A couple of weeks ago I received a belated reply to my post about cheat meals, with a suggestion put forth that I should follow the idea of ‘if it fits your macros’ (IIFYM). The idea behind this principle is that you can still allow “treats” into your diet on a daily basis, so long as they fit you macronutrient count.
I was rather sceptical of the idea at first, but wanted to do some more research before I completely bagged it. It seems the IIFYM theory is gaining popularity among recreational lifters, particularly
lazier younger ones. Provided you hit your targets for protein, carbohydrates and fat, then you can eat anything you want.
I recently worked out my daily macro intake for my new program, and I’m taking in roughly 200 grams of protein, 150 grams of carbs and 55 grams of fat.
So, according to IIFYM, if I replaced all my meals with low-carb protein shakes and took a massive swig of olive oil, I would have reached my protein and fat targets but still be lacking on the carbohydrate side. A few chocolate bars or a bag of jelly beans would apparently be entirely appropriate as a replacement carbohydrate source.
It’s hard for me to believe that. For me this falls into the same category as people who think they can eat whatever they want if they are trying to ‘bulk up’. I get questions all the time about why I don’t just eat lots of burgers, chips and ice cream if I want to gain muscle/weight.
It’s very important to make sure you’re eating the right types of foods which are full of the nutrients your body needs. If you’re consuming junk on a daily basis, it’s highly likely you will just gain a lot of fat rather than muscle. IIFYM is not a healthy way to go about being fit because all calories are not created equally!
IIFYM is another case of people trying to look for an easy way out, or a shortcut to getting buff. If you’re serious about being healthy, you have to eat clean, wholesome foods. As I mentioned in my original post about cheat meals, I think they can be appropriate on occasion. However, I personally disagree with the idea of allowing treats into your diet every single day as I know that kind of approach would never produce results for me. It doesn’t matter how few calories I’m consuming, if I’m constantly nibbling on simple sugars and trans fats I know I’m always going to carry that extra layer of fat.
I also think that having one treat makes it easier to just have another, and so on, along a downward spiral. To maximise damage control, surely it would be easier (on your sanity as well!) to limit that temptation to once a week rather than once a day!
Furthermore, surely following the IIFYM approach means that you’re not sticking to your diet properly? If I’m following my plan correctly, I won’t end up with any “leftover” macros unless I skip a meal!
Allowing myself to have a treat every week or two keeps my mind at ease, and I never feel as though I’m doing my body a disservice. I don’t feel as though I’m depriving myself; in fact, whenever I eat something bad more than once a week I always regret it! Eating junk every day is not going to get you ripped, regardless of whether it fits your macros or not. I’m sure the pro bodybuilders are with me on this one.
But have I got it completely wrong? What do you guys think?