Hi there, I'm CrossFit trainer and nutrition coach, Courtney Worthington. As a 2014 CrossFit Individual Regional Competitor and former CrossFit affiliate owner, I understand first-hand how important nutrition is and the impact it has on body composition, energy levels and performance. I offer IIFYM/Flexible Dieting nutrition coaching via my blog, The Petite Athleat.
So, what is IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)? It's a way of eating that offers flexibility in the kinds of foods you eat (doughnuts are allowed!) as long as at the end of the day, you reach the specific amount of calories and macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) you have allowed to you, by weighing, measuring and recording all foods eaten. Want more nitty gritty details? Check out this post here.
I love seeing my client succeed! I have found that these five pieces of advice have proven most helpful and are the first things I recommend to anyone embarking on the flexible dieting train!
1. Plan your day ahead of time.
This sounds too easy, right? A total “duh” moment. But it's like a light bulb turns on when I recommend this tiny little tip to my clients. Example: If you have $100 to spend at Lululemon - do you just pick up a pair of Wunder Unders, a Scuba Hoodie and a head band, walk up to the register with fingers crossed, hoping you didn't spend more than $100? What, no! Does that seem logical?
Of course not! You're checking the price tag of each piece (praying for sale item) and mentally adding everything up so that you can stay within your budget.
Flexible Dieting is the exact same scenario. Budgeting your macros so that at the end of the day, your check book balances. Sorry, you don't come home with new Wunder Unders, instead, you come home with better energy, better performance in the gym, and fat loss all over (abs, anyone?)
It's easy to do. When you're laying in bed tonight, open up your food journal and swipe to tomorrow. Enter in everything you need for breakfast, lunch, dinner, post-workout snack, etc., adjusting as necessary, to hit your goals. Tomorrow, if you need to adjust a little bit here and there, that's ok. What you have set up is a beautiful plan, and now all you have to do is follow it (and hope that stress cravings for chocolate don't get the best of you. But that takes me to the next tip).
2. Stop eating what you want to and start eating what you need to.
Do you really need another pair of Wunder Unders? Do you really need another Scuba Hoodie?
Do you really need another scoop of ice cream? Do you really need dark chocolate covered caramels?
No, you want them. Your desire for instant gratification is stronger than your desire for long-term results.
80% of the time, eating should be considered a job and not a past-time. Mindless eating when you're flexible dieting should become a thing of the past. Everything you put in your mouth has a purpose and each morsel is either hindering you or helping you.
3. Log it before you eat it.
If you can't log your whole day in advance and follow your own journal (aka Mini Meal Plan, see Tip #1), then at least abide by this rule: log it before you eat it. I promise you, 100% of the time, if you log it before you eat it, you will be very, very successful in hitting your macros! We fail when we try to add up too many random things AFTER eating them throughout the day; after inputting everything you thought had you on track, you discover you ate all of your carbs and now you're stuck with 39g of protein and 2g of fat for dinner. Have fun eating A LOT of egg whites and another protein shake.
4. Use the Scanning feature in MyFitnessPal
I work with my clients using MyFitnessPal. It's easy to use and has the most extensive food database I have found yet. The neatest feature I believe is the UPC scanner. It makes food logging immensely fast; which is good for all of us that never have enough time in the day. You simply open up the app, click the scanner, and scan the food UPC label of the food you're about to eat. So simple. This is the best feature they've come out with for folks who struggle to follow Tip #3.
5. Add some volume to your diet.
At the end of the day, IIFYM is still a diet. If you're doing it for weight loss, that means you're most likely in a caloric deficit. You might feel hungry some days. The best way to combat that is to mix in some vegetables with your protein and carbohydrate sources. Mix it up a little though, it doesn't always mean you have to have another boring salad.
Instead of a one cup of spaghetti noodles, why not do a half cup of spaghetti noodles and a full cup of zucchini noodles, mixed together with your marinara sauce? Instead of one cup of brown rice, why not do a half cup of brown rice and one cup of cauliflower rice, mixed together? Vegetables are your best friends when you're looking to feel “full”, they should be your go to. They're rich in water and fiber and micronutrients.
Flexible dieting is a way of eating that allows you the freedom to eat the things you love, but still reach your body composition goals, enjoy new energy levels, and train harder than you have before. Like any new habit, at first it can seem daunting and overwhelming, but eventually it becomes a habit, probably one of the healthiest and most helpful ones you can adopt. If you need help calculating your own calories and macronutrients or staying on track, I'm here to help!