by Matt Weik
There are many people following the flexible dieting plan or the very commonly referred to IIFYM plan (if it fits your macros). Maybe you’re currently using it to improve your health?
While this plan is generally more of a lifestyle plan versus the many others out there that cut out complete macronutrients from your nutrition, people seem to be taking the plan to the extreme and thinking it literally means they can eat whatever they want.
This article isn’t about any specific diet but rather a look into what actually makes up most diets out there – the macronutrients. What you need to realize is the source of your macros matters when looking to improve your health.
It’s All About the Macros
First and foremost, let’s define exactly what a macronutrient (macro) is.
According to the dictionary, the definition of a macronutrient is as follows: “a type of food (e.g. fat, protein, carbohydrate) required in large amounts in the diet.” So, anything you consume on a daily basis can be broken down into macros which allow you to see the total amount of grams and calories consumed by protein, carbs, or fat.
If you want a better visual on this, utilizing an app like MyFitnessPal will help you not only track your calories and macros for the day but can help you stay on track with your nutrition to allow you to hit your numbers to help achieve your individual goal (weight loss/muscle building/maintenance).
Most diets fail when they aren’t something you can easily adhere to with your lifestyle. The flexibility of the above nutrition plans allows you to not truly “eliminate” certain foods from your diet, but at the end of the day, you are still accountable for everything you put in your mouth.
Filling your diet with pizza, donuts, fried chicken, and ice cream in order to hit all of your daily macros might sound like a great idea, but since the source of your macros matters, not all of the calories you consume are created equal.
While every calorie consumed contains 4,184 Joules of energy, your body actually takes each calorie and breaks it down and absorbs it differently – all dependent on the source of the specific macro(s).
What Are You Filling Your Tank With?
In order for jets to fly and perform optimally, they need high-octane jet fuel. In a sense, that’s what gives the jet “energy” to stay in motion. You could say energy can be created by sugar as well. So, what do you think would happen if you took sugar water and put it in the jet? I don’t think we would want to find out. The outcome would be devastating. Your body is the same way. Table sugar and fructose (sugar from fruits) are both categorized as “sugar,” but we both know there is a drastic difference when it comes to your overall health when consuming each variety.
What are you filling your tank with? The source of your macros matters if you are looking to improve your health, and if you aren’t fueling your body with performance and health-based nutrients, you are essentially only slowing yourself down – both physically and mentally. Your body is a well-oiled machine, and it needs high-quality nutrients for everyday functioning.
How your body reacts to food is also dependent on the source of your macros. Let’s compare certain foods we consume – let’s use fat, for example. You could eat a bowl of ice cream that is high in fat, and it will react differently in your body due to the fat source and all of the other ingredients found in ice cream – specifically the sugars.
The ice cream can spike insulin levels and provide a quick boost in energy, but then you may find you suffer from a sudden crash shortly after once your blood sugar stabilizes. This plan isn’t really helpful if you are looking to improve your health.
Turning this around, now think about consuming a healthy fat like a handful of almonds (a common afternoon or evening snack). Almonds are full of healthy fats that can provide sustained energy that won’t affect blood sugar, like the example of a bowl of ice cream. Additionally, the almonds contain a healthy amount of fiber which can help with digestion as well as help you feel satiated throughout the day (this is especially useful when you are trying to lose weight and are in a caloric deficit).
You Can’t Simply Lump Macros Under One Umbrella
As mentioned throughout this article, you can’t truly say a carb is a carb, or any macro is just like any macro. The source from which that macro came from is incredibly important when it comes down to how the body reacts to it.
Therefore, if you’re looking to add lean muscle mass or reduce body fat, playing with your caloric intake is necessary, but so is looking at where your macros are coming from.