Have you seen it recently?
Usually adorning some post about 6-pack abs, or even worse, an overly-decadent ice cream sundae that supposedly won’t impact your body composition “if it fits your macros”.
So what is this phenomena? What do “Macros” have to do with looking better, feeling better, or being a better person?
What are Macros?
Macros or “macronutrients” refer to the number of grams of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates in a food.
Each macronutrient is used for different things in the body and each are an important part of a sustainable and healthy nutrition program.
Fats AKA “lipids” are used by the body to build hormones (like testosterone and estrogen), to be burned as energy, or even to create and protect new skin, muscle, and bone cells. Fat also helps us feel satisfied longer from the meals we eat. We NEED fat to be healthy, happy, and resilient.
Proteins AKA “undigested amino acids” are used by the body to build enzymes (important metabolic agents), repair tissue damage (like muscles!), and allow the growth of new cells. Protein also helps to slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood stream. We NEED protein to be healthy, happy, and strong.
Carbohydrates – AKA “sugar and fiber” are used by the body for fast energy needs (fighting zombies and lifting weights). Though we are passionate about our clients avoiding SUGAR, fiberous carbohydrates also play an important role in keeping digestion “regular”. Except in some diseases like epilepsy or diabetes, we NEED carbohydrates to be healthy, happy, and powerful.
The idea behind #IIFYM (if it fits your macros) is that in order to simplify the complexities of nutrition programming – people who desire better health and fitness (or shredded muscles) need only ensure that they stay within acceptable macro boundaries and everything will work out fine.
Is there any merit to this? Should you start setting a limit on your macros and work to achieve those goals daily?
Why #IIFYM is Fantastic!
The philosophy behind “if it fits your macros” is actually quite ingenious and helpful for its simplicity, science, and its practicality.
It’s simple for journallers and planners because, since one is counting grams of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates instead of calories, the numbers are much easier to add and track. (The difference between adding 5g, 10g, and 20g vs. 680 calories, 510 calories, and 270 calories in your head is pretty easy to see!)
Additionally science reliably shows that the composition of ones’ food (how much fat, fiber, and protein is in it at what proportions) matters more than the quantity of the food eaten for body composition results and sustainability.
Lastly, it makes informed decisions about snacks and meals simpler throughout the day. If you know that you need at least 20g of protein and 10g of fat to finish the day under budget, but you’re set for carbohydrates, then you can rummage through the fridge and pantry to find a food high in protein and fat but low in carbohydrates! (A few oz. of Deli turkey and some avocado would do the trick for me in that situation, however I know a few people who swear by Greek yogurt with a dash of chocolate protein powder in that pinch!)
For these reasons I’ve seen the #IIFYM mindset help clients achieve amazing results without stressing, fretting, or undereating.
So how many macros do you need?
This varies quite widely from person to person depending on gender, level of conditioning, history of weight loss, relative size, and exercise goals.
But in general (grams of each macro per day):
*These numbers do not apply if you are significantly larger or smaller than average, pregnant or breastfeeding, diagnosed with a disease that requires limiting one or more of the macronutrients, adolescent or elderly, or training for an endurance event. If any of these apply to you and you’d like some help calculating personalized macros, email firstname.lastname@example.org
A few important notes:
- Protein is an “at least” recommendation meaning there is no harm in consuming 10-20% more than is called for.
- Carbohydrates are a “no more than” because overdoing it in the carbohydrate realm (especially without adequate activity to use them) will negatively affect your body composition.
- Fats are an “about” as eating 10-20% more or less is not going to set back one’s goals. For many clients, fats are the macronutrient that best regulates hunger and we encourage them to consume what their body is telling them it needs in a day.
A Word of Caution
Now this article wouldn’t be complete without a bit of a soap box.
At Defining Dad Bod, we believe that high quality food is essential to building a high quality person.
If you want better muscle tone, increased energy, improved health and fitness, and peace with your nutrition plan, DO NOT use the #IIFYM philosophy to justify low-quality, processed garbage.
Even if it meets your macros for the day, takeout pizza and pop tarts will do very little to help add years to your life and life to your years.
Thinking any other way is lying to yourself.
Macros Are For Mommy and Daddy
Popularized by the social media trainers who may or may not know what they’re talking about, #IIFYM is a powerful philosophy that can be used to simplify your nutrition and make it practical.
Now get to counting, and start hash-tagging.
Kick Butt. Take Names.
This information is meant to be actionable information to promote health and well-being and not to be used to diagnose or treat medical symptoms or conditions.