Jun 29, 2018
Meeting in the Middle, Part Four
Gillean Barkyoumb

Over the last three weeks, we’ve talked about the advantages and disadvantages of the “If It Fits Your Macros” diet and how to implement it. In our last installment, we profile specific food plans on the diet.

Part One of this article (on advantages) can be found here.

Part Two of this article (on disadvantages) can be found here.

Part Three of this article (on giving it a try) can be found here.


Andy is a 185-pound baseball player trying to lose 15 pounds of body fat on the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet during the offseason. His total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is 2,733 calories.

To lose fat, Andy will need to reduce his calorie intake. Decreasing total calories by about 500 a day is a good starting point for targeting fat loss because it supports a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds per week. For Andy, this means reducing his daily intake to 2,233 calories.

Now it’s time to convert calories into appropriate macronutrient amounts for Andy. Because he wants to lose body fat and lean up, he starts with the higher end of the recommended protein range (35 percent of total calories), in the middle of the fat range (20 percent), and lower on the carbohydrate range (45 percent). Using these figures, his daily macro values are:

• Protein: 781 calories or 195 grams

• Fat: 446 calories or 50 grams

• Carbohydrates: 893 calories or 223 grams.

After two months of following the IIFYM program and tracking his intake, Andy loses 10 pounds of fat and starts to notice more muscle definition in his arms and legs. Flexible dieting allows Andy to pursue his goal while still enjoying some of his favorite indulgent foods on the weekends.

As the season approaches and two-a-day workouts begin, Andy works with his team dietitian to tweak his intake to include more carbohydrates for fuel (50 percent of total calories) and decrease protein (30 percent). While he is still working toward losing five more pounds, he wants to properly fuel his body for optimal performance during the season.


Sara is a 130-pound softball player trying to put on five pounds of muscle mass with the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet. Her total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is 2,331 calories.

To add muscle, a good starting point is to increase calories by 250 to 500 per day, with a goal of gaining half a pound to one pound of muscle per week. The key is to add weight gradually to avoid fat, rather than muscle, gain. Sara starts by increasing intake by 250 calories, so her total daily consumption is 2,581 calories.

Then, we convert calories into appropriate macronutrient amounts for Sara. Because she wants to increase muscle, she starts on the higher ends of the recommended protein range (30 percent of total calories) and carbohydrate range (50 percent), so she can have the energy needed to build muscle and fuel her workouts. Her fat intake will be in the lower range (20 percent). Her daily macro totals are:

• Protein: 774 calories or 194 grams

• Fat: 516 calories or 57 grams

• Carbohydrates: 1,290 calories or 322 grams.

To maximize muscle gain, Sara pairs her diet plan with an intense weight lifting regimen. She has great success for the first month but then injures her ankle and has to take two weeks off. While sidelined and fairly sedentary, she maintains the macronutrient ranges but decreases her total calorie intake to about 2,000 per day.

Now that she is cleared to get back into the gym, Sara will increase her intake in 250-calorie increments to avoid fat gain. Her goal is to get back to the initial plan of 2,581 calories once she can train at full intensity.

Image by nappy

Gillean Barkyoumb, MS, RD, is a nutritionist based out of Gilbert, Ariz., and the creator of MillennialNutrition.com, a site dedicated to exploring the shift in today's food culture.

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