Is the IIFYM Diet for YOU?

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

With so many diets out there, how do you know which will work for you? Well, you don’t unless you try each of them. Yet, there seems to be a commonality to most diets, though when you break them down, they all force you to be in a caloric deficit. However, many of them have you removing entire macronutrients, which for most of us is nearly impossible to follow as a lifestyle. That’s why I think one of the best diets out there today that I feel works for the majority of people is the IIFYM diet or If It Fits Your Macros.

IIFYM Diet Success

As mentioned above, many diets you see today remove all carbs from the diet. Some remove all fat from the diet. Can you honestly say you’ll never have a dessert? Will you never consume a piece of pizza? No more birthday cake for you! Listen, that’s completely foolish. That’s not a lifestyle you can adhere to, and that’s why so many people fail. When a diet doesn’t fit your lifestyle, and you’re trying your hardest not to consume certain foods, it makes the cravings almost unbearable. And that’s where people fall off the wagon because when they finally give in, they go overboard, which causes them to gain all their weight back and then some.

Why not utilize a diet like the IIFYM diet, where it’s a lifestyle you can actually be comfortable with? There’s no need to deprive yourself. No need to remove entire food groups from your nutrition. That’s insanity. The IIFYM diet simply makes sense and allows you to enjoy all of the foods that many other diets would deem “bad.”

Tracking Your Nutrition

I like the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s so accurate. Are you tracking your calories and macros when trying to adhere to a diet? If not, why? How do you know if you are consuming too many calories or not enough? How do you know if you’re taking in enough protein to maintain your lean muscle mass? You don’t. That’s why the IIFYM diet works so well.

When you combine the IIFYM diet with a tool such as MyFitnessPal, you can set yourself up for short-term and long-term success. In the short-term, you’re going to see incremental weight loss at a steady rate which can lead you down the path to your long-term goal of your actual goal weight. But that’s not possible if you don’t set yourself up for success.

Using a tool like MyFitnessPal or a simple pen and paper to track your calories and macros will help you get a visual of how your nutrition looks on a daily basis and can help you on your weight loss journey[1]. With the IIFYM diet, you don’t need to shy away from certain foods as long as you hit your numbers for the day. Now, this isn’t to say you should fill your carbohydrates and fats for the day with something like ice cream or French fries, you still need to maintain a well-balanced diet and consume nutrient-dense foods. But it does give you the flexibility to slip in that piece of cake you want or whatever you choose so long as it’s within your daily numbers.

This is why the IIFYM diet is so successful and why so many people love the lifestyle. You don’t need to deprive yourself as you do with all the other diets out there.

Benefits of the IIFYM Diet

How would you like to have your cake and eat it too? Well, you can! Stop depriving yourself of certain foods that “experts” and “gurus” say are bad for you. Here are four benefits of utilizing the IIFYM diet.

1.    Weight Loss

One of the amazing benefits of following the IIFYM diet is the fact that when you hit your macronutrient numbers on a daily basis, you have the ability to effectively lose weight[2]. The best and only way to ensure this is to track your macros daily to ensure you hit your ratios. When you don’t know where your numbers are, you run the risk of ending your day(s) in a caloric surplus which can cause you to gain weight.

2.    Gain Lean Muscle Mass

As with what was mentioned above, hitting your numbers is key when it comes to the overall success of the IIFYM diet. When you are in a caloric surplus and strategically hit your macro ratios (especially protein) for each day, you can gain quality weight and build lean muscle mass over time[3].

3.    Improve Your Mood

If you follow a diet where you are restricting certain foods, just being around people consuming those items is enough to cause you to have a negative emotion and can create the feeling of guilt, anxiety, and even depression[4]. By utilizing the IIFYM diet, you can consume those food items in moderation as long as you are still within your daily ratios. This can help improve your mood and adherence when dieting.

4.    Flexible Dieting

No one likes being told what they can and can’t eat. That’s why so many diets fail because people simply don’t want to give up certain foods or entire macronutrients. That’s not to say that they are wrong with their thinking, it’s simply not a lifestyle they can or are willing to follow – and who can blame them? With the IIFYM diet, you have the flexibility to fill in your macros as you wish and consume the foods you want (within reason). This flexibility brings enjoyment back to consuming food while still helping you down the path to achieving your health and fitness goals. Overall, many see better adherence when utilizing the IIFYM diet.

 

References:

  1. Flores, M. G., et al. (2015). Mobile phone apps to promote weight loss and increase physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 17(11), e253.
  2. Martinez, J. A., et al. (2014). Personalized weight loss strategies-the role of macronutrient distribution. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 10(12), 749-60.
  3. Bray, G. A., et al. (2012). Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating. JAMA. 307(1), 47-55.
  4. Fletcher, B. C., et al. (2007). How visual images of chocolate affect the craving and guilt of female dieters. Appetite. 48(2), 211-7.
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