I finally decided to hop on the IIFYM train, or at least try it out for a bit. If you aren’t familiar it stands for If it Fits Your Macros- based on the idea that instead of just counting calories, you aim for hitting macro-nutrient goals (specific # of grams of protein, carbs, and fat). Basically taking the clean vs dirty foods debate off the table. Easting mostly healthy foods – fruits, veggies, lots of protein- but fitting in “junk” without the restriction of a “cheat” day or meal. Macros (and caloric intake as a whole) differ depend on what your goals are- if you want to lose, maintain, or gain. I’m doing a small deficit in order to lose some fat, but still making sure to get enough calories that I have strength during my workouts. I actually think I had previously restricting too much some days, and then over-eating other days which was halting my progress. I am trying to get in a good frame of mind, and I feel like this is a good way to find balance.
I started IIFYM on Friday August 1st, and so far I’ve enjoyed it. I need to get a food scale to be even more precise. Why precision is KEY:
“Why you aren’t… losing weight!
Alright. So. Let’s take our average gal. Let’s call her Jane Doe. Jane is middle-aged, has a few kids and a husband, and works in an office. Shegoes to the gym about 4x a week. She needs to eat exactly 1700 calories a day to lose one pound a week (3000-3500 calories to lose one lb), and she has about 20 lbs to lose. She sets up My Fitness Pal with her goals, pre-plans her day, and has the right macros.
So! It turns out that Jane is pretty busy, so even though she knows she has to weigh everything, she wakes up late pretty often and figures that she doesn’t have time to weigh her peanut butter for her toast in the morning- and a slightly rounded tablespoon can’t be THAT off, right? (wrong- You Tube Video Link).
PROBLEM #1- let’s say that that’s an extra 40 calories a day- 20 extra calories per tbsp. That’s an extra 280 calories a week.
When Jane makes her scrambled eggs every morning, she uses Pam spray to coat the pan pretty solidly, but the label says zero-calorie per 1/4 second spray, so she doesn’t track that. She uses about 3 seconds worth to spray the pan.
PROBLEM #2- 3 seconds of Pam is 21 calories. That’s an extra 147 calories a week.
Jane has a lot going on, so she drinks coffee every day with her breakfast. She uses Splenda and creamer. She likes it sweet, so she uses three packets of Splenda. It says zero calorie, right!?
PROBLEM #3- But… it has 4 calories per packet. That’s another extra 84 calories a week. She only uses a splash, though…. that’s about a tablespoon. One serving. PROBLEM #4- That’s 35 calories/serving- 245 extra calories/week.
On day 3 of Jane’s first week of IIFYM, her coworker brings in brownies. Jane figures that ONE brownie can’t hurt, but she doesn’t know the exact nutrition of it, so she doesn’t bother tracking it.
PROBLEM #4- that’s an extra ~250 calories.
Most nights, Jane takes her kids to McDonalds after soccer practice. She wants to get in her veggies, so she is happy that she doesn’t choose to put McDonalds in her day that day. She does, however, have a couple of her son’s fries- no damage done, right? The average fry has 5 calories, so when she only has a small handful- 4-5- that’s just a taste, so she doesn’t bother tracking. That’s an extra, say, 20 calories a day, 3x a week- PROBLEM #5- 60 extra calories a week.
It’s been a long week, so at the end of the week, Jane goes out to eat with her husband. They pick a restaurant that doesn’t have nutritional facts available online, but Jane figures she’ll save 500 or so calories for a meal and a drink. Should be plenty, right? PROBLEM #5- let’s say Jane and her husband split an appetizer, Jane has an entree, and also gets a beer. The beer is probably ~150 calories, half the appetizer (potato skins, let’s say) is ~400-500 calories, and Jane’s entree (salmon with veggies! That can’t be that bad…. right?) is- uh oh- after preparation with oil, etc, and as served- 650 calories. So, Jane’s “500 calorie dinner” is 1250 calories- 750 over what she planned.
Over the weekend, Jane feels like she did pretty well with eating during the week, so she lets go a little bit both days and has a few extra handfuls of pretzels while watching a movie… that can’t be that bad, right? Just a few carbs? PROBLEM #6- A serving of pretzels- ~20 pretzels- is ~100 calories. That’s about a big handful… Jane has two handfuls Friday AND Saturday extra before bed! That’s an extra 200 calories/day- x2= 400 extra calories
SO! READY?! THAT IS AN EXTRA ~2200 CALORIES A WEEK. ALMOST 3000. ALMOST AN ENTIRE POUND.IIFYM WILL WORK FOR YOU, BUT ONLY IF YOU WORK FOR IT!!!!!!”
The idea with IIFYM is that one need not feel restricted by ANY food. This weekend I ate some GoldFish (something I’d normally never eat)I needed more carbs and the goldfish sounded good so I counted some out and chowed down. NBD.
Initially I was put off by counting every thing, but now I realize the benefit. I can go out to eat without feeling “guilty” or like I am “cheating”. I want to get out of that mentality. I simply check out the nutritional info online and fit it in to my macros. I don’t plan on doing this every single time I go out to eat (or even counting forever), but I want to utilize this method for at least a month to monitor progress and see if my caloric intake is where it should be.
I’ve been good at counting my protein for a long time now (I aim for about 120g at least), so it will just take some getting used to to count up my carbs and fats. I’m interested to see how everything goes once I get a food scale too. It’s easy to calculate a lot of foods with just measuring cups or counting out individual crackers or whatever, but things like meat are hard without knowing the exact grams…..
Anyway! Check out the IIFYM website to calculate YOUR macros if you are interested! I find the whole concept so fascinating….will keep updating on this.