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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Does IIFYM (Flexible Dieting) really work?

I competed in the 2013 NPC Missouri State Bodybuilding Championships this past weekend. I had a lot of tough men to beat, each class was packed with 12 or more guys battling for 1st place. One thing that made me stand out was my lean, conditioned body. By far I was the leanest guy at the show! How did I get so lean? A crazy diet called Flexible Dieting or IIFYM. I placed 1st in the Light Heavy Weight Novice, 3rd in Light Heavy Weight Masters and 4th in Light Heavy Weight Open. Not bad at all!!

What the heck is IIFYM? IFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros
The word ‘Macro’ is short for Macro Nutrient, of which there are three plus 1 consideration:
-Fiber is the 4th macro, though many in the nutrition community consider it a micro nutrient. For our purposes, fiber should be a major consideration when dieting, therefore we include it in with the other macros.

IIFYM speaks specifically to fat loss from a macro nutrition and thus a caloric stand point and is purely a means to improve body composition. IIFYM does not address health concerns of the heart, brain or other organs and does not put an emphasis on so called ‘healthy eating’.

Regardless if you like to eat pizza, or boiled chicken breasts, IIFYM teaches us that if you eat less total calories than your body requires (while getting adequate protein, carbs and fat based on your goals and the energy needs of your body) you will lose weight at a steady and decently predictable rate. IIFYM makes fat loss that easy.

All you have to do is stay within your daily macros and the fat will start melting off!

The Origins of IIFYM
IIFYM was haphazardly started by a few competitive bodybuilders that grew tired of eating bland and boring food when dieting for a bodybuilding contest. The so called “bro” or “clean” foods.  The traditional bodybuilders diet is very plain, very tasteless and usually reduced to a handful of simple options:

Chicken & turkey breast
White fish (grilled)
Steamed vegetables
Brown rice
Rice cakes
Oats or plain oatmeal
Protein Shakes
Egg whites

These are commonly referred to as ‘clean’ foods, and there are tons of them out there, all, equally flavorless and mundane. I am sure you can see how eating these things day after day, week after week for months on end would get extremely boring. Sure, the traditional bodybuilders diet has been getting athletes shredded for years, but it has also been making bodybuilders miserable for just as long. Thanks God for IIFYM!!

The athletes that came up with the IIFYM method of dieting did so for that exact reason. They were tired of eating the same tasteless things when dieting for a show.

They were sick of cutting out the food they enjoyed; the so called ‘dirty foods’.
An example of dirty foods, would be exactly what you are thinking right now. 

All the foods we love to eat:
Fast food
Fried chicken
French fries
Buffalo Wings
Pop Tarts

All the good stuff that would surely wreck your diet if you even so much as thought about eating them. (or would they?!?!)

The IIFYM Connection
When most people start dieting the first thing they think is that they have to ‘clean up’ their diet. Perhaps they think that they need to start eating healthy or start eating ‘health food’ to lose weight. After all, we as a society have been brain washed for years about what is healthy, unhealthy, fattening, toning, good, bad and everything in between.

Not so says IIFYM!
Eating clean, healthy food can certainly help you lose weight and burn fat, but there is no magical connection between ‘health food’ and weight loss.
The fat loss details are in the calories. Yup, calories. Something we all know about, but avoid like the plague.

What I am about to say is bound to upset a lot of people. Mostly so called nutritionist that are more misguided than the clients they lead in to ignorant metabolism damage. 

Here goes:
Eating clean accidentally causes fat loss. Kind of like how dropping a nuclear bomb on an island to kill an infestation of rates accidentally kills everything in its path.

Here is why eating clean burns fat, by accident:
When we clean up our diets and pay no attention to calories, we automatically reduce our calorie intake. Removing sauces, and sweets and fried food, reduces calories due to simple math. There is not way around it. How many calories? Who knows.. But less calories, certainly. The problem is that too big of a drop can cause  metabolism suppression or damage, which makes steady and long term fat loss nearly impossible (or at least much more difficult).
Since our daily calorie intake accounts for the majority of what our bodies look like, it only makes sense that when we eat cleaner, we lose weight. Eating clean however is not the answer to fat loss, but is simply a trick or technique that helps those who don’t count calories, to lower them. The biggest problem when we eat clean and have no idea how many calories we are actually ingesting (let alone how many our body requires) we end up starving ourselves, and line up our metabolism for a bounce back that is sure to have us putting on extra lbs. soon as we start eating “normal” again. And let’s face it, eating normal usually comes a lot sooner than we expect when eating nothing but boring diet foods.

Part of the problem is that people, for whatever reason, think that in order to lose weight we have to starve our selves. You here the diet scam people saying it all the time to discredit calorie counting, and sell you an item or a diet plan. After all, if they can tell you that counting calories, automatically equates to starvation, they have almost nearly convinced you to buy whatever scam they are selling.

Most people, whether they are athletes or couch potatoes know that the more you eat, the fatter you get. How can anyone deny this simple logic?
And in that same line of thinking, the more ‘crap’ you eat, the faster you get fat as well.

The truth of IIFYM lies right in the middle of those two statements. MORE!!!

Moving away from rabbit food
IIFYM teaches us that these so called ‘dirty’ foods are ok to eat as long as we stay within our own required calorie intake for the day.

What bodybuilders have known for years is that everyone is different. We all have different bodies, different metabolisms, different muscle mass and a hundred other things that set us apart from everyone else on this planet. This is where IIFYM shines. Rather than telling your how many calories you need based on your gender or even based on your weight loss goals, it looks at every person individually and tells them, with a made up stat of 95% certainty how many calories to eat.

IIFYM doesn’t care if you eat pizza, or chicken breast.
IIFYM doesn’t shame you if you chose ice cream over oatmeal.
Nor does IIFYM care how often you eat, or how many meals you eat in a day.
Eat the foods you love, stay within your own personal calorie range and shed weight now!

Notice I did not say “starve your self, and enjoy one slice of pizza per day”. This is because IIFYM is based on Science. Not on voodoo. a 15% reduction in calories is all that is needed to make your body a fat burning furnace.

That is the basic idea behind IIFYM.
There is more to it but it really is quite simple.
1. Know how many calories your body burns throughout an average day (your TDEE)
2. Eat 15-20% less calories every day than that number
3. Split those calories up between fat, protein and carbs in an ratio that is most beneficial for muscle preservation, fat loss, without a drop in daily energy.

Here is an write up my diet guru wrote about me and my success with IIFYM. His name is John Gorman and his web site is This man has helped me reach an all new level in my dieting and competing!

Lets take a look at Matt Eubanks, 1 year difference. I wanna touch on 4 things here in the difference in how he prepped that will include peak week, his calories while he dieted down, his foods of choice, and gaining muscle later on in the game in your 40's.

First lets talk about carbs- 2012 was 50 carbs a day for his diet, 2013 we ENDED his prep at about 300 carbs a day, that's the lowest he got. People are so afraid of carbs when they dont need to be! Oh, and he was only doing three 20 minute steady state cardio sessions, and 2 HIIT sessions a week, that's it.

Second, Matt ate basically chicken sweet potato and peanut butter for his meals in 2012, this year he ate things like French fries, hamburgers, bbq sauce, ice cream, anything that would fit his macro's I allowed it and he took full advantage of it. People are scared to death to eat anything that doesn't fit the "healthy" category, but it will make NO DIFFERENCE in your prep or fat loss, I assure you.

Third, I wanna touch on what peak week should mean- in 2012 he told me he had 20 oz of water for fri, sips only day of show and his carb up was a spoon of oats and karbolyn, that's it. he also used a diuretic which as you can see flattened him out big time. this year he loaded almost 1000 carbs on tues before the show, drank 2 gals water all week, and day of show had pizza, marshmallow's, Gatorade, approx 500 carbs and 1 gal of water and looked his all time best.

Fourth, Matt weighed 183 in 2012 on stage, this year he was 188. he not only brought a lot more muscle to his frame, but he did this in his mid 40's. Dont ever think you cant add muscle later in life, with a hard work ethic and drive it's obviously possible. Good work Matt!

If you havent tried IIFYM you may want to look into it. It is really a great way to get lean!!!

Here's to a new you!
Matthew Eubanks


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