IIFYM diet technique

IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros,”. This dieting technique involves counting the number of macronutrients, rather than calories, that a person is consuming.

Unlike diets that involve food restriction, proponents describe IIFYM as a flexible diet that can help people lose weight without drastically changing their eating habits.

Little research has investigated the diet, so its effectiveness has not been scientifically established.

In general, many people can lose weight by eating smaller portions, choosing less energy-dense foods, and increasing their physical activity. This does not have to occur as part of a dietary fad.

In this article, we describe how to follow the IIFYM diet and include potential benefits and risks.

What is the IIFYM diet?

Person writing down macronutrients for iifym diet
People following the IIFYM diet keep track of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

The IIFYM diet hinges on the idea that eating fewer calories than the body requires — while still consuming enough protein, carbs, and fats — results in weight loss at a steady and predictable rate.

People following the IIFYM diet keep track of these three macronutrients:

The diet groups fiber with carbohydrates.

A person can consume these macronutrients in varying combinations, as long as the amounts do not exceed the body’s macronutrient needs for the day. This means that, if the calculation balances out, a person can eat any type of food, while still meeting their health or weight loss goals.

How to start with the IIFYM diet

Following the IIFYM diet involves:

  • calculating how many calories you need to maintain your current weight
  • determining how many calories to cut for the desired weight loss
  • grouping these calories by macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats

The targets and figures vary, based on factors such as age, sex, weight, height, and activity levels.

Start by using the calculator on the IIFYM website or by following the steps below:

Step 1: Calculate current calorie needs

A person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), or resting metabolic rate, is the amount of energy, in calories, that their body needs at rest for 24 hours. This energy goes toward essential functions, such as breathing, circulation, and body temperature.

A person can determine their BMR with an online calculator that uses the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation.

To manually calculate BMR:

  • for men, BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
  • for women, BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

Step 2: Adjust calorie needs for activity level

The next step involves factoring in the average physical activity level, as this affects the number of calories that the body uses. This measurement is called total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

A person can calculate their TDEE using an online calculator, which automatically factors in their BMR. The IIFYM website also provides a TDEE calculator.

Step 3: Adjust calorie needs for desired weight

Subtract 15–20 percent of the TDEE to find out, according to the IIFYM website, how many calories a person should eat per day to achieve their weight loss goals.

Step 4: Determine macro needs per day

The final step is to divide the resulting value into what the website calls “adjusted macros.” This will determine how many macros a person needs, based on their current body weight:

  • protein: calculate this intake at around 0.7–1.0 grams (g) per pound (lb) of body weight
  • fat: calculate at about 0.25–0.4 g per lb of body weight
  • carbohydrates: this value comprises the remaining calories from the adjusted macros score

Sticking to IIFYM in the long term

To follow the IIFYM diet, a person must determine how many macros they are consuming at each meal and track their daily intake to ensure that it is close to their adjusted goal.

For more accurate results, a person may consider using a digital scale to weigh food.

Many macro-friendly recipes are available online. The IIFYM website provides a range of meal plans, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and desserts.

Benefits of IIFYM

The possible benefits of the IIFYM diet include:

Flexibility

Man and woman eating lunch together outside
The IIFYM diet aims to make meals enjoyable and stress-free.

The IIFYM website promises “no more dieting” and “no more restrictions.” It is advertised as a more flexible dieting stylebecause it incorporates more foods than many other diets.

It encourages people to eat diverse foods, as long as they do not exceed their macro targets.

The aim of the IIFYM diet is to make meals more enjoyable, and meal planning less stressful, which may increase the likelihood of sticking to the diet.

Losing weight

A person usually loses weight if they burn more calories than they take in. This often involves cutting around 500–750 calories each day. People may achieve this by following the IIFYM diet.

Similarly, increasing calorie consumption leads to weight gain. People looking to gain weight may also be able to meet their goals with IIFYM.

May benefit those unable to exercise

Because IIFYM takes physical activity levels into account when calculating macros, a person who gets limited or no exercise may find the diet useful.

Negatives of IIFYM

The IIFYM diet may have the following drawbacks:

No focus on micronutrients

Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are as important as macronutrients for health and development, but the IIFYM diet does not account for their intake.

The body does not produce micronutrients, so a person must obtain them from their diet. A person following the IIFYM diet may not be getting enough of these vital nutrients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 billion people worldwide have micronutrient deficiencies.

Macro calculations are not flexible

People may have difficulties adjusting their macro requirements to account for changes such as illness, recovering from injury, and breastfeeding.

For instance, research indicates that following an illness, the body needs more calories and protein, namely 1.5–2.0 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, to make up for the loss of lean body mass and to promote recovery.

Takeaway

Proponents advertise the IIFYM diet as a flexible method of weight loss. It involves counting macronutrients — proteins, carbohydrates, and fats — instead of calories.

However, little scientific research has looked into its effectiveness.

People following the diet must be sure to consume enough micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

If a person uses more calories than they consume, they are likely to lose weight. An individual can do this by following a healthful diet, reducing portion sizes, and getting more physical activity.

For best results, and to ensure that their dieting plan is healthful, a person may wish to consult a healthcare professional.

New Obesity procedure

New obesity procedure appears to also reduce muscle mass.  A study about a new obesity procedure for the treatment of obesity has raised some concerns. This is because, while the treatment leads to weight loss, the pounds a person sheds consist of skeletal muscle as well as fat. Also, body fat loss seems to be mainly of the subcutaneous — as opposed to the riskier visceral — type.
obesity procedure doctor taking measurements of obese man
Visceral fat can harm health, and some people with obesity resort to surgical procedures to remove it.

Skeletal muscle is necessary for good health; its loss can result in not only physical problems, but it can also impair metabolism and raise the risk of injury.

Visceral fat is the type of fat that surrounds the organs deep inside the abdomen. Doctors have linked carrying too much of it to health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The new obesity procedure is called left gastric artery embolization. Interventional radiologists have been using it for decades to stop bleeding in emergencies.

However, the idea of using gastric artery embolization to treat obesity is new, and clinical trials are currently evaluating its safety and effectiveness for such a purpose.

The aim of the new obesity procedure treatment is to reduce the effect of an appetite hormone by injecting microscopic beads to block an artery that supplies blood to the stomach.

The study’s findings featured recently at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that is currently taking place in Chicago, IL.

Need for new cost-effective, low-risk obesity procedures

Study lead author Dr. Edwin A. Takahashi, who is a vascular and interventional radiology fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, explains that a lot of research has shown that gastric artery embolization can achieve weight loss.

“However,” he adds, “there has been no data on what is contributing to the weight loss, whether the patients are losing fat, as desired, or muscle mass, or some combination of the two.”

Obesity is a significant global public health issue with links to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other serious illnesses and health problems.

Rates of obesity and being overweight have almost tripled worldwide over the last 40 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO estimates for 2016 suggest that being overweight affects more than 1.9 billion of the world’s adults. This figure includes some 650 million adults with obesity.

While changes to lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity can work, for many people, these are not enough, and they opt to undergo weight-loss operations that reduce the size of the stomach.

Such surgical procedures have proved effective as treatments for obesity, but they are costly and carry risks and complications.

Left gastric artery embolization

Left gastric artery embolization — if found to be effective and safe — could offer people a less invasive option for the treatment of obesity.

The obesity procedure involves injecting microscopic beads into the artery that delivers blood to the stomach. The radiologist inserts a catheter either in the wrist or groin and uses imaging to reach the artery.

Once released into the artery, the microbeads block the flow of blood through the smaller blood vessels to the stomach. This has the effect of reducing production of ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone.

Early trials have shown promising results that the procedure can help people lose weight. However, there is little information about where the weight loss comes from, and how it affects body composition of fat and muscle.

Dr. Takahashi and his team examined computed tomography scans of 16 overweight people, some with obesity, who had undergone left gastric artery embolization to stop bleeding.

With help from special software that analyzes tissue density, they assessed fat and muscle composition on scans taken before and about 1.5 months after the treatment.

Results raised some concerns by new obesity procedure

All 16 of the individuals who underwent embolization lost a significant amount of weight afterward. On average, they lost 6.4 percent of their body weight in the ensuing 1.5 months.

Their body mass index (BMI) fell by 6.3 percent over the same period.

The weight loss came as no surprise to the researchers; however, what did surprise them was the alteration in body composition.

They calculated that skeletal muscle index reduced by 6.8 percent. This index reflects the quantity of muscle in the body that is attached to bone and helps the movement of limbs and other body parts.

Loss of skeletal muscle can not only reduce physical function, but it can also damage metabolism and raise the risk of injury.

“The significant decrease in the amount of skeletal muscle,” says Dr. Takahashi, “highlights the fact that patients who undergo this procedure are at risk for losing muscle mass and need to be managed accordingly after [the] procedure.”

We must make sure they receive adequate nutrition to minimize the amount of muscle tissue they lose.”

Dr. Edwin A. Takahashi

The results also showed that the individuals lost a lot of body fat; there was an average drop of 3.7 percent in body fat index.

However, most of the body fat loss was due to the reduction in subcutaneous fat. Loss of visceral fat was insignificant over the follow-up.

Subcutaneous fat is all over the body under the skin. Visceral fat is fat that surrounds the organs deep in the abdominal cavity.

Science “has been distinctly linked” carrying excessive amounts of visceral fat to several health problems and conditions. These include impaired metabolism, insulin resistance, increased risk to certain cancers, prolonged hospitalization, and higher risk of complications.

The team now want to focus further studies on individuals who undergo left gastric artery embolization specifically to treat obesity.

Obesity versus Depression

Is depression the cause of obesity or is obesity the cause of depression? Although depression and obesity often come hand in hand, the relationship between the two is difficult to tease apart. A new, large-scale genomic study adds new evidence.

Pensive woman ponders obesity
The relationship between depression and obesity is complex.

Both excessive weight and depression are significant global health problems. According to the authors of the latest research, they cost the global economy trillions of dollars every year.

Previous studies have noted that depression often appears in individuals who are overweight or obese.

However, observational studies have not been able to demonstrate whether obesity causes depression, as there are many competing factors to consider.

For instance, being grossly overweight is a risk factor for a number of conditions, and so it might be that dealing with other health issues increases the likelihood of becoming depressed, rather than the obesity being the cause.

Some researchers have argued that the relationship might be the other way around: depression is a risk for obesity.

Others believe that depression and obesity exacerbate each other. For instance, obesity might make depression more likely to occur initially, but once depressive symptoms arise, they might compound the condition by making it harder for the individual to exercise. In these cases motivation of the individual would be a great place to start.

Obesity and depression revisited

To gain a better understanding of this complicated relationship, researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom joined forces with scientists from the University of South Australia. They published their results in the International Journal of Epidemiology this week.

“Obesity and depression are both global health problems that have a major impact on lives and are costly to health services,” explains lead author Dr. Jess Tyrrell. “We’ve long known there’s a link between the two, yet it’s unclear whether obesity causes depression or vice versa, and also whether it’s being overweight in itself or the associated health problems that can cause depression.”

The study used genetic data to inspect the causal relationship between excessive weight and depression. The team wanted to understand whether a higher body mass index (BMI) was related to an increased risk of depression without the presence of other health conditions.

The researchers used genetic and medical data from 48,000 people with depression and compared it with in excess of 290,000 controls, making it the largest study to address this question to date.

Psychological impact to blame?

Overall, as expected, a higher BMI was associated with higher odds of depression. This association was stronger in women than men, confirming earlier findings. Women with a high BMI had a 21 percent increase in risk, compared with 8 percent in men.

By investigating individuals with genes predisposing them to obesity but without ones that predispose them to metabolic conditions, such as diabetes — referred to as a “favorable metabolic profile” — the researchers could separate out the psychological component of obesity.

In their analysis, they accounted for a range of variables that could influence the results, including socioeconomic position, alcohol consumption, smoking, and physical activity.

They found that individuals with a favorable metabolic profile were just as likely to develop depression as individuals with obesity that carried genes predisposing them to develop metabolic conditions. This effect was most pronounced in women.

To double-check their findings, they also took data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. And their second analysis returned similar results, adding further weight to their conclusions.

“Our robust genetic analysis concludes that the psychological impact of being obese is likely to cause depression.” Dr. Jess Tyrrell

These results provide vital insight, as Dr. Tyrrell explains, “This is important to help target efforts to reduce depression, which makes it much harder for people to adopt [healthful] lifestyle habits.”

However, the relationship between the two is convoluted, and questions remain. As the authors write, “we have not ruled [out] a possible bidirectional causal relationship between higher BMI and depression […] Further research is required to explore the causal role of depression on body mass index and obesity.”

Because depression and obesity can have profound impacts on individuals and society at large, scientific attention is likely to continue to look at their links.

Move More for Better Health

Please move more, even just a little bit, say new Physical Activity Guidelines.

Bicycling allows one to move more

It’s now easier than ever to get your recommended amount of exercise, according to new physical activity

guidelines released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While the total number of minutes per week has not changed, one important detail has: Now, the government says, every little bit of activity—even just one or two minutes at a time—counts. In other words: Please move more!

The update, officially known as the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, was announced at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting. Previously, the guidelines stated that physical activity must be done in increments of 10 minutes or more to count toward your weekly total.

“Some physical activity is better than none,” the updated guidelines state. “Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.”

The change is important, experts say, because many Americans simply aren’t meeting the guidelines set for adults—to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity, per week. According to research published in JAMA with the guidelines, only 26% of men and 19% of women are getting that much.

RELATED: Five exercises which burn more calories

The guidelines (original and updated) recommend that children ages 6 to 17 get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day, but only 20% of adolescents meet the recommendations for their age groups. And now, for the first time, the guidelines make a recommendation for children ages 3 to 5—that they should be physically active throughout the day.

“The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving more—anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active,” said Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health, in an HHS press release. The guidelines cite research suggesting that an estimated $117 billion in annual health care costs, and about 10% of premature deaths, are associated with not meeting these daily and weekly activity goals.

They also list several benefits of physical activity that have been discovered since the initial Physical Activity Guidelines were introduced in 2008. These include improved bone health, weight status, and cognitive function for children; reduced risk of eight types of cancers (up from two in 2008); brain health benefits; reduced anxiety and depression risk; improved sleep quality; and reduced risk of falls for older adults. Physical activity can also reduce the risk of health complications for pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions.

Ideally, the guidelines say, adults should get a mix of different types of activity, including moderate aerobic activity (like walking), vigorous aerobic activity (like running), and muscle-strengthening activities (like weight training). All three of these activities are good for your muscles and for your heart, research shows. For example, a recent University of Iowa study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that lifting weights can reduce risk of heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70%, and it took less than one hour a week to see the biggest benefits.

RELATED: Make exercising a habit today

The new guidelines also acknowledge that there are immediate health benefits attainable from a single bout of activity—such as reduced anxiety and blood pressure, improved sleep quality, and improved insulin sensitivity. Overall, the guideline authors wrote in JAMA, the evidence is clear: “Physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.”

Of course, most health experts have been singing this tune for quite a while—and we’ve long been proponents of the idea that it is important to move more as every little bit of exercise counts. That’s why it’s so important to sit less, at work and at home; to take more steps every day; move more and to find creative ways to sneak in physical activity, even when you’re not doing an official heart-pumping, sweat-inducing workout.

Body Mass Index Measurement

This post deals with measuring Body Mass Index (BMI) for adults, children, and teens. Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of body size. It combines a person’s weight with their height. The results of a BMI measurement can give an idea about whether a person has the correct weight for their height. 

BMI (Body Mass Index) is a screening tool that can indicate whether a person is underweight or if they have a healthy weight, excess weight, or obesity. If a person’s Body Mass Index is outside of the healthy range, their health risks may increase significantly.

Carrying too much weight can lead to a variety of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.  In a previous post, we offered five simple exercises which can help a person achieve some of their weight goals.

A weigh that is too low can increase the risk of malnutrition, osteoporosis, and anemia. The doctor will make suitable recommendations.

Body Mass Index does not measure body fat directly, and it does not account for age, sex, ethnicity, or muscle mass in adults.

However, it uses standard weight status categories that can help doctors to track weight status across populations and identify potential issues in individuals.

BMI (Body Mass Index) in adults

Body Mass Index calculator shows healthy weight
A BMI chart or calculator can show a person if they have a healthy weight.

Calculating BMI involves measuring a person’s height and body weight.

 

Metric

  • To calculate BMI in metric units, use the following method: BMI = kg/m2
  • So, to calculate an adult’s BMI: Divide their weight in kilograms (kg) by the square of their height in meters (m2)

Since most people measure height in centimeters (cm), divide height in cm by 100 to get height in meters.

Imperial

  • When using imperial units, the formula is: BMI = lbs x 703/in2
  • In other words: Multiply a person’s weight in pounds (lbs) by 703. Then divide by their height in inches, squared (in2)

To avoid using the math, a person can use a calculator or a chart to find their BMI.

BMI calculator

Enter height or weight in either imperial or metric measurements to find your BMI.

1) Metric BMI Calculator

2) Imperial BMI Calculator

BMI charts

People can also work out their BMI using a chart. Click here to see a chart provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Locate your height in inches on the side of the chart, then look across to find your body weight in pounds. Scan to the top to see if the result corresponds to a normal weight, overweight, or obesity.

Understanding the results

The following table shows the standard weight status categories associated with BMI ranges for adults.

BMI Weight status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5–24.9 Healthy
25.0–29.9 Overweight
30.0 and above Obese

BMI of less than 18.5

A BMI of less than 18.5 indicates that you are underweight, so you may need to put on some weight. You are recommended to ask your doctor or a dietitian for advice.

BMI of 18.5–24.9

A BMI of 18.5-24.9 indicates that you are at a healthy weight for your height. By maintaining a healthy weight, you lower your risk of developing serious health problems.

BMI of 25–29.9

A BMI of 25-29.9 indicates that you are slightly overweight. You may be advised to lose some weight for health reasons. You are recommended to talk to your doctor or a dietitian for advice.

BMI of over 30

A BMI of over 30 indicates that you are heavily overweight. Your health may be at risk if you do not lose weight. You are recommended to talk to your doctor or a dietitian for advice.

BMI in children and teens

In adults, BMI values are not linked to age and are the same for both sexes.

However, measuring Body Mass Index in children and teens is slightly different. Girls and boys develop at different rates and have different amounts of body fat at different ages. For this reason, BMI measurements during childhood and adolescence take age and sex into consideration.

Doctors and other health professionals do not categorize children by healthy weight ranges because:

  • they change with each month of age
  • male and female body types change at different rates
  • they change as the child grows taller

Doctors calculate BMI for children and teens in the same way as they do for adults, by measuring height and weight. Then they locate the BMI number and person’s age on a sex-specific BMI-for-age chart. This will indicate whether the child is within a healthy range.

Calculator and charts for child and teen Body Mass Index

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have produced a calculator that provides BMI and the corresponding BMI-for-age percentile on a CDC growth chart for children and teens.

First, click here for the calculator.

Next, use the charts to see if a child’s weight is suitable for their age.

Click here for the charts:

What do the results mean?

The following categories explain the meaning of the results:

Weight status category Percentile range
Underweight Below the 5th percentile
Healthy weight 5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile
Overweight 85th to less than the 95th percentile
Obesity Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile

How doctors use BMI

BMI is not accurate enough to use as a diagnostic tool, but it can screen for potential weight problems in adults and children.

If someone has a high or low BMI, a doctor or other healthcare professional might then consider other factors, such as:

  • skinfold thickness measurements, which indicate how much fat is in the body in adults and children
  • evaluations of diet and physical activity
  • discuss any family history of cardiovascular disease and other health problems
  • recommend other appropriate health screenings

The doctor or healthcare professional can then make diet and exercise recommendations based on these results.

Health risks of extra weight

Excess weight has the following effects on the body:

  • It increases how hard the heart has to work.
  • It raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • It lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol levels.
  • It can make diabetes and other health problems more likely.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), carrying extra weight can increase the risk of the following conditions:

  • hypertension, or high blood pressure
  • dyslipidemia, which involves high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides
  • type 2 diabetes
  • coronary heart disease
  • stroke
  • gallbladder disease
  • osteoarthritis
  • sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • some cancers, including endometrial, breast and colon cancer

Carrying extra weight as a child or teenager can also pose significant health risks, both during childhood and into adulthood.

As with adult obesity, childhood obesity increases the risk of various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

The American Heart Association (AHA), point out that children with a high BMI also have a higher risk of:

Benefits of a healthy weight

Walking with the family helps Body Mass Index levels
Walking with family or friends can be an enjoyable way of keeping fit and preventing unwanted weight gain.

Apart from reducing the risk of the health conditions, maintaining a healthy weight offers additional benefits:

  • fewer joint and muscle pains
  • increased energy and ability to join in more activities
  • improved regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • reduced burden on the heart and circulatory system
  • improved sleep patterns

Other measures of a healthy body

BMI is a useful tool, but it cannot identify whether a person’s weight is made up of muscle or fat.

For example, an athlete with a lot of muscle tissue may have a higher BMI than a person who is not very active. But, this does not mean that the athlete is overweight or unhealthy.

In addition, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure are more likely to occur in people who have additional fat — known as visceral fat — around their middle rather than their hips.

Other measures of body size include waist-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and body composition, which measures body fat and lean body mass. These measurement systems focus more on the amount of fat a person has and its distribution around the body.

Together with BMI, these additional measures can help to assess more accurately the health risks associated with an individual’s weight.

Takeaway

Body Mass Index can be a useful screening tool for predicting certain health risks. However, people should use it with caution, as it does not take other factors — such as activity levels and body composition — into account.

For children and teens, it is important to include their age and sex when taking a BMI measurement, because their bodies continuously change as they develop.