The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Eating Clean and IIFYM Revisited

 *Warning* I began writing this a few weeks ago and I've been coming and going with it because it turned into a much larger writing project than I originally anticipated. The information is still good, but some of the references may be just the slightest bit dated. Regardless, enjoy the info.*

So, because of recent publicity, my site has been getting a lot more traffic. This is great! But, it does leave people to ask the same questions that I've already answered, and after reading back on my posts about Eating Clean and IIFYM's, I decided that it could be beneficial to talk about it extensively once more. However, after finishing this post, I'm gonna be taking a break from explaining this...It's gotten to the point where I'm saying or typing this stuff everyday...and well, it's getting a little exhausting. I want to be helpful, but at a certain point, you just want to tell people to "Google it." Which I think is rude and not super helpful, neither of which I think is necessary behavior on my part, especially when people are just looking for help. So, behold, my attempts to be helpful.

IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

When People ask me what types of food I eat, I usually respond by saying "I eat all types of food!"

They look at me skeptically, think I am lying through my teeth, and then ask the following question:

"What did you eat to look like this?"

The thing is people assume to achieve a six pack and decent muscle mass that you have to eat sweet potatoes, broccoli, chicken breast and brown rice...Wrong.

To achieve this -

I ate lots of this....

and this...

oh, and this.

"Fuck you, Ol' Yeargain! Don't play with our hearts like that!

I would never! You can do this, too!!!! I promise you can. You can lose weight, gain muscle, and have it just six weeks if you buy THIS PROGRAM!

wait for it...


Nah, I'm just playing, I just rick rolled you hard. It will probably take much longer than six weeks, depending how far you are from your goals, but I'm truly a believer that IIFYM/flexible dieting is the most efficient way to lose weight while building strength and keeping your sanity.

What is IIFYM?

IIFYM: If it fits your macros. Meaning if it fits your allotted macro nutrients for the day.

I've decided that I suck at explaining this, so I'm going to borrow someone else's words in hopes of helping you guys understand it a little better. Here is an article by Mike Samuels, a writer, personal trainer, and online coach.

"IIFYM simply means eating a diet that meets your macronutrient needs.
To break it down and start from the beginning, macronutrients are the three main food groups – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each macronutrient has its own role to play, and is needed in different quantities depending on your goals, metabolism, training history, and many other factors.

The idea of IIFYM is simple – you eat whatever foods you like the fill your allotment of proteins, carbs and fats.

The idea is that your diet is far, far more flexible from those you might have seen advertised in “Big Biceps Weekly” magazine. You needn’t worry about sticking to only quote-un-quote clean foods, eating every two hours, or forcing egg whites and spinach down your throat just because your diet plan says so.

You still eat good, wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, but you have a lot more leeway in the process. Don’t fancy eating breakfast? Then don’t worry, just hit your macros by eating bigger meals the rest of the day. Going out for a meal at a burger joint? That’s fine – you’ll probably use up your whole day’s carb and fat allowance with the bun and fries, but you can compensate by relying on chicken, lean beef, protein shakes and non-starchy vegetables for the rest of the day. You might not want to do this every day of the week, but once in a while it’s no biggie.

Hate the taste of brown rice, wholemeal bread and sweet potatoes? No problem – eat the white varieties and just add in extra vegetables, beans or a fiber supplement to make sure you’re getting in enough of the good stuff."

I hate saying IIFYM or even saying the full "if it fits your macros" because it's really fuckin long or it's a tongue twister and it's become kind of cultish. I'm guilty of it too, posting pictures of all the kid food I eat on instagram (follow me @TheOperaBro). Ice cream and cereal and the like.

So, instead, some people call it "flexible dieting"...has a nice ring to it. I think this title better suits what we do.

Flexible Dieting

Ideally flexible dieting is best done when paired with weight lifting, and honestly it has the highest benefits to someone who regularly lifts weights (3-4 times a week). Why? Because it is a high Protein, High Carb, moderate fat based diet. It's the way body builders have been eating for decades, but it's only now that we're experimenting and discovering that our body doesn't really know where it's getting its calorie sources from, and to yield great results to your physique, you don't need to stick to "CLEAN FOODS"....which I will address in a moment

1.) Get your protein in.

People underestimate the power of protein in so many ways. They think bros eat shit tons of protein just so they can build mountains of muscle...well, some may, but protein has a layer of benefits.

A.) Protein synthesis:

"Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and muscle tissue. Protein is made up of 21 amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of life." - Fitness: The Complete Guide

B.) The Thermic Effect of Protein

I'm in a lazy/thieving mood. Here's more words from people smarter than Ol' Yeargain:

"Most studies measure diet-induced thermogenesis as the increase in energy expenditure above basal metabolic rate. Generally, the hierarchy in macronutrient oxidation in the postprandial state is reflected similarly in diet-induced thermogenesis, with the sequence alcohol, protein, carbohydrate, and fat. A mixed diet consumed at energy balance results in a diet induced energy expenditure of 5 to 15 % of daily energy expenditure. Values are higher at a relatively high protein and alcohol consumption and lower at a high fat consumption. Protein induced thermogenesis has an important effect on satiety
In conclusion, the main determinants of diet-induced thermogenesis are the energy content and the protein- and alcohol fraction of the diet. Protein plays a key role in body weight regulation through satiety related to diet-induced thermogenesis."

C.) High Satiation

As mentioned before ^, because of the thermic effect of food and the energy required to break down the compounds as well as the volume protein comes in, you can be very satiated with a high protein diet. It's hearty food and your body won't want the quick digesting sugary stuff to fill those caloric positions.

Recommended protein intake:

At least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, I've found the best results in myself with weight loss, muscle and strength gains when the number is at 1 gram for 1 pound of body weight if you're below 15% body fat. If you're around 20%, remove the amount of weight you'd like to lose. It's still excessive, but like I've said before: insures protein synthesis, helps with satiation and the rest that's not used will aid towards your glycogen stores.

2.) Fat's don't make you fat, but too many fats and a sedentary lifestyle will

Dietary fat and body fat have similar molecular structures, so they are easily stored as body fat. But, Fat is necessary. Your body needs it to help regulate hormones. Those who are chronically low on their fat intake typically have issues with their sex drive, have mood swings, etc. Fat is also an energy source, that's how all of those hardcore slow carb/no carb dieters fuction, they super compensate with fats. (Ineffectively so in my opinion, but I won't go there for now.) Fats are usually calorically dense foods that are low in volume. Nuts, butter, oil. That's why an oz of nuts is like 200 calories.

3.) Carbs, the most flexible part about flexible dieting.

Carbs aren't generally stored as fat unless there is a spill over of glycogen that isn't used for energy expenditure. But this changes every day and is very individual based. I generally eat about 300 - 400 grams of carbs a day. If my ma ate that many carbs, she would put on all kiiinnnds of weight. However, others would eat this and lose 2lbs. You have to figure out how your body works the most efficiently through trial and error. You'll find that sweet spot, it will just take some time.

My Recommendation: Use This Website (It's free), get an idea of the numbers you should shoot for, give them a try, monitor your weight, and adjust. If those numbers don't work, try flexing your carbs lower, if that doesn't get a response, try moving your fats lower. If that doesn't work, consult the internet.

The dark side of flexible dieting:

 Everything has it's price.

So, you have to practice self control with flexible dieting. You can't just gorge yourself on whatever you want and expect results, you have to count things and you have to count them correctly with either measuring cups but preferably with a food scale in order to get exact results. This is only really super important when you're in the lower body fat percentages trying to get to that next level of conditioning, but if you're just generally trying to lose weight, about a lb or 2 a week, you should be more than fine miscalculating a few things here and there.


My own personal trials with IIFYM:

Going out to eat.

If I'm losing weight consistently and I'm liking my progress, I don't go out to eat, because people that serve and make your food at restaurants aren't there to cater to your macro nutrient needs, they just want their food to taste good, so they'll splash some more butter in a pan or throw in some sugar into their homemade dressing. However, if I'm content with how I'm looking and want to give myself a break from the kitchen, I'll go out to eat, look up the calories for menu items online and track them that way.


As a former fat kid, I used to have trouble saying "enough is enough." Sweet food does trigger cravings in me. I usually combat this by making sure it's coming from pure carb sources. Fruits, veggies, even straight candy. That way if I do over indulge it will usually contribute directly to energy and my usually depleted glycogen stores.

The "Do it as you go."

A lot of people who practice flexible dieting like to keep some resemblance of spontaneity in their life and just choose what they want to eat as the day goes. Basically meaning that they'll be conscious of what they are going to eat from breakfast on, logging everything that they eat and making it fit within their macro needs. However, this sometimes leaves a person at the end of the day with something like 50 grams of protein 2 fats and 12 carbs. They are then left with the task of figuring out how they are going to hit those macros. (I'm thinkin late night omelette just off the top of my head - I've gotten good at this.) For ME, I like to have all of my meals planned out the night before so that I can have some decent meals throughout the day, and not just a few good eats randomly.

Side Note: Check out Van Brah (Body building coach and fitness personality) doing this segment called "Macro Wars." Funny as shit, and demonstrates that you can hit your macros even with McDonalds or Taco Bell.


"Eating Clean"

I think the best way to sum up people who "eat clean" is the following statement made by a friend...

"I feel like if I'm eating healthy I shouldn't have to track anything..."

You know, I wish this were true. I really really do. Why? Because sometimes weighing out shit and measuring it a lot is a pain in the ass and if I knew for certain that I could eat however much I wanted of a certain groups of food and look the way I do right now, I would destroy those foods night and day and then practice flexible dieting to satiate my sweet tooth.

BUT, that is not reality. The truth is that you can get FAT AS FUCK eating nothing but avacadoes, fish, vegetables, nuts and fruit. Or, at the very least, keep yourself from having the body you would like.

Some people got pissed at this picture. Accusing me of not obtaining any gains because of my child like dietary choices. Let's get this straight: Ol' Yeargain loves veggies, fruits, whole fuckin grains or whatever the fuck hippies love. I've rarely met a food I didn't love. Plus, I'm in a career where even a common cold could really fuck me. You think I'm gonna jeapordizs that so I can have cereal and ice cream?

You know why you need vegetables and fruits in your diet? Vitamins. Micro nutrients. Things that help replenish your body with things that will keep it healthy. You shouldn't sacrifice getting fruit and veggies in your diet for a tray of brownies...and really, who the fuck cares if you don't get all of your vitamins in for one day. I'm dead serious. If you have an overall balanced diet filled with lots of variety, this is a complete non issue.

A lot of people in the flexible dieting camp like to make fun of people with more classic, stricter diets. The classic "you're eating clean, eh? Are you spraying it with windex?" Joke is gettin a little stale for me, as I hear it or see it about a dozen times a day now, but at the same time, I grow very weary of the pompous nature of healthy eaters, especially when their body compositions are nothing short of complete crap. Half the reason a person should be on a diet is for general well being, but the other half should be performance and aesthetic based (in my opinion.)

There is also the debate about what "clean eating" is, because all the food groups have been demonized to extremes. At this point I'm convinced that everything and nothing has the power to give and cure cancer, dietarily speaking at least.

I'm going to post This article Here because I feel it does an accurate job explaining some of these absurdities.

"There is also no evidence that certain foods will accelerate fat loss at the same calorie intake, or that other foods will slow down or prevent fat loss. You could eat 43% of your calories from table sugar and still lose just as much fat as someone who only consumed 4% of their calories from sugar." - Armi Legge


Unless you have an allergy, eat a little bit of all the food groups and see what you like, have a balanced diet. Eat your fruits and veggies, and make sure you've got the fuel you need to perform well on stage or the gym, and have a fuckin cookie here and there to keep your head straight.

Until next time,
Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing it.

The Opera Bro

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