’s suboptimal as it’s low in essential micronutrients and poor overall quality nutrition.
The goal of IIFYM is to allow you the flexibility to construct your diet using whatever foods you want (within reason). So, the majority of your diet (80-90%) should consist of nutritious foods like:
- Lean protein
- Whole Grains
- Healthy fats
Then, if you’ve covered all of your bases and at the end of the day, you want a piece of dark chocolate or scoop of ice cream, it’s fine...so long as it fits your macros.
Moreover, let’s say you’re following a very specific diet, like paleo, vegan, or gluten-free. You can still follow the principles of IIFYM. There are no restrictions with this flexible dieting approach. It can fit any and every “designer” diet out there.
All it takes is some basic understanding of how to track macronutrient intake (which is easier than ever these days with the scores of freely available macro tracking apps) and consistency and honesty on your part to actually track what you eat (even the little bits of leftovers that are in the breakroom or on your child’s plate).
IIFYM can be a great tool for those who have previously struggled with feelings of depravation following other restrictive diets as it allows them to have some previously considered “dirty” or “unclean” foods (within reason), thereby increasing compliance with the diet, and ultimately helping them achieve their goals faster, with less stress and greater satisfaction!