Looking to create your own IIFYM meal plan and build the body you’ve always wanted? The “trick” to creating optimal IIFYM meal plans is to include your favorite treats and desserts while making sure it fits your macros and your schedule.
This is how you avoid cravings and binge eating and it’s ultimately how I lose weight.
I lost 50 lbs using IIFYM: If It Fits Your Macros when I first started and I haven’t looked back since:
I’ve also been able to repeat this transformation over and over again for the past 5 years. If you’re ready to do the same and start dieting with macros, then you want to keep reading.
Note: The Majority of this article is a section from my Book on IIFYM.
Step 0: Calculate Your Macros
It’s worth mentioning that you have to have your dieting macros (if you’re trying to lose weight) already setup if you want to create meal plans around them.
The same goes for a muscle-building plan or a maintenance plan.
Regardless, use our IIFYM calculator to calculate your macros to continue to use this meal plan article. Once you have them, regardless if you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle, follow the next steps.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools For Tracking Macros
NOTE: A common challenge for IIFYM beginners is adapting to tracking meals, measuring quantities with a food scale, and things related to this nature.
This usually stems from the “I’ll wing it” approach to flexible dieting. Although it can be done, it’s not a good practice when starting out.
To have the most success with Flexible Dieting and IIFYM for weight loss, follow the guidelines in this article for the first two months.
Then, you can ease off a bit.
Kitchen Tools For Measuring Your Macros
Not all of your foods are going to come with the exact serving sizes you want to eat.
You’ll have to measure some foods first before you can add them to your MFP app.
A good example of this is olive oil.
A serving size is 1 tablespoon and typically 119 calories with 14 grams of fat.
You might be in a position where a serving size of olive oil can put you over your fat macros by a few grams (which in terms of the fat macro can add up fast).
Instead, half a serving size of olive oil would fit perfectly within your macros.
In this case, you’ll use a 0.5 tablespoon and adjust the serving size on your MyFitnessPal (MFP) app accordingly.
Situations like this are frequent and you’re bound to come across them with volume and weighted serving sizes.
Here’s the list of required tools to have in your kitchen to accurately account for different macros, volumes, and weight:
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A Digital Food Scale (Amazon’s Choice):
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A Digital Food Scale (With Removable Bowl)
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MyFitnessPal (Available on iOS and Android)
Step 2: List Your Favorite Food Choices
Start by listing the foods you want to be included in your daily meal plan.
Either write down your food list or make a digital list (in Excel or Google Sheets). Make sure to include the quantities of each macro and the calories it contains in side-by-side columns along with the serving size.
Try out the MFP scanner feature to add foods that are already in your kitchen!
You can also go to MFP’s food database for more nutritional information on foods you can’t find original barcodes or nutritional information for.
Doing this step will help you include your favorite carbs, proteins, and fats when you begin to form your meals.
Here’s an example of how you would do this:
I’ve left a couple of things out like veggies, sauces, and fruit, but the spreadsheet above is to give you an idea of this step.
As you can see, these are, what I like to call, my “staples” of my diet.
Yes, there’s brown rice, chicken breast, whey protein, sweet potatoes, and other typical body-builder style foods on this list and that’s fine.
Not every IIFYM meal plan is pizza, doughnuts, and brownies, nor should they plan. In fact, a lot of people who follow IIFYM are educated dieters and know when and why to include and exclude “healthy” foods from their plan.
You must follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to flexible dieting and your IIFYM meal plans.
80% of the meals you eat are going to be “healthy,” or at least they should.
The remaining 20% should be your treats and any other cravings you have.
This is how you create the best meal plans while macro dieting.
You still want to have a healthy amount of carbs and protein per day.
In fact, you should be having at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight (in lbs.) per day for optimal results.
Also, note that not every food fits into only 1 macro category.
Check out this picture:
As you can see, there are many options that fit into multiple categories.
For example, Lentils are definitely filled with protein, but they are also filled with carbohydrates. They would fit in the middle of the two, as shown above.
Just something to take into account!
Step 3: Creating Your Meals
Once you’ve filled out your favorite foods for each macro category, start making your meals the same day or the next day so you can get used to it.
This way, after a few days of your meal plan you’ll know if you’re satisfied with it or not.
When creating a meal, I like to follow the Chipotle (a Mexican grill in the U.S.) structure.
For example, their burrito bowls are a great meal template to follow.
- First, they have you pick your carbs (brown or white rice).
- Then your protein (chicken, steak, etc.). Then veggies (lettuce or fajita vegetables).
- Then your salsas (mild, medium or hot).
- Finally, you add your fats (cheese or guac) and that’s it.
Example #1: IIFYM Meal Plan
Here’s what a meal plan would look like for a 200 lb male.
I used the new IIFYM calculator to “configure” the calories and macros.
To create this, I pulled foods from each macro category (on the list that I created in step 1) and grouped them into meals that I believed to be filling and satisfying, along with some of my favorites.
As you can see in the last couple of rows, the macro goals weren’t met to the gram, however, that’s not a big deal and minuscule in the grand scheme of things as this individual is only 35 calories over his goal.
Furthermore, if you feel like having a bit more carbs, then do it — just make sure to remove some macros from your daily fat goal.
As long as you’re within +/- 50 (100 tops) calories of your calorie goals, it shouldn’t impede your progress.
Just make sure you’re tracking everything to see what delays or improves your progress.
Some Notes on the Example Meal Plan
- Produce/Veggies – I used MFP to calculate these calories and macros, specifically the USDA version (if you use the food search method in MFP). Your calories and macros may vary slightly.
- Intermittent Fasting (IF) – Whether you follow IF or not, you can still follow this meal plan. If you DO follow IF, then your first meal is the one that breaks your fast. Your fasting window can be whatever you want. Watch this video to learn more about intermittent fasting.
- Kodiak Cakes – I have been eating Kodiak Cakes for the past 3 years and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I suggest trying them out. They are packed with protein and delicious. You can usually find them for bulk on Amazon or Costco or a similar store.
- Sauces, Seasonings, and Sweeteners – You may use sweeteners like stevia and vanilla extract if you wish. Sauces are fine too (i.e., bbq sauce, teriyaki sauce, ranch, etc.) however, take into account their calories and macros as they are usually packed with them.
Also, if you want some nice zero calories syrups, Walden Farms has some good ones (i.e., chocolate, blueberry, and regular syrup).
Lastly, seasonings are fine to use and not necessary to track unless your seasoning has a substantial amount of calories (i.e., more than 30 calories per serving).
- Supplements – I’ve written an entire article on what the best supplements for cutting are. Below are some notes on each that I use in the meal plan.
- Whey Protein – You may use any protein brand you like; however, I use Legion WHEY+ Protein, specifically, their Cinnamon Cereal flavor because it’s so damn delicious. I’d also recommend the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein brand as well. It’s not as tasty as Legion’s but it is a bit cheaper.
- Pre-Workout – I use Legion Pulse and I suggest you do too. It’s the best pre-workout I’ve ever had and LabDoor ranks it #1 in terms of quality and purity amongst all the pre-workout supplements they have ever tested, which is in the hundreds.
- Creatine – I always take creatine while cutting. It helps with recovery and performance in the gym. I use the one from Optimum Nutrition because it’s cheap and high-quality. You can just mix it in with water or any protein shake, etc.
Also, note that this is just a sample meal plan and will not work for everyone or fill everyone’s satisfaction.
Just like most meal plans, they are only “plans” and plans change.
You might like to have your largest meal at night or workout fasted. You might not like to use supplements and may prefer actual food instead. You might want to follow a low carb diet.
Again, it’s your meal plan, so make it fit your needs, your schedule, and ultimately, make sure it fits your macros.
Example #2: IIFYM Meal Plan
Let’s say, after using my calculator, I came up with the following calories and macros for weight loss:
- 2150 Calories
- 215g Protein
- 215g Carbs
- 48g Fat
If you do the math, this is a typical 40/40/20 split like the meal plan above.
Instead of splitting up the meals as above, let’s do multiple examples:
3 Meals a Day Example:
|Meal #||Protein (215 g)||Carbs (215g)||Fat (48g)|
4 Meals a Day Example:
|Meal #||Protein (215 g)||Carbs (215g)||Fat (48g)|
As you can see, the difference with your meals depends on how many meals you have per day.
Some of you might like to have 8 meals per day and some of you may only like to have 2.
Some of you might even follow intermittent fasting. If that’s the case, your meal structure might look like this:
Regardless, everyone’s preference and schedule will be different!
I cannot account for every example, but I can give you some examples of meals.
What Your Plate Should Look Like
If you look at your meals, then they should look something like this:
Step 4: Adjust Your IIFYM Meal Plan
The best thing about IIFYM and flexible dieting is that you can change it however you’d like, given that it fits your macros.
This means you have to get started.
Don’t be surprised if you have to adjust your meal plan during the first week.
Explore your meal options with different foods until you get meal combinations that you are satisfied with.
After a week or two, you’ll see what meals you can and can’t live without.
Along with that, you’ll also eventually hit a plateau in your diet.
Step 5: Start
When it comes to successfully following an iifym plan, tracking macros is NOT up for debate.
- And other Micronutrients (Sodium and Potassium for example)
This not only ensures you’re getting a healthy amount of macros per day but also ensures that you’re on the right track.
Tracking macros with MyFitnessPal is the best way to get started and I’ll give you a quick tutorial on how to start.
By now, you should’ve calculated your dieting macros with our IIFYM calculator.
If you haven’t please do so now.
Anyways, let’s start off with downloading MyFitnessPal (MFP) first.
Note: When you first download MFP, it will ask you to input your weight, age, fitness goals, etc. and it will give you calorie and macro recommendations. Simply ignore their recommendations and use the ones from the calculator.
Input Your Calories and Macros Into MFP
You can do this by going to More >> Goals >> Calories, Carbs, Protein and Fat Goals.
It should look like the following:
This is where you input your macros and calories.
Notice that you have to put the exact percentage for each macronutrient.
This is your macro split.
Input Your Foods and Meals Into MFP (2 ways)
You can either search for the food (e.g., Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast or Eggs) or scan the barcode from the food packaging.
The latter is by far the easier method of the two.
For everything you eat, you would “record” it into your MFP diary.
MFP automatically calculates the macros from the foods you eat. The only catch is that you have to tell MFP how much you had.
This is where the use of measuring cups and food scales come in.
Step 6: Track Macros Accurately With a Food Scale
If you look at a typical nutrition label, you will see the macros of the food, the serving size, and the measurement of the serving size (grams or ounces for example).
Depending on the food, you will have to look at this nutrition label to see if the food fits your macros and if so, how much you can have without going over said macros.
For example, check out this nutrition label:
You can see the highlighted boxes. These are your macros for this specific food.
This means that for ⅔ cups (or 55g), there are:
- 230 calories
- 8g fat
- 37g carbs
- 3g protein
You would use a food scale to measure out 55 grams worth to eat.
Let’s say you can fit more macros into your diet and wanted to eat more.
You would double the serving size which would equal 110g and the new macros would be:
- 460 calories
- 16g fat
- 74g carbs
- 6g protein
You could do this for any food and this is what you would do for every food that is apart of your meals.
If you fail to track your macros and what you eat every day, regardless if it’s “healthy” or if you’re “giving up carbs,” your iifym meal plan will not work for you.
Even if you set it up to “perfection,” failing to track, is planning to fail.
And, that’s all there is to it.
Essentially, you would figure out what meals you can (or cannot) live without and you will make it fit into your plan. Make sure it fits your macros by tracking and you’re golden.
If you want to see faster results, check out my IIFYM book which teaches you more tips and tricks about IIFYM and losing weight.
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Last update on 2023-06-08 at 21:53 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2 thoughts on “How to Create an IIFYM Meal Plan in 6 Easy Steps”
This information has been very useful, thank you, especially on how to use the food scale, which I got a few months ago, but hadn’t used it much. I am beginning the 40-40-20, also going to 1200 calories which is suggested by my doctor to lose weight. Thank you for a great resource.
Thanks for the kind words! I wouldn’t recommend 1200 calories unless you’re extremely overweight. Email me ([email protected]) or respond if you want to go over it with me.