IIFYM vs. Paleo Diet: Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object?

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Have you heard your friends talking about their macros? If you have spent any time in the gym recently, you likely have. Macro Counting, also known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) or “Flexible dieting”, is a time-honored tradition in the world of aesthetic athletes that has been recently growing in popularity among the general fitness crowd. But what exactly is it and how does it work?

What is Macro Tracking?

“Macro” is short for “macronutrients,” which includes the three basic components of everyone’s diet: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Each macro type has unique properties and affects your body in different ways. The goal closely tracking your macros is to create some specific physical change in your body (most often: gain muscle and/or lose fat).

To get started, you want to work with a coach or some type of program that tells you exactly what your personal daily macro goals would be. To track your macros, you will need to weigh and measure all of your food, enter it into a food-tracking app, such as MyFitnessPal, and aim to hit each gram amount as closely as possible. As you may imagine, this approach can be quite time consuming at the start. Most find that over time, you’ll learn to better gauge your food portions with or without the scale. One benefit of using a macro-based approach is that it does offer “flexibility” to choose where your macros come from.

Does it work?

If followed correctly, counting your macros is very likely going to have some effect on your body. Each gram of a macronutrient is a fixed number of calories: 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates and 9 calories per gram for fats. Therefore, by closely monitoring your overall macronutrient intake you are also accurately monitoring your overall caloric intake. Simply put, if you can control your calories you can gain or lose weight. Whether you gain or lose will depend on if you take in more than you expend which is known as your energy balance. In addition to overall weight gain or loss, a well-designed balance of macronutrients in complement to a training program can lead improvements of body composition (less fat, more lean tissue).

The Paleo Diet: A Top Down Approach

In contrast to the IIFYM diet, which starts at the caloric or macronutrient level, the Paleo Diet has traditionally used a top down approach to dieting. The logic is that if you get your inputs from whole, unrefined sources of food your energy balance problem will solve itself. Ideally, the body’s natural feedback systems of satiation and hunger will automatically adjust your intake without the need for weighing your food. One problem with industrialized foods is that many have been specifically engineered to hijack the body’s natural urges (for sweetness, saltiness or texture) and circumvent the bodies natural feedback systems for satiation. Ever eaten an entire bag of potato chips or had a daydream about a donut? We have all been there. How about raw broccoli? We can confidently assume that the body’s natural satiation has stopped you way before you have eaten more than your fair share.

The other great benefit of eating whole foods is that you will cover most of your micronutrient bases (another topic beyond the scope of this discussion) and eliminate many common allergens and sources of inflammation in the body. 

Origin Meals’ Macro Breakdown Approach

At Origin, we don’t think these two systems are mutually exclusive. Our meals are packed with nutrient-dense, responsibly-sourced ingredients that can fit perfectly into your macros. Each meal contains a healthy portion of protein and fat with just enough carbs to keep you full, focused, and performing your best in the gym. If you are looking for higher levels of carbohydrates for your macro goals we would recommend checking out our “Paleo +Grains” line in which we make use of gluten-free grains and legumes for additional flexibility.

How to Track Your Macros with an Origin Meal

Origin makes it easy for you to track your macros. Every weekly menu includes a handy “Nutrition Info” link that lists the exact calorie content and macronutrient breakdown of all the offered meals based on size. We even include the nutrition information on whether or not you add the sauce! (Pro Tip: add more or less of the sauce to dial up or dial down the fat content in the meal.)

If you use MyFitness Pal, we suggest using the “Quick Add” which allows you to quickly add the macro content. The tool allows you to type in exact gram amounts of the protein, fat, and carb breakdown for that meal.

Have any questions or feedback? Comment here or give us a shout on social media @OriginMeals. Happy eating!

Published on: Friday, April 14