• Is "If It Fits Your Macros" Nonsense?

      By trevorkashey Athletic Xtreme

      Unless you have been under a rock, you are hard pressed to find a person in the fitness community who has not heard of the concept of “If It Fits Your Macros” or IIFYM for short. There are many aspects of this diet that are seductive to both athletes and the general population.

      The concept is simple: Once a range of protein, carbohydrate, and fat have been decided, it does not matter what foods you consume. The only thing that matters is that you meet your numbers for the given day.


      This can be a dream come true for a person who just can’t live without the proverbial poptart.
      If somebody is allotted 250 carbohydrates and 75 grams of fat in a day and they want to blow 75 grams of carbs and 14 grams of fat on a couple poptarts, it is totally cool. If you are a person who has a healthy relationship with food (having the capacity for portion control) then this is an excellent option for people who need to get their itches scratched without going “off” their diet.


      It can however be easily seen how this diet can really throw a person off course in the (micro)nutrition department. Although it is totally possible to lose weight eating foods exclusively like the one listed above, you are not nearly as likely to take in enough essential nutrients. Although you may be fed, you just aren’t nourished the way you should be. If this is the case then your performance at work/school/gym will likely suffer as a result. As most of us know, long term nutritional deficiencies increase the likelihood of (preventable) disease and malnutrition associated illnesses.


      It is unlikely that somebody would truly bring themselves into a pathological state using IIFYM. However, I feel that eating whole unprocessed foods is the way to go, as they are far more (micro)nutrient dense. Somebody who is looking to optimize their fat loss and performance will have better luck sticking to their “bodybuilding friendly” foods.

      Not only will stabilizing your blood glucose and insulin secretion help to keep you sated, but it is a widely corroborated that keeping insulin response to food limited will decrease fat storage in the mid section and increase fat loss in the midsection. Below is one of many scientific trials conducted that correlate GI of carbohydrate intake with fat loss in the mid section on an isocaloric diet. This means that people eat the same number of calories/macros but the food choices were different. The group who ate the “healthy” foods, lost more fat and retained more muscle mass than that group that consumed the higher GI foods.

      Goss AM, Goree LL, Ellis AC, et al. Effects of diet macronutrient composition on body composition and fat distribution during weight maintenance and weight loss. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013;21(6):1139-42.

      If somebody is serious about their nutrition and tracks every macro, then including a treat here and there is a perfectly acceptable way to maintain your physique (and sanity) without going off course in the long run. Just keep in mind that half of a cup of uncooked oatmeal will take you a heck of a lot further than a decent sized of soda.

      Source: http://www.athleticx.net/articles/is-iifym-a-fad-diet/
      Comments 18 Comments
      1. audix2359's Avatar
        audix2359 -
        For most, anything taken to extreme is not good. IIFYM is a sensible approach to eating. If you are Jay Cutler and prepping for the Olymipa maybe you want to be a bit more careful. But for most, I think this approach is excellent. Most (or all) people interested in health, nutrition and athletic performance (body building, powerlifting, etc) would not go to the extreme of exclusively eating protein powder, ice cream and sugar cereal while carrying the IIFYM flag. That's nonsense and the one repetitive argument I see against IIFYM.
      1. compudog's Avatar
        compudog -
        The basic take home of IIFYM seems to be; get enough protein and not too many calories. For most people (we're at what, 65% overweight, 35% obese?) that would be a drastic improvement! Bottom line, short of risking one's health by becoming too fat, eat whatever makes you happy. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow!
      1. seanghetto's Avatar
        seanghetto -
        i guess if you blow half your days worth of carbs in one go from 4 donuts then you would probably gain more weight as opposed to having healthier lower carb meals more frequently. But I guess at the end of the day as far as your body is concerned it sees fat as fat and protein as protein. It doesn't know where they came from..
        I think it's a stupid diet system though. And yeah your diet needs more consideration than just carbs, fat, protein. You also have Vitamins, minerals, fiber, high GI, low GI etc. I think there's more than just the total amount consumed in a 24 hour period that need to be taken in to plan, including the timing of nutrient intake so to be most efficiently utilized and not stored...
      1. azmuscle602's Avatar
        azmuscle602 -
        I think this makes great sense. It doesn't matter that your body sees the macros the same but what else is in the food you consume as well. Your body, from organs to skin to bones essentially replace themselves over set period of time. You literally become what you eat. So be smart about what you shove in your face.
      1. bpmartyr's Avatar
        bpmartyr -
        Most of the IIFYM followers that I know, myself included, look at the diet as a whole which includes micro nutrition and fiber. My day consists of fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts, seeds, eggs and other nutrient dense choices. At the end of the day, if I have met my goals levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and select fats but have calories to spare ... that is when we apply IIFYM. I choose to use my carb allowance on some cinnamon toast crunch and keep it within balance with my diet as a whole and still enjoy good health plus visible abs ... how is this a nonsense approach again?
      1. reefhog's Avatar
        reefhog -
        You're obviously not a follower of IIFYM, or you wouldn't be making sure you get enough micro nutrients. By definition, IIFYM means eat whatever you want as long as you hit your macros. You would have to be a bit simple if you think you are going to stay healthy eating junk food all the time as long as you get your macros right. The old saying "you can't out train poor nutrition" is right. You don't have to be a pro bodybuilder to want to make gains, and if you eat crap you won't make decent progress. Training hard takes a lot from your nutrition stores, so if you don't replace what's been used, you can get sick, which is going to stop progress. It comes down to how serious each person is about their training and whether they want to reach their goals.
      1. reefhog's Avatar
        reefhog -
        Removed duplicate post
      1. liftallday123's Avatar
        liftallday123 -
        Completely agree ^
        It's perfect for the average person just trying to hit specific goals but elite athlete should approach it differently.
      1. rhoadx's Avatar
        rhoadx -
        by following iifym you are naturally going to eat mainly "clean" foods anyway just to meet your protein needs without blowing your calories. this just affords you the chance to have a treat that you can fit in. there is nothing wrong with that at all. plus all these people that eat "clean 100% of the time; what do they do when they finally slip (which they eventually will).....they binge. iifym will keep you satisfied so you dont binge on sh** food when you do cave
      1. Oscar's Avatar
        Oscar -
        I don't think iifym means go ahead and eat like **** all the time more like don't sweat having a candybar once in awhile if it doesn't put you over
      1. jbryand101b's Avatar
        jbryand101b -
        Yes, it is nonsense.
      1. Johnston's Avatar
        Johnston -
        In what way is this nonsense exactly? As has been touched upon, you simply CAN'T eat junk all day, every day and hit your macros. It's virtually impossible to do this, so anyone who THINKS this is how IIFYM works obviously hasn't tried it or even looked at the specifics of how it works in practice. To effectively hit your macros on a daily basis, yes there is room for so called 'junk' foods, but not to excess. If you approach it in the right way, it can be an incredibly effective approach.
      1. jerrysiii's Avatar
        jerrysiii -
        All "macros" are not the same. Oats <> fructose. Steak <> soy. Fish oil <> soy bean oil. So yes, the whole idea is ridiculous.
      1. jamesm11's Avatar
        jamesm11 -
        There's people here in worse shape claiming it is nonsense than those who claim it works. Hmmmm...

        You can have some good food every once in a while and still be fine. Contest prep is the only exception really.
      1. Johnston's Avatar
        Johnston -
        Originally Posted by jerrysiii View Post
        All "macros" are not the same. Oats <> fructose. Steak <> soy. Fish oil <> soy bean oil. So yes, the whole idea is ridiculous.
        Common sense should apply. There will be some people who interpret IIFYM as "I can eat ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING I want!", and more fool them. As with most things in life, people choose to see what they want to see. There is however HUGE scope within IIFYM that allows you to eat MANY foods that would otherwise be off limits, yet within this framework can help your goals. The point is you don't need to eat brown rice, chicken and broccoli every day to get lean. I'm amazed how many people I encounter who still think along these lines, and that they should stay away from saturated fat etc. If nothing else, IIFYM draws attention to the how important macro balance is with nutrition... I still get some people asking me what a macro is at my gym when I tell them I count them!!
      1. jbryand101b's Avatar
        jbryand101b -
        Counting calories is very inaccurate. And shows ones level of nutrition knowledge.
        Does this mean you don't eat good and look great? No, lol, it just means you've found what works good for you.

        If it helps you and makes you feel like your doing something, great. More power to you.
        Your really still just guestimating everything. Albeit not as blindly as just eating what ever.
      1. Johnston's Avatar
        Johnston -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        Counting calories is very inaccurate. And shows ones level of nutrition knowledge.
        Eh? That's new one. Please explain this statement lol!
      1. hardwork25's Avatar
        hardwork25 -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        Yes, it is nonsense.

        ^^^ wrong...

        The only people that this won't work for is people with no common sense.

        Common sense says that If someone is counting their macro's then they not eating **** all day long..... because you actually care enough to count your macro's....
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