By Cameron Devereux
IIFYM, otherwise known as “If It Fits Your Macros,” is a new way to diet with flexibility. Meaning, as long as you stay within a specific range of macronutrients, you can eat whatever you want. Your macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Everything is an option but do you really want to feed your body with just anything?
The purpose of IIFYM is to have a target number of grams of macros and attempting not to exceed or fall below that number. The purpose of any diet is to have caloric deficit while still getting the necessary nutrients and satisfaction you need. IIFYM says eat whatever you want as long as you keep it within your macros. This, however, doesn’t work. There is no way that 100 calories of PopTarts are going to give you the same benefits as 100 calories of broccoli. That is where flexible dieting gets confusing. Let’s not forget that IIFYM completely neglects to enforce consumption of the equally-important micronutrients your body needs!
IIFYM is a diet very much implemented by bikini competitors and individuals looking to improve body composition. Not everyone is a physique competitor or a body builder. Fitness enthusiasts using this diet will unfortunately have short term results and most likely relapse. The body will feel unsatisfied due to nutrient deficiency, leading to overeating. Eating processed foods that still fit your macros lack key nutrients that help you feel satisfied. Chronic nutrient deficiency leads to chronic overeating. This issue with eating whatever you want messes with the brain, the digestive system, your appetite, and your gut microbiota. These physiological changes will make it extremely difficult to crave the nutritious food, aka the good stuff. Your body’s cells cycle and die out and are replaced by new cells that come from your food. So you are, quite literally, what you eat!
Let’s break it down. Eating a high glycemic meal (ex. Bagel, white bread, pretzels, rice, dates, etc.) suppresses the post meal leptin response in healthy adults. Leptin is your body’s satiety hormone and when leptin is dysregulated so is insulin. Insulin helps control blood glucose levels by signaling the liver and muscle and fat cells to take in glucose from the blood. Insulin therefore helps cells to take in glucose to be used for energy. When leptin and insulin are dysregulated, you are more likely to have more cravings and also store fat easier. Lower insulin and higher leptin levels suggest that lower glycemic meals (ex. Peanuts, grapefruit, whole wheat pasta, tomatoes, fat-free milk, etc.) promote a post meal metabolic state that is favorable for reduced food consumption. Reduced food consumption equals weight loss! Higher glycemic meals including a lot of processed foods will sharply elevate insulin and suppress leptin making your life harder. When our body is deprived of nutrients it is more difficult to manage hunger, cravings, and mood swings! Leptin can be regulated by minerals, aka not your macronutrients, as well as through protein-centric meals. Building your meals around a lean protein source can aid is weight loss. Here’s a study to show why:
Eggs vs. Bagels
“Otherwise healthy overweight or obese participants were assigned to egg, egg diet, bagel or bagel diet groups, based on the prescription of either an egg breakfast containing two eggs (340 kcal) or a breakfast containing bagels matched for energy density and total energy, for at least 5 days per week, respectively. The egg diet and bagel diet groups were suggested a 1000 kcal energy-deficit low-fat diet, whereas the egg and bagel groups were asked not to change their energy intake.
After 8 weeks, in comparison to the bagel diet group, the egg diet group showed a 61% greater reduction in BMI, a 65% greater weight loss, a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference and a 16% greater reduction in percent body fat.”
All from what participants ate in the morning! But if the bagel fits your macros…
Key things to remember when you are considering making a lifestyle out of your diet:
- Substance does not equal satisfaction.
- Eat REAL food that provides your body with the appropriate nutrient density.
- Chronic nutrient deficiency leads to chronic overeating. (Yes, I said it again because it is THAT important!)