Archive for January, 2014

How anal do I need to be in counting my macros?

IIFYM is basically eating by numbers which is pretty much a more detailed way of tracking calories. Why not just count calories then? This is because total calorie intake simply applies to the body weight alone and does not necessarily predict your body composition at a given body weight. If one really seeks an optimal way to reshape their body composition, tracking macros is the way to go! Eating by numbers is certainlynot the only way to go; some people aiming for some simple weight loss could simply use simple ways of calorie restriction. Now, back to the original topic. First of, Lyle McDonald of wrote an excellent article with regards to how detail oriented you have to be which basically applies to both principles of dieting and training.

Many people have been associating IIFYM with flexible dieting; the truth is that IIFYM is not necessarily a flexible diet. What makes it flexible or not simply depends on the context of the scenario. What are the factors that affects the flexibility of the diet? To make the story short, the amount of given calorie budget based on a specific goal will determine whether an IIFYM diet can be flexible or not. You cannot compare a physique competitor’s macronutrient budget vs. a recreational dieter’s. Obviously, the latter will have higher calorie budget in general therefore, he/ she can be more flexible in her food choices. As a person gets leaner (about >12% body fat for men, and about >18% for female), the leeway for mistakes in the diet becomes less meaning, the leaner a person becomes or depending on the level of leanness a person aims for, the more he/ she has to pay attention to their macronutrient intake compliance. This is due to the simple fact that a lean person has a smaller calorie deficit than a heavier person. This is why sometimes, eating clean foods becomes a necessary evil for an already lean person seeking further leanness because aside from the fact that most so-called clean foods are more satiating, they also happened to contain macronutrients in isolation (it has less tag along macros in it). For example, a 4 oz skinless chicken breast contains 120 calories with 26 grams of protein/ 1 gram of trace fat and 0 gram of carbs whilst if a person has more room in his macro budget, he could getaway eating fattier cuts of meat such as skinless chicken thigh which has about 23 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat and 0 gram per 4 oz serving. The point is, the leaner a person becomes, the tighter the calorie/ macronutrient budget gets, the more restrictive the IIFYM diet gets.

But of course, not everyone is seeking for the next level leanness nor is planning to compete on stage. As the IIFYM becomes more mainstream, more and more recreational dieters and trainees are jumping in the IIFYM bandwagon. However, I’ve noticed that many newcomers to IIFYM seem to ask the same repetitive questions all the time. Asking question is good because it is a part of learning, but learning to catch your own fish than being handed out with a fish bowl is a more integrated part of leaning. This is what inspired me to write this blogpost.

If you are already on IIFYM, by this time, you should have a food scale on hand and a calorie app of some sort. Here are few guidelines to follow:

1. The higher your body fat is or the more weight you have to lose, the less you need to worry about hitting your exact macros. For as long as you are hitting your protein needs, the ratio of fats and carbohydrates can be flexible enough for as long as it fits your allotted calorie budget. You don’t need to be a perfect dieter especially if you are just a recreational trainee who simply want to have some freedom in their diet while staying lean.

2. The leaner you become or the leaner you wanted to be, the more you have to comply to your calorie/ macronutrient budget.

3. If something is working still, don’t change it. Just be consistent and patient enough, results will come for as long as you have a correct number setup working in conjunction with your activity pattern and exercise.

4. One of the most FAQ is whether an IIFYMer should get a free meal/ cheat meal whilst on IIFYM. While having a free meal is highly optional, if is inevitable in real life to come across with foods that don’t come with attached nutritional information on them. So in this context, call it a free meal. Free meal/ cheat meal or whatever you wanna call it (although the former term is better due to psychological reason) are uncontrolled foods which means, you are clueless about their calorie/ macronutrient content. If you choose to be OCD about it, either skip it and suck if up completely or if it makes you feel better factoring it within your numbers, I explained the tips here.

5. As far as vegetables intake, depending on how flexible you wanted to be in your diet, you don’t have to track the calorie/ macronutrient content of green, leafy fibrous veggies like spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbage, etc.) with the exception of if you are eating several pounds of those veggies a day which obviously would matter in that context. Generally speaking, it is the starchy veggies that you need to be more concerned about like corn, potatoes, etc. because even if you eat a small amount of it, it can be pretty calorie-dense.

6. What about sauces like ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, etc? Same rules applies like #5. If you are consuming amounts that would affect your numbers significantly, factor them! To be safe with salad dressings, track them and log them in your calorie app.

7. So you wanna eat a calorie dense food like ribs but your calorie/ macronutrient budget is tight to begin with? The key is portion control. If the serving size is let’s say 6 oz, you don’t have to eat the entire serving size. You can eat half and still be able to meet a good compromise of not depriving yourself while still complying to your numbers.

8. Wherever you get your starting macros from, keep in mind that these numbers are solely based on estimates. Your given number may or may not work in real world scenario, so it may or may be adjusted. If it’s working, leave it alone. Changing something for the sake of change is just as bad as not changing something when it needs to be changed.

9. What about alcohol? While it makes sense to just factor the alcohol calories, already lean people are better off using Martin Berkhan’s guide to alcohol. This is because from energy substrates standpoint, this is the superior strategy to be implemented when maintaining low body fat levels. If you’re just a recreational dieter who is not really concerned about walking ripped everyday, just factor it within your calorie budget.

For now, these are some of the basic tips that I could think of and I will constantly update this blog. If you can think of other tips, please post them in the comments section below.

Share and enjoy!

How to make time for exercise


In our modern lifestyle, including a regular exercise program can be another job for most people. It seems like it is a luxury only few people can afford. Well, this is at least how most people perceive the proper implementation of exercise in their lifestyle. Exercise is important, but one doesn’t have to revolve their lives around it. We often hear fitness gurus perpetuating training hard which is a very vague phrase to begin with.

You know, there is something that I realized at the end of year 2013 and this is hard work is important; but perhaps, working on the right thing is more important than working hard alone. We often hear successful people saying that they are successful due to hard work which is probably true. But they often forget the fact that they are successful because they also worked hard on the right thing.

Now, let us translate this in the fitness world. Many people whose New Years resolution is probably to become fitter, achieve a healthier, a fitter body or what have you, but they always neglect to factor the importance of context specificity! What is context specificity? It simply means having a goal and selecting the proper methods to meet the requirements for that goal be it diet or training or both. See, this is important because you can name so many people who are training hard in the gym yet they are going nowhere. This is simply because for several years, we have been brainwashed by many fitness bullshits what real training hard means in reality. Backpedal long to what I said above, training hard is important. But training for the right thing is more important than training hard alone.

Many people up to this date believe that they need to spend 6 days a week in the gym to achieve results. Unless you are an athlete or someone who doesn’t have responsibilities outside the gym, this is impractical in reality! This is perhaps one of the reasons why people were afraid to venture into a fitter lifestyle; they are afraid to be committed. They are scared on the fact that they will start and will eventually quit. Personally, I work double jobs, I have a family to support, I also get tired yet I still manage to incorporate exercise in my lifestyle. Your exercise program doesn’t have to be a chore itself. For body recomposition goal, 2-3 times a week doing some heavy weight training is sufficient enough for most people to see drastic changes in their physique.

In terms of diet, modern technology is making dieting even easier that is why I eat by numbers. In my context, this is just the most appropriate method to meet my personal fitness goal. In case you are wondering, it only takes me extra 2-3 minutes a day to both weigh and log my food intake. It’s not as difficult nor complicated as most people think. Take advantage of technology.

Now, before you sign up for the next Zumba class and your goal is to become lean and toned, think about reassessing your plan instead. The problem about finding time for exercise is actually not finding time itself, but the way people perceive it’s real life translation. Unless you are a real couch potato who has no other physical activities outside the gym, then going to the gym everyday may apply to you.

Share & enjoy!