‘If It Fits Your Macros’ - Is this for you?
IIFYM is a diet plan that stands for ‘If It Fits Your Macros’. Also known as Flexible dieting, it helps users lose weight by tracking macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) without restricting food choices. Macros are the only place calories come from so by hitting macros, users inherently hit weight loss calories.
The IIFYM diet was originally designed by fitness enthusiast Anthony Collova after he became frustrated with traditional dieting recommendations.
IIFYM is a new spin on dieting that focuses on macronutrients rather than calories.
Macronutrients, or macros, are the four types of food molecules the body can break down for energy. Three types of macronutrients are tracked in IIFYM:
Protein, which has 4 calories per gram.
Carbohydrates, which have 4 calories per gram.
Fat, which has 9 calories per gram.
Alcohol is the fourth macronutrient, containing 7 calories per gram, but it’s not included in the IIFYM diet.
Following the IIFYM diet is pretty simple, and only requires a few steps:
Calculating your macros: Calculations are used to determine how many grams of protein, carbs and fat you need each day in order to meet your weight goals.
Meeting your macros: Once you know your macros, you just need to stay within them each day. Food intake is tracked and adjusted as needed.
Since all foods are allowed, many people consider this diet a welcome change from strict calorie counting or eliminating entire food groups.
IIFYM is typically used for people who want to lose weight but can be modified for those who want to gain weight as well.
How to Calculate Your Macros
The first step in getting started on the IIFYM diet is to calculate your macros.
Most people use the free macro calculator on the IIFYM website, but you can also calculate them manually.
The general process is:
-Calculate your basal metabolic rate: Standardized equations are used to determine how much energy your body uses at rest, based on age, sex, height and weight. This is known as your basal metabolic rate or BMR.
-Adjust for activity level: The BMR is multiplied by an activity factor to increase calories based on your activity level. This is known as your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.
-Adjust based on weight goals: If you want to lose weight, reduce your calorie intake by 15–25%. If weight gain is the goal, increase calories by 5–15%.
-Determine your macros: Protein intake should be between 0.7–1.0 grams per pound of body weight. Fat intake should be between 0.25–0.4 grams per pound of body weight. All remaining calories are allotted for carbs.
For weight loss, the main idea is to reduce calories and increase protein to preserve lean muscle mass while losing body fat.
-After doing all the calculations, the final IIFYM plan should tell you how many calories and how many grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates to consume each day
How to Meet Your Macros
Once you know how many grams of each macronutrient you should consume every day, it’s critical to track your food intake to determine whether you meet your macros.
Some popular websites and applications for tracking include:
It’s also recommended to purchase a digital scale and weigh your food in grams, in order to get the most accurate macronutrient calculations.
IIFYM diets tend to be higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrates. Therefore, it helps to understand which foods contain the highest amounts of each macronutrient.
Foods High in Protein
Animal meats, like beef, chicken, lamb, pork and turkey
Dairy products, like cheese, milk, whey protein and yogurt
Legumes, like beans, lentils, peanuts, peas and soy
Seafood, like fish and shellfish
Foods High in Fats
Fatty fish, like salmon, sardines and anchovies
Full-fat dairy products, like cheese, cream, whole milk and yogurt
Nuts and nut butters
Oils from fruits, nuts and seeds
Seeds, like chia and flax
Foods High in Carbs
Breads, cereals, pastas and baked goods
Legumes, like beans, lentils, peanuts, peas and soy
Grains, like oats, wheat, barley, rye and rice
Fruits, especially bananas, plantains, mangoes and apples
Pseudo cereals, like amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff and wild rice
Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and corn
While tracking is important, there is no need to stress about hitting your macros exactly every single day
As long as you don’t go over each macronutrient by more than 5 grams, or under by more than 10 grams, you should still see results.
Benefits of IIFYM
Following the IIFYM diet has many benefits, especially over traditional dieting methods.
- It Can Be an Eye-Opening Experience
Since IIFYM focuses on macronutrients, rather than calories, it can be a great educational tool for people who are unfamiliar with the macronutrient composition of foods.
For example, a Snickers bar and 5.5 ounces of salmon have almost the same number of calories, but very different macronutrients.
While the candy bar and salmon both contain a large amount of fat, the Snickers bar is loaded with carbohydrates, while the salmon is packed with protein.
It’s easy to see how learning to meet your macros can be an eye-opening experience for someone who has not tracked them before.
- It Helps You Achieve Your Weight Goals
So far, research is conflicting on whether manipulating your macros affects weight loss.
Some evidence suggests that diets higher in protein, like IIFYM, can increase metabolism and help maintain weight loss longer, but more studies are needed.
Regardless, research has consistently shown that reducing calories does lead to weight loss in the short term.
Since the IIFYM diet reduces calories by 15–25% for people who want to lose weight, following the diet should result in weight loss.
Food tracking has also been linked to successful weight loss, so the tracking component of IIFYM may also be beneficial.
For those who wish to gain weight on IIFYM, increasing calories and consuming higher amounts of protein should result in weight gain.
- There Are No Forbidden Foods
No foods are forbidden on IIFYM, as long as they fit into your macros.
This can be a great way to teach balance and help people understand where the majority of their protein, fats and carbohydrates are coming from.
Allowing all foods can also remove some of the pressure and guilt associated with other more restrictive dieting methods, making for a more enjoyable experience.
- It’s Flexible and Easier to Stick To
With IIFYM, it’s easy to plan your meals around your lifestyle without feeling limited.
For example, if you know you’ll be dining out, you can look up nutrition information ahead of time and then adjust the rest of your meals for the day as needed.
This flexibility can make IIFYM easier to stick to since you’re less likely to feel restricted.
IIFYM works for all sorts of people, including those following special diets like vegan, vegetarian, paleo or gluten-free.
Since there are no special restrictions, all types of cuisines and cooking styles fit into the IIFYM plan.