When people start IIFYM or Macro counting, many of them are overwhelmed.
Despite my best efforts to help them, they throw their hands up and say “I don’t know what to eat”.
My clients are NOT allowed to say that. Because..
1. We are grown ups, we do not need to be told by another human what to eat.
2. We can take responsibility for our food.
3. We already know what to eat.
4. We eat every day so what is the point of asking someone else to tell us what to eat?
Ok.. so when you start Macro counting, you should do this first
Step one: Get your tracker set up with your macros and begin to track what you normally eat for 3 full days.
The numbers you have will give you a very clear picture of how you eat and what things you need to tweak.
It’s easier to tweak the food you already like than to start over trying to build out all new menus.
Most of my clients tell me that it’s very eye opening that and they often need more protein, fiber and less carbs.
Once you have a good idea of things you need to work on, you can work on it!
Things you should not do
1. Eat things you don’t like.
Cabbage diets for people who hate cabbage makes no sense. If your coach gave you sweet potatoes and you hate them, why would you eat them? Come on! Do you really think that a sweet potato is magic? If you can’t stand egg whites, why wouldn’t you put them in something that tastes great? Choking down food you hate is silly. You have options!
If you don’t know how to do this.. go here
2. Asking public forums what to eat.
This blows my mind, why you would do this. “I have 30 carbs, 10g fat and 20g protein left .. AND GO!”
If you are guilty of doing this.. Stop it! No one likes this!
Here are some great resources for you.
RIPPED RECIPES http://www.rippedrecipes.com
Those silly, dangling macros are no trouble for RR. You can use the filters and get something you like.
If you want to drop your whole day in the search, you can get all three meals! You simply add the macro numbers you need and the magic happens.
This site has every recipe known to man on it. You can make something delish and use the
little widget at the bottom to get the macro numbers. You can get them for as many servings as you want.
Search terms are “IIFYM” “Flexible Dieting” “Macros” and watch the recipes explode. There are now
a gazillion blogs that have recipes with the macros listed! Pinterest is the place to be. You know you are on there anyway.
Bottom Line: Eat things you like. Eat well. Eat for your physique goals. Hit your macros +5/-5 .
A little bit of research will give you new ideas!
Each prep I have done a green shake for my veggies. Since I’m doing IIFYM/Flex/Macro counting I’m being very
careful to keep my fiber numbers up. This is 5-6 cups of spinach and while it does have some lovely micronutrients, the fiber for my whole day of veggies was 4g. Soooo.. I’m on the green beans and broccoli too. ACK .. they are NOT in the shake. The shake is
Cytogreens for Athletes
Unsweetened Almond milk
1 scoop Whey
This was my shake today.
Since I made my video in 2013, I’ve used different whey protein in my shake and added some chia seeds. Chia seeds are
great. I do not expect anyone else in the world to get excited about it, but I still like doing it every day.
I feel really good. I like the Greens powder too. I’m using my carbs for some blueberries in it!
It’s super weird when I give clients macros and they see how much FAT they have to eat.
I hear things like
” I don’t want to eat fat because I’m already fat.”
“How am I going to eat all that fat?”
Fat: Whey do we need it?
Just a few reasons!
Essential fatty acids from omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made by your body, and therefore they must be supplied through your diet. Dull, lifeless hair and dry skin can be a sign that you may not be getting enough of these fats.**
Fat enables your body to transport, store and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. An absence of fat may mean a deficiency in these vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins help to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, and the nervous system.**
Immune systems can be compromised!
It’s good for you and helps you keep your immune system strong! 20%-35% is a healthy range.
Last year, I was in a Bro prep and had only 8g fat per day. I got very sick! I got two eye diseases that came on the end of a nasty respiratory infection. A weakened immune system was the culprit. My good cholesterol numbers were so low my doctor ordered me to stop prep and get my fats up. I lost 30% vision in one eye and was on extreme antivirals that kicked my ass for over 6 months. I have been rehabbing my immune system diligently since.
Sports Nutrition tells us that we should NOT go below 20% fat per day even on extreme diets! Yes… competition prep is extreme and temporary. We must care for our health even if coaches tell us we don’t need to.
However, the thing about ‘fat’ on a cut is if you aren’t careful, you can blow your diet out of the water. That spoon of peanut butter ‘unmeasured’ can really push your fats into a surplus. Many times clients say.. “I eat clean” but are overweight.
Bag and bags of nuts and ‘healthy snacks from Trader Joes, might give us some insight to the surplus!
Getting it right.
1 Tablespoon is deceptive. This is 15ML of olive oil. This is almost half my fat for a day. Measuring fats is really important. Don’t eyeball your olive oil!
Use your scale! Once your really understand what a tablespoon of olive oil looks like, it’s easy to see why we are over. 1ML is the same as 1g on your scale.
Serving size is 1 tablespoon or 15ML
15 ML of Olive oil is 150 calories
What if you have lots of fat left but not a lot of other macros? If your fats are higher than you are used to eating and you don’t know what to do think about using higher fat products like Sour cream. OMG.. I know some of you gasped. I had 30g of fat left
one day and instead of using Fat Free Greek yogurt for my Qdoba salad, I actually used some real sour cream! Measured it on my scale and it was incredible. No body lost a limb when I did that. I hit my macros that day. It’s ok if you are on point!
What are some other things that will help me reach my fats without having to eat a bunch of mayonnaise? Walnuts!!
This is a 1 oz (28g) of walnuts. If you need to get your fats out of the way quickly, here you go.
HEY!! What are Cocoa Nibs?
Cocoa nibs are 70% cocoa solids. It takes the super food status to the next level.
They are the least processed and most natural form of chocolate.
They have lots of health benefits including anti-oxidants and fiber!
They are not sweet, kind of nutty and work great in yogurt or just as a snack.
I got them at Whole Foods, but Amazon has them too!
One ounce of Cocoa Nibs (28g) is
Fat: 13g Fiber 9g
Let’s not forget the solidly awesome Omega egg !!
Pro tip: if you are not getting your EFA’s you can add 2 Burpless fish oil sups!
Remember to add them to your tracker.
If you have a “Lot” of fat to eat, use super foods like I’ve shown above.
Update 2016: Over time we have had clients who decided to hoard their fats and save them all for the weekend so they could drink and eat fast food. Fat Cycling is not a thing. Fat is necessary daily. Please remember it’s optimal to eat for health! Flexibility is great taking liberties as such are counter productive.
My lifestyle clients, brides and competitors are all macro counting. Doing flexible dieting is
an amazing experience and for some of us, we have to be super tight with macros. I’m glad I have more
options in my prep but I’m still keeping my food very tight. Lots of veggies. I love this meme though because until I found
a food scale and the ‘gram’ setting, I was all over the place. Just for fun, I wanted to show you the actual tablespoon serving of jelly for your rice cakes.
My normal thought pattern is to use that giant serving spoon in the back of the drawer!
Ok.. moving on.
Prep this week is pretty simple I got some great items at Costco. I got rotisserie chicken and
lots of veggies. I don’t prep a lot of food because I can make a lot of it as I go.
My protein sources are still meat, egg whites, eggs, whey, and some dairy like greek yogurt and cheese.
I don’t do a lot of dairy but I’m not pulling it yet, either.
Here’s how my day started post track workout which I did fasted.
Heated a pan with butter flavor cooking spray and added a bag of spinach.
Added fresh kale from my client’s garden and cooked it down.
Went with some portabello mushrooms.. mmmm.
Here’s how that came out!
This is my fun beaker from Home Goods. It’s all kinds of scientific. So that’s my egg whites.
I let that set up like a frittata and added my portabello mushrooms.
Finished that off with a serving of fat free cheese. Folded it over and let it melt. It
was perfect. I ate the spinach and kale on the side.
Breakfast for me today was
I’m on a lower carb day today so this was great! It filled me up!
When I first began IIFYM/Macro Counting I was coming off 48 weeks of ‘clean’ contest prep. I had a bad case of “Bro-fatigue”. Bro-fatigue is when you hit the wall on the few foods you are only allowed to consume in prep. Turkey Chicken Fish Sweet Pot brown rice almonds
I had begun piecing together my new IIFYM/Macros and found that I could eat lots of amazing food in my off season and still hit my macros of Protein, Carbs, Fats and the micro nutrient Fiber. I had no issue doing it and I got nice results. It was nice to eat things I really wanted everyday.
The longer I did that, the more I whined about broccoli taking up my carbs because I wanted gold fish cookies. What I found was I was whirling out of control and filling my days with a little high quality food and lots of processed fun foods.
I did not really feel my best. My training began to suffer a bit.
Let me clarify the basics of IIFYM. You should hit your macros of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats +5/-5 daily. You must also hit your minimum grams of the micro nutrient fiber.
If you follow my blog, you know I have struggled with sugar. In the past, certain foods have triggered binges for me. I’m doing much better so it’s not as big of an issue, however for many.. it is..
I hear the question a lot “How much sugar can I have?”
Sugar reads as a carb so if you are counting carbs you don’t need to count sugar. I don’t.
Sugar is in many things.. Lactose is natural dairy sugar. Dairy is a great source of protein!! Fruit has sugar and it’s amazing for you. ❤
The goal of IIFYM in the beginning was not to fill the day with junk, but to ease “bro-fatigue” and fit in some things you like. This concept is sometimes lost in the IIFYM community.
It’s lost on the people who look at the concept as a ‘fad diet’ or are under educated in the concepts of Flexible dieting. For a while..it was lost on me. I flew too close to the sun.
The original concept for IIFYM was that 80-90% of your daily intake would come from healthful, high quality food.
Let’s say we have a bikini athlete who is cutting for a show.
If you are cutting (active fat loss), only 10% of your macros should come from ‘discretionary foods.’. Of course if you are bulking and have lots of carbs to work with, that will look different than, for example, my day. I have 180 carbs a day on my cut so only 18 carbs should be discretionary macros I use those 18 carbs pre-workout to help me lift.
Edit: in my actual prepping: I use 95%/5% as my ratios. My food has to be tight. But that’s just me!
Ok.. I know, what are healthful (nutrient dense) foods? You and I both know healthy foods. Yes, pink cupcakes have macros but they might have very little fiber. They don’t fall under the “profoundly healthy” category, but once in a while I could make them fit.
Discretionary means: I don’t really need it.
While the macros of lots of fun and exciting foods could fit your plan, think about how you are fueling your body. The bonus of eating well is all the extra micro nutrients that come with eating vegetables and fruits. Not to mention fiber.
I have made a conscious effort to get a very large portion of my daily carbs from vegetables. I like the way I feel better when I eat more whole foods. I see a difference in my skin so that makes sense to me. I do eat greek yogurt and some are quick to point out that’s processed. I don’t necessarily believe that processed defines a food as crap.
When I look at a food I want to judge it in the context of my whole days food.
If 90% of my diet comes from nutrient dense foods, half a pop tart isn’t a big deal. I’m consistent with my choices.
You don’t have to fall under the spell of “bro foods ‘ to reach your goals, especially if you are not a physique competitor .
Edit: Simply because you choose to do IIFYM/macro counting/flexible dieting, you can still create amazing, nutrient dense treats that fit your macros . Check out Rippedrecipes.com for ideas!
Update: 8/30/2016: Lifestyle and off season clients may use 80/20 as their guidelines
as long as they meet their fruit and veggies, EFAs and fiber numbers.
One goal I was missing: was to strive for my Protein first to help stop potential binges.
This is working great!
Ok.. I’ve perfected this super salad !
Day 3 eating one of these a day. I feel awesome. My food is on point!
Here’s the salad and how you can do it quickly.
Start with this bag of Mann’s Brocolli and Carrots. The Mann’s is already washed and ready to go.
Put it in the Ninja: This one has the tall blades! It’s going to make short work of these veggies.
Here it is. Kale: I used 150g of Kale. I had to do about 75g twice. Remember to pulse it with the ninja so it doesn’t turn into juice.I couldn’t get it to be any smaller than this before it got a little juicy.
Add it to your bowl
Mix it up!
Add Berries (150g of strawberries) or Blue berries?? Added 20g Walnuts!
And I topped it with this
If you are cutting and can use it.. it’s very good. You can also use balsamic on it.
Macros for the whole salad!
If you want to eat less.. you can break it into servings for your 6 pak cooler!
Being in prep is tough. Cutting isn’t fun. I forget how much I like all the eating of ‘grow season’.
Alas… Once I begin prep.. “oh hey…I remember you”. HUNGRY.
I realize, that sometimes I’m going to be hungry. I sure was in my last preps with bro food. That food did not fill me up.
On a lovely side note: One of my dear clients told me that last year at this time (prep) I was super crabby but this year I’m much more chill. Ah… that makes sense, when you have some good food!
Poverty macros : when you have very little macros to work with.
You are going to have to stretch your food out. It can be done.
In my new series Prepping, not Starving, I’m going to share how I am going to stretch my macros as far as I can so you can see, you aren’t left with zero options just because you want to get to the stage.
The above pancake recipe might not classify as a volume food but it’s a pretty substantial meal for me and keeps me full for a few hours.
Because I am following a nutrition based IIFYM plan this prep, I’m going to use fruit. My last two preps had just a tiny bit of blue berries until those went away. Fruit is pretty much banned on bro plans.
This pancake is fantastic because it’s fluffy and delicious.
Secret to success: Don’t be the girl who eyeballs her food. Don’t use measuring spoons or cups. That’s lazy and sloppy. Use your scale every time you do your food. Leave nothing to chance!
For this recipe I used
Pourable egg whites 125g
Banana: 56g (that’s half a banana .. be sure you weigh it!!)
Quick oats: dry 15g
Chia seeds 10g
I used my Ninja Blender to blend then cooked it using cooking spray in my pan.
The banana is new to me this prep and I am excited to have it! A plain pancake with just egg whites and oats is a snooze fest and the texture is pretty dismal and flat.
The good thing is I can control my macros by adding or subtracting more of the ingredients if need be.
I have a very tough morning schedule and burn over 1300 calories from just training clients and lifting. I need a majority of my carbs to be substantial enough to have the energy to work. I made two of these pancakes for my M1 and M2 today.
I have lots of macros to work with still today because I didn’t blow my macros out of the water at 4:30am.
Note: The fats on this are a tad low. I sometimes end up with some extra fats dangling at the end of the day. I could have added a little bit of nut butter, or even 10g walnut for two pancakes. It would only add
My goal is to keep my fats per meal, below 10g if I’m going to be training. Too much fats in my meals around my workouts, slows me down.
Just a little bit of walnuts could really amp that pancake up to IHOP status!
This week I have seen so many competitors posting about doing IIFYM and eating food they hate because their coach said so.
“Can someone please tell me how to fix chicken so I don’t gag and have to drink water to get it down. My coach has me on chicken 5 meals a day” That was on an IIFYM Competitor forum.
Why are you eating food you hate?
I saw two meal plans from coaches that ‘said’ they were IIFYM but had only 3 protein sources to chose from. Guess which ones..
I saw non competitors posting on IIFYM boards about being sick and tired of eating broccoli, or whatever.
Let’s start with the basics of IIFYM.
1. If you are on IIFYM: Flexible Dieting, NO food is off limits.
2. You will be counting Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats and the micronutrient, Fiber in grams.
3. You must eat your macros daily and those are configured properly for health and based on body, your activity level, and goals by someone who understands how to do it properly. More on that later.
4. You must hit them daily +/- 5g including your fiber.
Competitors:You are doing it wrong if you have a coach who >gives you random numbers or cookie cutter macros /PDF that everyone gets. Macro numbers are based on a scientific formula.
> gives you a list of options for your food choices. Remember, no food is off limits. That’s not IIFYM.
“You can eat what you want as long as it’s on this list of 5 things”
I saw a menu this week that had
“Post workout you can have 2 plain rice cakes and 1 table spoon of jelly.”
Macros for that are:
Why not have a banana?
1 med banana
You got some fiber! Whoo hoo.
You are doing it wrong if you have a coach who >tells you things you CANNOT eat. Nothing but Walden farms salad dressing and plain salsa for condiments is NOT IIFYM.
No fruit allowed. No dairy (protein much?) Basically.. you should just hit your numbers.
Caveat, I’m not going to say that there are not circumstances in prep that call for you to make adjustments as you near your show. For the most part, you should be eating .Good coaches will help you with IIFYM . My IIFYM coach gave me suggestions for high carb day of Skinny pop or Skinny Cow. Sometimes, in prep we will have to tighten things up a lot but at 12 weeks out, if you limited to tilapia and asparagus, you are seriously bumming!
Which you already know!
Flexible Dieting in 1979?? WHAT? READ THIS!
You are doing it wrong if you have a coach who
>does not have a fiber number for you to hit. Red flag.
>has your fats below 20% of your daily intake. I said it. Health first!
Sports Nutrition tells us that you should NEVER go below 20% not even on the crash diets. Fats are important to your hormones and brain function. One egg yolk a day for 12 weeks is NOT the only fat you need. Show prep or not. It’s not healthy!
>is flat out starving you and giving you hours of cardio . (I threw that in because WTH? You should not be ‘starving’ on IIFYM because you can use volume foods and make them fit!
What about non competitors?
You are doing it wrong if you are freaking out over your macro tracker. If you can’t figure out what to replace one food with and it stresses you out. If you are out of egg whites, eat greek yogurt. Make your food fit. Namaste! It takes a few weeks to get a groove. Keep trying.
You are doing it wrong if you are eating the same 5 things every day.
Sports Nutrition 101 says we need at least 35 different foods per week. Two Quest bars and 2 salads every day is NOT healthy. Eat a variety of food that makes you happy and make it fit!
You are doing it wrong ( and this makes me so mad) if you take the numbers you are given and “cut them in half” or cut out a whole nutrient group so you will “get thin”. This thinspo mentality is
horrific and damaging to our bodies. Calling it IIFYM and starving is NOT ok.
You are doing it wrong if you are dragging Tupperware to restaurants still. (Competitors in prep are excluded here).
You can make a plan using the site Fatsecret.com. They list all the macros for resturants! Or just look at the actual restaurants website for their nutritional information. If you are going to get Mexican food, you can probably figure out, what’s in a burrito and get a solid count. I take my mini scale with me, but I’m competing. Just sayin.
You are doing it wrong if you “leave out whole groups of food”.
You seriously won’t die, if you “drink” some calories. I know, I used to feel differently. Seriously, if you have a Flat White and make it fit.. you will be fine. Are you happy? Did you enjoy it? Good!
You are doing it wrong if you refuse to track and just “eyeball” your portions. As a coach, I see this and it’s usually followed by “IIFYM” doesn’t work. Well.. If you are beginning on IIFYM you need to measure everything on your scale in grams. Not half cups or tablespoons in your silverware drawer. You will learn to do intuitive dieting later but you must first get serious about knowing portion sizes. Weigh your peanut butter so you really know what 2 Table spoons (32g) looks like. Mind blown. I lost 5 pounds when I used the scale instead of relying on that table spoon measurement!
If you have not tracked everything correctly, how will your coach/trainer know what to tweak. Everyone is different. This is data. 😉
You are doing it wrong if you have dangling macros and you don’t eat them because you think you will lose weight faster. Remember how we talked about your body starving and holding on to fat? Eat your food. Food is good.
You are doing it wrong if you have dangling macros and you don’t eat them because you don’t know what to eat. How do you not know what to eat? Eat what you like.
THE BIG “NO!” You are for sure doing it wrong if you have to ask a public forum
“I have 10 carbs, 4 fat grams and 23 grams of protein, what should I eat?” Stop doing that. Learn about Flex bowls. (Blog post is here)
Asking other people what you should eat is ridiculous. If you really are so unable to fathom what to eat, go to Ripped Recipes.com and
put in your dangling macros and figure it out.
When I start a client on IIFYM, I have them track just what they normally eat for 3 days in a macro tracker. Most every client is shocked and amazed that they get next to no fiber in their diet.
Just to be thourough, I went back to all my diets from past coaches before IIFYM and calculated the macros. Even with my 5 cups of spinach and sweet potatoes I was eating.. I did not hit my fiber goals.
The world is a different place when you are eating fiber with all that protein.
I’m a professional at getting my fiber in by lunch time.
I am in prep now but I’m far off from my show. 21 weeks is still long enough to keep my Questies. I don’t ‘need’ them to hit my fiber but it’s just bonus
if I want one, I eat it.
This graphic is from MyNetdiary.com and is my food so far. Click on it so you can see it bigger! Oh my fiber goal is 31-37g per day. I’m at 55g.
My breakfast is actually a pancake. The almond milk was in my coffee.
40g oat bran
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon (13g) chia
Stevia to taste
Snacks has a Questie and a yogurt shake
1 cup fage1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
I had 3 cups of broccoli (as I do each day) but you can see that
even with out the Quest bar, I would have hit my fiber early.
The amounts of different foods for me thus far today is 14. Remember, it’s sports nutrition 101 to have at least 35 different foods per 7 days.
Because I’m very balanced in my foods, I could feasibly eat some ‘fun’ foods to fill out my macros.
I am cutting now at 1 pound a week, and I am keeping it to 90/10. Ninety percent of what I eat is whole foods over the course of the week.
For my best fiber choices,
Uncle Sam’s cereal
Flat out wraps
Since I’ve been competing, I have been a huge fan of protein pancakes.
I eat them at least once or maybe even twice a day. They are a great way to get my egg whites
in without .. well.. sitting and eating egg whites.
The video above was filmed when I was strictly doing Bro-science with my coaches.
But it is still the pancake I use almost every day with some variation.
Here is the modified recipe for this pancake:
3/4 cup liquid egg whites
1/2 cup uncooked quick oats
SF Torani syrup (or stevia) to taste
*1 table spoon chia seeds (wow fiber)
Calories: 316 P: 27g C: 33g F: 8g Fiber 9g
Blend all ingredients and make as a pancake. You can dress it up however it fits your macros.
I eat this in the car on my way to my 5:45am workout!
Bikini Competitor Pancake variation 4 whites
½ scoop protein
¼ cup low fat cottage cheese 1/3 cup oats
Calories: 310 P: 20g C: 22g F: 3g Fiber 9g
To get my fiber in, I would add either Flax or chia to these recipes.
We were never counting fiber in my prep before but I am very in tune with getting
enough fats and fiber so I would modify. Of course you can add many variations to your recipe.
If you are hyped on protein pancakes then hit PINTEREST for some cool ideas.