For a while now, I’ll set someone up on a meal plan, and try my best to tell them absolutely everything they need to know when it comes to their plan, how to make substitutions, how to track their macros, etc., but of course, they’re are always things I don’t think about! Here’s a list of some popular IIFYM questions and my reply 🙂
But first! This really should be a post on it’s own. Should you count your macros? Are you missing out on this new IIFYM flexible dieting?
Tracking macro’s has been a thing for like, ever now. When I got my nutrition certifications, I would track my macros manually by writing them out on paper and using a calculator- it was a lot of work! But it was great for me to learn and have ingrained in my head pretty well the macros in most foods… If only there was a macro game show “How many macros are in 4 oz of chicken breast”…. LOL. Any way. Then app’s came out like My Fitness Pal / MyNetDiary and we were all able to track our food- which is awesome, but not to someone who is only looking at calories and hitting them with only twinkies. So having your macros determined for you- and a sensible layout of what to eat each day give you the opportunity to be involved in the process of making choices for yourself- knowing that they “fit” into your day. And after a while, you’ll just know what to eat and how much, that’s called intuitive eating, and THAT’S the end goal!
Macro is for Macronutrient
Macronutrient Basic Calorie Breakdown:
Protein= 4 calories per gram
Carbs= 4 calories per gram
Fats= 9 calories per gram
How do you decide what your macros should be?
This can be tricky if you are doing it on your own or don’t have some kind of coach that is a master macro wizard to calculate them for you! BUT there are many online macro calculators that can give you a decent estimated start. They will determine your macros based on height, weight, goals, activity level, etc! So this is a good place to start. Of course, you may decide after a few weeks that the macros given are not working for you and the goals you have in mind. If for example you are wanting to reverse diet and up your intake or bulk and you are maintaining weight, you can slowly up your macros and let your body adjust from there! The opposite is true as well!
What is the best tracking app?
I have been using My Fitness Pal and My Net Diary for years and I love them!!! I don’t think there is a food I have searched for in either that I haven’t found in its search! This app allows you to enter your goals (if you want), add in what you are eating precisely, and shows you calories as well as macro breakdown! It’s so awesome guys I’m tellin ya. You can even change the amount of something if it’s not the standard entry. For example if you ate 3 mini rice cakes and the initial serving size is 18, you can change that to match whatever you ate!
What happens if you run out of macros early in the day?
Well, as long as you plan out your day and have an idea of when you will have time to eat/when you’re working out, you should be okay! There haven’t been many times that I have run out of macros. I am a HUGE planner, so I try to look at my whole day and spread them out accordingly! If, however, you do run out, its not the end of the world. If you eat an extra 300 calories, for example, there’s a few options. We are looking at cals in vs. cals out. SO you could take away 100 cals for the next three days to even out that extra intake, OR you could burn an extra 300 cals (my preference, I would rather work more than eat less hahaha!!). To decide how to cut those cals, refer to the top where I give macro nutrient calorie breakdowns and just multiply!
If you calculate your macros does that mean you have to track how many calories you burn when your workout?
So like I mentioned before, when determining your macros, you will have already taken into account your average activity level (workout out twice a week, doing intense workouts or cardio each day, etc). So no, you don’t have to do any more math, your macros are already based off your workouts.
Should I hit my macros to a T or is a few grams higher or lower okay?
I was SO stressed out with hitting my macros perfectly when I began tracking. But here’s the thing: YOU NEVER WILL. Even if your app or tracker of choice says you are right on, you aren’t. There is always going to be some variance to what you are eating no matter how hard you try. If you eat a bag of Cadbury Eggs, it is not going to be 100% the same as the bag you had last night. SO, yes it is ideal to aim as close as you can to your set macros, but fret not if they aren’t right on the dot! If I am within 3ish grams either way, I feel good about it. You would have to be a mad freaking scientist to be perfect every day! Above all, tracking should give you a sense of freedom to be able to still eat the things you love, not cause mass amounts of stress!
How to track alcohol?
Alcohol is another macro nutrient. It is not listed because it’s not essential to life (yes that means your wine too!!). It has approximately 7 cals per gram. It takes into account the carb count in the alcohol, but does NOT list the pure ethenol. SO… Track whatever drink you are planning on having in My Fitness Pal, and make sure it is by OUNCES. Fit those listed carbs into your daily allotted macros. Finally, allow room for those extra calories from the alcohol ethenol that is not counted in the basic macros!
How to eat out at restaurants that aren’t major chains/ don’t have their info in My Fitness Pal?
Again, tracking macros should be FREEING!! So do not let the stress of eating out keep you from living your life. MFP does have tons of restaurants in its search engine, but obviously not everything! So here is where you have to be smart and logical and intuitive. If you were to go get frozen yogurt, for example, MFP would not have the exact amount of yogurt and toppings you shovelled into your bowl. THAT IS OKAY!! Here is what I would do in this situation:
1) Choose chocolate yogurt (always duh) and eyeball 2/3 cup. This is the amount I would enter into MFP.
2) Add some strawberries, 2 scoops which looks like about 1/4 cup. Enter into MFP.
3) Finish with what looks like 2 tbsp peanut butter (most likely generic brand), 1 tbsp mini chocolate chips, and 4 Frosted animal cookies! Enter all into MFP.
I now have a well estimated guess as to what I am eating! No, it is not 100% perfect, but hey, it won’t kill you, and chances are you’re not doing this every day!
The same could be done with anything! Spaghetti, fries, a club sandwich. Search whatever you are having, then look for either what seems the most accurate, or the average of the possibilities!
Does IIFYM include counting calories?
So, remember that macro nutrient calorie breakdown we went through at the beginning? There is your answer! Calories are built into macros, macros are made of calories!
I get overwhelmed tracking fats, carbs, and protein. Can I just hit my cals and protein and eat sensibly?
The answer is yes, of course, you can do whateverrrr you want. That however would be more along the lines of intuitive eating, not tracking your macros.
Is IIFYM safe for teens/ breastfeeding mothers? (two questions into one, obviously)
YES YES it is 100% safe for both. The reason I love IIFYM so much is that its not a “diet” at all. That is my least favourite word ugh. It is a lifestyle anyone can stick to! No crazy meal timing, no restrictions, no mandatory supplementation! The only tip I might have if you’re breastfeeding is just to make sure you are aiming more on a slightly cleaner intake just so baby is getting the best nutrients.
Do I weigh everything or just eyeball it?
For me personally, I do weigh quite a lot of things, just to get my macros as close as possible and eliminating extra variance. But I am definitely not obsessive about it. I do use measuring spoons and cups for certain things, and eyeball others! The things I absolutely weigh are typically super calorie dense foods that I know would be way off if I eyeballed. And again, when I go out to eat I do NOT bring a scale into the restaurant.
How do I deal with the mental struggle of going over my macros for a few days in a row?
That can be tough especially if you are used to hitting your macros accurately most of the time. BUT usually if I am not hitting my macros several days in a row it is due to family time. Sometimes you have to live your life completely free of food worry and tracking! So if I plan on staying with my mom for a few days or its a holiday vacation, chances are I will just eat intuitively; still lots of healthy foods with treats thrown in!
Basically, don’t let it kill you, its just NOT worth it I assure you that. Life is way way WAY to short to obsess constantly about your food, even with a flexible approach like IIFYM.
Rest days and macros?
For me my macros are the same for my rest days as they are for every other day! Basically with macros it is a total calorie consumption and calorie expenditure (what you are burning) that is taken into account. So unless you are doing something like a carb cycle, your macros can be the same!
How do I increase macros without gaining weight?
If you have been following a certain set of macros for a while and you are maintaining weight, that is when you can slowly increase (and I mean slowly, let your body adjust!!) Start increasing with high finer carbohydrates and lean sources of protein. If this increase begins to seem like too much and your body isn’t reaction well, you can always decrease again!
I think that IIFYM is an amazing way to get out of that cycle. With most diets your are so restricted in one way or another. Often times this leads to binging or losing control which is understandable! You’ve been depriving yourself! BUT with IIFYM, you have a world of freedom. Yes you will be eating healthy a great deal of the day, but if you want 3 servings of ice cream, FIT THAT ISH IN YOUR MACROS!!!
How to track recipes without tracking every ingredient?
If you find an awesome recipe online that also tells your the macros, you’ve hit the jackpot in saving time! Im my custom meal plans, I do fill you in on the macros, so assuming you follow the recipe 100%, all you need to do is input the recipe as a “New Food” and input the macros as if you would from the nutrition facts on the back of a packaged food. (In MyNetDiary, when inputting a new food- turn off ‘photomode’, here you can take a picture of the nutrition facts table and it does the work for you- but that does not apply when you are inputting in the macros from a recipe).
That’s all for now! The feature image has nothing to do with food, but is currently my favourite t-shirt that I cut into a tank top! For some funky fresh training tanks, pick out some t-shirts, pull out those scissors and go to town!