This is a topic I’ve been sitting on for a while. Counting macros is a very popular eating lifestyle, and I have many friends who do it. Last year I decided to try it and since then have changed my food philosophy.
What is counting macros/IIFYM?
IIFYM stands for if it fits your macros. If you look up the hashtag, you will find all sorts of people who have had weightloss success. It has been made even more popular by companies such as Working Against Gravity, and Renaissance Periodization. Counting macros means you are tracking your intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. There are many online calculators and templates that help you calculate how many grams of each macronutrient you need for your body type and goals.
Why do people count macros?
Macro counting is most often used for weightloss. Knowing exactly what you’re eating makes it a lot easier to see where you may be going wrong. Everything is weighed on a food scale to be as accurate as possible. When I tried it I paid for a downloadable template and then entered my information, and it spit out the numbers. Most people who count macros will have less on rest days, and their numbers may vary based on the intensity of their workouts.
Why I stopped
I enjoyed the first few weeks of macro counting. I love experimenting so I was interested in seeing what it would do for me. I did notice that I leaned out a tiny bit over the 6 weeks, but nothing that wouldn’t happen with other minor changes. The first reason I stopped macro counting is that I would justify poor food choices because they fit my macros. I often found it easiest to have foods that weren’t good for me because it helped me reach my numbers. If I wanted to reach my carbohydrate goal I needed to add in much denser carbs than I was used to eating, and this did not go well for my belly. Most of my carbohydrates come from veggies and I feel much better this way. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against carbohydrates. Personally, I do not digest grains, which limits my carbohydrate choices. Second, if I had chosen to follow the plan I was given, I would go through a series of cuts to reach my goal weight. I did not have a goal weight, I just wanted to feel better. If I had followed it, I would have ended up as low as 1700 calories a day compared to my regular 2300-2500. At the end of the day, it wasn’t any different than just restricting calories. If you know me, you know that I believe there are healthier approaches than obsessing over calories.
Who does IIFYM work for?
Athletes: When your full time job is about performance, it makes sense to have your diet down to a science. Athletes also tend to be pickier about what they put in their bodies, and would care just as much about quality as quantity. They would also have a personal dietitian/nutritionist to help guide them through the process.
Performance Driven Individuals: In a world focused on weight, it can be difficult to focus on performance. If you are someone who is solely focused on performance, IIFYM may work for you. If you can have a healthy balance between quality and quantity, IIFYM can help keep you energized. It forces you to eat when you might otherwise skip a meal, this can go a long way towards reaching your goals.
What do I believe?
Macronutrients are important but micronutrients are equally as important. If you are not getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs, you will not function at your best. What you eat matters just as much as how much you eat. With my clients, and myself, my goal is to teach them intuitive eating. This takes time because many people do not recognize when they are hungry or when they are full. Teaching people to build well balanced meals with lots of nutrient dense food is my mission. I want to teach people to listen to their bodies rather than having to count every single calorie they consume. Food is fuel, we HAVE to give our bodies what they need!
Eat Your Veggies!