October 23rd, 2017
If It Fits Your Macros

A Dietitian’s View On “If It Fits Your Macros” aka Flexible Dieting

If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), or Flexible dieting, is a diet trend that involves meeting daily macronutrient intake targets.

A macronutrient is a food that is required by the human body in large amounts. There are 3 macronutrients that our bodies need: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All of these are crucial in the regulation of metabolism and all the functions in our bodies.

The amounts of macros we need are based on many factors including sex, age, height, weight, and physical activity. You can ask a dietitian to do a nutritional assessment and get these calculations for you or… oh yeah, there’s an app for that.

Related: IIFYM Explained: A Simple Guide To Flexible Dieting

Does it matter where I get my macros from?

If It Fits Your Macros
Image: Pond5

Absolutely. I have heard people say “a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from”. This may be true if you only look at the numbers.

A 100 calories coming from a cookie and 100 calories coming from carrots is still 100 calories. But what’s important to point out is the composition of the foods we consume.
100 calories in a cookie is basically empty calories, in other words, there are no nutrients in it. It is all sugar and fat and chemicals.

100 calories of carrots, on the other hand, is full of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Not to mention that you would get way more volume consuming the carrots, which would translate in more satiety throughout the day.

The same thing goes for grams of macros. The source is very important: e.g. grams of protein from bacon vs. grams of protein from chicken breast.

But…I can still lose weight if I hit my macros regardless of what I eat.

Hot Strawberry Toaster Pastry
Image: Pond5

Ok. But what are the consequences of feeding your body junk food? If you only ate a certain amount of chocolate (based on your own calories or macros for weight loss) for days, you could lose weight. What is the point?

You are depriving your body of calories AND essentials nutrients which have no long term benefits. If you want to follow numbers, make sure you are also looking at the nutrient content of the foods you consume.
It has been well researched that consuming higher amounts of wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seeds is beneficial for our health; more so if you are a professional athlete or compete in body building.

So what’s the verdict? A dieticians thoughts on If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)

farmers market
Image: Pond5

The truth is that there isn’t one diet that is good for everyone.

If you find that counting and measuring macros is working for you; because you feel healthy, strong, and not deprived while also paying attention to the quality of foods that you consume; I say keep at it.
If you want to avoid the counting and measuring, then focusing more on quality may be a good deal for you. Remember that portion sizes and reading labels is key to knowing exactly what we put into our bodies.

Either way, I think that the most important thing is to focus on consuming wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and whole grains the majority of the time, and maintaining an active lifestyle.

Food is meant to be enjoyed as well as used for fuel. Having a healthy balance and the right amount of different foods will promote energy and wellbeing.

Mara Bustos

Mara Bustos is a Registered Dietitian/Licensed Nutritionist accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Mara supports sustainable, plant based foods and bio-compounds that have been scientifically proven to enhance people's lives and believes that prevention is the key to living a fulfilled and healthy life. She provides online one-on-one and group nutrition counseling and personalized weight loss and wellness packages for women that the client can access from the comfort of their homes, while giving in-real-time support via phone, Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, and more. Mara habla español y presta todos sus servicios en este idioma.

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