If you’ve been on Instagram anytime within the last 5 years chances are you’ve noticed one of your fit friends post a picture of an ice cream sundae covered in broken up Pop Tarts and chocolate syrup with the hashtag: #iifym. The idea is that the sources of your macro nutrients don’t matter as long as you hit your day’s goal of carbohydrates, protein and fat. There’s an element of truth here and depending on your goal it may work just fine for you. But, here’s what you need to know about IIFYM:
The best way to fuel for any sport/training session is to time your meals and make sure they consist of nutrition content adequate enough to meet your needs. 30 grams of sugar from ice cream acts very differently in your body than 30 grams of whole grains or fruit. If you eat 30 grams of sugar before your workout you’re most likely going to spike your blood sugar, subsequently leading to a sugar crash mid-workout. Not the best idea for any athlete that needs to perform for more than 30 minutes.
2. IIFYM is a viable option in a crunch.
What I like about IIFYM is that if your daily carbohydrate goal is 250 grams and you’re short by 100 grams without much time left in the day, then that ice cream sundae is an easy (and delicious) solution to your problem. Oatmeal is clearly better for you but it takes some serious emotional strength to sit and eat a giant bowl of plain oatmeal. Most people don’t have this problem, and if you’re looking to cut up, assuming you’re not one of the genetically gifted, a giant bowl of ice cream before bed isn’t going to help your fat burning goal by any meals.
3. IIFYM For Emotional Health.
I consider IIFYM to be the 20% part of my 80/20 Diet Rule. I think that’s the healthiest way to utilize IIFYM. There are people who make IIFYM 80% of their diet and that’s where you begin to run the risk of health complications. Giving yourself that 20% leniency rule allows you to fit some of the food you love in your diet without filling your body with processed junk food all day. It’s more for emotional eating satisfaction than physical, although there is the physical benefit of restoring glycogen stores.
In short, IIFYM should not be a guideline but rather a “break in case of emergency” excuse to meet your macro nutrient needs when you need a very occasional break from eating super clean. Here’s an example of the 80/20 Diet Rule with the 20% coming from an IIFYM mindset.
Egg White Omelet w/ peppers, onions, reduced fat cheese, and spinach
Ezekiel Toast w/ raspberry preserves