IIFYM, also known as flexible dieting, has quickly risen in popularity and attracted a lot of attention from the bodybuilding community. For years, it was believed that the only way to achieve top physical condition was by eating large quantities of bland foods. And even though the chicken & rice diet has always been effective, it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s everything but enjoyable.
When If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) was made popular, a whole new world of possibilities was opened up for athletes who were serious about their nutrition. A diet that makes eating enjoyable is definitely a breath of fresh air if it’s used properly, but, if it isn’t; it’s a recipe for disaster.
Flexible dieting begins with the famous macro calculators that determine how many calories you should eat in a day. These calculators gather up your basic information (age, height, weight, level of physical activity, etc.) and give you a “scientifically calculated” caloric intake number with its respective macronutrient breakdown.
In other words, these calculators tell you how much protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need to eat in a day to achieve a specific goal (build muscle, lose fat, or maintain weight) based on your current stats.
My problem with these tools is that they’re not very accurate and the results aren’t absolute. In order for your body to change, you need to learn how it works and how it responds to certain foods. Just because a calculator says that you should eat 300 grams of carbohydrates in a day, it doesn’t mean that you should.
Professional bodybuilders are often asked what their diet looks like; most of them answer that it doesn’t matter because what works for them won’t work for you. Some bodybuilders eat up to 500 grams of carbohydrates in a day and still manage to lose weight, while others need to do various zero-carb days in order to achieve similar results. There’s no way to predict how your body is going to react to what you throw at it, you just simply try your best to understand and adapt to what it needs.
Healthy Food Sources
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with IIFYM is being reckless with their food choices. A lot of misinformed lifters think that they can eat everything and anything that they want as long as it fits in the diet. This, right here, is the biggest reason people fail at flexible dieting and then go on to critique its “inefficiency”. Same thing goes for steroids and supplements; people don’t know how to use them and then complain when they don’t see the results they desire.
Flexible Dieting shouldn’t be about trying to eat your “required” daily macronutrients in any way possible; you need to be smart and calculated. For months now I’ve seen “fitness personalities” promoting horrible eating habits through flexible dieting and I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. Just because a diet soda doesn’t contain any calories, it doesn’t mean that you can drink ten of them back-to-back without generating any health issues.
I’m not saying that you’re not allowed to enjoy yourself, but eating a bunch of junk food just because it fits in your macros, is completely wrong. You should be concerned about everything that goes into your body and do your best to eat as healthy as possible. Another huge flaw of IIFYM is the fact that it completely disregards micronutrients. What about vitamins and minerals? They are extremely important too.
Listen To Your Body
The last thing I want to discuss regarding the negatives of the “If It Fits Your Macros” diet is something that a lot of people won’t want to hear. Versatile dieting is a good concept that looks cool on paper but that falls short in practice. IIFYM is a flawed system with good intentions that simply falls short.
Let’s say, for example, that in order to gain muscle you “need” to eat 3000 calories a day, according to an online calculator. Before you even discovered IIFYM you were making constant progress at the gym with 2000 calories. What do you think a sudden 1000-calorie increase will do to your body?
Let’s try another example, shall we? Imagine you’re trying to lose weight, the calculator says you need to eat 1500 calories a day, but, you’re dropping weight by eating twice as many calories. Do you think adjusting your diet will be worth it? In either case, it’s not.
A calculator can’t tell what your body’s genetics look like and how they react to different situations. Instead of listening to a math formula, take the time to learn your body and how it reacts to different types of food, training, and supplementation.
Even though figuring out how to diet may seem a little tricky at first, you will eventually get the hang of it. I also want to clarify that I’m not -in any shape or form- trying to discourage you from trying the If It Fits You Macros dieting style. I’ve seen it work great for different people; I’m just simply pointing out its imperfections and showcasing that there’s no perfect way to diet.