For those of you who are looking to increase your muscle mass whilst simultaneously dropping body fat and getting as shredded as you possibly can, obviously you will already understand the importance of following a healthy and balanced diet.
However, we also understand the fact that healthy eating can, at times, absolutely suck, especially when you’re struggling to find the energy and motivation required to capitalize on your hard work.
Muscle, as they say, is not built in the gym at all, but rather in the kitchen, so if you want to become as huge and shredded as possible, you’d better stock up on your boiled cod and steamed chicken and dry veggies hadn’t you?
Well, as it turns out, not exactly.
If you’ve ever heard of people talking about IIFYM, or flexible dieting, it would appear as if you can have your cake, and eat it too.
But what is IIFYM, and does it actually work, or is it simply a case of bro science?
Well, let’s take a look, shall we?
What Is IIFYM?
IIFYM, or If It Fits Your Macros, is sometimes referred to as ‘flexible dieting’ and it is a method of dieting in which you can technically eat whatever you like, providing you meticulously track your macronutrients and log every single item that you are eating.
You see, rather than simply just tracking calories, however, you instead track your calories found in each macronutrient.
In case you were wondering, there are three main macronutrients, which are made up of: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
The basic premise is that each food source will fall under one of those three categories, so not only will each food source contain an X amount of calories, it will contain X amount of calories that come from one of three macros.
Proteins and carbohydrates provide 4 calories for every gram, whereas fats provide 9 calories for every gram.
Each of the three macros benefits your body in different ways, and each one is required for one reason or another.
This not only involves your training goals and protocols, it can also involve general health and well-being, as we need the right amounts of fats, carbs, and proteins each day in order to thrive and function as we should.
You calculate how many calories each day you require, and then you figure out how many calories from each of the three macros you require.
From here, you then track and monitor each food and drink item you consume, and providing you don’t go over your fat, protein, and carb targets, you can essentially eat whatever you like, and still build muscle and burn fat.
So, You Mean To say That You Can Eat Junk Food And Still Look Great?
In a word, yes. Within reason, of course.
For those asking what is IIFYM, the idea is that you eat clean and healthy 90% of the time, but if you feel like a slice of cake after your meal, or if you’re heading out for pizza for dinner, providing you log your foods and ensure that they don’t take you over your macro targets, you can enjoy the foods you love without feeling tired, lethargic, and unhappy due to the fact that you feel hungry all of the time.
IIFYM however, is not an excuse to binge eat and eat junk food, and truthfully, it would simply not be possible for a number of reasons, including:
Macro Intakes Won’t Be High Enough To Warrant Junk Food
You see, if you happen to be trying to burn fat and build muscle, your daily macros could look something like: 75g fat, 150g carbs, and 250g protein.
This means that by binging on chips, fries, and deep fried junk, hitting those macro targets would simply not be possible.
Instead, to hit those targets, you would need to consume a number of bodybuilder-friendly ‘clean’ foods such as oats, white fish, dairy, and maybe the odd treat here and there.
So, if you think you can eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and then pig out on an XL stuffed crust pizza for dinner, you are in for a very rude awakening, as one slice of pizza alone, contains around 12g of fat, and close to 40g of carbs, meaning that if you simply ate that pizza as your only meal for the day, you would still be over your fat and carbohydrate targets, and would be way under your protein targets.
If, however, you feel like a SLICE of pizza one evening, providing it fits within your macros, you can go right ahead.
Many IIFYM Plans Require Micronutrients
Although your macronutrients get what all of the attention in this instance, many IIFYM plans also place an emphasis on micronutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, meaning that plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are required.
Junk food contains little nutritional value, so you would need to ensure your meal plans include plenty of veggies, and that you include them as part of your daily macro targets.
Junk Food Makes You Unwell And Will Affect Your Workouts
Now, we all know how well we perform in the gym if we had a high calorie meal the night before, especially if we’ve been very good with our diets all week.
However, if you think that you can eat junk every day and still hit your targets, you are in for a very rude awakening.
Junk food harms your health and will make you feel unwell and unhealthy.
You will feel tired and lethargic, which, let’s face it, is not ideal for working out.
If you ate junk all of the time your workouts would suck, which is why IIFYM diet plans place an emphasis on getting the vast majority of your calories from clean and healthy foods.
What Are The Benefits Of IIFYM?
For those asking what is IIFYM and why it is so popular, we’ll soon address some of the main benefits that it can provide.
A lot of people seem to be under the assumption that IIFYM is just an excuse to binge eat and stuff your face full of junk food, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Some of the primary benefits of IIFYM include:
You’ll Enjoy Dieting
Let’s face it, if you’re eating steamed chicken and veggies for virtually every meal of the day, and you can’t even have a little dressing on your salad to give it any flavour because it is too high in calories, then of course you are going to feel miserable and hungry.
IIFYM promotes happiness as it makes dieting enjoying.
With IIFYM, you can be a little flexible with your diet if you plan your meals in advance, so if you are anticipating eating out one night, providing you track your macros and get a rough idea of what you may be eating when you dine out, you can have a nice meal without having to worry about breaking your diet and undoing all of your hard work.
It Really Works
There are a lot of sceptics out there when it comes to what is IIFYM, but rest assured, if done correctly, it really does work.
There are many pro bodybuilders and physique athletes out there that follow IIFYM diets and they look absolutely amazing.
It Gets Easier
At first, IIFYM is tough as you need to do a lot of working out and a lot of math, as well as weighing etc.
You should use an app such as My Fitness Pal, which will give you a breakdown of daily macros.
At first it is tedious having to weigh foods and enter technical details, but like all things, the more you do it, the easier it will become.
After a while, you will be so used to it that you will know roughly how much a food weighs and how many macros it contains, just by memory.
Before you reach that point, however, make sure you have your smart phone handy.