Are you tired of counting calories and not seeing results? The IIFYM diet, also known as Flexible Dieting could be your answer! We found the macro diet after eating clean and missing some of our favorite foods. Being able to just count macros for weight loss has been a breath of fresh air.
In this post, we’ll look at what exactly IIFYM means with flexible dieting and what macros you need to lose weight or gain muscle.
First things first —
We aren’t fitness competitors or gym buffs. We’re real women (late 20’s and late 40’s) just wanting to feel and look great. So while there are plenty of bodybuilding sites on this topic, we wanted to take it from our “girl next door” approach.
You may hear people spit out IIFYM or the word macros with things like ice cream and Pop-Tarts; however, this isn’t the full diet (don’t we wish though, right?!) If you’re wanting to look and feel good – we have to fuel our bodies right.
The reason IIFYM works?
It’s Macros vs Calories
- Calories in & calories out only contribute to the number on the scale.
- The type of macros eaten determines if whether you’re burning body fat or muscle.
- We also need to choose healthy foods for micronutrients that keep us feeling good.
(We love the Breanne Freeman’s Ultimate Girls Guide to Getting Lean and Strong if you’re new to macros!)
Why do people love the IIFYM diet?
So many other diets are restrictive. Even if you get all the protein and fat you want, you’re low-carb. Then you have the Whole 30, low-fat diets, clean eating and so on. They all eliminate something.
With Flexible Dieting, nothing is completely off limits. Which is something we love about this diet! Your kid wants fro-yo? Enjoy! Your Husband wants Mexican? Make it a fiesta!
It’s all about eating in moderation and taking a few minutes each day to track what macros you’ve eaten.
Who is the IIFYM Diet for?
Someone who is:
- tired of food restrictions
- looking for a program that doesn’t take a lot of time or effort
- wore out by the same old healthy foods over and over
- wanting the flexibility to eat what they want at social events
- busy parents & professionals who just want to eat “balanced” again
- tired of tracking every calorie and not seeing the weight come off
What is IIFYM?
The IIFYM diet stands for If It Fits Your Macros. You may hear it also called Flexible Dieting or Counting Macros for weight loss or muscle gain. This mindset allows users to count their macronutrients (macros) without worrying over the exact type of food their eating. Since they are still staying in a balance of macros, they also lose weight.
There are 3 steps to finding your macros:
- Find out how many calories you are burning in a day
- Choose the best macro ratio for your goals
- Track your macros through the day based on that ratio
How do You Know What Fits Your Macros?
There are several calculators online that can figure out your macros for your current weight, lifestyle, and goals. Click to view one
What are Macros in Flexible Dieting?
There are 3 macros we’ll track with flexible dieting. They are protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
What are Daily Macros?
|Calories in Each Gram|
|Protein||4||Eggs (white or whole), Greek yogurt, Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Beef, Beans, Soy|
|Carbohydrates||4||Oats, Whole grains, Millet, Quinoa, Fruits,Veggies, Chips, Cookies|
|Fat||9||Olive oil, Coconut oil, Nut butter, Avocados, Walnuts, Salmon, Egg Yolk|
You can also factor in alcohol and fiber if so you so choose. It’s optional.
Alcohol isn’t going to have a nutritional value, but it does pack a lot of calories. So it’s best to watch how much you drink if you’re trying to hit a goal.
Fiber is a powerful add-on as a micronutrient. It helps us stay full and improve overall health.
What is the Best Macro Ratio?
The best macro ratio depends on your goals. You may choose to have a weight loss by losing fat or to build muscle.
Some research has also shown different body types may do better with different ratios.
Based on this idea:
If you’re an Ectomorph, someone that is naturally thin with a high metabolism, you may do something like 25% protein, 55% carbs, and 20% fat. On the other hand, if you’re a Mesomorph, someone that puts on muscle easily, you might do 25% protein, 55% carbs, and 20% fat. Finally, if you’re an Endomorph, someone has a slow metabolism or is naturally broad, your range might be 35% protein, 25% carbs, and 40% fat.
However, we will still outline the common ideas behind the best macro ratios to lose weight and to gain muscle.
What Marcos to Eat to Lose Weight?
If you’re aiming to lose fat, we’ll want to eat fewer calories than your currently burning. A simple way to figure out the number of calories is to take your goal weight and times it by 12.
Then, once you know that – the macro ratio we’ve seen to lose fat (and weight is): 45 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent fat
What Macros do I Need to Gain Muscle?
When you’re trying to gain muscle, you’ll be eating a little bit more than what you’re burning. A good estimate is to build muscle is 45 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent fat.
Example IIFYM Meal Plan
- Breakfast: 2 Cups 0% GreekYogurt with ½ cup blueberries, 1 cup of low-calorie cereal, and 3-eggs with veggies
- Lunch: 1 Chick Fil A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich, 8 Chicken Nuggets, 1 small fruit bowl, and a Coke Zero
- Post Workout: 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1 scoop whey protein, 14 almonds, and 2 low-fat ice cream sandwiches
- Dinner: 1 cup cooked pasta with half cup marinara sauce and 1 1/2 cups ground beef
- Total Macros: 235g protein/215g carbs/80g fat; Total Calories: About 2,520
Unlike other diets, I think the Flexible Diet Meal Plan should be very individual and open for the day. For example, a chicken breast with rice has the same macros as a McDonald’s Big Mac. Of course one is healthier than the other, but this diet does give you that flexibility to pick and choose. So to have a 7 Day meal plan or something feels odd to me.
Clean Eating vs IIFYM Meal Plan
Going off the example above about the Big Mac, there can be a major difference in mindset when it comes to Flexible Dieting. As mentioned above, we don’t believe that every meal should be junk food even if it does fit your macros for weight loss.
It’s just not going to make you FEEL good. It’s not going to make your skin brighter or mind clearer. Those are all benefits we saw from eating clean (just the scale never moved!).
So the solution?
Choosing healthy foods 80% of the time and leaving 20% room for those Big Macs or whatever it is you want to fill your macros with. This keeps your naturally healthy foods as the main part of your diet, and counting macros is also going to help you lose the weight and tone up!
You may also like: What is Clean Eating? Tips, Meal Plans, and Recipes
With that said, we are totally honest in the fact we can only eat so many chicken breasts, brown rice, and veggie meals. We want to be healthy because it makes us feel and look our best. We still want to enjoy food though so mixing in a little-processed cheese or fast food sparingly isn’t going to make or break our goals.
This balance keeps us sane.
Flexible dieting also has helped us with not labeling foods as healthy, unhealthy, fattening, good or bad as well. It’s all about moderation.
Do the Type of Macros Matter?
We ask this just to drive the above point home – yes! The type of macros you eat matter. You’re going to see more of an overall benefit when you’re eating mostly healthy foods versus just Pop-tarts or Halo Top.
Do Macro Diets aka Flexible Dieting Work?
The diet has been out long enough we have seen it work. At first, it was a body builder’s diet, but now even normal people like us have found success with flexible dieting.
The reason it works is that you are watching the amount of food going in, and your body is able to process that ratio of macros well.
There are a few things to watch for with IIFYM though
Just like anything, it’s going to take perfecting your habits. There are 4 common set-backs with IIFYM diets, but now you’ll know what to watch for.
Skipping Healthy Options
If you’re not getting in your healthy foods, your body won’t have enough vitamins and minerals it needs to run well. Make sure to keep at least 80% of your foods healthy!
On this diet, you can have fast food and hot dogs every day if you planned it right. However, that isn’t a way to live! Eating low-quality meat can limit the number of good amino acids your body needs, and it can hurt your overall health. Aim for some type of non-meat protein each day like quinoa, beans, soy or yogurt.
Simple Carbohydrate Crashes
If you’re loading up on cookies, expect a sugar crash to hit you hard! Your carbs should be from complex carbohydrates or fresh fruits and veggies.
Missing Healthy Fats
If you’re eating junk or fast food, you’re likely getting in your fat macros from bad fats that hurt your heart and raise your cholesterol. Healthy fats include walnuts, almonds, avocado and ghee.
Should I workout more while on a Flexible Diet?
While this diet did come from the competitive fitness industry, you don’t have to be a pro athlete to follow this diet. We love to workout at home for 30-45 minutes most days.
What if I don’t track 100%?
The general consensus we made and also found in our research – is just do your best and forget the rest. Restaurants and recipes can make your estimations vary. That’s not a free ticket to eat whatever, but our thought is you shouldn’t obsess about any diet.
How should I track my macros?
We personally use MyFitnessPal all the time. It’s easy to input your foods, and there are a lot of recipes already included in their database. Plus the free option still works great!
Should my macros vary day to day?
This could be considered carb cycling as well. In short – it’s totally up to you. We like to keep things as easy as possible and let our diet run in the background of our life – unless we have a big photo shoot or something coming up! Then we might make the extra effort to vary every 2 days. So 2 days fewer carbs, 1-day normal carbs.
You could also mix it up if you’re working out really hard. You could have more carbs on those workout days and less on the off days.
Do I need to recalculate my macros as I lose weight?
You can if you lose 10lbs+; however, some people do very well not making any adjustments.
Best Flexible Dieting Books
If you’re wanting to take your studying of macro diets further, or just want some IIFYM recipes, check out these books:
- The Shredded Chef: 120 Recipes for Building Muscle, Getting Lean, and Staying Healthy
When IIFYM Isn’t Working
We’ve told you all of this good stuff about watching your macros for weight loss, but what happens if it doesn’t work? We adjust!
I’m not losing weight.
If the scale isn’t moving, it could be the time of day, hormones, water retention or digestion. If you’re weighing at the same time each day and eating pretty consistently, it could be that you’re tracking incorrectly or underestimating how much you’re really eating.
Take a week to really hone in on tracking your macros and portions.
If you know you’re tracking is great, then see about adjusting your calories (and macros) down by 5% and see where you are next week.
It is a new way of eating! One thing you can do is to ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Sometimes we’re just bored, thirsty or craving a food mentally.
If you are hungry after all that, you can increase your calories and macros up to 5% and see if that helps.
(When we’re hungry or craving a sweet, we love Built Bars!)
I’m struggling when I’m with friends.
If you’re doing great tracking except when you’re with your friends take a few tips to adjust the situation.
- plan ahead – pick the place to eat or look over the menu ahead of time
- order first – to prevent any temptations
- cut back on alcohol with seltzer
Are you considering low carb diets? Get our Keto Quick Start Guide for Beginners!