On dieting– and why you’re doing it wrong

Nearly every fitness YouTuber, health blogger, or Instagram model you can imagine follows a flexible dieting or “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) approach to dieting. They advocate maintaining a lean build while enjoying life. And it obviously works. Nobody wants to fill their meals with only boiled chicken, brown rice, and steamed broccoli, all out of Tupperware. That’s boring. IIFYM supporters focus on their daily or weekly caloric and macronutrient intake in order to develop, and better yet, maintain fitness-model physique year-round. It sounds difficult and complicated, but so many people don’t realize that dieting is simple.

To avoid going into any crazy, complex scientific information (which I don’t even know fully, to be honest) – I’ll make this short and sweet. Everyone’s body burns a certain number of calories throughout the day, whether it be through walking around campus, a fitness class, or your body’s metabolic processes alone! This number of calories is what is known as one’s TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume the average person’s TDEE is about 2500 calories. The key to dieting is staying in a caloric deficit – or eating less than 2500 calories a day. Can you eat 2500 calories of ice cream and call it a day? Unfortunately, no. Bu that’s where macronutrients come into play.

Scandalous headlines tell the public that carbs are the bad for us, or that all fats are bad fats – WRONG. Carbohydrates give the body energy necessary to wake up, live our lives, and get through our workouts, so how evil can they really be? Fats are also necessary in order for the body to perform its natural processes like hormone production, digestion, and protein synthesis. Ignoring the complex studies around which fats are good and which are bad, let’s just agree that the fats found in egg yolks, almonds, peanut butter, avocado, olive/coconut oil, etc. are significantly better for the body than the fat in pizza or ice cream. The beauty of flexible dieting is that someone trying to lose weight or build lean muscle doesn’t have to cut out fat or carbs.  As for protein, we all know that consuming enough protein helps build and tone muscle, not to mention that it’s the most thermogenic of all the groups – so yeah, protein is important.

So what am I really saying? By setting daily goals for these macronutrients, or “macros,” we can eat whatever we want to, as long as it fits the plan. Developing this plan takes a bit of outside help and some trial and error, but, roughly speaking, you can basically calculate your TDEE online, then multiply this number of calories by the ratios you want to follow for your diet. Research recommends 50% Carb, 20% Fat, and 30% Protein for growth, and about 25% Carb, 30% Fat, 45% Protein for trimming down. Once you find your specific values, divide the number of carbohydrates and proteins by 4, and the number of fat calories by 9 (for the amount to consume in grams). For someone looking to maintain or just get back on track with their diet, use percentages in the middle of these two. Using a calorie tracking app will help you stay on track. I personally use MyFitnessPal.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve spent the past 5 weeks following an IIFYM diet. My goal was to try and fix the results of a 4-month dirty bulk. This stuff really works. By setting my daily macro goals to reach a 600-calorie deficit, while eating 1.5g of protein and about 1g of carbs per pound of body weight (using fats to fill in the rest) I was able to lose 13 pounds and about 5-6% of body fat in just 5 weeks. Obviously, I upped my cardio in addition to intense weight-lifting, but diet is truly king when it comes to changing body composition.

My advice? If you’re using IIFYM to change your body, you have to be scrupulous with your measurements, be honest with yourself, and PLEASE do not be afraid of carbs. You may have to eat the occasional can of tuna or bowl of chicken and rice to meet your goals, but trust me, there will still be pizza.

16933784_1537785766261629_671919318_nWritten by Tristan Norcutt, student at Boston College. 

You can find him on instagram, @norcuttfit 

For his link to purchase supplements from Myprotein, click here.

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