A question I’ve been getting a lot lately is, “Tanya, does IIFYM work for weight loss?”
Another Q I get quite often is, “What the heck is IIFYM anyways?”.
A macro is short for Macro-nutrient, which is broken down even further to indicate Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.
It’s also the “diet” (I hate that word but for simplicity, I’ll use it here) I’ve been following lately. Actually, I’ve been following an IIFYMM “diet” — if it fits your macros & micros. Micros = micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). In this particular case, for me it also includes sugar and fibre.
I came to learn about this form of eating from Jessie Hilgenberg. She is a Fitness Model and represent various fitness companies like Bodybuilding.com and NLA for Her. Here Jessie is explaining IIFYM in more detail:
The idea behind all of this is as long as what you are eating fits into your allotted protein, carb and fat brackets, you can eat whatever you want.
WOW! That sounds like a lot of food freedom, right?
And it is, and what truly drew me to the whole process. I’m sure you know well by now, but I HATE calorie counting. I think it is a huge waste of your time as it is too easy to just eat whatever you want as long as you are within a certain range. For years it caused me so much unnecessary stress. My whole day boiled down to that little number (1200 calories at one point, which btw is WAY too low for ANYONE whether you are trying to lose weight or not!). It became an obsession for me, and not a healthy one.
Plus, in my Fitness Nutrition training, I learned all about eating clean, which by and large is a very vague term when you really sit and think about it. Eating clean is a part of IIFYM, well, it is supposed to be.
So many peeps take the whole iifym diet way too far and allow themselves to eat whatever they want, even processed, white, nutritionally devoid foods, as long as they still hit their macros. That is not the proper way to go about flexible dieting.
Herein lies the problem.
Whether you are feeding your body 25 grams of grass-fed beef or 25 grams of hot dog, matters! Your body is not going to perform the same on the hot dog than on the grass-fed beef.
If you constantly eat white bread or pasta instead of rice, corn or whole grain bread or pasta at every meal your body is going to have a hard time drawing the nutrients out of the white stuff to provide you with energy…because there aren’t any nutrients in the white stuff!
Don’t let me lead you astray. Fast-absorbing carbs are a part of a balanced fitness supplement routine, as they are quickly absorbed for energy and stamina, not for nutrients. But that is a whole other blog post.
A flexible dieting food plan
IIFYM is meant to include clean, healthy, nutritious food 90% of the time. It also means your sugar intake should be low (for me right now I am eating 25 grams of sugar or less and all my sugar cravings have vanished, almost instantaneously) and your fibre intake high (optimal range is 25-30 grams daily).
Does this mean I never, ever have a cheat meal?
Absolutely not! I do indulge about once a week. Sometimes it’s McDonald’s (I love their french fries and gluten-free brownie!), sometimes it’s gluten-free chicken pizza, and sometimes it’s as simple as hubsy’s famous buttered stove-top popcorn. BUT…I still track my cheats and make sure it is only once a week. This allows me to stay on track, not feel guilty, have a little fun, but not fall off the macro/clean eating wagon altogether.
Need help with clean eating cooking tips? Sign up for my “Cooking Tips for Busy Moms” 7-day Challenge!
When Does IIFYM NOT Work for Weight Loss?
When I was first researching this whole idea of macros and fitting them into my meal plan, I found loads of articles, forums and social media posts that took the true concept of IIFYM to a “whole nutha level”.
Peeps were eating “dirty” as it’s called. They were eating whatever, whenever. Everyday. This is rationalized as it is within their macro allotment, so carte blanche. Here is the problem with this way of thinking and eating — there is no nutrition in a deep fried chicken burger over a chicken pita wrap.
Sure, the chicken burger tastes better, and the macros might be the same, but your body is not able to perform at it’s best because it doesn’t have any nutrition to draw on.
It doesn’t matter if you are eating the IIFYM way, or regular ol’ clean eating — nutrition must be in the forefront if your losses and gains will be permanent.
Now I know there are loads of peeps who disagree with me here. That is just fine with me. Many are more into bodybuilding than I am or my clients are or than the scope of this website and blog.
So to answer the Q, does iifym work for weight loss? Absolutely. But as with everything in a healthy diet plan, balance is key. And so is common sense! Come on girl, you know that the pita is healthier, riiiiiight??
If you would like to know more about IIFYM, and Reverse Dieting (they go hand in hand), leave me a comment below and we can chat to see if it would be a good plan of action for you.
Also, if you are looking for a more in depth guide to flexible dieting, check out these e-Books on the subject (I love how they go straight to my Kindle):
The Flexible Dieting Cookbook: 160 Delicious High Protein RecipesIIFYM: If it Fits Your Macros: The Ultimate Beginner’s GuideIIFYM Flexible Dieting Bodybuilding Guide: If It Fits Your Macros Diet Plan