Is IIFYM Healthy? What You Need to Know

Flickr Creative Commons, TurboKanne

Flickr Creative Commons, TurboKanne

Diets and weight loss come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve seen nutrition advice – much of which is contradictory – range from adjusting certain food groups and our intake of them, to not eating after 6 p.m., to skipping meals entirely, to only drinking water/maple syrup/lemon juice/cayenne pepper (we know).

It’s not that these diets don’t “work,” because the reality is that any big change you make for an extended period of time is going to have an affect on your body and your health – negative or positive. It just depends on what you mean by “work,” and what your goals are.

One of our goals at WellnessFX is optimal health. Are the choices we’re making contributing to an overall healthy body inside and out?

We’re constantly reviewing trends to keep up with what the kids are doing these days, and we came across If It Fits Your Macros, better known as IIFYM. The nutrition plan is popular among the bodybuilding crowd but seeping into the general fitness crowd under the umbrella of “flexible dieting.”  Here is the overview and some takeaways:

IIFYM: The Quick Overview

Who: Founded by Anthony Collova. Collova is a believer in the calories in/calories out theory, citing that being overweight is a result of simply “eating more calories than your body can use!” (his exclamation point, as he is very excited about this)

Why: IIFYM touts itself as “a nutrition plan that is not only easy to comprehend, but easy to implement as well.”

What: The practice of IIFYM starts with the understanding that everyone has a different amount of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) they should be eating for where their body is at and their individual goals. This is calculated by using their online calculator, inputting basic information about your body, how often you workout, and then picking how intense you want your path to be on the road to losing weight, muscle building, or just maintaining your current weight.

After inputting this, the calculator will spit out the ratio of protein/fat/carb recommended for you, in grams. The rest is simple math, showing you how to split these amounts up across your day of meals.

When: According to the IIFYM website, in order to accomplish your physique changing goals, you should consistently eat the exact amount of calories, fat, carbs, protein, and fiber listed in the IIFYM Macro Calculator every day, regardless of whether you exercise or not.


IIFYM: Takeaways and considerations

Other than the calculator work, you’re done. The guidelines for eating leave it up to you to decide what foods those proteins, fats, and carbs are comprised of.

When it comes to nutrition, what we’ve observed is that heavily relying on macro-focused plans like IIFYM for your total nutrition can cause you to lose sight of micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals that play an important role in keeping your body healthy and functioning.

Look at these two meals that are both considered IIFYM-approved, because they only rely on tracking macros in grams:

Meal #1: 8 oz. Chicken breast, 1 cup of kale sauteed in grass-fed butter, 1 baked sweet potato

  • Protein: 47g
  • Carbs: 33g
  • Fat: 23g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Calories: 523

Meal #2: Chicken Broccoli Pasta Alfredo from Applebee’s

  • Protein: 65g
  • Carbs: 96g
  • Fat: 55g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Calories: 1120

While macros for both meals fit under IIFYM, one meal (meal #1) promotes good heart health (the kale and butter), produces serotonin (the chicken), and are good sources of vitamin A and C (the kale and the sweet potato), which support the immune system. The other (meal #2) does have broccoli, which is a good source of vitamin C, but also is mainly composed of refined, processed foods such as pasta, that are not as nutrient dense and are known to increase inflammation, diabetes, and insulin resistance.

This example shows how blanket guidelines can exclude other aspects of nutrition, in the name of weight loss/muscle gain. The quality of your food matters.

You should still consult a health practitioner regarding the health impact of a diet change. As always, we recommend regularly testing your biomarkers to better understand your body’s chemistry and how it reacts to changes in nutrition.

What other nutrition trends are you curious about?


The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.