By Edd Oldfield |
Bodybuilder and Personal Trainer
Christmas is just around the corner and with it comes dozens of social events, work do’s and family gatherings. These festivities are normally awash with our favourite foods, treats, desserts, chocolate, pastries, finger food you name it and its most likely there.
But all this goodness typically comes at a cost. These foods are typically sugar ridden, fat laden, processed and extremely calorie dense. For the person or athlete concerned with their body composition and not wanting to look like they’ve gone full perma-bulk, this provides a tricky situation.
Do you be the guy in the corner eating your cold chicken and broccoli, or do you dive into a world of calories and not worry about it; after all winter is for “bulking,” right?
Well this Christmas, let’s look into the idea of adopting a different approach and one that ever since its birth, has been full of controversy… And that is of course is “IIFYM,” which stands for If It Fits Your Macro’s.
What is IIFYM? | Macronutrients
IIFYM, or as some like to call it – flexible dieting, in very basic terms is a diet whereby you look to hit pre-determined macro targets in order to reach your goal; be it fat burning or muscle building.
A “macro” is simply short for macro-nutrient – there are 3 main macronutrients to consider:
To keep is simple: In IIFYM world, a calorie is a calorie and meal timing, frequency and size does not matter. This is where the controversy lies.
Unfortunately, people have taken this to the extreme, “saving” all their calories and macros for one huge gorge fest at the end of the day. Social media is overflowing with IIFYM posts with pizza, ice-cream, cookies and a whole host of calorific treats packed into one all out meal to end all meals. But this is not why IIFYM came about.
What is IIFYM? | Micronutrients
Two other important components of IIFYM are fibre and micronutrients (also known as micros).
Fibre is extremely important in aiding digestion – especially if the majority of your food doesn’t include much fibre – it’s important to get that boost.
The average daily recommended intake for fibre is around 30g but this can differentiate for many people. For example, personally, my fibre consumption consists of 12g per 1000 kcals (if you’re eating 2000kcals: 24g of fibre, 3000 kcals 36g of fibre etc.)
Hitting your fibre target is easily definition need to consuming a good portion of wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables. This will stop you from eating McDonalds all day to hit your macros and mean you will also be getting a good portion of micronutrients too. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals contained in our food and although do not contain calories, they help in numerous physiological functions including supporting immune function. A good way to get in enough micronutrients is to eat food of all colours, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bananas, apples, beetroot.
Who is IIFYM suitable for?
IIFYM is for those looking for a long term, sustainable diet to adhere to whilst being able to consistently consume a variety of foods. There are no “bad” or “good” foods and your body cannot distinguish where a macro has come from.
For example: If you took 2 meals of equal macros – say, a chicken breast, rice and olive oil vs a cheeseburger – your body would not look at the cheeseburger meal and say “this is bad therefore we must store it as fat,” and conversely does not look at the chicken and rice meal and think “oh yes good food we can’t store this as fat.”
Fat or weight gain comes from a surplus of calories against what we burn regardless of its origin!
How does IIFYM relate to Christmas? | Take Home Message
Well, by adopting IIFYM this Christmas you can enjoy all the social events, Christmas dinner, meals out with loved ones and not worry about not working towards your fitness goals.
But before you go chomping down all the mince pies remember:
✓ Moderation is key
✓ Eat a wide variety of food
✓ When in doubt about how to track something, use handy apps or Google specific restaurants to make sure you stay on track!
…Now, mostly importantly, enjoy Christmas!