“IIFYM” (If It Fits Your Macros):

This has become a common term/abbreviation describing a style of eating/dieting. In order for this term to be understood you have to know what a “macro” is. Macro is short for macro nutrient: protein, carbohydrate, fat & fiber (some people in the nutrition community don’t recognize it as a macro because it doesn’t have a caloric value, but for the purposes of tracking macros it is just as important as the ‘true’ macro nutrients).

When I comprehend eating within macros I understand that statement to mean you have a selected amount of each macro nutrient planned for the day, most often, planned for each meal. Within those allotments, you can choose ANY food to eat…as long as it fits within the allotted macro nutrient recommendation. Recently, it has been brought to my attention that many people do not interpret it that way. So, how do they interpret it? Here are two explanations that have been shared with me:

Example 1:

  • Person A: I look at IIFYM as more of matching macros first calories second since no two macros are equal (like 4 oz chicken is not the same as 4oz steak, right?)
  • Me: Right. But the macros I was talking about were the grams of protein/carbs/fats. So, like my next meal is 32p/64c/9f. IIFYM, to me, means I could have a protein shake & oatmeal. Or make pancakes & eat egg whites. So, the foods themselves would be portioned differently, but the macro nutrients in the meal remain the same. 
  • Person A: Right but even 25 grams of protein from chicken is not going to equal the same calories as 25 grams of protein from a steak is what I am saying, so IIFYM is more calorie cycling
  • Me: Right, but IIFYM is for the whole day. Or in many cases per meal. If one wanted to eat steak instead if chicken, their meal would have to allow the extra fat from steak. Same thing applies to carbs. Oatmeal is great, but sometimes the fat content doesn’t allow it to fit into the carb allotment for that meal…so, cream of rice would be a better choice. It definitely takes some shuffling around different foods, but at the end of each meal the total macros & calories should be almost exactly the same.

….In this example it seems like the mix-up is in reference to grams. I’m referring to grams of protein in a serving not grams, as in weight, referring to the amount of a serving.

Example 2:

  • Me: Do you track your macros?
  • Person B: Yes, most days I get around 33%.
  • Me: So, 148.5p/148.5c/66f ?
  • Person B: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I just plug it into My Fitness Pal and look at what the pie chart tells me.

…In this example it seems like the mix up is in relation to the percentage of macro nutrients consumed for the day.

I’m posting this to be clear. When you are tracking your macro nutrients you are tracking the grams of protein, carbs and fats consumed. NOT the portion (in grams) consumed or the percentage of calories consumed. By default, when tracking macros you will ultimately be tracking calories as well. If you intake the same macros each day then you will be in taking the same calories each day no matter what food sources you receive your nutrients.

As IIFYM becomes more popular, I want my viewers and clients to have a clear understanding of what it means to track your macros.  

If you have any questions or would like to more about this style of dieting, please contact me here.