What exactly does IIFYM mean? How do you incorporate it in a way that maximises your fitness goals? Read on for the complete guide to IIFYM!
Before we get into it though, you might want to read my post on macros first which gives an easy guide to what macros are and how they can benefit you.
As always, I aim to be transparent. There are some affiliate links to Bodybuilding.com in this post, and if you go on to buy anything from their store I’ll receive a commission on the value of your purchases.
Now, let’s get to it!
Misconceptions about IIFYM
One of the most common mistakes that people make with IIFYM is they take it as a signal to eat anything and everything in sight without considering how nutritious (or not) the foods are. This is not what IIFYM is about!
Another name for IIFYM is flexible dieting. Which means exactly what it says – being flexible about the foods that you eat. You don’t have to eat grilled chicken and boiled rice day-in day-out to achieve your goals.
How do I ‘do’ IIFYM?
The idea is that you meet your daily calorie and macronutrient requirements using whatever foods you like to achieve these goals. You can get more information about calculating your daily caloric and macro requirements by reading this. Remember, these amounts will change depending upon your goals, frequency/intensity of exercise, current body weight, shoe size (okay, perhaps not the last one).
Calories in vs calories out
With IIFYM you could eat nothing but crisps and chocolate (considered to be examples of ‘dirty’ foods) but as long as your calorie intake was consistently in a deficit you would lose weight – see this case in point. Equally, you could eat boiled fish and vegetables every day (considered as ‘clean foods’) but if you’re consistently eating in a calorie surplus you will put on weight. ‘Energy in’ versus ‘energy out’ does matter regardless of the food sources.
Is a calorie just a calorie?
I said above that IIFYM was about using whatever foods you like to achieve your calorie and macro goals. However, there is a caveat to this. Reaching these goals by eating nothing but foods which are low in nutrients (e.g., crisps and chocolate) is a good way to end up feeling lethargic, miserable, and unable to perform your workouts to the best of your ability. Whilst the calorie is king, where you get your calories from does ultimately matter if you want to feel good on the inside and maximise your training performance.
Food isn’t just about the macronutrients, it’s about the micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) as well. Our bodies need nutrient-dense foods (e.g., meats, vegetables, pulses, grains) to thrive. Eating nothing but ‘junk’ is a sure way to derail your fitness goals because you won’t be in optimum physical condition to train to your full potential.
Stop splitting foods into categories of ‘healthy’ versus ‘unhealthy’ or ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’. Try and look at them as foods that are ‘nutritious’ versus those that are ‘not-so nutritious’.
There is no need to feel guilty about having that chocolate bar, the bag of crisps, or those few biscuits. Just try and make those sorts of foods a lower proportion of your daily calorie/macro amounts.
Once you realise that you can eat what you want (taking into account what I’ve said above) it will bring so much freedom to your diet. You no longer have to feel guilty over eating ‘naughty’ foods; they won’t derail your progress so long as you follow the principles outlined above.
So, please be flexible (because life is too short not to have that piece of cake!) but aim to get most of your calories and macros from nutritious foods. Your body will take care of the rest and you’ll get the most out of your training!
You can download my free ebook on Losing Weight Without Giving Up The Foods You Love here!
Still unsure about IIFYM? Comment below with any questions or contact me!