What is the IIFYM plan, and why does it work so well?

In the 80’s and 90’s, the science behind successful dieting was described as fairly basic. It was generally accepted that the only way you could really lose weight was by a combination of adjusting the number of calories you consumed and making sure that you burned more than you ate.

There’s a heck of a lot more to it though, and fortunately that knowledge has become fairly mainstream these days. Yes, calorie adjustment can be a valuable component of dieting, but it’s just one slice of the pie. There are so many other important factors to consider.

Introducing IIFYM diet planning

The IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diet is one of many different dieting tools you can use to help create the perfect plan for you. Macro is short for macronutrients – those being protein, carbs, and fat. Instead of just focusing all your efforts on calorie counting and eliminating or completely avoiding certain macronutrients (carb-free, fat-free etc) the macronutrient-based diet plan just ensures that you meet certain daily requirements for each macronutrient – and don’t eat one or more to excess.

Following an IIFYM plan not only ensures your body has a good balance of all the nutrients it needs to be healthy, it also has an extra benefit. When following the plan, you’ll naturally find that your calorie count remains fairly consistent.

Since fat, carbs and protein contain differing amounts of fat, you can roughly estimate how many calories you’ll get from macronutrients. This allows you to customize your diet with pretty much endless variety. You may not be able to eat everything you want to in a single day – and really, who can do that without expecting massive weight gain? But you can make room for it in your diet plan so long as you meet your macro requirements.

Why choose IIFYM?

At first, it might seem overly complicated – you’re focusing on 3 different types of nutrients: carbs, protein and fat. Why not just focus on one diet?

By selectively putting emphasis on specific macronutrients, you open up a lot more options, enabling you to build a diet that’s ideally suited to your exact current lifestyle and goals. For example, jumping on a low-carb diet won’t really benefit someone who needs a lot of daytime energy. Likewise, low-protein diets are not suitable for bodybuilders trying to increase their muscle mass.

The best way to look at this is to consider the standard ‘2,000 calorie diet’. 2,000 calories is the recommended daily amount for the average adult. You can pack a lot of different foods into 2,000 calories, but the foods you choose can either fuel you up to tackle the world or leave you bloated, uncomfortable, and unhealthy.

The IIFYM diet provides structure. It allows you to meet the basic requirements for many mandatory nutrients while adhering to a strict dietary structure. IIFYM teaches you why choosing the correct food matters, and it even allows you to have ‘slip-ups’ without completely falling off the wagon. When you follow the IIFYM plan, slip-ups aren’t really mistakes. You can have a chocolate sundae as a treat one day – as long as you meet your macros!

Setting up your macro structure

Getting started with IIFYM is relatively simple. Follow the steps below, then customise the diet to suit you.

1 Find your daily calorie count

You probably already have an estimate of how many calories you want to consume on a daily basis. If not, there are many free calorie counters available online. This one is actually tailored to fit the IIFYM routine. Add or subtract 300-700 calories depending on whether you’re hoping to gain or lose weight.

Remember, calorie calculators can only give you a rough estimate. If you notice changes to weight in the first week or two of your diet, you should adjust your calorie count accordingly.

2 Choose your macro split

A macro split, put simply, is the way you split your calorie share across the 3 different macros (carbs, proteins, and fats).

Bodybuilders typically do well with a split that starts off at about 20% fat, 40% carbohydrates, and 40% protein.

Weight-loss dieters tend to start with 30% for both fat and carbohydrates, and 40% protein.

3 Convert your macros

Now comes the fun part, so long as you like maths! You need to multiply your current caloric goal by the percentage of each macro from your split. Make sure the total reaches 100%. This will give you the total calories coming from each of the individual macros. (For example, 50% of a macro split from a 2,000 calorie diet would give you 1,000 calories for that specific macro).

Next, divide the number of calories by the number of calories per gram for that nutrient:

  • Carbohydrates are typically 4 calories per gram
  • Protein is 4 calories per gram
  • Fat is 9 calories per gram

So 1,000 calories or 50% of a macro split for carbohydrates would allow you 250 grams of carbohydrates.

Using this formula, you can work out the specific amounts of macros you need to achieve your goal – whether it’s weight loss, muscle building or something else. This is great because this diet can be used by people from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’re doing, all human beings need carbohydrates, fat, and protein to thrive.

Get planning your Macros!

The introduction of various apps which help you to track the IIFYM plan has become revolutionary in the dieting world. People of all ages, sexes and sizes love to follow this plan, mainly because it provides a flexible structure at the same time as allowing you to achieve your specific goals.

Do you use IIFYM? We’d love to hear about your experience, along with your results in the comments below!

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