If It Fits Your Macros Diet
In recent years, elite CrossFit athletes, in particular, have moved away from the strict guidelines of Paleo and Zone towards flexible dieting, also known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). The premise is simple - count the calories you are consuming daily.
Daily caloric intake is determined based on a few factors, including your gender, weight, lean muscle mass, and activity levels. This determines your maintenance calories in order to maintain your current body composition. From there, someone whose goal is to lose weight would eat at a calorie deficit, while someone whose goal is to gain weight would eat at a calorie surplus.
Those who follow this diet record everything they eat on a daily basis, including beverages and liquid calories, with the goal of hitting the right amount of calories each day. Similar to the Zone Diet, IIFYM followers must be educated about their food choices and record their food intake with a high level of precision.
For the IIFYM Diet, one gram of protein contains four calories, one gram of carbohydrate contains four calories, and one gram of fat contains nine calories. Specialized apps such as MyFitness Pal and Cronometer on smartphones and computers are typically utilized too as food journals to calculate food intake, as well as calorie and macronutrients levels.
Beyond this simple premise, there’s a good amount of science that goes into determining the best ratio for a given person. Similar to the Zone Diet, the middle of the road tends to be a ratio of 30/30/40 for protein, fat, and carbohydrates, respectively. Increasing the fat ratio while decreasing the carbohydrate ratio is typically used for decreasing body fat, while the reverse is true for increasing muscle mass. There are, however, a few different schools of thought for what ratios work best.
The IIFYM Diet creates a vast amount of flexibility for followers to utilize. The IIFYM methodology can be done in combination with food quality guidelines but is not required. In other words, there are no “bad” foods. Athletes can also consume refined and processed foods on this diet as long as they are within their designated macros for the day, and they can go back and forth between high food quality and still have low-nutrient-dense foods. This creates a unique level of individuality for each athlete to determine what foods work best for them within the parameters of their daily calorie intake.
The IIFYM Diet has become popular as a means to find a diet that works for people individually with the flexibility to eat modern foods while still achieving their body consumption and athletic performance goals. As their body composition and weight change, so do calorie guidelines, allowing athletes to continuously create change and progress.
In addition to total caloric intake, CrossFit athletes also pay special attention to their nutrient timing around their workouts to promote optimal hormone release, recovery, and performance.
By committing certain percentages of their overall protein and carbs for the day to be designated for pre-workout fuel and post-workout recovery, CrossFit athletes are able to control their energy levels as well as their insulin sensitivity following their workout. This creates an increased metabolic rate for several hours following a workout to continue to burn calories outside of the exercise window
When it comes to finding a diet protocol as a CrossFit athlete, it’s important to find a program that works best for you and that can be maintained for long periods of time. For those who struggle with food resurrections, IIFYM tends to work well, while if measuring food seems more like a chore then the Paleo Diet might prove to be the best option. CrossFit athletes thrive on each of these nutrition protocols and tend to shift between them through the course of their athletic career as their lifestyle changes.