Monday, October 05, 2015

What is IIFYM: Benefits of Tracking Your Macronutrients

image via Eugenia Loli on flikr
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a food expert. The following opinions are completely my own, formed by independent research and personal trial and error. This method of dieting is what works for me. With that said, however, every body is different, so what works for me is not guaranteed to work for you. While I do recommend the IIFYM method, I urge you above all else to listen to your body.

The acronym IIFYM stands for "If It Fits Your Macros," and in a nutshell, it refers to a method of dieting in which you track the amount of macronutrients ("macros" for short)  protein, carbohydrates, and fats  you consume on a daily basis. Key word: method. It's important to note that IIFYM is not an actual "diet" (I'm even hesitant to use the word) that restricts you from eating certain foods. It is simply a way to measure your food and nutrient intake and is meant to be customized to help you achieve your desired body composition goal, whether it's to maintain weight, lose body fat, or gain muscle mass.

Now, IIFYM has caught flack because some people falsely advertise it as a weight loss method that allows you to eat junk food. And while that's true to an extent – technically you can eat that whole pizza (or in my dream, that entire tub of peanut butter) and lose weight as long as you don't exceed your macros and you remain in a caloric deficit – you'll have to eat like a rabbit for the rest of the day and what's worse, you'll feel like crap!

First of all, you can't knock IIFYM itself because it's just a vehicle; how you drive it is up to you. Secondly, if you're reading this, chances are you're looking for a lifestyle change and not just a quick fix to lose weight. Of course, we all want to look good, but the goal is to feel better in the long run, right? In that case, I believe IIFYM is a helpful tool that will take the guesswork out of dieting by giving you guidelines. It will encourage you to be more aware of what you're eating, practice balance and moderation, and make healthier choices that will ultimately lead to a happier, more confident you.

Personally speaking, IIFYM has completely transformed my attitude and overall philosophy surrounding food. It's helped me move away from restrictive thinking (I can't eat that) and more towards viewing food as a source of nourishment for both body and mind (I can eat that and feel good about it).

Here are the main reasons I like IIFYM and why I recommend it:

1. It keeps me accountable and working towards a daily goal. When I know I have to track and record the foods I'm eating, I'm more inclined to make healthier choices.

2. I am more attuned to what I'm eating and how it affects my body. Because I've set targets for myself, I am more conscious about my food choices and think more intently about how to optimize my nutrition. By selecting foods that are nutrient dense, I feel satiated over a longer period of time, and therefore I'm less likely to overeat.

3. I like the ease and flexibility of being able to (1) fine tune my macros to achieve different fitness goals and/or (2) adjust my eating habits to fit my lifestyle while still staying on track. What this means is I can eat the foods I want to eat and indulge in my cravings once in awhile. I don't feel guilty because I can adjust my other meals accordingly to fit my macros. This way, I don't completely derail and binge later.

To calculate my macros, I use this macro calculator and to track them, I use the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone. From the main menu, select "More," "Goals," and then "Calorie & Macronutrient Goals" to set your custom macros, and from there you can start logging!

If you want to read more about macro dieting, I recommend checking out www.macrofit.com.

Do you or anyone you know have experience with IIFYM or tracking macronutrients? Or, do you have another method that works for you? Let me know what you think in the comments!

xo – Sc
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