Nick Mitchell: Why If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) Is Rubbish

Last night I was very tired after a 14 hour day stuck at my desk. I polished off half a tub of ice cream and half a box of weetabix. Contrary to what our IIFYM evangelists (If It Fits Your Macros, abbreviated to IIFYM, refers to meeting macronutrient needs and then filling the remaining calories with other foods. Meaning, “eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros”) will tell you this doesn’t make me a hero, it doesn’t make an awful Hell bound sinner, and it certainly won’t make me leaner or healthier. It makes me human.

Would I advise a personal training client to eat this? No.

Would I go crazy with a personal training client who did eat that? Maybe.

Under what circumstances would I go “crazy”(crazy being a loose description for anything from patient explanation to showing visible frustration)? Firstly, and this is always our primary concern, it would be if I thought it was detrimental to the client’s health. If you come to me after eating 16 weetabix and your tummy is distended and you’ve been to the toilet 5 times in 12 hours then we know that this is not good for you. I care about this infinitely more than I care about your abdominals. The second reason might be because we are on a tight timeframe – set by the client never set by the personal trainer, and we need to have everything set at optimal. Then there is no excuse for a 3000 junk calorie pig out. The chances that you need it to reset your leptin levels are as likely as finding a high(ish) profile UK nutritionist (not Gillian McKeith) who for some reason used to call himself a doctor and now no longer does. That means it has been known to happen, but not all that often.

These IIFYM heroes we hear about on the internet may make it work for themselves but is that actually applicable to most of us? Trust me, judging a program /methodology based on whether it works for a professional Personal Trainer who lives in the gym and is extremely focused on his / her body isn’t the same as whether it works for so-called regular people.

The bandwagon of IIFYM has in part become a bullshit juvenile bandwagon espoused most publicly by aggressive young people who want to prove a point. What they fail to realize, and what I want you to appreciate, is that “sensible eating”should always rein supreme and that most of the time the odd blow out doesn’t really matter. This is a very old fashioned concept that is simply common sense and doesn’t need pigeon holing and polarizing as these idiots try to do. What annoys me is that this IIFYM concept is used to justify eating garbage as if it is the “perfect”choice if everything else is right – “hey bro all is good, I can eat this Macdonalds because it fits my macros”. No you tosser, you can eat that junk food because you want to and you are human. Good for you. I am just like you. In fact I am probably “worse”than you (OK, I eat ice cream and pizzas, I don’t eat Macdonalds burgers) because I am not obsessed with my abdominals and I have an extremely busy life with gyms in what will soon be 4 different countries, and a young family.

So please let this sink in. The concept of IIFYM as a way of eating is in essence correct if it works for you. But it is called sensible eating, not being overly dogmatic, and balanced. It is even optimal (that magic word!) if it allows you to stick to a diet better than any other approach. But what it is not is the ideal / healthiest / quickest way to reach a body composition goal. Nor is it, and perhaps this is my personal annoyance coming through, something so spectacularly smart and amazing that you should keep bragging about it on the net. It is called being “normal”. And junk is still junk regardless of it “fitting your macros”.

PS – as a closing note I will tell you that in my experience, and bear in mind I oversee 50 Personal Trainers who are all focused on getting results for a huge array of different clients and goals, that a classic IIFYM trainer doesn’t ever match up to one who takes a slightly different albeit still realistic approach. But maybe I am wrong? After all I was sent a Facebook comment yesterday that implied UP was full of bad coaches because the results that we get are too fast and too dramatic. I still can’t figure that one out so I’ll ask the hundreds of clients who have been with us for years about what that means

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