Dieting: If It Fits Your Macros

By: Joel Janssen

Whether it is on forums or in person, I see too many people turning dieting into the painstaking process of removing the fun/enjoyment of eating by cutting calories to ridiculously low levels.

The mentality of most dieters…

Using information based primarily  from Layne Norton and the IIFits Your Macros (IIFYM) movement, I hope to improve people’s dieting processes to enhance both the emotional and metabolic aspects.

IIFYM – If It Fits Your Macros:

This is a dieting style that has gathered a lot of attention over the last couple of years in the bodybuilding community because of its openness to all foods, “dirty” or “clean”. When most people hear dieting they think: broccoli, chicken and rice. However, these are not the only foods you need to stick to. The main idea behind IIFYM  you can essentially eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macronutrients for the day–protein, carbohydrates and fats. With this style of eating, though, you cannot binge on whatever you want. Here’s why:

1. You will not get the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) you need from eating chocolate bars and drinking protein shakes all day.

2. There are complex hormonal cascades that occur in a  post-prandial state (after eating) and consuming only simple carbs (sugars and sweets) can negatively affect these in terms of fat storage and metabolic rate.

I highly suggest following IIFYM while dieting to improve the emotional aspect of dieting as it removes the bland monotony of eating the same thing every day. However remember,  everything in moderation (don’t eat a tub of ice cream to get all your carbs for the day) and make sure to track your macronutrients daily (food journal or online log) to allow adoption of treats into your diet.

As good as this looks, this shouldn’t be your only source of carbs in IIFYM dieting

Pre Contest:

If you’ve been tracking your macros prior to when you need to start dieting you will have a good indicator of your base metabolic rate, which is the the amount of calories you burn in a day.  During this time, your goal should be is to consistently lose a pound of week. This translates to a good balance between fat loss and muscle gain. Calculate how much bodyfat you need to lose to come into the competition at the bodyfat level you desire. This will dictate the amount of time you should leave yourself to diet down prior to competition. With a caloric deficit of about 500 calories per day you should be on  track to lose approximately one pound per week. However,  this is only an indicator of how much you should be consuming. Although you want to cut food intake to lose fat, you need to keep in mind that you want to be consuming on the upper end of your caloric range. In doing so, you will still lose a pound per week, but you won’t destroy your metabolism by cutting too low.

To summarize:

  1. Know what your base metabolic rate is prior to dieting by logging your macros
  2. Aim to lose a pound per week and use this as your calendar for the amount of time you need to diet (e.g if you need to lose 14lbs to achieve the bodyfat level you require you will need at least 14 weeks to diet).
  3. Keep your calories as high as possible while losing 1lb per week, ideally these calories are in the form of carbs, so you don’t destroy your metabolism (Plan ahead…leave yourself enough time to diet!)

Post Contest:

Now that the contest is over all you can think about is eating everything is sight. However, regardless of how much attention you have paid to keeping your caloric intake high to maintain your metabolism,  it will have slowed. Therefore, you need to reverse diet to bring your metabolism back up to speed, in doing so you will avoid unwanted fat gains post contest dieting.

Not the ideal post-contest picture!

With reverse dieting, you slowly introduce more calories back into your diet to return to your normal metabolic rate (i.e. before dieting BMR). While I can’t give exact figures on how you should increase your macros when reverse dieting, I can suggest a couple of guidelines:

  1. Use the mirror and scale as an indicator of how many calories you should be adding. The leaner you stay the easier it will be to diet down for future competitions, therefore giving you a longer off season to put on lean muscle mass. So, increase your caloric intake slowly to avoid unwanted fat gain and increase your metabolic rate.
  2. Re-introduce calories predominately in the form of carbohydrates. Your protein and fat intake should not have been as drastically reduced as your carb intake while dieting so increasing your carbs should be the priority.


Have you ever tried IIFYM? Is it an eating style that interests you, regardless if you are a bodybuilder or not?  Comment below and remember to”like” us on facebook!


My name is Joel Janssen, and I’m a powerlifter with roots in bodybuilding. I started weight training as a means to become a better hockey player, and lifting has now outlived my hockey career. I am currently completing my BSc undergrad degree in Honours Kinesiology at uWaterloo.




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2 responses to “Dieting: If It Fits Your Macros

  1. How is IIFYM in terms of performance? I am interested in trying it but I don’t want my performance to suffer. Thanks!

  2. Joel Janssen

    If you reduce calories slowly and keep carbs as high as possible its quite possible to maintain strength, some people even gain.

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