If It Fits Your Macros Diet—AKA 'IIFYM'—Pros and Cons
Chances are, you have at least one friend who "counts macros." IIFYM ("If it fits your macros") is popping up in photo captions for everything from meal-prepped chicken-and-veggie lunches to dripping ice cream cones, and millions of people are using apps like MyFitnessPal to track calories and macros. But what exactly does it all mean?
Anyone following IIFYM aims to eat a certain set amount of fat, carbs, and protein every day. Beyond that, it's basically a free-for-all.
There's nothing magical about IIFYM. It follows the same calories in, calories out principle as all successful weight-maintenance and weight-loss diets.
It's important to note here that food isn't the only factor when it comes to weight loss. Things like exercise, sleep, stress, and health conditions all play a part, and the weight-loss process can vary greatly from person to person. Also understand that everyone's daily caloric expenditure (the number of calories you burn every day) varies, so the number of calories and macronutrient that helps one person reach their goals may not work for someone else.
If you're following a personalized diet template, it's best to get that template from a registered dietitian or a doctor.
As with any major lifestyle change, you should consult your doctor or a registered dietitian before drastically changing your diet or starting a weight-loss program. An R.D. can provide you with a healthy diet template that's personalized to your body and your goals, if that's something you're interested in. If you don't want to make an in-person appointment, many R.D.s offer online consultations and services. Again, expert guidance is so much more valuable than advice from a popular influencer who lacks real credentials.
The major upside of IIFYM is that it emphasizes the idea that all three macronutrients—fat, carbs, and protein—are important, and doesn't make any food off-limits.
One great thing about focusing on all the macronutrients, per Upton, is that it keeps people from vilifying (or eliminating) a single group. While low-fat or low-carb diets might lead to weight loss due to a caloric deficit that comes as a result of eliminating so many foods, the USDA's dietary guidelines stress that, for otherwise healthy people, a balanced diet (containing all three macronutrients) is best for overall health. An IIFYM approach can help people stop fearing carbs and fat .
Plus, IIFYM is less restrictive than many other diets in that no foods are off limits. Alissa Rumsey , R.D., C.S.C.S., explains that a benefit of IIFYM it that it allows you the flexibility to eat your favorite foods while still seeing results.
One potential drawback is that, if you're not eating mostly nutritious foods, you might be missing out on important vitamins and minerals.
Less-healthy foods aren't inherently bad, and it's fine to get your macronutrients from these foods sometimes, in moderation. But, it's important to remember that your food choices aren't just about hitting numbers. The foods you eat impact your blood sugar , how full you feel, your energy levels, your cholesterol levels, and your overall health, Rumsey says. So, opt for healthy, nutrient-dense food most of the time. Just because eating three doughnuts every day technically "fits your macros" doesn't mean it's a good choice.
Also, tracking what you eat may make you focus on food in a way that starts to feel unhealthy. If this is the case, IIFYM isn't for you.
Bottom line: No matter how you eat, the rules of fueling your body in a healthy way remain the same.
Done right, IIFYM can support a balanced diet that leaves room for your favorite less-healthy foods, in moderation. And, if you're consistently eating a caloric deficit within the guidelines of what's healthy , the method can be an effective, sustainable way to lose weight. But, it's still important to follow basic healthy eating guidelines. “Be sure to focus on food quality, with an emphasis on vegetables, fiber, and high-quality protein, choosing whole foods over heavily processed foods,” Rumsey says.