This is a guest post from Keith Lai of FitMole.org, where he helps guys achieve their dream bodies without the hardcore obsessiveness that runs throughout the fitness industry.
Ask any guy with a great physique what his diet is, and he can probably tell you, with laser like precision, how many calories he’s eating every single day.
Not only that, he can also tell you how many grams of carbs and fats were in his dinner last night.
Go to a restaurant, and this is the guy that will spend the entire meal trying to figure out how many grams of fat are in his eggplant parm so he doesn’t go over his fat quota for the day.
His eyes are glued to MyFitnessPal 24/7, wondering if his grandma’s homemade sugar cookies had more carbs than the ones he bought at Whole Foods yesterday.
This type of dieting is called IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and it has exploded in popularity over recent years.
If you’re unfamiliar with IIFYM, here’s the basic breakdown:
You are told to eat X amount of protein, carbs, and fats every day (the exact amount varies based on what formula you use).
For example, if you are a 180 pound male, you might be told to eat the following:
- 180 grams of protein
- 48 grams of fat
- 252 grams of carbs
The formula we’re using here is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, 20% of calories set to fat, with the rest filled with carbs.
This adds up to a total of 2160 calories per day.
The exact foods you eat is up to you, but it’s recommended that you stick with whole, natural foods like fruits, veggies, lean meats, rice, potatoes – basically your typical “clean” foods.
IIFYM: Is It Really the Gold Standard of Dieting?
Many guys believe IIFYM is the “gold standard” of dieting because it allows for some flexibility.
Since you’re only tracking the 3 variables (protein, carbs, fats), you can technically fit in some “unhealthy” foods such as doughnuts and candy (as long as it “fits your macros”). The problem is that “unhealthy” foods are high in fats and carbs, and this makes them less “macro friendly” than you think.
But the bigger problem is that most guys get completely obsessed with tracking their macros…
And not obsessed in the “I’m on that grind, bro” type of way. But obsession in the, “I check my ex-girlfriend’s Instagram 20x per day” fashion.
If you’ve ever done IIFYM, you know how much of a pain in the ass it is to actually hit your macros, exactly on the dot, every single day. After a while, you even become scared to go out to eat because you know restaurants won’t have any “macro” friendly options.
What’s ironic is that the whole reason guys follow IIFYM in the first place is because they wanted a way to escape the typical “brown rice and chicken” bodybuilder diets. But instead what they’ve done is create a prison for themselves where macros have made them their bitch.
I Call This Macros Prison
Want to go out for burgers and fries? Macros says you can’t.
“Ooh that double chocolate fudge cake looks amazing.” Too bad, Macros says you’re over your fats. But you can have ¾ slice of whole wheat bread.
“Hey I’m going to a steakhouse tomorrow.” Macros says you better bring a food scale (and your own salad dressing).
How to Break Out of Macros Prison
Fortunately Macros Prison can be broken out with just a few simple tweaks.
And once you break out of Macros Prison, not only do I promise you’ll have more freedom in your life, but you’ll also enjoy eating again.
It’s time to stop looking at food as numbers, and start looking at it, as well, food.
Eliminate Carbs and Fat Tracking: The Easiest Way to Break Out of Macros Prison
So much of the stress that comes from IIFYM comes from having to juggle 3 separate variables (protein, carbs, and fats) and making sure they all balance out at the end of the day.
So instead of tracking protein, carbs, and fats… from this point on, you will only track overall calories and protein.
Why Only Overall Calories and Protein?
Weight loss is still an “energy in, energy out” matter. So tracking your overall calorie intake should still be at the cornerstone of everyone’s diet.
0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is a good goal to shoot for.
You’ll see that when you just focus on only overall calories and protein, 99% of the stress from IIFYM is completely destroyed.
Side note: Contrary to popular bodybuilding opinion, you can actually get away with a lot less protein than recommended above if you don’t have a lot of muscle. The “0.8 gram” number is mostly for guys who have a solid base of muscle and wish to retain it while cutting. If you are 50 pounds overweight, and don’t actively lift, you can get away with much less protein.
(Not sure why you wouldn’t lift, but sometimes being in a calorie deficit and getting rid of that nasty body fat is more important than lifting.)
But What About Carbs and Fats? Don’t I Need to Track Those too?
Yes and no. But mostly no.
Sure, if you’re dieting down to competitive levels (sub 8% body fat), then yeah, tracking fats and carbs can help. But at that point, you’re probably sustaining on lettuce, chicken, and diet coke so it won’t matter much anyways.
Being obsessed about carb and fat ratios does nothing more than develop obsessive eating disorders. It’s much better to ballpark your carb and fat intake and make sure you don’t dip too heavy into either side.
In other words, don’t purposefully go low carb or low fat. Strive for a balance of the two and you’ll be just fine.
Macros Prison is Always Open, but Why Come Back?
I just gave you the golden ticket out of Macros Prison.
- Step 1: Track overall calories and protein
- Step 2: Ballpark your fat and carb intake. Aim to get a balance of the two. No big deal if you’re higher in one or the other on some days.
- Step 3: Profit?
Ok maybe not profit by making money. But you’ll definitely “profit” by having more freedom in your life and enjoyment in the foods you eat.
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for the ice cream truck to roll around? No one does that shit anymore.
And I’m talking about the simple joy of eating. Bodybuilders and fitness models today seem to have eliminated the word “balance” from their vocabulary. Today it’s all about macros this, macros that, #beastmode 24/7, and whether or not something is going to help you improve your physique.
Here’s a protip: Stop tying your life and your self-worth solely to your looks.
Just Give It a Shot
If you’re a hardcore IIFYM guy, and want to tear my head off… guess what?
I ain’t forcing you to do this.
Feel free to stay in Macros Prison. It’s your life.
But I am saying, “Hey, millions of guys out there. There’s a much less restrictive way for tracking your diet that you might actually enjoy and be able to sustain the rest of your life. Give it shot.”
That’s it. Life is all just a big experiment. So take the time to find what works for you.
And if you need any help breaking out of Macros Prison, let me know in the comments below.
This was a guest post from Keith Lai of FitMole.org, where he helps guys achieve their dream bodies without the hardcore obsessiveness that runs throughout the fitness industry.