Day 5: 12 Days of Christmas dieting
We're in the last week before Christmas. If you're anything like me you don't have much to do with organising your social life. I know if it were left to me I'd never see any of my friends and family due to work and life getting in the way. These few days and weeks though have proven to be the most social period of my life. Socialising means eating...... how do you get passed the temptation?
Day 5: IIFYM
IIFYM. No, it's not a spelling mistake nor have I just leant on the keyboard accidentally. It is an acronym for If It Fits Your Macros. Let me explain what I mean. Firstly, macros is short for macronutrient. Macro meaning large and nutrient meaning food. Basically, it's referring to the proteins, carbohydrates and fats that you consume. Every item of food that you consume is made up of these basic macronutrients in one form or another. If someone refers to your macros in a dieting sense they are referring to the amount of each you are or should be consuming.
For example; If you are eating 2000 kcals per day you could break that into: - 150g of protein (600kcal) 200g carbohydrates (800kcal) 67g fat (600kcal) these would be your macros.
When these macronutrients are digested, they are broken down into smaller units; amino acids if they're protein, glucose if its carbohydrates or fatty acids if they're fats. So, what does IIFYM mean then? Assuming you have a pre-determined amount of food that you eat day to day means that you have set your macros already, possibly not unlike something similar that listed above. However, not all foods are the same?...or are they?...
Would you say that a teaspoon of sugar is the same as a scoop of rice? I hear you cry out a resounding no! Would you eat 10 teaspoons of sugar for a meal? ....... No of course not.
You would however, eat 10 teaspoons of rice....
They are both predominantly carbohydrate. Once consumed, they both have the same fate, that is, they will both eventually be broken into their simplest form, glucose. Therefore, if you were to consume 100kcal of pure sugar or 100kcal of brown rice it has the same net energy effect. This is the crux of IIFYM. It is a diet system that allows you to eat whatever you like as long as its accounted for in your daily calorie/macro count.
Another example would be eating a meal of a jacket potato with tuna mayo and vegetables, or, some sausage rolls.... if you know how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat is in each meal and ate a comparable amount, then this system suggests it has absolutely no difference in fat loss or muscle gain as they will essentially equate to the same number of nutrients when digested.
This system has been around for a while and it certainly has some scientific backing, in that, you cannot argue that this is what's happening inside you with these foods. There are issues with this system so let's look at those before committing. Physiologically, the issues present themselves in quality of the nutrients, attached chemicals associated with processed foods and hormonal effects. We all know that a bowl of organic jumbo porridge is healthier than a pop tart. They may have the same calories and macros but due to the processing, most of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and bacteria that come with whole foods are lost. Therefore, digestion and long term health may be affected. The volume of shelf life lengthening chemicals in these foods are not good, period. Lastly, simple refined sugars effect your insulin more quickly and this can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. This in turn leads to dramatic drops in blood sugar, cravings and binge eating.
Just because it is technically the same, biologically it can have a very different effect. On the flip side, it can have positive psychological effects as you get to guilt free eat the food you like. This can make you feel more 'normal' in social situations and could prevent you on falling off the wagon with intermittent allowances of junk food.
There are pros and cons of using this system. Personally, it is not something I do exclusively, but, it is a tool that I use in situations such as Christmas socialising. I can replace a meal or two with some careful choices and it will have little to negative effects with regards gaining bodyfat.
Whether you choose to live your life by IIFYM (there are many that do) or just use it as another tool in the belt to help get around Christmas binging, it is one step closer to getting passed this challenging month unscathed.
If you'd like to learn more about nutrition for fat loss, muscle gain or basic fitness you can contact me via my website.
Look out for day 6 of the 12 days of Christmas dieting.
Keep on liftin' Ali 'Fat Al' Stewart
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