Last week I talked on my Facebook Page about how I have been training with Inov8 Elite Performance for the past month.  I’ll talk more about why I started training with Matt Jansen and what I like about this style of training/online coaching in a later post, but for Day 6 in the 30 Days of Blogging challenge (click here for more info on that), I wanted to do a post talking about IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros).

Before I started training with Inov8 I didn’t really know much about IIFYM but I’ve since learned that talking about IIFYM can sometimes cause heated debates.  That is not the purpose of my post here. I more or less just want to let people know about my thoughts on the topic and how it has slightly changed my approach to my nutrition and what I eat each day.

The ‘macros’ part of IIFYM stands for macro nutrients.  Macro nutrients are your fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake each day.  So, ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ means that each day you have a certain number of grams for each macro nutrient that you are allotted and your goal is to hit those numbers as closely as possible by the end of the day (usually trying to stay within a +/- 5g window of your goal).   Then, within those macros, you usually also have a few micro nutrient goals you are trying to hit as well (things like fiber, etc).

Inov8 strictly adheres to a macro nutrient based dieting approach, so when I decided I wanted to start training with them, I figured I had better learn what that meant!  The approach a lot of IIFYM followers take is that weight loss is all about creating a calorie deficit and so as long as you are hitting your numbers for each macro nutrient category (grams of fat/carb/protein) you will by default meet your caloric goals.  I’m probably not the best person to explain in detail how this works, so if you want to find out more information about IIFYM or where to start if you want to find out more information on this style of dieting, a good website to start with is www.iifym.com.  That website also gives guidelines on what numbers to use when you are first getting started.  I wasn’t very good at trying to figure it out on my own which is one reason I decided to hire Matt as my online coach because he figures the numbers out for me each week.

What I have discovered is that within IIFYM there are some very extreme people who love to share pictures on Instagram about how much junk food they can eat and still stay within their macro goals for the day and improve on their physique.  I’m not really sure why, but for some reason Pop Tarts seem to have become the signature food for IIFYM, and you see people following IIFYM and sharing pop tart pictures all the time!

I’ve also noticed that people in the IIFYM world don’t like the words ‘clean foods’.  A lot of IIFYM-ers kind of mock the phrase ‘clean eating’, don’t like things that place labels on food, and believe it can mess with your head when you view foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Most IIFYM-ers like to instead use the term ‘nutrient dense’ foods.  Regardless, to me it doesn’t really matter what you call it, the food is all the same food.  Whether you want to say clean food, single-ingredient foods, nutrient-dense foods, etc. if your goal is overall health and athletic performance you will likely be coming back to same general list of foods regardless of whether you want to call them clean foods or nutrient dense foods.

So, how has all of this effected my approach to nutrition and the foods I eat every day?  Not much.  I still plan clean, healthy foods for my meals each day.  I don’t do it because these foods are on a pre-set list and someone told me I had to eat off them.  I do it because I feel the best when I eat this way.  I like eating whole foods, foods that are mostly fresh and unprocessed, and organic when possible.  I feel like, in general, I am able to eat a lot more food when the foods I am eating aren’t pre-packaged or processed, it gives me more energy in my workouts, and there are a lot of health benefits by including fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins into my diet.

What I do like about IIFYM, however, is the flexibility it provides.  So, for example, let’s say I know that I have 225g of carbs that I am aiming for that day and after soccer practice some of the other moms say they want to take the kids out for frozen yogurt. If you are following IIFYM, it’s not really a big deal and you can easily make it work without feeling like you got off track that day.  If I got 4oz of frozen yogurt that would be about 25g of carbs, and so I would just take out 25g of carbs from my meal later in the day.

Does that mean I would eat frozen yogurt every single day instead of something like brown rice or sweet potatoes with my dinner?  No, because like I mentioned earlier, I like fueling my body for performance and I like how my body feels when I fill it with healthy, clean, nutrient-dense foods (or whatever you want to call them).  But IIFYM allows me the flexibility to add a few fun treats without feeling like I have entirely ruined my efforts for the day.  So sometimes I will have a skinny cow ice cream bar after my workout, or sometimes I will have some laffy taffy and read the jokes with my 3-year old, I just keep track of those treats and work them into my macros for the day.

The downside of IIFYM is that you really have to be particular about tracking all your food.  I use the MyFitnessPal app because it is so easy to use from your phone.  It’s fine for now, but I don’t know if it is realistic to say that I am going to track every single food I eat for every day for the rest of my life.  So, we will see if my opinion changes once I have been doing this approach to nutrition for more than just one month.  The upside of tracking your food and being particular about your macros and calories is that if you aren’t seeing the changes you want you can make slight changes in your daily meals because instead of guessing where you think you might be in terms of calories, carbs, fats, etc., you have a clear starting point to make changes from.

I hope that makes sense! So, to sum things up, things haven’t changed much in regards to the types of foods I have been eating with the exception of a few treats here or there (which really I was doing before anyway), but I have been more particular about keeping track of all the food I am eating.  Have you ever followed IIFYM before? What did you think?

‘See’ you tomorrow!

Your Friend,
Natalie