By Jake Boly, Staff Writer
As Christmas and the New Year approach for people on a diet there is a constant question buzzing around in their heads: "How am I going to stay on track?" This might sound off to us who freak out about enjoying the abundance of holiday sweets. So to help those wary of holiday treats and to inform others who don't understand that logic, I want to reiterate on the topic If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) and "energy in vs. energy out."
Firstly, IIFYM isn't a diet. It's the philosophy of knowing you can eat or enjoy foods that fit your calories but might not be deemed "healthy," without impeding your weight gain or loss goals. To properly follow IIFYM you should have an idea of your daily caloric intake and macronutrient goals (fat, protein, carbs) that are tailored to your goals.
For instance, a diet consisting of 2,000 calories might contain 50g fat, 150g protein, and 230g carbs. Each day the person would try to hit these numbers with foods that are micronutrient dense, which they enjoy. The most important macros to hit are the protein and fat. The carbs can be hit however you want, depending on what you're feeling for the day and what works best for your body. Remember to eat things you enjoy and not to disregard micronutrients. This isn't a diet that recommends eating whatever as long as you hit your macro goals. This diet outlines moderation and common sense decision-making.
It's important to remember that body composition and weight loss/gain is decided by "energy in vs. energy out." If you have your macros dialed into your needs and your daily caloric intake is accurate, then you have nothing to worry about.
Secondly, the topic of "energy in vs. energy out." This is a topic that breaks down eating to a simple, yet surprisingly accurate form. People love to complicate their diet and make themselves struggle; it's as if without a struggle there is no benefit. Bad news for those who love making things complicated: calories are units of energy. If you're consuming more than you burn you will store the amount; if you're burning more than you consume you will burn stored amounts. It doesn't matter the time of day, choices of food, or the amount of food as long as it fits your daily calories and macronutrients.
And this whole time you've been carefully planning out meals or stressing over little details like timing.
Now some will argue that thermogenesis (energy used to digest the food) needs to be taken into consideration. This is a valid argument, although like I stated above, if your macronutrients are dialed in to fit your needs and you're in your caloric allotment, you have nothing to worry about. I consume 70 percent of my calories (2,800 kcals) in the 5 hours before I sleep. Why? Because that's when I'm hungriest and when I like to relax. I always hit my macronutrient goals and stay around my caloric limit. Don't overcomplicate your eating. Find what works best for you and trust your body.
A tip I would recommend in regards to eating is the 10-20 percent rule. Many people are skeptical that I can eat a Pop-Tart or ice cream everyday and still maintain eight percent body fat. The 10-20 percent rule allows you to take 10-20 percent of your calories and use them for whatever your heart desires on a daily basis, assuming you've hit your protein and fat goals for the day with micronutrient-dense foods.
Why make the holidays a stressful time where food becomes the enemy? Eat in moderation and you won't end up binging or over-indulging on multiple occasions. Don't deny yourself great food that coma once a year; use good judgment and common sense. One day of enjoying food with family will not impede any progress, I promise. Have a good holiday season everyone; spend the time with friends and loved ones. See you next year!