Do you ever find yourself scrolling down your feed, and you come across some really buff dude (or dudette) and they’re holding up a box of pizza with the following hashtags:
#IIFYM #weightloss #cardiosucks #cleaneatingsucks
Everyone has heard of IIFYM.
If not, here's a quick breakdown:
If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a diet plan that promises no restriction when it comes to eating the food you love. By inputting some quick info (weight, age, gender) on a macro calculator, it will give you the exact number of protein, carbs, and fat you need for the day depending on if you want to lose or gain weight. Whether it's pizza, burgers, pasta, or a whole frikin’ turkey.
You want a donut, eat a donut. No more stressing about those extra calories...as long as it fits your macros. IIFYM encourages people to eat whatever they want as long as they stay within their macro range.
The origin of IIFYM was probably not as stupid as the current one.
Yeah, I said stupid.
This diet was built to allow people to lightly indulge in their favorite food while maintaining a healthy relationship with actual food. Blogger and fitness enthusiasts have seriously gone over the top when it comes to reasoning about IIFYM. While it's true that if calories out>calories in results in weight loss, what foods you intake have a significant impact on the way your body reacts and functions.
IIFYM has the right idea when it comes to staying within your caloric intake, but what happens
when you replace nutritious foods with fast food or fake food every other day?
Your body changes.
The chemicals in your brain change, you become more bloated, more constipated, and sooner or later, you become insatiable because crap like Hot Cheetos just isn't cutting it anymore.
If you eat food with no nutrient value, you'll continue to eat food with no nutrient value.
If you lead a healthy lifestyle and prefer highly nutritious food, then you'll continue to eat highly nutritious food.
C’mon, people, I know The Department of Agriculture took plenty away from us in regards to nutrition, but we still have control over our own common sense.
Here's what we know in the simplest terms:
-Food is fuel for our bodies.
-Food gives us energy.
-Throughout the day, we burn that energy.
-Energy is measured by calories in our foods
IIFYM boasts that you can ditch being healthy and eat crap because, well...it's possible and you can.
So wait, are you telling me that I can eat as many pop tarts as I want as long as it hits my macros?
Yes, that's precisely what I'm telling you!
Even though that's kind of a pathetic diet since one package of pop tarts is 360 calories and you'd only be able to eat ten pop tarts before hitting the 2000 mark.
You can forget all about this stuff
And get to eating this stuff!
People take one look at these photos and are quick to assume that they can drop the clean eating regime and indulge in their favorite junk foods and get fit.
While it’s true that staying within your macro range and not going into calorie surplus will help with weight loss, here's what IIFYM is not telling you.
Your favorite IIFYMer diet consists of 80% healthy food.
They’re not stupid. They know how this works because these are people who have dedicated their lives to being fit. Any fitness coach who understands the basics of nutrition will tell you that in order to be healthy and stay healthy; your diet needs to consist of whole foods. It needs to include micronutrients which are always- if not completely- overlooked.
The downside of social media is it’s rare to find a fitness blog that promotes the actual simplicity of staying healthy. Most accounts are sponsored, so you see plenty of Fit Teas and useless detoxes on your feed.
Behind the scenes (what they’re not showing you) are meal preps of salmon, chicken breast, quinoa, and steamed veggies.
Unless your favorite blogger is a seriously competitive bodybuilder, it's very unlikely they’ll be eating a whole box of pizza and 2 pints of Ben & Jerry’s all by themselves.
Not all calories are created equal.
Eating a bag of chips is not the same as eating a green apple or a medium sized banana. When you're recording what foods you eat on your phone, it's not going to specify what foods are healthy and which ones are not. The only thing your food tracker is going to tell you is the nutrition facts of that product.
It's not going to specify if it helps with digestions or energy levels or optimal health overall.
We need to understand that our bodies were not built to process over ten different types of sugars and man-made products consisting of empty calories. What we eat matters because the food we digest is crucial to how our cells develop.
For example, a cup of brown rice contains four grams of fiber per cup while white rice only contains one. While there are benefits to both, which one do you think will help prevent constipation?
Now, everything we do requires energy so what goes into our bodies is extremely important. I wish it were as simple as eating chips n’ dip and watching Brooklyn 99 on your worn out microfiber couch, but it's not. We've been taught since the third grade that food is fuel. So what fuels your body better than actual food?
Don’t think that because you see some guy or woman being completely ripped means they're not being considerate of their food intake. The majority of ripped fitness bloggers have rigorous workout schedules! Remember, it's their job to work out. They've been doing this for years, and it takes time and obsession to understand tracking macros.
IIFYM does not track your overall health, your digestion, or your mental health.
At this point, you probably think I'm a hardcore hater of IIFYM, but that's not the case. This diet works wonders for some people. Some people can go on tracking their food for years, and they'll be content, it's what works for them. So if it works for you and you're confident there's no other way, feel free to give it a try.
I've always believed in the simplicity of health, not weighing and counting and measuring. Plus with a one-year-old roaming at my feet 80% of the time, it’s not easy scanning and weighing everything I eat. The reason IIFYM is such a big deal is because many fitness bloggers are quick to sell it. They convince their viewers that they can eat anything they want and still stay fit.
There is no easy way to a healthy and fit body.
I'm sorry, but that's the whole truth to it.
It is a road filled with highs and lows and tears and mistakes and plenty of binge eating.
But hey, it's not impossible. Like anything in the world, when we want something, we have to work our ass off to get it. There is no magic pill or particular detox or specific diet!
Adapting to a healthy lifestyle is so much more than adopting a diet that convinces people to eat crap to get ripped.
I'll never know when the fitness industry took a turn for the worst and forgot what it means to provide the people with the right facts and the proper nutrition. Beginning a healthy relationship with food is no easy task, but to know the outcome of where it will lead you, the first thing you need to do is start.
Lena is a SAH mom to a one-year-old baby girl. When she's not attempting at advanced yoga moves and failing miserably, she's rewatching the Harry Potter series for the hundredth time. Her website is rattlepen.com, where she writes about staying healthy, fit, and sane.