If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is the latest "trend" to hit my Facebook wall. Honestly, I don't know much about it, but the name sounds pretty self explanatory. I'm probably wrong here, but I'm assuming that each person has a macronutrient ratio they are trying to hit, and whatever they eat is fine so long as it fits in their macros. It sounds to me a lot like the voodoo of Barry Sears ZONE diet. It sounds smarter than the ZONE, each person getting their own breakdown, but magical nonetheless.
Then we have:
Carb Nite/ Carb Backloading
Low Carb/ Ketogenic Diet
Weight Watchers (and other pure calorie counters)
Anabolic/ Cyclic Ketogenic Diet
"Eat The Food"
Eat to Perform
... and countless others...
When it comes down to true nutrition education and understand, each of these is a good jumping off point to start the learning process and experiment with what works for you. But none of them will show you the whole picture.
And let's be honest. Most people don't have the time, energy, or passion to really figure this shit out. I have an ulterior motive, several actually. One, I want to fuel myself for the best performance possible. Two, I want to be able to recommend the best paradigm for each of my clients based on their personalities and proclivities.
So I read. I discuss. I experiment.
Despite my dalliances in various eating patterns, I keep coming back to the same conclusion:
Calories AND Macronutrients Matter
It's not just calories in versus calories out. Our metabolic processes are more complicated than that and it completely disregards the hormonal and thermogenic effect that some macros and macro combinations have on us. A 3 oz steak and a snickers each have about 250 calories. One is going to have a better effect on your body.
And as onerous as it is to count calories, it's not just about macros and "clean eating" (whatever that means to you). Food is energy, and if you take in too much, or far too little, you're body is going to respond by storing energy or catabolizing your muscle.
So here is the paradigm that I've come to work in, and unfortunately it's not simple enough to be truly marketable:
I) Start with your activity level
A) There are a ton of calculators out there to figure out daily caloric expenditure.
B) If you want a deficit, don't go more than 500 calories of deficit. Don't listen to the "1200 calories a day for women" myth out there, do what your activity level dictates.
- My favorite site for tracking food intake is MyFitnessPal.com, they have a VERY easy interface and very extensive food library.
II) Match your activity level to your carbohydrate intake.
A) If you're minimally active (work, home, done!), you will probably do fine with 50 g or less. Spread it out to avoid an energy crash.
B) If you're more active, you'll have to experiment based on how active and what kind of activity. You'll probably want to vary your carb intake based on training variations.
III) Manage your protein
A) If you're not active, 0.8 gram to 1 gram per pound lean body mass (body weight minus fat) will suit you.
B) If you're active, to avoid catabolizing muscle, work up to 1 gram per pound total body weight.
IV) Fill in the details
A) Add your carb needs with your protein needs and fill the rest in with fat.
B) Vary your sources of everything. Carbs can be rice, fruit, tubers, etc. Fat can be butter, dairy, animal flesh cuts, nuts etc.
C) Leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. Lot's of them.