First, let me preface this post with a few points:
I am NOT an expert, nor do I claim to be, on nutrition - I've simply done my research and will link to more knowledgable sources.
I do not think any method is "right" or "wrong", but rather I have found what works for me.
I practice a combination of IIFYM, Clean Eating, and Intuitive Eating because you don't have to pick just one! All are explained below.
My Food Lifestyle - or, my Diet-style!
Okay, so you've heard "abs are made in the kitchen" - well, what does that mean? Should I only eat veggies? But what about my sweet tooth? Do I just have to stop eating all together?!
The answer to those questions? No, no, and no! The motto of my diet-style is balance and moderation. Food to fuel my fitness goals, as well as my inner foodie! Okay, but what does that actually look like? A combination of IIFYM, Clean Eating, and Intuitive Eating, all explained below.
IIFYM - "If It Fits Your Macros" or "Flexible Dieting"
IIFYM focuses on intake amounts of the three macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbs. This method focuses on macronutrient portions and allows you to affect your body's makeup/composition via that macronutrient portion intake. Thus, depending on your goals, you will eat a set amount of carbs, fats, and protein to help reach those goals. For a further explanation, I believe this article from Pretty Fit does a great job of explaining the nitty gritty!
Another theory behind IIFYM is, simply put, a carb is a carb. Whether that carb is from veggies or bread or a donut, a carb is a carb. Thus, IIFYM says that is does not matter where that macronutrient comes from, as long as it "fits your macros." As long as those foods fit into your daily macros, you're good. This is supposed to allow you to fit in the foods you love and not restrict yourself. So, no sweet tooth breakdowns like I used to have. Now, I don't feel guilt for allowing myself to eat sweets, in moderation, because I can fit those sweets into my macros!
I have found a lot of success with IIFYM because, for me, it's sustainable (yay for incorporating sweets guilt free!) and educational. I've learned what portion sizes really look like. Because of IIFYM, I bought a food scale and learned what portions really look like. That "serving" of peanut butter you're eating... well, I hate to break it to you, but you're likely eating a serving and a half, which means you're eating 100 more calories in a day than you thought.
To calculate your macros, I suggest using an Online Macro Calculator as a starting point. After finding my macros, use the app, "My Fitness Pal," to easily log food and keep track of the my macros. Personally, I like to pre-plan my food the day before, so I'm sure to fit in any (food) events I know I have, any treats I want to eat, etc. Furthermore and as mentioned, I weigh out my food with a food scale to ensure I'm accurately hitting my macros! I won't do this forever, but this has been a great tool for me to learn what portion sizes actually look like.
So, you're saying you just eat Oreos, cake, and donuts now as long as they fit your macros?
Well, technically yes BUT micronutrients are just as important! I love micronutrient dense food like fruits, veggies, lean meats, legumes and these are a few reasons why:
As stated, they're full of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals - and hello, health is important!
They make me feel good - not heavy and bleh like eating cookies 24/7 would.
VOLUME. You know how much zucchini you can eat instead of eating an oreo? Answer: A LOT MORE. As a girl who likes to eat, micronutrient dense food is heaven.
My best practice is balance. I try to eat 80% "clean" foods and 20% "fun" foods. And, here are some of my staple foods that fall under each of those categories for me, personally, and under each Macronutrient - however, some foods fall into multiple categories:
Proteins: Chicken Breast, Lean Ground Turkey, Egg Whites, Cottage Cheese, Greek Yogurt, Protein Powder
Fats: Whole Eggs, Natural Peanut Butter (ingredients: only peanuts, no oil), Turkey Bacon, Avocados
Carbs: Steel Cut Oats, Sprouted Grain Bread, Butternut Squash, Apples, Berries, Sweet Potatoes, Zucchini, Broccoli, Riced Cauliflower
Proteins: Protein Bars like RXBars, Squarebars, etc.
Fats: Nuts 'N More High Protein Nut Butter, Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
Carbs: Kodiak Cakes Pancakes, Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookies
So, you log all of your food, weigh all of your food, and plan all of your food...do you have a life?!
Yes! I don't always do all of those things, however I do like to track my food during the weekdays. On weekends, I'm more about intuitive eating, which means eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm not, because I love going out to eat where it's near impossible to accurately track your food! I'm still conscious about macros, but MUCH more loosely and simply use them as guidelines.
Again, life is about balance and being smart about your food so that you CAN achieve your fitness goals and your foodie goals. Find what works for YOU and your diet-style does not have to match one single way of eating. Achieving my fitness goals is a big part of my life and the foods I put in my body help me achieve those goals. However, fitness isn't the only part of my life, so this diet-style works for me!
Moral of the story:
Life is about BALANCE in all things, including your diet. Find what works for you and listen to your body. Nourish yourself, your health, and your taste buds.