There’s a trend in fitness nutrition called IIFYM (or If It Fits Your Macros). It appears to be gaining momentum recently, as demonstrated by over 1.3M instagram posts tagged with the acronym. I know I have personally used it many times when sharing some of my own food photos.
In case this isn’t a topic familiar to you, let’s take a quick step back. If It Fits Your Macros is a a nutrition approach that advocates eating any kind of food you like, while following your macronutrient requirements each day. The point is to remove the limitations that are common in many diets and give you flexibility, while allowing you to reach your body composition goals. Sounds good, right?
I think so! In fact, it’s basically how I plan my own meals and how I recommend my online coaching athletes approach their nutrition. But there’s a dark side that I have seeing more frequently in social media. One that makes me cringe and shake my head at the same time.
The Junk Food “IIFYM” Approach
While I am a big fan of eating foods you enjoy, I also believe that most of the foods you choose should fuel your body. I think you should include the occasional treat (those foods that aren’t so healthy), so that you have a balanced approach to your nutrition. And I DO enjoy plenty of treats.
The trend I have noticed, however, glorifies eating junk food regularly as part of a “healthy” IIFYM diet. For some reason, junk food treats like pop tarts, whipped cream, and candy are becoming viewed as foods you can eat all the time, while still reaching your weight goals. If you eat them in the right proportions, what’s the harm? Hmm..something is not right here.
A Healthy Lifestyle
That is the point where I struggle with many fitness accounts. Living a healthy lifestyle should be about more than how you look right now. It should be about learning what foods your body needs to be healthy. The foods that fuel your activity and give it the nutrients it needs to function efficiently. Those same foods can be prepared in delicious ways, so that you can enjoy what you’re eating. With the foundation of healthy foods, you can add an occasional splurge or treat whether it’s healthy or not.
See the difference?
There’s a point where you’re just looking for an excuse to eat like crap, while achieving a physique goal. Can you do it? Sure. I’ve seen many girls take this approach and get great results. They look great, but I wonder how healthy they really are. Consider the nutritional value of what you’re eating. The chemicals that are in many of our junk food choices. These things matter to your overall health.
This is where I think IIFYM can go very wrong. Some people take it as permission to reinforce unhealthy habits under the guise of balance. It’s justifying eating pop tarts every day, because you can squeeze it into your macros. With over 19g of sugar per tart, I’m not sure this is a healthy choice every day.
Focus on Your Health
Why do you want to improve your diet? If it’s all about how you look, it’s going to be hard to stick with it in the long run. Look for a deeper reason that really drives you. For many people, improving your diet is about being healthy, so you can live a long life, enjoy activities with your family and friends, and set a good example for those around you. In that case, make sure your choices align to those big picture goals. Looking good is a great benefit to your healthy lifestyle, but it shouldn’t be your main reason.
The real problem isn’t the nutrition philosophy of IIFYM, but it’s taking that freedom and twisting it to sabotage the big picture focus on your health.
Instead, find foods that are both nutritious and that taste delicious! Make those foods the foundation of your nutrition plan. Then when you want to enjoy that poptart as a breakfast treat every once in a while, you can.
What do you think about IIFYM?
I’ve shared my thoughts and now it’s your turn. Do you agree that it’s being twisted into something negative. Or do you support the eat whatever you want trend? I can’t wait to hear your opinion on this one!