Are you tired of scary, restricted diets with more rules than results?
Let’s take a step back. In this article, I’ll take you through the IIFYM method basics and how to have fun planning flexible, healthy meals that will help you lean out, gain muscle, or lose weight all without removing your favorite foods from your diet or leaving you hungry 4 times a day.
Strict dietary requirements? No worries! You’re in the driver’s seat here.
To do this, all you need is some basic knowledge recommended daily caloric and macronutrient intake, a dash of creativity, a kitchen scale, and a small notebook. But first, what is IIFYM exactly?
IIFYM: If it fits your macros
If It Fits Your Macros, or IIFYM, is a simple, flexible diet plan that records and controls calorie and macronutrient intake. It can easily be adapted, whether you want to lose a few pounds or pack on some serious lean mass. Everything revolves around YOU – your goals, your fitness routine, your tastebuds.
But what are your “Macros”?
First things first, understanding what macros are. Macros, or macronutrients, are nutrients that we need large quantities of to fuel our bodies: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. It gets a little more complicated than that, but the “big three” will be enough to get started.
Next, we need to look at our daily calorie intake, which is really more of a recommendation than a rule. Generally, adult males need 2,000 – 3,000 calories per day, while females need 1,600 – 2,400.
Where you fall in this bracket depends on your height, weight, activity level, and fitness goal. Sound complicated? Thankfully they have calculators! Just type everything into a TDEE calculator online and it will tell you now much to eat whether you want to gain, stay the same, or lose, and some will even break down the macros for you – all for free!
Where do you go from there?
So now you know how many calories to take in, but what does that have to do with macros?
There are only two numbers you need to remember here: 4 and 9. Each gram of protein or carbohydrates gives you 4 calories, while each gram of fat gives you 9. I’ve added a table with the recommended percentages of macros in your diet below, but before we get into that, let me give you a small example:
You’re a moderately active adult female, so you’d like to take in 2,000 calories per day. You don’t really want to look like a Belgian Blue or a catwalk model, so you should follow the “maintenance” suggestions. This means that your diet should be 50% carbs (1,000 calories per day), and 25% each of protein and fat (500 calories each per day). And that’s the only rule you need to follow! Now it’s time to get creative, and if you’re like me, find a way to include pizza and fries into your requirements!
Make your food do the work
Yes, this might seem like a lot at first, but luckily we can make our food do the work for us.
The nutritional labels tell us everything we need to know about our food. We just have to weigh it out before cooking and write everything down. Rather than planning in advance, I would suggest you just track what you’re eating normally for a week or two.
Who knows? Maybe you’re already eating the perfect amount, or maybe you’re restricting yourself too much and can add some ice-cream without putting on a few pounds!
It really isn’t rocket science, and after a little work at the start, it’ll become as easy as taking pictures of your food for Instagram before eating it.
What a sample day looks like
I’ve added a small sample day below for the same moderately active female, just to give you an idea of what (and how much) you can eat without having to worry. Yes, there’s even room for dessert!
1 slice whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 small glass orange juice or a half-grapefruit
Turkey sandwich on rye bread with mayonnaise
Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
Chocolate chip cookie (small or medium)
One glass 2% milk
4oz grilled salmon, drizzled with lemon
Baked potato (small or medium) with butter
Half-cup vanilla ice cream