What’s Wrong With IIFYM?
If you haven’t heard the acronym IIFYM you are either new to the health and fitness world, or you’ve been living under a rock. IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros, and it means that you can eat anything that you want as long as the food in question fits within your macronutrient measurements. That means that foods that were once off limits like macaroni and cheese, donuts, and chips may be back on the table if you can fit them into your macronutrient count for the day or week. Sounds pretty great right? Well here’s the problem with IIFYM.
It’s focuses entirely on macronutrients and completely avoids the importance of micronutrients. Getting enough of the right types of vitamins and minerals is just as important, if not more so, as getting the right amounts of macronutrients in your diet. While macronutrients may determine whether or not you are able to lose body fat, gain muscle mass or tone your problem areas it’s micronutrients that will determine your overall health. If you aren’t focusing on getting enough vitamins and minerals you can kiss a healthy lifestyle goodbye.
IIFYM is a new way of eating that allows you to eat foods that are traditionally not allowed when “dieting”. The whole point of IIFYM is that it isn’t a diet, it’s a change of lifestyle that is sustainable. Macronutrients are the heavy hitter nutrients that your body needs to function properly. They include: carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
The Importance Of Carbs
There are two types of carbohydrates and it’s important to know the difference because while they will each give your body the energy it needs to function one gets the job done much more effectively. Simple carbohydrates give your body a quick rush of energy that results in a hard crash while complex carbohydrates provide a steady stream of glucose resulting in a more reliable and consistent form of energy. Since your body needs energy to perform basic human survival functions carbohydrates are absolutely an important macronutrient.
Why You Need Fats
When your body doesn’t have access to enough carbohydrates to produce adequate energy reserves it turns to fats to help get the job done. Using fat to produce energy puts your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is helpful for cutting down body fat and increasing muscle mass but only if you remain in ketosis. If you decide to start eating carbohydrates for energy again you have to reintroduce them slowly so that your body does not begin hoarding them as fat for future use.
The Power of Protein
While protein can be used for energy in a pinch, that’s not why it’s vital to survival. Protein cannot be made or stored by your body so it must be consumed on a daily basis. It is used in the production and synthesis of hormones and metabolism as well as the growth and repair processes of muscle tissue. Without protein, these basic human processes would not function properly if at all.
Why IIFYM Is Popular
While your body needs these macronutrients to survive it doesn’t necessarily need the healthiest options within each category. Technically you can survive on simple carbohydrates, saturated fats and fatty proteins, but your body will not run at it’s peak performance if these are the foods it is constantly relying on for energy and strength.
IIFYM is popular because it allows you to indulge in the less healthy options on a fairly regular basis as long as it doesn’t counterbalance your macronutrient percentages. What does that really mean? It means that if you want a donut for breakfast then you should have a donut for breakfast. If you want lasagna for dinner, then head on out to your favorite Italian restaurant and order yourself that carb loaded delight. As long as your percentages stay on target you can eat any food you want.
This is revolutionary to the health and fitness world, where those attempting to achieve the perfect body have been depriving themselves of certain food choices in favor of clean eating because it was believed to be healthier for them.
What IIFYM Doesn’t Account For
IIFYM specifically focuses on attaining accurate macronutrient percentages in your dietary habits to achieve your personal fitness goals. Unfortunately IIFYM does not account for any of your micronutrients: vitamins or minerals.
When you follow the IIFYM way of eating you can choose to eat foods that aren’t quite as healthy as others because they fit into your daily percentages of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The downside is that these foods are unhealthy and don’t provide your body with the micronutrients that it needs for optimal functioning.
While one and a half tablespoons of regular M&M’s and a cup of fresh grapes may have the same calorie count their nutritional value varies greatly. You aren’t going to get the same amount of vitamin A, C, or K in M&M’s that you would with the grapes. And while the M&M’s may be a quick and tasty treat they certainly aren’t going to keep you as full and satisfied as the grapes would.
This is just one example of how you can personalize and tailor your dietary intake to fit your macros without actually getting the most out of your food. It’s also worth noting that while M&M’s and grapes may have the same calorie count they do not have the same macronutrient percentages, so they are not an even trade on the IIFYM dietary model.
Why You Should Forget The IIFYM Hype
Not only does IIFYM encourage you to eat foods that are not of high nutritional value in place of foods that will enhance your health, it can also become difficult to keep track of and follow on a daily basis when you are constantly trading out unhealthy foods instead of relying on healthier options to supply your body with energy and strength.
Even if you are diligent about your food journaling and a pro at counting your macros maintaining a IIFYM diet can be incredibly hard. Not only can it be difficult but ignoring the importance of micronutrients can be detrimental to your health as well. You may feel more run down or tired on a IIFYM dietary plan than you would if you were focused on clean eating. You may even begin to skip workouts because you find that you just don’t have the right balance of energy throughout the day to accommodate your normal routine.
Most of the people that try to follow an IIFYM eating plan are new to the health and fitness scene and don’t have much discipline in clean eating. These are the people that are looking for an easy way to gain muscle mass or lose body fat without having to change the types of foods that they are used to eating. Those who are already committed to a lifestyle of clean eating are unlikely to revert back to an IIFYM way of eating because they no longer crave the sugars and unhealthy fats associated with it.
If you want to see real results you should forget the IIFYM hype and just focus on eating clean, healthy and whole foods. Eliminate the processed junk from your diet and say goodbye to fried versions of your favorite foods. When you start eating a more natural diet free of chemicals and preservatives the chances of you not only seeing results but feeling those results is much greater.
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