Looking to get results with IIFYM or Macro Dieting? The “trick” is to make sure everything is set up correctly and you don’t adjust your numbers too early.
This is the approach that helped me lose weight – from 235 lbs to 185 lbs on my first go at it.
I’ve been able to replicate this success over the years without giving up any of my favorite foods.
If you want to produce similar results, then you want to keep reading.
- Step 1: Figure Out Your Calories and Macros for Weight Loss
- Step 2: Create Your Meal Plan
- Step 3: Create Your Cardio and Workout Plan
- Step 4: Adjust Your Calories and Macros Based on These Factors
Step 1: Figure Out Your Calories and Macros for Weight Loss
Flexible dieting is so crucial for enjoyable fat loss success. 1
I truly believe it’s the most sustainable way to improve body composition.
It makes your diet feel like, well… not a diet.
This is due to the fact that, with IIFYM, no foods are off-limits so long as those foods fits your macros.
To get started with IIFYM, you want to use our macros calculator (opens in a new tab).
I recommend a 40 40 20 diet macro split!
There’s an instructional video showing you exactly how to use it for the best iifym results.
Use it and then come back to this page.
That being said, no calculator is perfect and will only spew out estimates. You will have to adjust eventually.
Once you’re done with this step, continue down below.
Track Your Progress For Better Body Composition
One thing you should note when trying to drop body fat is that it’s going to feel like you’re going slow.
You’re trying to lose weight little by little, every day, by tracking macros.
I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to lose 20 lbs in a week like many people will have you believe.
If I were someone else, trying to make a quick buck from you, I’d be telling you that IIFYM: If It Fit Your Macros is God-Sent and you’ll lose fat effortlessly.
While I do believe IIFYM is the best method for fat loss, no fat loss journey is “easy.”
With all that being said, I don’t want you to get discouraged when your weight isn’t dropping as fast as you would like.
You might only lose 1 lb per week. 2
This is ok and actually, I’d suggest you go slow.
Slow and steady wins the race every time when it comes to sustainable success in your fitness journey, especially when it comes to counting macros.
You want to track your progress by taking daily weigh-ins and taking the weekly average.
It would look something like this:
If your weekly averages are going up, down, or not going anywhere, then you might need to tweak a couple of things.
We’ll talk about what to do in certain scenarios in a bit.
Step 2: Create Your Meal Plan
Your next step for success is creating a successful flexible dieting meal plan which is only as successful as its contents.
You can add any food/ingredient if it fits in your macros. This allows for a lot more flexibility.
That’s the beauty of IIFYM. It allows for better body composition without giving up fat, carbs, etc.
That being said, we don’t want to fill our meal plan with JUNK.
This will mean only satisfying meals in the moment but the rest of the day will be spent hungry and unsatisfied.
That’s a bad meal plan.
Furthermore, let’s go over what a good meal plan looks like.
A good IIFYM meal plan consists of:
- Has low-calorie, high volume, meals
- Filling Foods
- Nutritious Foods
- High-Protein Foods
- Some treats here and there
A bad IIFYM meal plan consists of:
- Calories coming from drinks
- High-Calorie, low-volume meals
- Un-filling Foods
- Treats ALL THE TIME
Remember, so long as it fits your macros, add it, but make sure the OVERALL meal plan resembles the first list above and not the second.
Another thing to make your iifym meal plan successful is to make it fit you and your schedule/goals.
For example, if you’re following intermittent fasting, then you want to make sure your meals reflect that.
Typically, with intermittent fasting, you have a big meal (your feast) and 2 smaller meals.
Either way, when you set up your meals, make sure your macros fit those meals and your schedule.
For example, check out this free meal plan:
If you want to see more examples and notes about how to create a flexible dieting meal plan, check out this article I wrote for ThinkEatLift.
Step 3: Create Your Cardio and Workout Plan
If you want to see weight loss success, then you must eat in a calorie deficit every day, for a long period of time.
To see faster weight loss with IIFYM, you need to develop a cardio and workout plan.
This is how you can begin to see your body change.
To produce the results I got with macro tracking, I did the following:
- 4x a week, I strength train (intermediate routine)
- 3x a week, I did a light 3-mile jog (LISS)
- 1x a week, I did a sprint workout (HIIT)
Strength Training Recommendations
While you can lose weight without exercise, I don’t recommend it.
Losing weight through diet alone, without ANY sort of resistance training (or history of training experience) will produce a Skinny-Fat physique.
Trust me, you don’t want a skinny-fat body.
To improve your body composition, I recommend you start some sort of resistance training program while tracking macros for the best results.
I currently follow a routine from the guys at Kizen Training. It’s an intermediate routine called PowerBuilding 2.0.
It’s way too much for a beginner to handle.
I’d recommend checking out this free program I have for beginners.
You can also follow a stellar strength training routine such as Bigger Leaner Stronger (for men) or Thinner Leaner Stronger (for women):
Regardless of what option you choose, do NOT neglect your strength training.
At the very least, please focus on compound movements such as:
- The Deadlift
- The Bench Press
- The Overhead Press
- The Pull-up
- The Squat
All 5 of these will produce amazing results if you structure your workout days around one or two of them.
This means, if you work out 3 times a week with weights, then you should find a way to do all 5 of those exercises spread into each of those 3 workouts.
You want to lift medium-to-heavy with these exercises.
I suggest somewhere in the 5-10 rep range for 3 sets at the very least.
The rest of your exercise selection can vary.
Again, I do have a beginner workout program that covers all of this for you here.
I promise you that you will only BENEFIT from doing strength training.
A ton of people sends in emails to me asking if they should do ONLY cardio or MORE cardio in general.
The general consensus is that cardio = fat loss.
This is the furthest thing from the truth.
In fact, you can do ZERO cardio and lose body fat.
I don’t recommend this.
Your heart is a muscle too and you don’t want to get winded going up a flight of stairs.
Here’s what I do for cardio 3.
- 3x a week, a light 3-mile jog (LISS)
- 1x a week, a sprint style workout (HIIT)
LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady-State cardio.
So for my 3-mile jog, I am keeping the same, low-intensity, the entire jog.
I do this 3 times per week.
It doesn’t have to be running. You can do the Stairmaster, cycling, etc., just aim to burn 300+ calories per LISS session.
That’s what I do at least.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.
For my sprint style workout, I do sprints on the treadmill for 20 minutes.
This is really simple.
I sprint at speed 10 for 20-30 seconds and rest for 1 minute.
I repeat this for 20 minutes and I’m done.
And that is it for cardio.
It’s that simple.
Don’t make it much more complicated than this.
Note that these extra calories you burn do mean you CAN eat more.
The macro calculator from the beginning of this article already took into account your daily activity level and NOT your cardio level.
This means that any extra calories you burn mean more food you can eat.
HOWEVER, I don’t recommend you eat back the calories you burn. If I burn 300 calories for a cardio session, I don’t eat those 300 calories back. I keep it as a cushion in case I go over in my meal plan.
That way, if I do want something extra I know I have a 300 calorie cushion for foods. I DON’T make another meal for 300 calories.
Plus, if you just eat at your deficit and burn extra 300 calories, that means you’re in an even bigger deficit on those days and may produce faster results!
Step 4: Adjust Your Calories and Macros Based on These Factors
This step is the most important out of them all 4.
I have an entire weight loss plateau article but I will go over a few scenarios here.
If you’ve been tracking your daily weigh-ins on the scale, then you should have a weekly average.
Every 2 weeks, I want you to assess these averages.
Also, you should be taking waist measurements 1x per week with a tape measure.
Let’s go over the scenarios:
SCENARIO 1: IF YOUR WEEKLY AVERAGES ARE GOING DOWN
Don’t change a thing. You’re going in the right direction.
SCENARIO 2: IF YOUR WEEKLY AVERAGES ARE GOING DOWN BUT YOUR WAIST MEASUREMENT AVERAGE IS GOING DOWN
This can mean you’re losing fat and building muscle at the same time!
Beginners will experience this most often.
Yes, this is a cause for celebration. Don’t make any changes.
SCENARIO 3: IF BOTH YOUR WEEKLY AVERAGES ARE NOT GOING DOWN (MAYBE EVEN GOING UP)
You’re doing something wrong.
It can be for any of the reasons described below, or it could be that you’re not macro tracking correctly.
You can try decreasing calories from carbohydrates or you have to adjust something.
Weight change, as we know, is all about calories in vs. calories out. There are no exceptions to this rule.
If you’re stalling, then you’re NOT burning more calories than you consume.
However, plateauing does not always have to be a bad thing. If anything, it should be taken as a sign of great progress!
Plateauing means that your body fat has reduced notably and that you are well on your way to a leaner physique. Therefore, the key in this instance is to keep eating at a deficit and if possible, increase your physical activity levels.
However, sometimes, a better option is just taking a break.
The 1-Week Diet Break
Every 8 weeks, you should take a 1-week diet break. 5.
This is where, for 1 week only, you eat more than usual.
Specifically, you eat the number of calories you need to maintain your current body weight.
This is called your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
The calculator you used at the beginning of this article actually gives you your TDEE so make sure to check it out.
For example, if the macros IIFYM calculator gave me 2200 calories as my deficit calories and 3000 calories for my TDEE, then I would 3000 calories per day for 1 week.
This is more for a psychological break than anything in my opinion, but it can get the proverbial fat loss ball rolling again.
At least, it did for me when I got in a weight loss plateau.
And that pretty much sums up everything I did to produce results with IIFYM.
If you want to learn more about IIFYM and how to lose weight without giving up your favorite foods, check out my book:
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I’ll respond!
Last update on 2021-01-21 at 11:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- In my opinion, flexible dieting and IIFYM are synonymous so if I use both terms, I mean the same thing.
- For example, going from 190 lbs to 189 lbs after one week of sticking closely to your calories and macros.
- On top of my strength training routine
- Assuming your calories and macros are setup correctly
- Unless you are absolutely on a roll and don’t want to take a break. Most people will after 8 weeks.