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How to Do IIFYM the Healthy Way

Super healthy grilled meal with variety of food

The quest for better health and a better body often comes down to a good diet, but the expansive range of new and fad diets can make it difficult to figure out what you should be putting in your body. A new trend known as “if it fits your macros” (abbreviated to IIFYM) has become popular among bodybuilders looking to build bulk without as many limitations as other diets. Let’s take a closer look at the IIFYM diet and how you can do it the healthy way.

Understanding Macros

Macros, short for macronutrients, refer to the three basic components of any diet: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates are the most accessible form of energy, while fats act as insulation and work in conjunction with protein for good health. Protein is known for being the building block for muscle, but it is also necessary to bones, organs, hair, enzymes and other tissues that make your body operate and function properly.

Balancing your daily macronutrient intake can be more effective than counting your calories when it comes to building lean muscle while burning fat and losing weight. Counting your macros generally starts with figuring out how many calories you need in a day to maintain your current weight. You can keep a food diary that documents all the foods you eat and the calories you get from them. Assuming your weight is not constantly fluctuating, this should give you a good idea of how many calories you need. Alternately, you can use a calorie calculator, though keep in mind that this is designed to be an estimate. Calorie needs can differ from person to person based on a wide range of factors, everything from age and gender to your own muscle composition.

Understanding Macros

After calculating your calories, determine whether you want to lose weight or put weight on. To lose about a pound a week (a healthy rate of weight loss), reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. Add 500 calories to your daily total if you want to add one pound a week.

From there, it’s a matter of dividing up your macronutrient targets by percentage. Carbohydrates and proteins both offer 4 calories per gram, while fats possess 9 calories per gram. The most common split is 40 percent to protein, 40 percent to carbohydrates, and the remaining 20 percent to fats. For instance, if your daily calorie total is 2,000, 40 percent of that (800 calories) should come from proteins. Divide that by 4 and you get 200 grams as your required amount of proteins per day.

The actual split can differ from person to person, and you may experiment on your own to determine what works best for you. Many people start with their protein requirement and fill out the rest of their calories with carbs and fats based on their personal preferences.

What is IIFYM?

“If it fits your macros,” which is also known as flexible dieting, revolves around the simple idea that, as long as it fits your macro nutrient requirements, you can eat it. It’s a way of removing the restrictions of other diets, which not only makes things easier on you, but also:

  • Allows you to eat the foods you love
  • Takes the complications out of dieting while at social events
  • Removes the unhealthy mindset of seeing food as “bad”

That mental component can be a huge help to dieting. For instance, other diets may instill the idea of cheat meals, which can turn into whole cheat days. Aside from creating a vicious cycle where your weight constantly fluctuates, cheat meals can cause you to see food and the act of eating as things to be guilty about, which can eventually lead to eating disorders. IIFYM still upholds portion control, moderation, and the inclusion of a wide range of foods, so you can still eat some sweet treats and savory delights while still working toward your personal weight and fitness goals.

How Not to IIFYM

If you do decide to try an IIFYM diet, try to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Not eating enough micronutrients – While your macros are important, your micronutrients (another word for vitamins and minerals) are just as crucial in supporting healthy bodily functions and promoting a good physique. Make a conscious decision to include a diverse range of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
  • Eating only low-quality protein – You should, by all means, feel free to dine on bloody steaks and fried chicken, but incorporating other proteins like tofu and quinoa, which have all your essential amino acids as well as other nutrients, can have added benefits to your diet. Barring that, pair two complementary proteins to get a good balance of your daily essential amino acids.
  • Constantly paying attention to the scale – While weighing yourself has its potential uses, the scale only tells you how much you weigh at that exact moment. It does not take into account your body composition, your muscle mass or the progress you have made in various other elements of your health (your strength, stamina, endurance). Weigh yourself if you feel the need, but do not let it become your primary focus.
  • Binging on junk foods – Sweets and fried foods are certainly a valid part of your IIFYM diet, but they should not be the only foods you eat throughout the day. Junk foods are just that: junk. That means that, while they provide calories, they don’t give you much of anything else, which makes it difficult to really place in your macronutrient totals.
  • Focusing too much on being exact – You set your macro totals, but by no means do you have to hit the exact amount every single day. Doing so can be mind numbing at best, harmful to your health at worst. The whole point of IIFYM is staying flexible. Staying within 10 percent of your totals is fine. Alternately, aim for a daily caloric goal and a minimum amount of protein in grams. With IIFYM, it’s far better to be consistent than to be perfect. 

As effective as it may be, your IIFYM diet will not work on its own. You still need to exercise regularly to put those macronutrients to good use. You may also find it beneficial to use a supplement, like mTOR Pro™ from MYOKEM™. mTOR Pro™ offers a unique formula that can improve recovery and regulate hydration while giving you 10.5 grams of essential amino acids with every serving, which can be a big help for fulfilling your protein needs.

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