When it comes to diet fads, nothing has received more hype than IIFYM, or “If It Fits Your Macros.”
Who wouldn’t want to follow a diet that allows you to eat pop tarts, Pizza and donuts on a regular basis!
While the IIFYM diet seems very glamorous there are obviously many pros and cons associated with this diet.
This article is going to cover everything you could ever want to know about the IIFYM Diet. The good, the bad and the cold hard truth from a fitness pro that has studied every aspect of IIFYM.
First of all – lets dive into what IIFYM actually is.
What is IIFYM?
If It Fits Your Macros is a popular diet strategy that means you can literally eat anything you want, as long as you reach your daily macro requirements (protein, carbs, and fat).
This means that if you are cutting, and figure that 2,100 calories is ideal for your cutting diet, you can have a diet that consists of grilled chicken, cheesecake and ice cream. I literally met a guy that followed this diet. He got in his protein from chicken and all his carbs and fat from candy and desserts!
Obviously foods like cheesecake, pizza and ice cream are high in carbs and calories, and your totals will add up fast – but in theory this is what the IIFYM diet is.
The Benefits of IIFYM
There are many advantages to the IIFYM diet that cater to the average dieter and fitness enthusiast.
1. Eat What You Please
The major benefit of the IIFYM diet is obviously that you can enjoy whatever food you want on a daily basis.
We have all experienced those intense cravings when on a diet and it feels like torture when you are in the middle of a diet and know that you can’t have any of the food you are craving for the foreseeable future.
2. Makes Bulking Effortless
Bulking on the IIFYM diet is incredibly easy. If your main goal is gaining weight very quickly and you don’t mind if a little fat comes with it, the IIFYM bulk may be a good choice for you.
I know many super skinny guys that do the IIFYM bulk to easily enter a 1,000 calorie surplus each day. If your bulking diet requires you to eat close to 5,000 calories per day you will likely find that it is very difficult hitting those numbers from lower calorie healthy sources such as oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, lean fish and healthy fats.
When you need to hit 5,000 calories per day sometimes a few slices of pizza and cheesecake is just what you need! A few slices of your favorite pepperoni pizza accompanied by your favorite slice of cheesecake can get you a quick 2,000 calories. Not to mention this is a lot more fun than eating a bunch of sweet potatoes, grilled chicken breasts and oatmeal!
The thing that is probably the most attractive to us social butterflies on the IIFYM diet is that it does not have to interfere with your social and dating life.
Nothing is worse than being on a 1st date having to explain that you only “eat clean” and making your date self-conscious with your grilled chicken and broccoli. This has happened to me on a few different occasions and the dates did not end up nearly as well as the times when I didn’t care what I ate.
Just last Friday I was on a date and just ordered the best tasting Sushi on the menu regardless of what sauces and other add-ons it had. Not having to worry about eating super clean in a dating world and social setting is a lot easier.
Being out with your friends on a Friday night and not being able to drink beer and enjoy chicken wings can be a drag on your social life – so this is one clear advantage to the IIFYM diet.
IIFYM Cons: The Bad
1. Hormonal Consequences
The thing I don’t like about the IIFYM diet is that it does not take into consideration nutrient timing and the hormonal consequences to eating certain foods at certain times.
For example, eating a bunch of sugar before you go to bed is going to spike your insulin and shut off the production of human growth hormone. HGH and insulin can’t co-exist at the same time in your body (at least not in high levels) – and HGH is one of the most anabolic and fat burning hormones in your body. It is in your best interest to maximize your HGH production not only for your physique but also for your health and appearance.
It has also been shown that a diet with a lot of processed “dirty foods” will lower your natural testosterone production. Processed foods are not what your body needs to operate at peak efficiency.
2. Health Consequences
It doesn’t take a degree in nutrition to realize that consuming pizza, cheesecake and foods loaded with salt, sugar and fat is not good for your long-term health.
Obviously a clean diet that consists of whole foods, vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals is going to be a lot better for your health.
When you are eating a lot of dirty foods you are not only playing havoc with your health but your energy levels. I have tried the IIFYM diet before and found that my energy levels really started to slip by the end of the 1st week.
3. Stomach Problems
So you expect to eat a bunch of processed and refined sugar, animal fats, deep fried foods and grease and not experience stomach issues?
As glamorous as a diet consisting of pizza, donuts, and gummy bears sounds it comes with a myriad of stomach issues. Poor digestion and constant stomach cramping and discomfort are sure to accompany this type of diet.
What’s the best of both worlds?
A principle that I like to incorporate into my diet is the 90/10 rule. This basically eliminates all of the cons of the IIFYM diet without having to eat clean ALL THE TIME.
What this means is that I will have a 5-hour post workout window once per week where I eat all of the food that I crave for the week.
This does a few things. It keeps me from going crazy and also boosts a powerful fat burning hormone called leptin. I will strategically double my carbohydrate intake once per week to do a little reefed day and to prevent me from going crazy during my intense training periods.
My last cheat day/reefed day I ate 3 donuts, a chocolate dipped ice cream cone and a large bowl of chicken and white rice with ketchup and bbq on top. I consumed this all within the 5-hour window after an intense workout and then ate clean the rest of the week. This is the 90/10 principle in action.
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds I highly recommend you follow my lead and adopt the 90/10 IIFYM principle!