This post is by OYS writer Sara Letsch. She’s been an OYS reader for years and I’m thrilled to have her writing for us. Sara is a foodie working to help others eat healthier through meal prep! She is also a fitness enthusiast who shares her experiences from her 100+ lb weight loss journey. You can find her on her blog Nymph In The Woods and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
If you have been into fitness for any length of time, you have probably heard of calorie-counting. The image that it brings to mind isn’t too pleasant, right? Obsessively calculating calories, restricting every bite of food, and depriving yourself of the foods you love are the first things that I usually hear others mention. And it certainly was my first experience with calorie counting as well.
My first try at calorie counting was over 10 years ago. Most of my memories of that attempt involve me being hungry and miserable. So when I really started getting into fitness many years later, I swore I would never do any sort of calorie-counting again. My story is just one of many similar ones out there, and it’s unfortunate. Because most of that misery comes from a lack of understanding of HOW to go about calorie counting.
Now, the basic “calories in < calories out = weight loss” is technically accurate. But this method, in my experience, causes the most frustration and failure, eventually leading to giving up. This is because not all calories are created equal. For an extreme example, the same amount of calories from candy is not going to fuel your body the as well as an equal amount from, say, vegetables. So when you are just looking at calories and nothing else, there are a lot of ways you can miss out!
Enter “If it fits your macros” (also known as IIFYM). Instead of just looking at calories in/calories out, you look at the amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates that you eat in a given day. The common starting ratio is 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat, though you can adjust these as you get comfortable and see what does your body best! (Full transparency – I didn’t determine my current ratio myself, my trainer did) For example, here is a basic day for me! I might add in another snack or some HaloTop later on if I want to, depending on what my lunch and dinner dishes were. These are two I had recently!
The great thing about this is that you are really looking at where you are getting your calories. Not only does this help you with reaching your fitness goals, but can help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day as well! Awareness of where your calories are coming from is so important to really feeling your best throughout the day!
How I Use IIFYM
Within IIFYM, there are really two “camps” – The first states that as long as the food fits in your macros, anything goes. The second leans more towards the quality of the food still being important, not just if it fits. I definitely fall into the second camp! While IIFYM does allow for more flexibility than some “diets,” I firmly believe you should aim for eating healthier options at least 80% of the time when possible.
One of the things I am really loving since starting IIFYM is that, after some trial and error, I’m no longer hungry all the time! Finding the right foods that work well for my body has taken some time and I’m still changing things up some, but fueling my body for my workouts has never felt better. I have more energy and am not constantly looking forward to the next time I get to eat something.
How to Plan Your Meal Prep
Planning out meal preps while following IIFYM takes some practice and extra time at first, but I promise, it does get easier. There are two tools I use the most to do that – Pinterest to find the recipes and MyFitnessPal to check if they will work with my macros! Since I’m pretty sure you are at least familiar with Pinterest, I’m going to jump straight to how I use MyFitnessPal to plan out my meal prep!
Once I have a recipe that I want to try, I head over to the MyFitnessPal website. Just a note, I do find it easier to do this on your computer in general. You can then go to “Recipes” and it has the option to either import a recipe using the URL or entering it manually. I almost always import the recipe, except for family recipes and such.
Once you have the basics in, it will try to match ingredients. Sometimes this can mean re-entering things on the next page and searching a bit, but the database on there is pretty great! Just a word of caution: These are entered in by users, so pay attention to the nutritional information! Most of the time they are right, but sometimes they are downright crazy.
Once you finish the recipe and save it, you will be able to see a “label” of nutritional information similar to one you would see on a package. I will usually scan over these and check to see if anything (usually the carbs) is super high or anything. If everything looks good, I keep the recipe and it is one I might include in my prep!
Along with the recipe import function, I love that you can “test” your food plan for the day. I like to check what I would most likely be eating for a regular day and see how the overall day looks – If one meal is a lot higher in calories than others, if everything still falls within my macros once it’s all said and done. This can be a great way to check things BEFORE you actually do your shopping and meal prep!
It takes some practice, but doing IIFYM and utilizing MyFitnessPal can help you so much towards hitting your fitness goals and keeping your eating on track throughout the whole week! Have you tried IIFYM?
What was your experience with it? If not, what is stopping you from trying it out? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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