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The Definitive Guide to the “If It Fits Your Macros” Diet

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The Definitive Guide to the “If It Fits Your Macros” Diet

The “If It Fits Your Macros” diet is getting a lot of attention these days. What is it, exactly, and does it work?


If you lurk in any of the Internet bodybuilding communities, you’ve surely heard of people talking about “If It Fits Your Macros.”

And chances are many of the conversations were about eating junk food while dieting or pounding post-workout Pop Tarts or some such thing.

But is that all If It Fits Your Macros really is? An excuse to eat fast food and ice cream every day?

Is it just another fad that will come and go?

Well, let’s find out…

What the Hell is a “Macro?”

“Macro” is a contraction of “macronutrient,” which is defined as follows:

A macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Simple enough. Moving along.

What is the “If It Fits Your Macros” Diet?

If It Fits Your Macros, or IIFYM as the “cool crowd” calls it, is relatively new as a meme, but the dietary principles have actually been around for quite some time in the bodybuilding world, just under another name (flexible dieting).

IIFYM, or flexible dieting, is a method of dieting that revolves around meeting daily macronutritional intake targets, and not on what you eat to get there. 

That is, you plan your daily meals to provide you with so much protein, carbohydrate, and fat, based on your goal (lose fat or build muscle). It’s essentially a form of calorie counting (a gram of protein and carbohydrate both contain about 4 calories, and a gram of fat contains about 9).

For instance, I’m currently eating to maintain my body fat percentage while allowing for slow but steady strength and muscle growth, and my daily “macros” look like this:

200 grams of protein per day

300 grams of carbohydrate per day

80 grams of fat per day

(About 2,700 calories per day)

This caloric number gives my body more or less the energy it burns every day, which means my body fat percentage stays steady.

Now, here’s the part of If It Fits Your Macros that throws many people for a loop:

According to its principles, so long as I hit those numbers every day, the foods I eat to get there will not negatively affect my body composition.

My protein could come from 99% lean ground turkey or fatty ground beef, my carbs from sweet potatoes or candy, and my fats from olive oil or ice cream, and so long as I “hit my macros,” I will be able to lose fat or build muscle as desired.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, read on…

Does the “If It Fits Your Macros” Diet Work?

The short answer is yes, it absolutely works–flexible dieting is exactly what I go over and recommend in my books.

But let’s dive a bit deeper so you fully understand why it works, and how you can apply it optimally and successfully.

Let’s start with a quick discussion of “calories in, calories out” and how it relates to your body.

Your body burns a certain amount of energy every day, and this can be measured in calories. The energy in food can be measured in the same way.

A calorie is the amount of energy required to heat up one kilogram of water one degree Celsius.

Now, in order to lose fat, you need to feed your body less energy than it burns. When you do this, it must get the energy it needs from somewhere, and its “go to source” is its fat stores.

This is an absolutely irrefutable scientific fact. When we’re talking strictly weight loss, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of where it comes from.

You could eat nothing but Doritos and Twinkies every day and lose weight so long as you feed your body less energy than it burns.

Don’t believe me? Well, professor Mark Haub did just that and lost 27 pounds in 2 months.

The point is clear:

If all you want to do is lose some weight, calculate how many calories you burn every day, eat 20% less than that (keep yourself in what is known as a caloric deficit) and voila, you will lose weight regardless of what you eat to get those calories.

So then, why count macros instead?

Because a calorie is not a calorie when we’re talking body composition. 

What I mean is if you want to lose weight while also maintaining as much lean mass as possible, you need to do more than just maintain a caloric deficit.

(And in  case you’re worried that eating carbs will make you fat, check out my article on carbohydrates and weight loss to learn why this isn’t true.)

This is why counting macros is superior to counting just calories. It allows you to focus on improving body composition, not simply dropping or gaining pounds.

Now, just like with counting calories, what you eat to hit your macro targets is of secondary importance when we’re talking body composition.

In the end, the carbs in the Twinkie turn into glucose and glycogen just like the carbs in broccoli. The protein in the 5 Guys burger is made up of the same amino acids as the trimmed chicken breast.

That said, Twinkies are not the same as broccoli, and eating a bunch of 5 Guys meat every day is not a good idea. And this brings me to what I don’t like about the “If It Fits Your Macros” movement…

Using IIFYM to “Eat Junk and Get Shredded” is Stupid

Just because you can eat a box of Pop Tarts every day and lose weight doesn’t mean you should.

Remember that food is more than a mere source of protein, carbohydrate, and fat–it’s also our source of vital micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that support our body’s many physiological functions.

A major problem with candy and other sugary treats, many processed foods, fast food, and so forth is they’re horribly deficient in micronutrients. A major benefit of eating “clean” is it provides your body with an abundance of micronutrients.

If you eat too much junk food, and too few healthy foods, you will develop vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can cause many different health problems.


You don’t have to completely abstain from high-glycemic carbs, but it’s much smarter to rely mainly on medium- and low-GI options.

Sure, our bodies can use McDonalds burger patties to build muscle, and we could use flexible dieting to eat them every day, but is it worth the potential health risks?

There’s a reason why the Institute of Medicine recommends that our trans fat intake be “as low as possible.” The stuff is bad.

My point is health matters more than how you look. 

Being shredded doesn’t matter if your hormone profile is whacked, your immune system is suppressed, and your body is starving for nutrients.

The Proper Way to Use IIFYM Principles

The best way to use the principles of IIFYM, or flexible dieting as I prefer to call it, are as follows:

  • Get at least 80% of your daily calories from healthy (micronutrient dense) foods that you actually like.

One of the biggest problems people run into when dieting is they get to a point where they just can’t stomach chicken and steamed veggies anymore, and one taste of something savory leads to an all-out binge.

Well, the best way to avoid this is to simply eat healthy foods that you like every day. 

For instance, if you would rather have a steak than chicken, work it into your meal plan (adjust for the additional fat). If you really would like some whole wheat pasta (low-GI, great source of fiber), adjust your carbs for the day to allow for it. If some whole-fat Greek yogurt would really hit the spot, cut out the olive oil or cheese on your lunch salad to fit it in.

Oh and if you’re worried that eating healthy foods is too expensive, check out my article on eating healthy foods on a budget. It should help you out.

  • Don’t be afraid of little indulgences.

So long as the vast majority of your daily calories come from healthy foods full of micronutrients, feel free to include some non-nutritive treats if you so desire.

For instance, if you love chocolate, work some into your numbers for the day. If you’ve been eyeing that exquisite gelato for a couple of days now, don’t be afraid to make room for a couple hundred calories’ worth after dinner.

Personally, I get about 90-95% of my daily calories from healthy foods, but I’ll usually include some kind of little dessert every day in the form of a coconut ice cream product or some chocolate or what have you.

  • Don’t be afraid to play with your meal timing.

If the foods you like to eat tend to be more calorie dense, an easy way to work them into your macros is to reduce your meal frequency (thus allowing you to increase meal size).

Don’t be afraid to do this. You don’t have to eat protein every 2-3 hours to avoid “going catabolic.” Your metabolism won’t slow down if you eat 3 meals per day instead of 7.

I prefer to eat more, smaller meals every day, but that isn’t a dietary prerequisite. So long as you hit your daily macro numbers, doing it in 4 meals instead of 8, or vice versa, is totally fine.

So, that’s how flexible dieting works, and how to use it to free yourself from dietary dogmas of the past (no carbs, no sugar, lean proteins only, no junk food ever, eat every 2-3 hours, etc.).

I hope this helps you spice up your meal plans. Happy eating!


What do you think about flexible dieting? Have anything else you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below!


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Leave a Comment!
  • Geo

    Great article!

    • Michael Matthews


  • Jenny Leadem

    Great stuff. This is kind of what I’ve been doing all along. I try to eat as much healthy food as possible, but say I know I’m visiting my parent’s and I want to get a steak. Or maybe I really want a cheesy feast. I just cut out fat from other sources that day so I still hit my macros. The way you designed the diet plan in TLS it’s really easy to be flexible if you need to be.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jenny. Yup I do the same. Easy. :)

  • Gus

    How do you manage your time? You are truly a magnificent person. How you juggle everything you do is admirable. Thank you for putting together these relative informative site. And seriously: how do you manage your time? Doing all you do and answering every single email/message you get?

    • Sam L

      He has many Mike Matthew clones…can be the only realistic answer! Like that old Michael Keaton movie, except with MM, every subsequent clone has less body fat (see more recent photos!) ;)

      • Audrey

        I was wondering the same thing…the clones theory must be the answer

        • Michael Matthews

          Hahah ;)

      • Michael Matthews

        Lol I wish! I think I would take not having to sleep over that though…

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks Gus, I really appreciate it.

      I’m basically a schedule/habit robot. I treat my time like my diet and training I guess–I stick to a plan every day and just don’t deviate, regardless of what friends are doing, if I feel like slacking off, etc.

      I also work an average of 60-70 hours per week (Mon – Thurs 10-12 hours per day, Fri 8-9 hours, Sat 2 hours, Sun 10 hours). And when I’m working, I don’t do anything else–no distractions at all (no TV, no checking email every 5 minutes, ignore cell phone, no people come bother me, no Internet surfing, etc.).

      And last but not least I have 3 awesome peeps that work with me that all help with various things relating to Legion and MFL (although I write all articles and answer all emails and messages myself).

      • The Swiss Miss

        Blimey!! Respect to you! :-D

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks! :)

  • Chris McAuliffe

    Excellent points about if it fits in your macros. The idea that just restricting calories is enough to loose weight while sound is not a good at all. I mean if you have 5 pounds to loose then fine but most people have 15 plus to get rid of and already have terrible eating habits.

    Once you start eating as outlined in Mike’s books you will be amazed about how much better you feel and I have so much more energy. I can get out of bed at 5am and do a workout 3 or 4 times a week during the work week now without a problem.

    Before I was always tired and I dreaded workout time because I never had enough energy. Meal timing is also very important and if you do it right it also gives you the advantage of indulging in cheat foods or higher GI carbs post workout and it actually benefits your body! Awesome read!

    • Floyd Lerdahl

      Good point. If I eat sugary I feel terrible for my workouts. Doesn’t matter if the crap food doesn’t put me in a caloric surplus.

      • Quentin

        This is what it boiled down to for me. I cut out all the crap because I was sick of feeling like crap. For two minutes of pleasure, the downer afterwards just wasn’t worth it for me. Some people it just doesn’t effect as much – I envy them!

        • Michael Matthews

          Totally agree. I find that by getting the vast majority of my calories from healthy, nutrient-dense sources, the little bit of junk here and there has no negative effects.

      • Michael Matthews


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Chris!

      I totally agree that just focusing on calories isn’t ideal, and that’s awesome regarding your energy levels and workouts. I’m the same way (when I eat right, I need less sleep and have a lot of energy).

  • Gabe

    Thanks so much for this, Mike! You and authors like Anthony Colpo have really helped me to stop fearing carbs and educate me about the actual scientifically proven principles that dictate body composition.
    It’s really liberating to break away from so many of my food anxieties and weird beliefs.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Gabe! Really glad you like my work and keep enjoying the foods you like. :)

      • Gabe

        You’re a huge inspiration. I hope to see you get more and more attention and admiration for other fitness outlets and publications.

        Do you know of any resources that can calculate a meal plan based on macro inputs? Like if I determined I would like to get say 200 grams of protein, 500 grams of carbs and 90 grams of fat is there a service that collates that into the equivalent food sources?

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks again Gabe. I really appreciate the kind words. :)

          Hmm yeah this might be useful for you:


          • Gabe

            That’s awesome, Mike. Thanks so much. I was hoping for just that :)

          • Michael Matthews

            Great, you’re welcome!

  • Audrey

    Great article! This is something I think about a lot, and it makes sense that at the end of the day what matters in terms of building muscle/losing fat is what your macro targets are. But I still can’t help but think (and feel) that when I eat a piece of cake, ice cream, etc. it just goes straight to my butt to be stored as fat (even if I haven’t gone over my macro targets for the day). Maybe it’s a mental block :)

    So when you mention ‘cheat meals’ in your books, articles, etc. you’re referring to meals in which you go all out and eat above your macro targets? You wouldn’t consider a meal (or food) to be a cheat meal if it fits within your daily macros even if it’s unhealthy?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Haha yeah that’s really just psychological, trust me. If you’re eating a bunch of healthy food every day and want to have a couple hundreds calories of ice cream at night, go for it (just fit it in).

      Yes, a cheat meal is one that results in me going over my macros, or one that is junk food (sometimes I like to have a 5 Guys burger too ;). Usually both go together, haha.

      • Audrey

        Yeah I think that when I usually feel the most fat & flabby is probably when I’ve exceeded my macros. Like if I happen to have a cheat day instead of a cheat meal. That doesn’t happen too often, but when it does it feels like the extra fat takes forever to burn off- undo the damage so to speak. The psychological benefits of a cheat meal or day are undeniable. But I wonder if for some people (especially women) it takes a while to get back to baseline and continue on the fat burning/muscle building road.

        • Michael Matthews

          A cheat day can definitely be a problem, especially if is a high-fat day with alcohol. If you were to go low-fat and high-carb, it would do less damage.

          That said, it’s better to keep it to a meal because that prevents the all-out binges…

  • Laura

    I would have thought another issue with too much junk is the huge
    amount of salt that is usually found in these foods, which can’t be good
    for you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, that’s true. Sky-high sodium intake is definitely unhealthy.

  • Kenkussions

    I have been eating like this for a few months now and when people ask what I’m doing them don’t see how it can work. Most people think iifym allows you to eat whatever you want; however you will quickly find if you are truly trying to stick to a particular macro breakdown you run out of room for “junk” food rather quickly. For example, if I’m trying to get 200 grams of protein and 60 grams of fat a day (ignore carbs for the example) and i wanted to eat ground beef (90/10) instead of chicken. I would hit my 60 gram ceiling of fat with ground beef while only getting approx. 115 grams of protein. Whereas with chicken I could eat my 200 grams of protein and only have consumed 9-10 grams of fat. It’s all a balancing act and there is still give and take but I love the flexibility it brings especially to social situations.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, you’re totally right with proteins and fats. Quite a few people use IIFYM to pound junk carbs though, and that’s just not a good idea.

  • Filip

    It’s also way easier to manage your cravings when cutting if you eat more frequent, healthy meals. In other words, eating a lot of “chicken & broccoli” should keep you sated throughout the day whereas busting your macros bank with 200 cal worth of lasagna will leave you hungry and miserable.

    • Michael Matthews

      I agree–it’s my preferred way of eating as well.

  • Eddy

    I have started this style of diet for couple of weeks now, I followed the guidelines on iifym.com, one of the rule specifically says you need to have decent amount of fiber in every day’s diet, like one of the post from “Kenkussions” below, although there is the hype that you can get shredded by eating junk food, in fact, with all the requirements, you pretty much end up eating low gi and lots of vegetables and grain foods such as linseed bread and peas to make up for the fiber, and anything with fiber contributes to the daily carb intake as well. But in the end there will still be some amount of macros left for junk food, but I guess it’s still 90% clean eating if you follow the rules.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, fiber is important:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-much-fiber-should-you-get-every-day-and-why/

      And you’re doing it right. Some people “hack” the fiber recommendation by eating junk and supplementing with psylium husk, haha.

  • Quentin

    I’ve just noticed you manage to get 200 grams of protein daily. I struggle to get half of that! I weigh about 70 Kg and just manage to make 70-80 grams daily – and that includes taking a couple of protein shakes. I think this is why I’m not seeing as much gain as I would like. Being vegan, and trying to avoid soy, it’s so hard to get the protein intake up. Any suggestions? Thanks :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Oh yeah you definitely need to increase your protein intake.

      I recommend vegans rely on soy products such as organic tofu (lite and extra-lite are best) and tempeh, grains (quinoa and amaranth are probably the most popular) and legumes (with all types of beans being the most popular choice here).

      Supplementing with vegan protein powders, which are usually blends of proteins from rice, hemp, peas, and other sources, also makes balancing your numbers easier.

      • Quentin

        Thanks for that Mike. Very much appreciated.

        I’d never heard of amaranth before – which I’ll definitely have to try. I’m also tempted to try tempeh – but it’s quite hard to find in UK supermarkets.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! I’m not a big fan of amaranth’s taste, but some people really like it.

          Tempeh is good but you do want to limit soy intake.

          • Quentin

            I guess I may have to hide it in some soup or bean stew or something if I don’t like the taste either!

            Have you seen the documentary ‘Forks over knives’? I watched it last night and it was quite interesting – especially research done on casein in rats/mice. I avoided watching it for ages thinking it was going to be another heavily exaggerated documentary like ‘An inconvenient truth’ – but it was actually quite good. If you are ever bored one night, I recommend watching it (only if the porn is broke of course…) ;)

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah you could do that.

            No I haven’t but I’ve heard of it of course. I’ll check it out one of these days (when I run out of porn :P).

          • Quentin


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  • aaron

    Your calorie definition seems to be a little off. 1 calorie is equivalent to heating 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. Not 1KG of water 1 degree

    • Michael Matthews

      Actually that’s a small calorie. A “large calorie” is what we use for food purposes, and it’s 1 kg water 1 degree C. You can read more about this here:


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  • Kimball

    Amazing article love your writing!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thank you!

  • Lene Kjær

    Is it just as importància to hit your carbs every day, or is fat and protein more important? I am Having problems to hit all three macros every day, and I cant find prober information anywere… I once reda that you should go for fat and proteins at first, and then if you have some calories left by the end og the day, you could eat something/anything without worrying about the contents, as long as your fat and proteins were hit…. Is that true?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hitting protein is very important for obvious reasons and fats are important for overall health. Carbs are the least important in this regard, but healthy carbs come with dietary fiber and micronutrients, which matter.

      So while some people like to just hit protein and fats and then eat a bunch of junk carbs, this isn’t a healthy way to eat.

      • Lene Kjær

        But is it better to not hit your carbs then? I usually hit my proteins and my fats, but at the end of the Day I have alot of carbs left, so I an a vit confused og what to do?!

        • Michael Matthews

          No you want to hit your carbs for sure.

  • Flawless Artistry

    What about refeed days I keep hearing about? I’m a vegan and a lot of vegan proteins have more carbs and fat. I’m having a hard time hitting my macros and I’m fatigued from my workouts. Any advice?

    • Michael Matthews

      Refeeds are important if you’re trying to get under 10% or so, but otherwise aren’t particularly important.

      The more likely issue you’re running into is lack of protein and/or calories, and possibly overtraining…

  • DanM

    I do just as you say Matthew. I use an app on my phone called “MyMacros+” and 80-90% of the time I stick to so called “Clean” foods, but if I know I’m going to watch soccer with my mates tonight I take into consideration it might be difficult to get some clean food, so ease up on the carbs n fat earlier in the day to make way for what will most likely be a meal in higher carbs n fat and track it on my app, and that’s while I’m bulking!! Lol. Saves a lot of stress! Ha ha

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, that’s the way to do it. Easy!

  • elkie

    I like this principle of eating, agree with the previous comments, if you truly follow the macros for your goal, you wont meet your macros by eating a ton of junk! I think ideally this way of “flexible eating” is more of a long term change. When I started I found food cravings started to do down because I knew if I really wanted a piece of chocolate, I could fit it in without feeling guilty! I have to say though tracking my fibre intake I’m hitting 45-50g of a fibre a day! is that too excessive ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Elkie!

      Exactly–when you have good macro targets it almost forces you to eat healthy foods.

      Regarding your fiber, check out this article:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-much-fiber-should-you-get-every-day-and-why/

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  • saby

    I am 21 year old girl, I work out but don’t lift i weight 122 how do I know how many carbs and proteins and fat I should eat the whole day ?

  • aman midha

    How to lose weight from belly with diet plan


    One thing that I have noticed already is that my weightloss has slowed since actually trying to hit the macros. Even with my proteins, carbs, and fats within range of my macro numbers. Let me say this is the first time I have tried to lose fat the “macro” way. I keep track of this with mtfitnesspal my calories stay in range also. Should I give this more time??

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes you want to stay patient. Remember that healthy fat loss is .5 – 2 pounds lost per week. As you get leaner, weight loss slows down.

    • marios

      I’m going through the same thing. But the best strategy is to be patient.

    • Kat Cas

      Yes! also, we all get to a point in weightloss where we plateau. This is when you need to increase your daily amount of exercise or lower your daily overall calorie intake. I would recommend the former. Park farther away from work or the store for extra walking, keep your home or office cooler to burn more, and drink a 1-2 oz glasses of ice water before meals. This combination helped me.

      • Michael Matthews

        Yes that’s true, although you CAN get to a point where your metabolism is simply too slow and you need to speed it back up by INCREASING calories over time so you can then go back into a proper deficit and start losing again.

        I’ve done this with many people.

        • Ryan

          Yep, it’s called cheat days.

          • Michael Matthews

            I recommend a more structured approach, haha:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-speed-up-metabolism/

          • Shane Johnson


          • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews


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  • marios

    Hey Mike, great site and great articles. I think it’s great that you answer our questions. No other website does that :p Just bought your book.
    So I’m 22 yo, 106kg and I’m trying to drop down to 80. I’m around 182cm. Im just sick of having the body of a 60 year old in my twenties.

    I’m doing the Power 90 programme for about 35 days now. I did it for 3 weeks before starting counting calories and didnt lose a single gram. Now I lost about .8 kg in 12 days. I find it weird though because my bmr is 2800 and I eat 2000.

    After reading your article about protein I increased my protein intake from 175g to 230. I’ll see how it turns out. :)
    Keep up the good work.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mario! I really appreciate it.

      Cool on your stats and goal.

      Hmm I suspect that’s more of a training issue. I’m not familiar with that program…what does it have you do in terms of lifting and/or cardio?

      • marios

        I attached a picture about the exercises for lifting. I use resistance bands instead of dumbells.
        There’s also a cardio day and you alternate between them 6 days a week.
        For cardio you have 5 minutes power yoga, jumping jacks, lunges, side jumps and other similar ones.
        Part 2 of cardio is kicks and punches and part 3 is abs. It’s essentially 100 crunches in different form. Bicycles, full body crunch etc

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay cool. Well if you’re doing well with this then keep it up. And I would keep your cals at 2,000 if you’re losing weight there.

          • marios

            Okay thanks for the input :) I’m already halfway through your book! Great eye opening stuff. After I finish this programme I’ll do the exercises from the book to get some gains !

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! Thanks on the book! Glad you’re liking it. Let me know how you do on the program!

  • Allie

    I’m switching from completely clean eating to iifym and was wondering how to manage sugar intake. I always ate fruit but never processed sugar, and I still plan on eating 90% clean with one less clean meal…is there a good goal to stick with. I’ve heard 15 g of processed sugar but not sure if it really matters

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. This is really a point of personal preference. I keep my sucrose intake below 20g/day because my body feels best this way.

  • Booty

    Hi Mike, obviously it’s pretty much impossible to be spot on with your macros every day, so what kind of leeway do you give yourself with your targets?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m always within 100 cals of my target, and if I’m cutting, I tend to err on the low side.

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  • Derek

    Hey mike great article! Quick question, i’ve been trying to bulk for a year now, gained 10 lbs and plateaued afterwards, i have only been tracking calories and im up to eating 3800-4000 a day at a weight of 150, have not been gaining weight and muscle mass growth has slowed down dramatically, know of a site where i can figure out my exact macros/micros for bulking?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Derek!

      Hmm your intake is already over what all calculators would recommend, which is fine.

      A couple things:

      1. Start taking creatine if you’re not already. It will help.

      2. We have to increase your caloric intake. Think you can work in another 200 calories per day? It’s annoying, I know, but just the way it goes…

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  • TMLS

    Whilst I’m only just starting to look at putting some mass on, I’ve lost 170lbs safely using just this sort of diet – so it absolutely can work, I’m sure I could easily have eaten more (of the correctly balanced stuff of course) to maintain or gain. It’s fairly easy to do and means you still get to enjoy the foods that you’re told you shouldn’t.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, amazing job! That’s really impressive. Keep up the good work!

  • CReX85

    Hey Matthew, so for the past 3 months I decided to start counting my macros doing a IIFYM approach, which is my first time doing it, trying to do a slow bulk to gain weight. So during that period I gained 6lbs out of that 2.5 was lean mass. I work out 4 days a week consisting of main BB lifts follow by assistance work, with very little cardio. This are the macros I’ve been using 286g carbs, 214g protein and 95g fat, so about 2859 calories a day.
    So are those good numbers or was that too much fat gain compared to the lean weight, should I adjust my macros, was thinking maybe uping my carbs and lowering the fat, but not to sure how to go about it.
    Anyways love the article, any info or help. would be highly appreciated. Thanks in advance

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting! How much do you weigh?

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  • Eddie

    Mike, but HOW TO COUNT calories? I mean, I don’t know how much calories is there in every single food I eat during the day. Help me on this one.

    • Michael Matthews

      I like to use calorieking.com to check foods and My Fitness Pal to keep track of everything.

  • Patricia

    Hey mike, I weight 130lbs and am really active, I have an active job and I workout 5-6 times a week and lift really heavy. I do 150g protien, 230g carbs and 55g fat…I have been doing that for like 2 months now and I lost 6 lbs I used to weigh like 136-137 and I don’t want to loose anymore weight… I want to increases my macros but am not sure where to do it (in carbs, fats, or protien) and how much to do, I wanna maintain and build more muscle. I’m 5’8 and female.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on what you’ve done so far! Your macros are looking good so you can increase them however you want, really.

      Go up 100 calories per day for a week and see if that stops the weight loss. If it doesn’t, go up another 100 calories per day for a week and see if that does it. Repeat until you stop losing weight, and you can even continue increasing them this way a couple hundred calories over the point where you stop losing weight. Your metab will speed up and you won’t gain any fat–you’ll just be able to eat more every day.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know!

      • Patricia Colette

        Awesome ! Thanks so much

        • Michael Matthews


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  • FitBrittany

    Hi mike! Amazing post thank you. I’m down 110 lbs (over a couple of years) but now I’m plateauing and slowly creeping up. I just started working out pretty hard 6 days a week (3 lifting 3 cardio) and I want to try iifym but I’m afraid that going from am extremely low calorie diet to a high one will make me gain off the bat. Do you think that would be the case?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Brittany! Great job on your weight loss, wow!

      No, you won’t gain fat if you slowly increase your calories. Where are they at currently?

      • FitBrittany

        Probably around 1500 right now. They are suggesting I hit 1950 to cut. I’m scared lol. Ps thanks for responding. You’re actually the coolest

        • FitBrittany

          Wow. That’s so awkward. Don’t know why it attached a random pic from my phone to my post. Don’t know how to get rid of that. Sorry haha

          • Michael Matthews

            Hahah cool pic! ;)

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool how much do you currently weigh? And my pleasure on the replies. :)

          • FitBrittany


          • Michael Matthews

            Okay and how strict are you on your 1500/day? How often do you go over and what do you eat? Do you drink alcohol?

          • FitBrittany

            I drink alcohol once or twice a month. My diet varies every day. I deff do go over 1500. 1600 sometimes 1700. but never as high as the 1993 they suggested I tried 19993 for the first time yesterday. I was under by 243 and went over my carbs (the opposite of what I wanted to do) I also gained 6 lbs in one day. I know that weighing yourself after one day is stupid mind you, I’m just so nervous about gaining. I also felt incredibly over full.

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool. 1900-2k/day will definitely be too much for losing weight.

            That said, how long have you been at 1500/day for without your weight going down?

          • FitBrittany

            Like 6 months

          • Fanatoli Guyoff

            Curious how the diet changes worked out for you…

  • Andreas

    Hi Michael great job. One question of i hit my fats early in the day eg 85g and i have no room for more and my protein is less than my goal but still at 2g/kg while having 500-500 calories to go what do i do?

    • Michael Matthews


      Low-fat protein sources! Like chicken, low-fat cottage cheese, 0% Greek yogurt. And reduce your carbs a little if necessary.

      Ideally, however, you should make a proper meal plan to follow so you don’t run into this issue.

      Here are a few examples of meal plans we make for people. They should help you:


      • Andreas

        Michael thank you for your reply and time and season’s greetings! my question was more the exception rather than the rule, as you know no day is identical. The meal plans are helpful but i usually try to hit 3000 cals/d otherwise i would starve, i workout 4-5 times a week the 5th depending on how i feel,(mainly crossfit,practising lifts plus bench-press,dead-lifts & squats)in this way i found that i dont gain weight or if so very slowly which is actually my goal to put on more muscle ie stronger. the break down is 85g 345g carbs 230g protein. lower carbs on off days
        ps i find it hard to gain (quality) weight. have a great xmas!

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure!

          Ah okay cool well it sounds like you have it pretty well worked out then. Those macros look good and if you gain strength and weight with them, that’s all you can ask for!

  • Miguelolol

    what percentage of my protein intake should be protein powder and what percentage should be real food (chicken, fish, etc)? Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I like to get at least 50% of my daily protein from whole food. Ideally closer to 70%.

  • Mark Meloro

    Question on caloric intake. Is there a chart somewhere that gives suggested intake #s for certain goal weight/height/etc for cutting and bulking? I am looking to cut and using 1800. I am 5’10” 190. Also using Michael Matthews suggested ratio of P/C/F. Any help would be great. I also want to know for a relative who is 6’3 and 265lbs. Thks!! Mark

    • Michael Matthews

      I give formulas for cutting, bulking, and maintaining in my books, which is the easier way to go.

      For instance, to lose weight, you start with:

      1.2g pro per pound of body weight
      1g carb per pound of body weight
      .2g (notice the period in there haha) fat per pound of body weight

      Your relative would follow a different formula, which comes out to be about…

      200 grams pro per day
      170 gram carb per day
      70 grams fat per day

      (Keep in mind this assumes he will be exercising 3-5 hours per week to help facilitate the weight loss.)

      Hope this helps!

      • steve

        Mike I just bought your book bigger leaner stronger. Is this formula the same for a woman that wants to lose 20 lbs

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks Steve! Yes, the diet formula works for women too.

  • Sarah

    I have a question about your book for women. It looks very informative and I am sure I could benefit a lot from reading it, but before I purchase it, I wanted to ask if it includes diet plans or if it mostly focuses on working out. I am a vegetarian and have been my whole life, and so when buying health/nutrition books, I have not gotten much out of the ones that lay out meal plans and food guides that focus around meat. Could you give any insight on this about the book please?

    Thank you,

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment!

      It focuses equally on the nutrition and exercise aspects of getting into shape. Instead of giving fixed diet plans, it teaches you how to build your own plans using the foods you like. This is MUCH better, because it makes it far easier to actually stick to the plan, and lets you make modifications whenever you want.

      You may also like my cookbook that gives you plenty of meal ideas:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/eat-green-get-lean/

  • Veronica

    You’re amazing! Keep up the hard work!

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks Veronica! :)

  • Mary

    Hi I am female, 23yrs old and weigh 119lbs (lost about 40lbs) and I have just started to work out 6 days a week for about 40-50min per workout. I alternate between lower body exercises one day and upper body exercises the next. I eat around 1400-1500 calories a day. My workouts are not THAT intense just basic exercises. I am trying to gain muscle, but all I seem to do is put ON weight and not in a good way! I am also gaining weight in my inner thighs. Could that be from not walking enough? (I have a desk job so the only time I am actually moving is during my workout). I eat roughly between 30-40g fat, 100-120g protein and 150-180g carbs a day – all from healthy sources – two fruits a day, lots of lean protein, etc..

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on the weight loss!

      I like what you’re doing. Building muscle will mean putting on weight.

      How often are you cheating? What about alcohol?

  • K

    Hi, I found your article very informative since I’m new to the concept of IIFYM but I had some questions about how to follow it.

    I’m 19 F and weigh 122 pounds / 55.6kg. I really want to lose overall fat (concerns are stomach/lower back/ inner thighs), and then eventually gain muscle to get more lean.
    I am eating 1500-1600 calories and trying to do carb 192g protein 96g fat 42g / per day, and it’s mostly “clean” and occasional treats (not really due to restriction, I just mostly feel like clean foods). With these numbers, am I doing IIFYM right? My diet is just a little more flexible than “clean eating”.

    I’m also trying to workout 3 days/ week (treadmill/running, body pump) but what exercises do you recommend I do to really burn fat and lean down? Thanks for your consideration! :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks, I’m glad to liked the article!

      Cool on your stats and goal. I like it. 1600ish per day sounds right so long as you’re exercising 4-6 hours per week. I would recommend focusing on heavy weightlifting and HIIT cardio.

      And low-carb isn’t necessary…

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /carbohydrates-and-weight-loss-should-you-go-low-carb/

      Hope this helps! Let me know!

      • K

        Thanks for your reply! I’ll be sure to give your article a read.

        I’m down to 54kg now because I’ve started HIITs 2-3 times per week and eating more to reach ~1500cal!!!
        Also started weights yesterday, planning 3 days weights for different muscle groups. So between these days is hiits and core.

        I’ve also changed my stats around to 114g carb 150g protein 56g fat, and I noticed you thought 196g carb was low. So should I change these again?

        Thanks :)

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure! Perfect, that’s great!

          Hmm your macros look fine. If you’re feeling good on that amount of carbs, you’re good to go.

  • Ms. J

    I was wondering if your recipe books have the macros already calculated or if ill need to calculate as I go. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      They’re already calculated!

  • Katdawg

    How do I know how many Macro’s I need? I am so confused with what I need to do to lose weight, particularly in my abdomen! I have been doing Ultra Low Carb ( less than 30 grams a day) with one cheat night a week and haven’t seen much results. That being said, I am about 117 pounds, 5’1 and have a REALLY hard time loosing any weight since I am so small, but I only gain in my stomach! I would love any advise! Thanks!

  • Raven

    Hi Micheal Im a female and I’m about 5’4 and weigh about 145lbs. I’m trying to lose about 15 more pounds. I do weight training( about 6x a week) and very little cardio ( about 3x a week, high interval training). I eat about 170g of protein,150g of carbs,and about 30g of fat. so roughly about 1550 calories. Ill have some days ill be in the gym longer than i expected and would end up burning around 1200 calories. should i try and keep the calories burned around a certain amount if Im only consuming 1550 calories? and if do burn more than 1000 calories should i increase my calories intake by eating more protein in order to become leaner?

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  • HoldensGirl

    Hi Mike. I’m considering using the IIFYM calculator for weight loss purposes. I’m wondering how frequently I’m supposed to update my weight loss to get new macros? Is it for every 5 lbs, 10 lbs, etc?

  • Lauren

    Seriously one of the best sites I’ve been on yet – love that you back it all up with sound research. Thanks for all the great info. Reading nightly. Keep it up!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lauren! I really appreciate it! Let me know if I can answer any questions.

  • Meg

    Great post! I’ve been looking into this whole macro thing recently as well and completely agree with what you’re saying! I see so many people posting”proyo” and other candy filled snacks as their night time snack because they have so many macros left over. I just can’t understand wanting to eat like that everyday though! I could see using it as a cheat day treat but not everyday! Why bust your butt to look so great on the outside if you aren’t taking care of the inside. That’s the part that you’ll be relying so much on in the later years!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Meg! Yeah I’m not a fan of eating junk food every day even if you can. I stick to healthy, micronutrient-dense foods because my body feels best that way.

  • Carlos

    If I still have carbs and fats left over at night can i eat them all???? At night

    • Michael Matthews


  • andrea

    Hi Mike! I’m been doing my macros for a while now. I go to the gym 5 times a week and i always try to increase my lifting weights and 3 times a week i hit some cardio. my numbers are cabrs: 155, fat: 46 and prot: 114. my height is 5.4 and my weight is 114 lb. i would like gain some muscle and get toned. its that ok to reach my goal? what do you think? thank you very much for your answer!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup that’s a good macro breakdown. I lik eit. How has your body been responding?

  • maurid

    Hi! I realize I’m a bit late to the party, but if you still see this, then I’d like to ask you a question!

    I had recently been taking 1000-1200 calories per day. I lost 14Lbs in one month. As you’d expect, I hit a plateau.

    Then I found out my TDEE was 3000, and that I absolutely had to eat more. So I plan on eating 2000 calories per day to lose fat.

    Is 2000 good enough to lose fat? Should I expect to temporarily gain some weight back (since I increased my intake)?

    • Michael Matthews


      Hmm what is your gender, how much do you weigh, and what’s your exercise schedule like?

      • maurid

        I am an 18 year old male, I weigh 174Lbs. I plan on reaching 154Lbs, I tried the fast way, and that’s what got me in this plateau. Any ideas? :) And thanks!

      • maurid

        I’m an 18 year old male, I’m 6’2″ and weigh 174 pounds. I plan on getting down to 154 pounds.

        I lift five days a week, and do HIIT Mon-Wen-Fri (burn about 600cals).

        What should I do?

  • Cassandra Boyd

    I’m 5’3 and 265 pound ,female.What would be my target macros in order to lose weight?

  • Gabe

    Hey! Amazing article! And I can’t believe you actually replied to all the previous questions. It’s so helpful.
    I’m currently on IIFYM at about 30%carbs, 30%fat and 40%protein (total of 1600 cals). I ultimately would like to increase my carbs/calories intake. I thought about gradually doing so, but after reading a few of your articles, I was wondering if I should just scratch those percentages, and opt for more “regular” macros (aka like the one you suggest in your other article 40%C 20%F 40%P)). What do you suggest?
    And is there an optimal way to play with the calories intake over time without regaining it in fat? Thanks!

  • Matt

    hey Mike, I have some issues even when bulking just to control my hunger–for some reason it is ravenous a majority of the time!! I feel like even when I am bulking on about 2700 calories (I’m 5’8″ 170 lbs), I still am always hungry. Not sure if it is maybe a side effect of my creatine or simply because of boredom or what, but it makes it very difficult (and expensive) to stick to only eating clean and often leads me to two or three day fast food binges that are no fun afterwards! If you could offer any advice on this that would be much appreciated :)

    • Michael Matthews

      What I like to do is focus on eating a bunch of calorie-dense foods. Here are my favorites:

      Red meat

      Grains like brown rice and quinoa

      Oils like coconut oil and olive oil


      Whole-fat dairy

      Multi-grain pasta and bread

      Almonds and almond butter


      White and sweet potatoes

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  • Lesley

    I just learned about macros and micros today and I can’t believe what I’m reading! I’m on a strict 1200 calories per day diet and I workout 4-6 days per week. I really wanna try this but I am nervous that I will gain weight and not lose weight. I went on iifym.com and used my macro calculator and it said I am allotted 1756 calories per day which is astounding to me. Does #iifym REALLY work???

  • Simon

    Hi Michael, really love the info here thank you. I am 6’2″ and weigh 200lbs. Have lost 22lbs in the last 6 months by limiting my caloric intake to between 1800-2000 a day and exercise. I started off running and I love it and do about 35-40kms a week. I have just recently in the last month incorporated some weight training and HIIT on the weight days. I have seemed to have plateaued in my weight loss, I can’t break 200lbs. I have definitely put on some muscle but I am struggling to lose my gut and love handles. Any suggestions how to tweak my diet or workouts? I feel I might not be eating enough.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Great job on your weight loss so far. That’s a good calorie range.

      Hmm are you LOOKING leaner though?

      • Simon

        Thanks Michael for he reply. Yes definitely wanting to go leaner, ideally would like to be 185-190lbs with some dense muscle mass. I eat relatively well, I just feel like I have hit a rut in my weight loss, and having trouble figuring out why.

        Thanks Again

    • Jerry

      You are starving your body you should calculate your lbm times 15 and subtract 300 calories from that eating a 50/30/20 macro split to slowly lose weight

      • Michael Matthews

        That comes out to about the same FYI.

  • Andrea

    When tracking food on my fitness pal, on the days you exercise it allows you to eat more, I am trying to gain lean muscle and am wondering if I really need to be eating as much fat as it is telling me to on these days. I generally aim for the same protien in a daily basis and a few more carbs on workout days but should I really be increasing my fat intake as well? I am new to all this and trying to figure out the best approach. I could stand to lose a little belly fat so I’m thinking by keeping my fat the same every day will help. Thanks

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  • Patrick Prestige Simoneau

    I have a question on macros.. in Bigger Leaner Stronger, you state that if your body fat percentage is over 25% you should do your macros at .8g protein, .7g carbs and .3 Fat. I’m 5’8 180lbs male so probably right around 25% if not over (I haven’t checked). So should I be doing this or the normal way ?

    Thanks patrick

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! You can start with the .8, .7, and .3 numbers and switch once you’ve lost your first 5% or so.

      Let me know how it goes!

  • Juan Pablo Peñaloza R

    I prefer support that I get from herbalife. It’s simpler and as the article says gives you good nutrients and proteins. I can give you free nutrition advice. Add me on facebook fb.com/jppr87

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  • Amir

    Hi mike ! I am 63 kg and 167 cm tall. I have been doing flexible dieting for a while now to just hit my macros and maintence. But after almost a year now of reverse dieting i am dieting for an mma fight coming up in april. And i am starting to get confused because i lowered my calories 1800 ( 140 p, 200 c, 50 f). I usually train 5 times a week, (martial arts training) and eat micronutrient dense food 80 % of the time. I just wonder if rice and white bread are considered as “micronutrient dense” or should i limit those carb sources and stick to oats and brown rice if i am dieting. I have also not lost weight the past 2 weeks and i feel that i have lost muscle and put on some fat. I dont know if it depends on the type of foods that i eat like white bread and rice. Btw, i still hit my fibre intake of 30 g a day with diffrent vegtables

    • Michael Matthews


      When we’re talking body composition WHAT you’re eating doesn’t matter so long as you’re hitting your daily macro numbers and eating foods healthy enough for your body to actually use, heh.

      1800 is probably just too high for your weight.

      • Amir

        I am not hitting my carb numbers everyday but i just make sure that i hit my protein and fat. So the type of food dosent matter as long as i hit my macros and fibre intake ?

        I was on 2100 calories before and i am at the same weight now. I start to get symptoms like, freezing, fatigue and wound that never heal. What do you think i should do ?

        • Michael Matthews

          Right on the macros. WHAT you eat is important in terms of nutrients, but not energy balance.

          You need to make sure you’re hitting your carbs.

          Weird on the symptoms. Not sure. See a doc?

          • Amir

            So the carbs can come from white bread instead of oatmeal ?

            How does it effect the thermic effect ?

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah, you can do that. I prefer nutritious foods though. White bread is junk.

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  • Karen S.

    I started IIFYM about a month ago and within the first week or so I saw changes in my body and weight on the scale. Now some time has passed and my weight is stating the same–neither increasing or decreasing and I am not noticing any changes to my body. I am a female, 24 years old, 5’5″ and the current macros I gave been following are 143 c / 130 p / 53 What are your suggestions?

    • Karen S.

      And I weigh 131 lbs currently. Sorry forgot that!

    • Michael Matthews

      What’s your exercise schedule like?

  • Marty P

    HI Mike, thank you. Its nice to hear science in English :). A question for you though, how do you work out your balance? For example, I am fairly new to weight lifting, but have noticed some nice gains over the past few months. I am now trying to lean the body (shift the last bit of tummy fat) but also grow some muscle size. How do I take this goal and turn them into marco targets? I hit a protein intake of 190 – 210g protein, Carbs 220 – 250g, but calorie I struggle to go much over 2000 without making protein or carb in takes huge. I am 186lbsin weight. Thoughts?

  • Tina

    Hi Michael!

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice please?

    I have been training for over 10 months, my goal was to gain muscle as my arms and legs were quite thin but I also wanted get rid of the extra belly fat that I’ve always struggled to lose. I managed to gain 14lbs in muscle and reduce my body fat to 16%, I currently weigh around 9st, I’m 5ft 3 and 25 years of age.

    I’ve been eating healthy for the last 10 months but I also have cheat days. I’m still not seeing results and I know this is due to the fact that I would restrict myself for weeks and then have uncontrollable binges. I have been reading up on iifym and I think this might be the best option.

    My macros have been calculated at carbs 46.8g / protein 195g / fat 52g / 1,435 Cal.

    I train 3-4 times a week mainly lifting for 50 minutes and i try to incorporate 15 – 20 mins of cardio a week.

    I haven’t eaten meat for around 4 weeks now as felt it was disagreeing with my body. If I was to adapt to a more vegetarian diet and start iifym do you think it would be possible to hit 195g of protein without incorporating meat in to my diet?

    I would really appreciate your thoughts and advice on this and also whether you think those macros sound right?

    Many thanks :)

  • valentina

    Hi Michael!

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice please? :)

    I have been training for over 10 months and my intital goal when I started was to gain muscle as my arms and legs were quite thin but I also wanted get rid of the extra belly fat that I’ve always struggled to lose. I managed to gain 14lbs in muscle and reduce my body fat to 16%, I currently weigh around 9st, I’m 5ft 3 and 25 years of age.

    I’ve been eating healthy for the last 10 months but I also have cheat days… I’m still not seeing results and I know this is due to the fact that I would restrict myself for weeks and then have uncontrollable binges. I have been reading up on iifym and I think flexible dieting would be the best option for me.

    My macros have been calculated at carbs 46.8g / protein 195g / fat 52g / 1,435 Cal.

    I train 3-4 times a week mainly lifting for 50 minutes and I try to incorporate at least 15 – 20 mins of cardio a week.

    I haven’t eaten meat for around 4 weeks now as felt it was disagreeing with my body. My question to you is if I was to adapt to a more vegetarian diet and start iifym do you think it would be possible for me to hit 195g of protein without incorporating meat in to my diet? And if the answer is yes what kinds of food should I be eating?

    I would really appreciate your thoughts and advice on this and also whether you think those macros sound right?

    Many thanks :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your gains so far! That rocks.

      Flexible dieting is definitely the way to go.

      195 g pro with no meat is gonna be tough but you can do it by using veggie protein powder and eating a lot of dairy and eggs/egg whites.

      What do you think?

      Regarding your macros, how much do you weigh?

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  • Kiran

    I have been able to calculate my macros as:
    Carbs 283.3
    Fat 37.2
    Protein 116.3
    Cals 1933 (since I am still breastfeeding)

    I currently lift 5 days per week and do cardio 1 day per week (totalling 30-45 min per session). I’m exhausted all the time, and was wondering if you have any suggestions on the changing my macros.


    • Michael Matthews

      Wow that’s a LOT of carbs. How much do you weigh?

      • Kiran

        124lb 5’2″ 25%bf

  • ashleyrossignol

    Okay so i follow the macro diet, i wanted to know does the time you wake up effect your macros im up at 5 am and i just want to make sure i dont need to change it based on how long im up /using energy

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, doesn’t matter.

  • Jo

    Great article, I started counting macros one week ago (55g fat 157g protein 141g carbs) at the beginning of the week I weighed 157 but when I weighed myself today I gained weight. The previous two weeks I was only counting calories (aiming for 1400-1600) and lost 8 lbs, so with iifym I’m only eating 88 more than my max. Do these numbers seem right for weight loss, I know I need to give it time but I don’t want to gain more weight,

    • Michael Matthews


      It’s probably due to increased carb intake, which leads to more water and glycogen storage.

  • Richard


    I have two questions:

    1. If I want to lose weight (more like body fat) and build muscle at the same time, do I aim for a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus?
    2. What are your recommendations (i.e. which tool works best, which tool gives a more accurate reading) for calculating body fat percentage?

    To provide you some background, here are my stats. Last time I checked my body fat, it was at 16%. Problem is I’m not sure if that was an accurate reading or not. I currently weigh at 167 lbs and stand 6 ft. Based on my weight and body fat, that puts my TDEE at around 2350, but I’m currently at a caloric deficit, consuming 2000 calories a day. I do strength/weight training 2x a week and yoga 4x a week. I have seen improvements in my body since then, but it seems that I am starting to hit a plateau. My weight fluctuates a lot, around 2-3 lbs a week; so sometimes I would weight 164 lbs and then 167 lbs the next. I still want to lose fat around my midsection and gain noticeable muscle.

    What else should I do? Should I increase my weight training days? Should I be expecting to lose more weight or maintain it at 167 lbs? Do I just check body fat percentage instead of my weight? Again, my primary goal is to lose body fat and build lean muscle.

  • Brittani

    Hi Mike, I am looking to lose some weight and body fat. I recently did a bodpod and found my % body fat so I used that when calculating on IIFYM. I currently weigh 145 lbs. I do crossfit 4-5 times per week. It says I need 1515 calories per day; 186 g of carbs, 118 g of protein and 33 g of fat. To me the carbs seem high. Thoughts?

  • berrys78

    Hey there! Great article, it really helped me. I’m a 21 y/o female and I’m trying to get in shape and build muscle to look leaner and more toned. I’m 5’2 and about 116 pounds at the moment. I’ve lost about 10 pounds so far just from some simple things like drinking only water and green tea, limiting take out, eating clean, etc. I wanna take everything to the next level and build more muscle, dying for those abs and toned arms! I used an online macro calculator to calculate my macros, the only thing is, the calories they give me is always way too low at like 1200 calories. I need at least 1500 to survive lol. My macros are 58 g fat, 131 g carbs, 113 g protein.. so I took those macros and decided to eat 1500 cals/day. Does this sound about right to you? I workout at least 3 times per week. I do some lifting and bodyweight training. I am going to aim to burn about 600 cals/week in 3 workouts per week (about 200 cals per workout), to lose about 0.4 pound per week. Also, I’m wondering, how do you know when you should be increasing your calorie intake? And if I do, should my macros stay the same? Thanks so much!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Cool on your stats and goal.

      Those cals sound about right for weight loss. You’re a small girl so you don’t get to eat too much.

      Check this out:


      I would also work out a bit more. I would lift at least 3 x per week and do 20-25 min of HIIT cardio at least 3 x per week.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Lauren Hutchings

    This is literally the most useful info I have read about IIFYM. I have just started out on this way of eating with flexible dieting and finally feel as though I’ve found something so perfectly suited to my lifestyle. Was a tiny bit freaked by the amount of calories and food I felt like I was eating (since before following a strict calorie controlled diet) but already as though my muscles are holding better and feeling so lean in comparison to only 2 weeks ago. Great article. Will be pointing people in the direction of this page for future help!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lauren! Keep up the good work! :)

  • Kristina Vincent

    Last year I decided to compete as a figure competitor- I got a trainer and got in really good shape but was disappointed in my physique as there was not a lot of muscle definition (and I still had a lot of fat on my legs)… I have been though several trainers this year but have never been able to stick to the strict diet for longer than a mo cuz I wouldn’t see any real weight loss or fat loss. I train 6 days a week… 5 of those days are weighs and 6 days of cardio. My last trainer had me on the typical clean diet (I have been eating pretty much nothing but chicken, oatmeal, eggs and rice cakes). My calories were at 1089, protein 154, fat 29, carbs 52 a day. I have been hearing a lot about IIFYM and thought it couldn’t hurt to try. I am 40 years old and when I started monday I was 154… as of today I have gained 4 lbs… I am trying not to freak. My goal is to get down to 135 (with keeping my muscle). Is it common to initially gain a little bit of weigh before I start loosing? What I am currently eating is 1650 calories, 165 carbs, 46 fat, and 144 protein. Does this sound right? I am logging it all into my fitness pal to keep track… also I notice when I add my workouts in it adds additional calories to my day- should I not be adding the workouts so it doesn’t add more calories to my recommend daily intake? Any insight would be great- thank you. Kristina

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s a horrible diet. Way too low in calories and there’s no reason to eat such boring foods.

      It sounds like you need to focus on speeding up your metab, not losing fat. Check this out:


      Yes that sounds reasonable. But check out the article. You’ll like it.

  • Chanelle

    What macros would you recommend for a 5″3 18 year old girl who weighs 110 and wants to maintain her weight and maybe lean out a bit?

  • Mandy

    I’m new to the IIFYM concept. I did read your article on speeding up your metabolism, which I do believe I need to do. I’m a 29 year old female at 5’10 and 146lbs. I’ve been doing low-carb/low-cal for the last 3 months or so (lost 7 lbs). I’ve stayed pretty consistent, around 100g carbs and 1600 cal per day, which did help me with my initial fat loss, but now it seems to have stalled. I usually run 3 days a week and do weights/HIIT cardio 2 days a week. Once I get my metabolism back up to healthy, I’m not sure exactly where to start on the whole IIFYM part. I really want to lose fat and get those sexy abs. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm you could probably actually drop to 1500/day and get some more fat loss and then even 1400/day and get some more, and THEN reverse diet up a bit.

      • Mandy

        I’ll try it, thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          Great LMK how it goes

  • Vanessa mendoza

    Hi I am a 30 yr old woman I workout 3-4 times a week at 1.5 hrs each workout I am 5’4″ and weigh 142 the macros I got from bodybuilding.com are :
    Does this look rite to you?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, that’s pretty good.

  • Clay Jay

    Great article. Very simple to understand. I go through stages where I track my macros religiously, and then I get comfortable and stop doing it so strictly. The key is realizing your macros can change on a daily basis. I find my truth in the middle of the 2 extremes (clean eating vs IIFYM) I track my macros but try to eat “cleaner” foods to get there. I do figure in some sweets though.

    • Michael Matthews


      Keep up the good work and so long as you’re making progress in the gym, you’re doing well. :)

  • Shivam

    Up above, you state that you’re in the maintenance phase (not bulking/cutting) and you’re doing 80g of fat per day. In BLS, you said that a 200 LB guy should only be doing 50g of fat a day. Do you have updated macro counts for bulking/cutting/maintenance? Only reason I ask is that I’ve been cutting for about 3 weeks now and don’t see any reduction in body fat. My cutting macro breakdown is 1.2g of protein and 1g of carbs for every lb of body weight and .2g of fat for every lb of body weight. I’m at 16% body fat, trying to get to 10% so that I can bulk back up to 15% and cut back down to 10% and continue to do that until I look like you! Thank you in advance for answering this.

  • Hannah

    I know this might sound strange but I need to gain weight however I am worried that if I hit my macros of 325gC 145gP and 80gF the fat macros will make me gain ‘fat weight’ rather than leaning out… And I’ve just gained so much definition lately I really don’t want to lose it… Any advice please?? Thank you!

  • Jody

    Does one have to lift heavy to make this work? I enjoy my body-weight workouts, running and Pilates along with P90x3. Do I need to give those up?

  • Laura

    Great article! Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews


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  • Seb james

    You included minerals such as zinc in the definition of macronutrient… This not right as you probably know…

    • Michael Matthews

      From Dictionary.com:

      mac·ro·nu·tri·ent [mak-roh-noo-tree-uhnt, -nyoo-] Show IPA



      Nutrition. any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and the macrominerals.

      For weight loss purposes we focus on the energetic aspects (protein, carb, fat) but that’s the full definition.

  • http://www.fitnesscodes.co.uk/ FitnessCodes

    Well written and brilliant! If this doesn’t convince anyone that IIFYM is the way to go, than nothing will! Great work! http://www.fitnesscodes.co.uk

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks ;)

  • GymLife

    The free IIFYM app for iOS is a good starting point for people who don’t understand how to get their macros! People can call IIFYM broscience…but the truth is that it works….hence the competitors that use it!

    • Michael Matthews

      Just gotta watch out on the recommended cals/macros as they’ll probably be too high.

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    I have a unique question! I am pregnant with my third child, due in four weeks, eager to get back to my fit days. I am 5’3″, currently 158lbs, will probably end my pregnancy around 170lbs. My average weight before babies is about 125lbs… my question is how should I set my macros to lose the baby weight and tone up while BREASTFEEDING! I am not sure how to account for the additional calories needed to maintain a good milk supply as well as the calories burned from producing the milk. I have never had issues dropping baby weight, I’m 29 years old and am a firm believer in heavy weights and HIIT cardio, just not sure on what my Macro goals should be. ..I could care less about the scale, just want to be happy looking in the mirror :)

    • Michael Matthews


      Pretty simple! Use the calculation methods given here:


      And add 600 – 800 cals per day for the breastfeeding. I’d recommend a bit extra protein (1.2 grams per pound) and getting a lot of the extra cals in carbs as breastfeeding takes a lot of energy out of you, as you know.

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  • Roger

    im curious, how do you track food like lets say :
    1. streetfood cheese burger
    2. burgerking cheese burger
    its the same item but with different macros right, like who knows what they put it in ?

    • Michael Matthews

      You can probably find macros for fast food joints online and I guess you could assume a street burger is similar?

  • Amelie

    Hi Michael
    I am having a bit of trouble .I have been eating 1454 kcals a day with 124 P 126 C and 49 F.I have only lost three pounds in a month.I workout at home and I am not sure how I should adjust my macros I got them from the iifym calculator

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  • wondering vegan

    Hi Michael, this was such a great article. I’ve just started counting macros after being fed up with training 6 days a week and not losing any weight. I know that I was definitely over eating even if it was clean food (I was eating a lot of fruit). I gained 5 kilos in the space of a year because I bought into the whole clean eating thing, and thought i could eat as much fruit as I wanted without gaining weight. This may work for some but it didn’t for me, I’ve never been heavier!
    My current ratio is c:35% p:35% f:30% and I’m 5’4″ and weight 59 kgs. My ideal weight is 54 kilos which is what I’ve always weighed, even after pregnancy and before my above menioned fruit binges!
    Anywho, how long do you think is a safe time frame to lose the weight? I’m currently doing pump 2x a week followed by a 30 minute run, hiit 1x a week followed by 1 hour of yoga, spin 1x a week and 1 or 2 50 minute runs alternating between hill intervals and fast paced runs.
    Thank you, your help will be appreciated.

  • acirpr

    loved the article. made me feel just slightly better about having an off the chart eating competition with myself last night……

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Haha it happens.

  • Bradley

    How do i figure out how many Macros im burning/need in a day? Im an Accountant for a large Chocolate factory…. funny you say chocolate.

    I work out about 1 1/2 hours a day. Cardio for 10 minutes a day. Run 1 mile. I sit at a desk all day. Help?!

    Thank You!

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  • An

    Does this mean it’s by grams or if my macros on my fitness pal are 50/30/20 do the grams matter or does it matter that I just hit that percentage split

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  • AmyS

    Hi, your article helped me so much to understand this way of eating! I’m finding it very difficult to work out what foods I should eat to fit all my macros in though…I’m really struggling to fit in all of my protein! I’m also realising that I’m going over ever so slightly with fats…Do you have any advice?


    • Michael Matthews

      Great! I’m glad to hear it. Check this out:


      • AmyS

        Thanks for replying. I read that article originally to calculate my macros, etc. I am following the calculations for weight loss, so 40% of my calories are carbs, 40% is protein and 20% is fat. Therefore my numbers are 140g carbs, 140g protein and 30g fat roughly. Is this okay for weight loss? If i am wanting to lose weight, would I not be able to lower my protein and increase my carbs?


        • Michael Matthews

          Okay good. Yes that sounds great. No don’t reduce protein and increase carbs. High-protein dieting is essential when dieting for fat loss…

  • Jazmin

    I loved this so much! But i really want to know how i can know what my body need im 5’4 and 126lb i eat about 1600 calories a day 160 cabs 60fats 140 of protein, i want to loss this belly fat i workout 6times a week cardio 2 days the rest weights and mu progress is to slow please help! I would really love some advice

  • Adel-Alexander

    Hey, I wanted to ask, I’ve read an article somewhere that you should rather focus on the GL (glycemic Load) rather than the GI (Glycemic index) when it comes to eating Carbohydrates, is that true?

  • Courtney Miller

    This is a great article. I used to be extremely strict with my diet and it got to the point where I hated chicken and egg whites. Lol. I would also binge and go weeks eating shitty. Now that I started counting macro/micros I feel so great. Wish I woulda known about this from the jump. I’m 5’4 123lbs 19bf. I was 128 and 21bf but iifym has me leaner. Before I was eating 1200 cals a day feeling like poop (I’m a track athlete and I lift heavy a lot of power clean, squat, etc) now I’m eating close to 1700 cals. I can honestly say that my life has been changed. Gonna go eat some ice cream now ;-)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yeah many people take “clean eating” WAY too far and just burn themselves out.

      Great on your stats. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

      • Courtney Miller

        I just bought a food scale to be more accurate and man I didn’t know I was soooo off lol.
        Thanks so much. Seriously in love with reverse dieting and iifym. Hopefully I can get up to my maintenance cals before my weight starts to move. I’m not afraid of weight gain I just want it to be muscle so I can power out the blocks in my races. Lol!

        • Michael Matthews

          Hahah yeah most people have the same experience.

          You’ll do fine. It’s like clockwork when you put the right pieces together.

          Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Nicole

    Hi, I am new to the IIFYM but I like it so far, I weigh 154lbs,& am 5’7. Im trying to loose weight, but at the same time build lean muscle. I work out 3-4 times a week doing 30-40 minutes of some type of cardio and weight lifting. I did the calculator and my I should hit 1560 cals, 140gcarbs, 150g protein, and 44g fat. I just want to make sure I am doing everything I can do to achieve my goals. I want to be around 140- 145lbs and toned muscles. Thanks : )

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing! Those numbers look good! Let me know how it goes.

  • MM

    Thanks for all the great info. Couldn’t find it in a comment anywhere, but I’ve been wondering if you vary your diet for training and non training days? Or is the concept to keep it as simple as possible and keep the same macro goals everyday and average out the calories needed over the week (or whatever time frame).

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! I do and I talk about why/how in my next book, which will be out very soon.

      If you’re new to lifting, however, you don’t have to. You can just keep intake steady every day and be fine

  • Daniel Parra


    How would you go about tracking your macros as a college student on a meal plan?

    • Michael Matthews

      My Fitness Pal works nicely for this. Set custom makes on their website goal–don’t follow their recos.

  • Bekka Taylor

    I have been doing this for a few months and gained 8 lbs
    I was hoping some of it was muscle but according to this fancy body fat composition scale I gained 8 lbs ALL fat and actually lost muscle. My macros
    were good and I lifted 5x a week. I just dont get it. My trainer is now suggesting I increase my carbs ? I want to build more muscle – do you think he is right- increase my carbs from 130 ish to 190 he said?

  • Tom

    Where can I find a way to figure out my daily calories that my body needs and then how to find a good ratio of macros to cut fat and still maintain muscle

  • Cathy

    Michael: This is Cathy, from the mom-daughter fitness page on instragram! Hope your day is great! As I mentioned, I am helping my husband right now with his ‘Build muscle and lose fat journey’ We bought your books and have been following the plan. I just wanted to make sure I’m doing things right tho…My husband is 6″2″ and 203 pounds. He has been starting to lift 5 days a week, with 3 days of plyo. I’ve set his macros at protein (1.2×203) or body weight. His Carbs at (203) his body weight and fats around (60). Is this the right macs to get him building muscle and losing fat…around stomach and chest? Also, I’ve started him on Creatine Mono, and he does take whey if needed to his his protein if needed. Thanks!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey hey! Thanks for your support!

      Great with your hubby and yes those numbers are a good starting place. Let’s see how his body responds! Great on the creatine!

  • Kelley

    Hi Mike,
    Based on your bulking article, I need to be consuming about 3300 calories a day in order to gain weight. Out of that 3300 calories, what would my macros be in terms of fat, carbs and protein? How many calories should come from each?
    Me: I’m 6ft tall, about 175lbs, 6% BF. I am a competitive crossfit athlete. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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  • Kara

    How do you originally decide how many grams of protein/fats/carbs you shoudl be eating??

  • Martin

    Hey, Great article, helped me a lot. but i only have a big question. How can i count the amount of prot / carbs / fat i eat.? Im 25 1,93 mts 85 kg’s 15% bodyfat.

  • Kim G

    So am I supposed to burn a certain amount of calories (exercising of course) when I’m following to iifym program? That’s the only part I’m a little confused about.

  • Jonee

    Do you add the calories from fruit and vegetables too? I’ve heard it said those are “don’t count” as long as you are getting the appropriate servings in. I find one serving of fruit however, takes up about half of my daily carb allowance. It might seem a little silly, but I’d rather be sure in order to do this correctly.

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  • JC Corman

    I buy and prepare my own meals contentiously, and I’m a good cook. The challenge I have is PLANNING the meals according to given macros. I’m working on creating an excel sheet, but I wonder in one doesn’t already exist that I can use, so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Anyone? :-)

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah that’s the tricky part if you want a lot of variety. I like to work with recipes with good macro profiles and I eat the same stuff for a couple weeks at a time to keep it simple.

  • Shannon H.

    Hi Michael! I’m just going to take a chance and hope you see my question. I just configured my macros using the IIFYM calculator and here are my stats: 24, Female, 5’0, and 104 pounds. My BMR is 1144, TDEE is 1623, and I work out 4 times a week doing HIIT workouts with some strength training incorporated for 30-45 mins a day. In addition, I set my goal to the suggested 15% and my calories are 1380 and macros are 147.4 carbs, 104 protein, and 41.6 fat.

    I want to lean out and lose fat around my stomach, hips, and thighs but also tone as well. What are your recommendations for workouts and such? As for my calories/macros, do those numbers look good to you? I’m scared since I do a lot of HIIT workouts that I’m eating less than I’m supposed to and won’t see results.

  • anum

    Can you do only cardio exercise 3 times a week if you want to do IIFYM, with trying to maintain muscle and just lose fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure, but if you want to maintain muscle, you’ll want to include some resistance training…

  • Riss

    I guess I’m a little confused and a beginner to IIFYM. But my TDEE Is 1540 calories calculated with 4″11 height, weighing 140lbs, a sedentary job, and female. My main goal is to build muscle and lose fat. So am I supposed to subtract 20% from my TDEE #? Also am I supposed to alter my macros for days I don’t workout compared to days I do? I just don’t want to under eat or over eat. I Love this article and will be purchasing your book! Thanks.

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  • CuriousMacro

    I found your article really helpful. I need some advice:
    Currently I am on a very low calorie diet. I would love to start Macro eating, but I’m afraid that I’ll gain weight instead of maintaining. Basically, my goal is to increase my calories without gaining weight. Is that possible? I’m 25, 5’6 and weigh 113. I do cardio workouts about 6 days a week and I probably only eat 1,000 calories a day. I’m hungry during the day and it’s distracting. Do you suggest slowly increasing calories/macros? Help!

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  • Mollie

    So, my favorite all time meal, ever, is this monte cristo sandwich from cheddars (laugh, it’s ok!). How could i incorporate that into a cheat meal and still be in a caloric deficit – or even just meet my daily BMR – while also not putting my metabolism to sleep by having one huge meal and not eating the rest of the day? One monte cristo meal, if eaten in full, is 1122 calories. that leaves me 298 calories left for the day. How do you suggest spacing out those remaining calories, and do you have any suggestions of food to eat?

    Thanks so much!! i LOVE your articles so much, they are easily the highlight of my week learning more about my body and nutrition. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!


    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah this is gonna be tough.

      If you want to be “strict” about it, you’d have the sandwich in meal one and just protein in meal two–something like 0% Greek yogurt (mainly protein at least) or some meat or what have you.

      IMO ditch the sandwich and refeed instead. It will probably be more enjoyable.


  • Amanda Hollifield Gardner

    So fr so good. I am about 1 month in on TLS workouts and last week I finally nailed it a few days on my macros but I swear I can already see some changes! I used to just run and bike all the time. This is working better for me. I really enjoy meal prep for a week at a time

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Gerrard

    Hey Mike!
    Really great and useful article. You noted your approx. macros, I guess for maintaining, 200g protein; 300g carbs; 80g fat; (About 2,700 calories per day) and I have a question:

    How in the hell you have 80g of fat intake, haha? I have 3000cal/day and based on BLS macros for bulking (1g per 3lb BW) I should eat 54g of fat. Instead I use MFP custom goals with ratio 50-30-20 and fat intake is 67 – still 13g lower than yours with more calories, haha. Maybe I should increase my fat intake cause, damn, it’s hard to fit in those 67g :D And it’s even harder to eat crazy 375g of carbs. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

    • Gerrard

      Forgot to add 2nd question – again, in BLS you said to eat 1g of protein per 1lb. In my case it would be ~164g but instead with that 50-30-20 ratio in MFP I have 225g, is that ok? Or maybe you would increase carbs even more (I have 375g right now and I will probably explode if I will have to eat more, haha) or fat and reduce protein?

      • Michael Matthews

        You don’t need more than 1g/lb when eating maintenance or bulking. You only need more when cutting.

        Extra carbs will serve you better because it will fuel your workouts.

    • Michael Matthews


      I’m actually currently closer to 50-60 grams. I only go higher if I feel like it based on what I’m into cooking, that’s all. It doesn’t confer any benefits.

  • ajensen

    I am new to flexible dieting, about a week in, and am absolutely terrified of gaining. My past eating habits have been severely disordered and I struggle with body image issues. I am currently 141 lbs and 5’7″. Before I started tracking macros I was eating anywhere between 1300-1600 calories a day. I also struggle with mindless eating in the middle of the night as I have sleeping issues. My goal is to get down to 135 LBS. I had my macros calculated and am currently eating 1715 cals, 55 F, 165 C, 140 P. I workout 6-7 days a week. 30 minutes of cardio each day, about 30-45 minutes of weight lifting 5-6 days. I am terrified to weigh myself as I feel that eating more, particularly more carbs, will have caused a weight gain. My question for you…do these numbers look right? Is it normal for people to gain weight initially when coming from a disordered diet/exercise background?

    • Michael Matthews

      I understand. The good news is it sounds like you were eating about right anyway, so this won’t be a big change.

      For how much you’re working out, that’s probably about right. Check this out:


      You can gain weight if you’re eating more carbs now, but not fat–water and glycogen stored in your muscles, mainly.

      • ajensen

        Thank you Michael. One more question…the lady that calculated my macros told me that she would not calculate them unless I agreed to cut back to 4 days of cardio 30 mins only. I have not cut back for fear of gaining weight. If my numbers sound right for how much I am working out, could she have been wrong to suggest only 4 cardio days a week?

        • Michael Matthews


          That’s stupid. That’s a bit more cardio than I would do and would generally recommend, but it’s not nearly enough to HARM you. If you like it, keep it in.

          That said, you COULD cut it back and do great. Especially if you did some HIIT:



          • ajensen

            Thank you for the great info. I have incorporated HIIT training (sprints) into my cardio routine in the past but never consistently. I am going to try to attempt at least 2 days a week of HIIT. What are your thoughts on LISS?…Say walking at 3.4 mph at an incline of 13 for an extended period of time.

          • Michael Matthews

            Great! Let me know how it goes.

            LISS is fine but just not every efficient in terms of burning fat. 10 minutes of interval sprints burns more fat than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking.

  • Sweaty Jain

    Hi there, i am 23 years old, weight 108 lbs, and 5’6”. I work out 5 times a week sometimes 6. Weight lifting 2-3x, with 2 days of HIIT/weight together. I am lean but Im trying to be more cut. Been working out for 8 months now and progress is slow but i’ve lost alot of body fat. I started at I believe 114 lbs back in January. I fluctuate through out the week from 105-109 lbs. I did IIFYM just few days ago annd my macros for aggressive fat loss is calories 1385, with 142 carbs, 119 protein, and 38 fat. I did my protein/lb for i believe between 1.10-1.20 g and fat at .35 g. Are these good macros? I am a vegetarian so hitting my protein intake is really difficult..But overall, is my calorie intake too low? and carb in take too low? Iw ant to be lean/cut/muscle with ab formation; not trying to lose weight sicne I am as it is under weight but really trying to have more lean abs and muscle definition. No matter how clean I have eaten, my lower abs just arent showing enough but my upper ones are a bit more defined. HELP :(

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! Great on wha tyou’re doing.

      Those macros look good, yes. This is going to help you too:


      • Sweaty Jain

        Great. I will read that article. How long do you think I need to keep an eye on these macros to start seeing if it works? Also you have to keep your macros the same even on the days yuo don’t work out right? I don’t have to reduce carb intake when im not lifting or doign any exercise and can continue to folow. & What do you recommend for High protein veggie low carb meals that way i can still have carbs to spare for dinner/ bc it seems like im hitting over 50% by lunch & dont want to starve at night

  • jay

    Great page. Cleared up a lot of things. But my question still remains. If I need to get 40 grams of chick how do I do that? I have a scale but how do I find out how much I’m eating same goes for the rice? Someone pleaseee answer me! Cuz I hear the best way to find and track your macros is to weight it but can someone explain to me how I do this? So confused -__-

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Check out calorieking.com. This will help too:


      • jay

        Hey Mat! Thanks for the reply but can u explain how I use calorie king? Like how do I weight my chicken? I hear 40 grams of chicken is good is this true? How do I know if I’m getting 40? 40 so little tho? Can someone please reply. Mat il really appreciate it if you reply or if u did a video on this.

        • Michael Matthews
          • jay

            No ahh I don’t need a food scale. Did you even read my question? Looks like you just copy and pasted that. I don’t need to buy one I have one. My question is how to use it to be precise on hitting my macros if I weight 183 il need 185 grams of protein can someone explain to me how I can weight my chicken to to get the grams I need? Because Matthew seems to be a robot. I really want to understand how to weight my chicken and carbs so I can drop weight. Thanks anyone who can explain this to me

          • Michael Matthews


            You place food on food scale. You get reading in grams or ounces. You go to calorieking.com and get macros. You adjust as needed.


          • jay

            Hey mat I’m sorry for sounding like a dumb ass I’m just skittle confused. What should I be look for in grams? 40 grams of chicken when I put on scale that seems to little. I’m 183 so what should I look for when I weigh it? I been seeing the articles you sent me and all this stuff is really helpful but I’m a little confused and over whelmed. I want to lose weight and get shredded.

          • Helen

            I also found it hard to work out the conversion from the macronutrient measurements to what that meant in terms of how much actual food does that represent. If you go to calorie king.com, put in 100g of raw chicken breast (skinless) and it will give you the breakdown of what the macronutrients in that piece of chicken are – in this case it has 23.1g of protein. A 1 inch pat of butter has 4.1 grams of fat. A large avocado has 29.5g of fat, 17.1g of carbs of which 1.3g are sugars, and 4g of protein. Does that help?

          • jay

            Yea it does. U have Skype so we can talk about it

          • Michael Matthews

            This is correct Helen. Thanks.

          • Michael Matthews

            No worries. That’s right–40 grams of chicken doesn’t contain 40 grams of protein.

            Check out chicken breast on calorieking.com to see how much you need in grams or ounces to reach 40 grams of protein.

          • jay

            Ok the thing is I’m the one that puts in the grams. So lets say I put 40 grams it tells me how many calories is that. So I put 40 grams of rice and it only gives me 44 calories that is to little so how many calories am I shooting for? Please answer me mat. And thank you for everything man.

          • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

            Yeah 40 grams by WEIGHT isn’t much. Grab a food scale and you’ll see what I mean…

          • jay

            Mat can u please answer me? I’m asking you how do I get 40 grams of brown rice? I got a scale and I put 129 grams of rice and that 100 carbs. 129 is still small tho so how am I sapose to do this? Anyone that can answer please help me

          • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

            I don’t get your problem, sorry. If you want 40 grams of rice, you put a cup on the scale, zero it, pour rice until it shows 40 grams…

          • jay

            In sorry. Mat how much brown rice am I suppose to eat to lose weight and get ripped like you?

          • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

            The bigger picture of total food intake is more important. Check this out:


  • jay

    Great page. Cleared up a lot of things. But my question still remains. If I need to get 40 grams of chick how do I do that? I have a scale but how do I find out how much I’m eating same goes for the rice? Someone pleaseee answer me! Cuz I hear the best way to find and track your macros is to weight it but can someone explain to me how I do this? So confused -__-

  • Peter C.F.

    Hey Mike,

    There’s a typo in the article: You mention that a calorie is the amount of energy necessary to elevate 1 kilogram by 1 degree celsius, when it’s actualy 1 gram.


    • Michael Matthews

      When we’re talking food, a calorie is actually a kilocalorie.

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  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

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  • Ashley

    What macro split do you suggest for fat loss? I am currently following a body building eating plan, when I track macros I generally follow a 1440 cal 40/30/30 P/C/F….36 yo female, 148, 23% bf, lifting 3/week, cardio 2-3/week, 1-2 rest days….I really enjoy the cheat meals on my current plan….I had some success on this meal plan last year, switched to macros and continued to lose….after the holidays I felt like I needed more structure to get back on track, so back to the body building meal plan for a bit…trying to find a solid long term approach…I found, much to you point, that I was eating “junk” because I could on IIFYM and eventually it got out of control….next time I plan to follow a cleaner macro plan…can I still have success on IIFYM with one “cheat meal” each week? I do NOT need to add muscle mass…just shred a little bit…10 pounds max

  • Carolyn

    Hi my name is Carolyn and I currently have my macros set at 1390 calories a day with a 35p/35c/30f split.I”m 5″2 And currently weigh 135 started at 140.I strength train 4 days a week with short rests in between. I don’t do any cardio.So far I’ve been cutting for 7 weeks and have lost 5 pounds. I’m seeing better muscle definition but not enough fat loss in certain areas. That’s really what I’m aiming for. And for the past 2 weeks my weight has only been decreasing about .5 pound. Or less. So my question is should I do cardio to help increase fat loss? And up calories or stick with what I’m doing. Thanks so much love your articles!

    • Michael Matthews

      This all sounds good. You could benefit from some cardio, yes. You could start with something simple like 3 15-minute HIIT sessions per week…

  • jen

    I have just begun a clean eating/meal prep sort of lifestyle and this is my 4th week. I have consumed nothing but lean protein, fruit, vegetables, healthy carbs and healthy fats over the last 24 days and while I feel so much better, I’m a little surprised at how little my body has changed. I know consistency is key and the results take time, however now I am wondering if I should focus more on my macro numbers instead of just eating healthy.
    My Stats: Female, 30yr, 5’4, 119lbs, exercise 3/week (moderately heavy lifting and HIIT), 23% body fat
    Looking for Fat loss
    Calculator Results: 165g Carbs 119g Protein 36g Fat 1456 Calories
    .. I’m a little nervous about consuming so many carbs as my mindset has always been high protein/low carb for fat loss. What do you think of the macros?
    Thanks so much in advance!

  • Averey S

    Hi I have a question. I just started counting macros, I don’t mind it, I used to count calories, so it’s not much different. But I noticed I’m not hitting the exact numbers IIFYM Calculator told me to hit. How bad is this? Should I be hitting those exact numbers every day or is it more flexible, allowing me to go over or under 10 grams??

    Thanks for your help :)

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  • Louisiana

    Hi! I just stumbled upon your post and as a new IIFYMer I have a question. I am a vegan. Therefore a lot of the foods I eat are relatively low in calories. So I’m running into an issue where I am hitting my macros but going under my calories. I can promise that I’m tracking as accurately as possible. I use the my fitness pal app and log the fruits, veggies, nuts (things that don’t have a barcode) other things that do I scan and input them into my log. I’m only explaining this because I don’t want you to think I’m being careless with the tracking. Anyways I’m a little confused as to how I’m under my calories. Should I up my macros? Any advice would be great due to me being a newbie! Thanks! :)

    • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

      Yeah hitting macros as a vegan is tough. Most need to go low-carb and high-fat and use protein supplements.

      Are you okay with that?

      This will help you:


      You’ll have to adjust carbs down and fats up but that’s easy. For every 2 grams of carb you remove you can add 1 gram of fat.


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  • melike

    My question is about insulin spike. On training days I am trying to get high GI carbs only before and after my workout. What about if I want to have a piece of chocolate right after the dinner? How that will affect my fat metabolism?

    The same thing applies when I am cheating. For example I have been dying for a really evil Turkish dessert for months (it’s called künefe!). I want to have some this Sunday, but I am confused. it contains 20 gr fat, 60 gr or maybe a bit more carb and very little protein, overall calories are 480 cal. What can I do to prevent or decrease the explode in insulin hormone, and minimize the fat I gained? and when should I eat?

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  • Brandy

    Hi Michael,

    I am a 5’9″ female, 125lbs and I have been following IIFYM for about a year now. I have seen great results upon starting flexible dieting and others have noticed how much stronger I appear. I currently am weightlifting 5 days a week, pretty heavy, and HIIT 1-2 times per week. My BMR is 1383 and TDEE is 2022. My current macro breakdown (~15% deficit) is 1,725 Calories, 172g Carbs, 129g Protein, and 57g Fat.

    I am still trying to lean out what little fat I have left in my stomach and my lower back, but am still wanting to gain lean muscle in the process. Do those numbers look okay for my goals? Also, should I be eating more at maintenance on my weightlifting days and deficit on HIIT/rest days?

  • kai

    for fat intake while cutting my macros say 35g of fat per day, how much of this should be saturated, and how much unsaturated?

    • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

      I like to follow the CDC recommendations of no more than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat and the rest of my fat from unsaturated.

  • Jim Walker

    I just learned I can eat a whole pizza a day and get shredded! (kidding)

    • http://www.muscleforlife.com/ Michael Matthews

      With great power comes great responsibility. ;)

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