Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Closer Look at IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macros

Shedding Light on IIFYM 

If you haven't yet - read here about how I stopped my binging for good with the IIFYM lifestyle.

A lot of buzz has been going around with the growth and popularity of IIFYM - or IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS. A sort of clean eating vs IIFYM war battle.
People keep saying "Either you're a clean eater, OR iifym" or "Ok you iifym? Good luck with your rotting health" or "Ew iifymers looks gross because they eat gross things" etc etc.

NEWS FLASH. It's not black and white. It's not "healthy OR IIFYM".

To assume all IIFYMers just fill their macros with crap is absurd. Maybe its because a lot of people on instagram or online only post the "naughty", but that's only to show that you CAN GET TO YOUR GOALS while still having treats! You could have any diet or eating style in the world and still IIFYM. You could be: paleo, clean eater, keto, vegetarian, vegan, raw, etc and still use the IIFYM method. It's basically a form of calorie counting, but with macros (protein fats and carbs), and you count EVERYTHING YOU CONSUME.

There is no black and white. YOU CAN STILL EAT "HEALTHY" FOOD IN AN IIFYM DIET.
It's not 
"healthy: clean eating reviving foods that get you lean and magically fit
"IIFYM: unhealthy fattening process foods that will make you gain fat".  

Many people may have that view because it's easier to overeat on the "naughty" things than vegetables. However, it's the OVER CONSUMPTION of food that will lead to fat gain, not the food itself. Educate yourself. In the end science wins. Calories out vs calories in. You can eat a surplus of freakin veggies and protein and gain weight, you can eat in a deficit of cookies and lose weight. Check out Layne Norton on all his forms of social media because he's always spitting truth and facts based on SCIENCE, especially about the IIFYM approach.

I aim to hit my macros every day, I fill them with nutrient dense food (veggies, fruits, meats, avocados, oils, nuts, other forms of protein, grains, starchy carbs, essential fats, fiber, Etc etc) AND I get my treats, treats that are deemed "naughty" by the clean eating society. 

I have a wide option of food to choice from, there are no "banned" or "restricted" foods. I hit my essential nutrients everyday (nutrients that you must obtain from food because your body doesn't make them- essential amino acids, essential fats, vitamins and minerals) and always hit my fiber. If you look at my instagram feed I'm not shoving my face with cake all day, like many people THINK when they hear "IIFYM".  But the great thing about if it fits your macros is: I AM able to fit in treats when I want to! When I was a clean eater, I never had that mindset! I always had the thought "go clean, or go crazy and hard on all the bad stuff". I had no sense of balance when I was a strict "clean eater". If you read my IIFYM saved me from binging post, you'll read about those struggles and mindset. 

I realize some clean eaters also say:

"Oh WE eat in moderation TOO - or we'd go crazy!" 

That's amazing for YOU that you can do that! But for me PERSONALLY, when I was a "clean eater" I went too crazy clean...

As in I banned all salt, even sea salt, didn't cook with oil because I was afraid of the fats and if it would become deadly poisonous when cooked with, I avoided most carbs, and probably only consumed around <50 g a day, mostly from veggies, and when I did count my calories, I would end up at around 700 calories for the day! No wonder my metabolism was all kinds of messed up.
I also had FOOD COMBINING RULES: I wouldn't combine 2 proteins in a meal, I wouldn't eat fruit with or after a meal because of the digesting times and was told it would sit and rot in my stomach, I hardly ate dairy, and if I did eat bread, I couldn't eat it with any protein because it wasn't "good for the digestive system". These food combining rules were basically put together so that our digestive system can work smoothly and not have any tummy aches... but now that I think of it... I think I was making my digestive system a big ol' WIMP by giving it such an easy time. What happens if I introduce something bad down the road? My body would have a CRAZY reaction. So why did I make everything so easy for it? Let's give our digestive systems a little struggle, make it stronger! Just my opinion...
Sorry for that tangent, but how I was living above..... That's no way to live!
For me personally (SO you all that have been doing well and fine and are happy with clean eating, CONGRATS, that is AMAZING - I'm not trying to bash any clean eaters out there) but for ME, I was too restricted with that sort of lifestyle, which led to binging!

Now I'm a proud iifymer, with a new mindset of view on foods, I'm an ex/recovering binger, I eat nutritious food but I also eat not so nutritious food. But just because I follow IIFYM, or if you know anyone that follows IIFYM,  
do not assume it's a full-of-crap diet
It is NOT. I fill my macros with ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT DENSE food and once those are hit, I add in TREATS IF I WANT. Don't judge a person's lifestyle and health based on their "diet". You can be a CLEAN EATER AND DO IIFYM. Did ya know that? You just fill your macros allllll of clean clean unprocessed foods!
Not rocket science, but it seems like a lot of people can't grasp that concept.
Once again, it is NOT Healthy OR IIFYM. Repeat that till it absorbs into your brain.
My body following IIFYM. Guess those poptarts are doing some good huh?
I'm living my balanced lifestyle and loving it.
Take a look at your "diet" right now.
If you can't see yourself eating that way in 5 years, time to find a way that you can stick to.

What is IIFYM:

In the simplest way, IIFYM means
"consuming almost any food source either high or low nutrient value within reason that will fit into a fixed macronutrient/caloric total."
Macros: protein, carbs, and fat.
The reason we focus on counting macros instead of calories is because some labels actually round down in calories. If you see a product with 3 g fat, 5 g carbs, and 10 g protein, that would equal 3(9) + 5(4) + 10(4) = 87 calories, but some companies may even round down to 85 or 80! SO count macros instead!

BASICALLY you are allowed to fit whatever you want into your macros.... but this doesn't mean go wild crazy on a candy buffet. Sure you could if you wanted to.. but you want to get your essential nutrients for proper body and brain function and health benefits! You can also take a multivitamin to help out with your micros!

Macros: fat, carbs, protein
Micros: vitamins and minerals
You need fats which are necessary part of every cell, they protect internal organs, and provide fat-soluble vitamins
You need carbs for your energy sources
You need protein to repair and help build some awesome muscles
You need vitamins and minerals to regulate various body processes
And you need your fiber to ah... help ya remove the waste

Your health is determined through micronutrients
Your aesthetics and body composition is determined by macros/calories

IIFYM allows you to incorporate so called "junk" or "naughty" foods into your diet. Studies say that the body doesn't differentiate between what kinds of foods you eat, but only processes the foods based on its macros. Counting and eating by your macros will affect your body composition, but make sure you also get those micronutrients to benefit your health! 

How to Start:

An easy place to start would be to go to, go to their online calculator and find your own set of customized macros for your body and needs. I would raise the recommended protein over 1 g/body weight in pounds especially if you lift weights or you goal is to gain lean muscle.

Check this link to read about setting up your own macros and getting started!
Also this link shows you how to set it up if you want to do the math by hand as well!

Or you could also look for a great coach or nutritionist to set some macros for you and take out the guessing game of whether you're doing it right or not! Check out Layne Norton's suggestions that he gives on his twitter account! I get my macros from my nutrition coach Paul Revelia.

  • I use myfitnesspal to track my food [there's an online store and a phone app]
    • I like using My Fitness Pal [or MFP] because it has a huge food database, and if your food has a barcode, you can use the app to scan it and it'll bring that food right up! Easy as that! Click add to your diary and BAM. Easy and fast!
  • Once you have your macros, set them on myfitnesspal, go to the website --> My Home --> Goals --> scroll down to Change Goals --> And then click the bubble that says Custom
    • Now at this part, MFP doesn't allow custom percentages, so you have to be a little loose here
    • Add up what your calories should be by using the equation below and put in YOUR macros:
      • [Fat Grams * 9] + [Carb Grams * 4] + [Protein Grams * 4] = Total Calories
    • Put your total calories into the Net Calories Consumed space on the MFP page
    • Then play around with the percentages until they get the grams on the right [next to the percentages] as close as possible to your macros! 
      • My Fitness Pals doesn't have my exact precise macro percentages, but I've memorized my macros by now and hit them daily!
  • Try to hit your macros on target every day [or at least hit within 5 g range of each]
  • In the picture below the goal is your goal macros and total is what you've already consumed for the day!
    these ARE NOT my macros, just an example!

  •  COUNT FIBER with your carbs
    • if you're carb macros are 220 g and you want to have at least 23 g fiber, you still want the total carb g on MFP to say 220 and Fiber to say 23
    • DON'T eat 243 g carbs and have 23 g of carbs and say "Ok my NET Carbs [total minus fiber] is 220 so I'm good. Count your fiber WITH your total carb intake!
  • Measure your food with a scale, it's most accurate!
  • When eating out, there are many restaurants with online nutrition info which can be used through MFP!
    • if there is no nutrition info, GUESSTIMATE! 
    • Eyeball it - how many ounces [4 oz is usually around an iphone size] 
    • Sub in a similar dish
      • So you're eating lo mein but can't get the exact match from the place you're at? Search Lo mein from another restaurant and put it in! 
  • Track your foods everyday - Sometimes I do a loose plan of the next day before I go to bed! Then as your day changes, do little tweaks here and there!
  • It's best to center majority of carbs at breakfast, pre and post workout, and then spread the rest out over the rest of your meals
  • Try not to have too much fat pre or post workout
  • MAKE SURE YOU'RE HITTING FIBER - gotta keep that system flowingggg
  • Keep consistent with your macros! So that when you want to change [bulk or cut down] your body will be sensitive to the macro changes! 
  • Get your body used to your macros. Don't jump around constantly! Give it a few weeks or a month to adapt to them! Then change them around if needed!

Does IIFYM Work? 
This is like asking, "Does healthy eating work? Does Paleo work? Does Keto work? Does clean eating work?" Etc etc. Because remember - YOU CAN FOLLOW ANY EATING PLAN OR DIET AND USE IIFYM! It's simply TRACKING WHAT YOU EAT, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS THAT YOU EAT.

My personal transformation since incorporating IIFYM
IIFYM has definitely worked for me MAJORLY due to the fact that it stopped my binges. 
Remember - eating TOO MUCH of ANYTHING [even apples or lettuce] will make you gain weight! Granted that'd be a LOT of lettuce, but you get the point.
Overeating anything = fat gain
Being in a caloric deficit = fat loss

Simple as that

And now I leave you with this:
Before you criticize a diet, do some research. Don't judge one's lifestyle based on their "diet" or way of eating. Don't judge someone's health by the food they eat. In the end, just do what works for you and don't give a damn about any other lifestyle that disagrees with yours! 

LINKS I Highly Recommend You Check Out for More On IIFYM:


  1. Question, do you have to hit your macros after exercise? Or does exercise not go into the equation? I ask because when I input my exercise on MFP my calories eaten, carbs, fat, etc. goes down.
    Help please!

  2. Hi Josie, I am going to try IIFYM starting tomorrow (I'm stuck in a similar cycle of binging then depriving myself, as countless others are as well I'm sure). I just had a question: so do I count my fiber intake as part of my carb intake? For example, if my carb macro is 160, my carb intake is 150 and my fiber intake is 30, did I go over my carb macro of 160 because 150+30=180? Just making sure. Thanks a lot and keep posting! :)

    1. just eat 150!!! and 30 of those fiber!! not 180! :]

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable info! I am 2 weeks into iifym and it has saved me from binging post bikini comp. It has kept me on track with my diet and I am so happy to be able to indulge in chocolate without the guilt! Also thank you for pointing out how to change your macros on MFP! I never knew you could!

  4. so helpful with the my fitness pal specifications! i am going to start iifym tomorrow and im a little nervous. quick question: recommends buying a kitchen scale which i plan on doing, would i enter 5g of turkey that i weighed as 5g of protein? or would i enter it to myfitnesspal and go according to all the nutritional values in 5g of turkey to meet my macros? catch my drift?

    1. you would count alllll the macros it has! not just protein

  5. This is great to see the fitness work over here. We need to look smart and healthy! Your blog is very much helpful..Thanks

  6. Just wondering what your view is on sugar intake??

    1. i usually dont track it! because fruits have lots of sugar but i dont freak out about it :] just make sure it's not TOO crazy high!

    2. Hey, what is 'crazy high'? I make sure I hit my fibre, but I too eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and can get between 60-90g of sugar - most is natural sugar (50g), is that too much?

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  8. This post has been SO helpful! I didn't know you could custom adjust your goals on MFP. Thank you so much!

    I've just started doing iifym and I've found that I've been hitting my recommended macros but only reaching 900-some calories.... I know it's pretty unhealthy to be in that dramatic a caloric deficit, so do you have any suggestions on how to reach at least 1200 cal a day without going over macros?? Maybe I've just been eating TOO-nutrient dense foods? Is that possible? :P


    1. hmm it sounds like you may need to up your macros babe!

  9. Wow this helped me so much. I just started IIFYM 4 weeks ago.. and this week im pms and feel bloated and im blaming it on my treat meals and thinkng my sugar intake is too high... this really helped me feel alot better, if you have a chance get in touch with me id love to ask a few more questions and make sure im on the right now but thank you for this articile

  10. my macros estimated not by a coach but from iifym is 35/25/40 35%carbs 25% fat and 40% protein but when I log that in my fitness pal it shows that i am WAY under calories any tips?

    1. just change your goals online so that it brings the calories up! :}

  11. what does the cut process mean?

  12. Hey!
    I just started IIFYM like 4 days ago. Im about 5'3 1/2, 104-106 pounds,about to turn 19, coming from a background of restrictive eating. I calculated them on but I'm not sure where to go. for now i clicked the reckless weight loss since those calls for a bit higher from what I'm used too. I usually ate like 1100+ (mostly)-1200/1250 (sometimes). I do pilates, specifically blogiates on youtube, 5 days a week,maybe 6 . I walk around a lot on days i have class. The macros i received for that were 135c/105p/42. I'm just so screed to gain so i want to be able to up everything without gaining. Ive been hitting everything within a +5/-5 range, i just want to know if i should change them or something. I'm really scared

    1. Are you trying to recklessly lose weight, or are you trying to maintain?

      If you are coming from a background of restrictive eating, I have news for you.. the first few days you hit your macros, your body is going to flip and start storing all the glycogen it can. And since each gram of glycogen is bound to 4 grams of water, You are GOING TO put on a few lbs of water weight the first week or so you're hitting your macros. Put away the scale and wait for the fluff to subside. As soon as your body realizes you're feeding it adequately from now on, it will switch to a more normal metabolic process and eat away any fat you might have.

      Please raise your macros to the maintenance level. Otherwise you're just damaging your metabolism even further :(

    2. I've actually been fine for the first week, not any water weight yet. i mean i only raised my cals like by 100 or so for the first week I've done it. so its not that awful. i might reverse diet up to it? idk

    3. mommadoux has a very good point! you want to get your body accustomed to your maintenance cals bc if not, you're just further deteriorating your metabolism which will bite back with a vengeance when you're older! don't be afraid to increase, and dont be afraid of initial gains, it'll all even out!

  13. Good Morning Beautiful! I just wanted to let you know there is a conversion for your grams on MFP. Here is the hack.
    Basically go into your "goals" and then where it displays your macros in percentages...there is a dropdown menu and you can choose grams instead. There should be directions on this page too....hope this helps! I beliong to IIFYM Women on FB and it is amazing the info I get ;)

    1. oooh that's awesome! i've gotta check it out! thanks love! <3 <3

    2. I don't see that drop down menu to choose grams.

  14. this was def an informative read. thanks for posting! im new to iifym and i was wondering if i had to hit my macros exactly but u say get within 5g and that def helps! thanks again.

  15. This is a bomb post!! I'm 25 days in and I think I'm still in a grey area. IIFYM on the 20% fat loss and my macros are 115/160/46 and I've lost a couple lbs. But what if my goal isn't to lose weight as much as it is to lower body fat(muscle definiton)? I'm actually happy with my weight but it's my body comp I want to focus on . My confusion is will eating maintenance stop my muscles from peeking through? Or is it the distribution of macros within my maintenance calories that determines that?

    1. you could definitely be eating at maintenance and get any deficit from your workouts! this will still lose fat since you're in a deficit, but if you weight train heavy and keep maybe 20 min cardio 2-3x a week, you should see those muscles :)

  16. hi josie my macos are 75C/120P/47F. will it be too low for me cos im with 1200 cals and with macros percentage of 25%/40%/35%. oh im trying to lose weight tho :p