Muscle for life

How to Make the “If It Fits Your Macros” Diet Work For You

How to Make the “If It Fits Your Macros” Diet Work For You

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:


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:

So long as I hit those “macro” targets 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?

Mike Matthews progress picture.

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 with a percentage coming from muscle.

Now, I’ve said several times that what you eat to hit your macro targets is of secondary importance when we’re talking body composition.

The reality is the carbs in Twinkies turn into glucose and glycogen just like the carbs in broccoli. The protein in the Five 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 Five 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…

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

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, overly processed foods, fast food, and so forth is they’re 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 little nutritious food, you can 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 (which incidentally will mean eating a lot of healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and the like).

Sure, our bodies can use McDonald’s 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 . If you really would like some pasta, adjust your carbs for the day to allow for it. If some Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts would really hit the spot, cut calories from a later meal 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 will help you balance not just your dietyou’re your spending too.

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 Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, work some into your numbers for the day. If you’ve been hankering for pizza for a couple of days now, don’t be afraid to make room for a slice or two.

Personally, I get about 90-95% of my daily calories from nutrient-dense foods, but I’ll usually include some kind of little dessert every day like chocolate, ice cream, or some other treat.









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).

This is totally fine. You should eat on a schedule that best suits your preferences and lifestyle.

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.

That said, it’s worth noting that a post-workout meal is likely a good idea if you’re trying to build muscle and strength. Check out this article to learn why.

In terms of pre-workout nutrition, you can either train fed or fasted and both have benefits and drawbacks.

Examples of IIFYM Diet Plans

If you’re having trouble wrapping your wits around how to turn all this into workable diet plans, I’ve got you covered.

Here are 8 examples of flexible dieting plans that we’ve created for people as a part of our custom meal plan service:

Adam’s Bulking Plan

Bruce’s Cutting Plan

Christine’s Cutting Plan

Jackie’s Bulking Plan

Jason’s Cutting Plan

Kathleen’s Cutting Plan

Sam’s Bulking Plan

Vivian’s Maintenance Plan

As you can see, people eat a variety of foods they like and on a schedule that works best for them, which makes the diet enjoyable and thus extremely easy to stick to. And when it comes to long-term results, compliance is the name of the game.

In case you’re skeptical of the results of these types of meal plans, check out the Muscle for Life Success Stories. Trust me–flexible dieting works for everyone, every time, without fail.

The Bottom Line on the IIFYM Diet


The “If It Fits Your Macros” approach to dieting is incredibly liberating.

It’s much more enjoyable to eat foods you like and watch your numbers than follow strange, overly restrictive diets that come with long and often confusing lists of prescriptions and proscriptions.

That said, don’t abuse this newfound freedom by replacing any and all “clean” foods with junk counterparts just because you can. Remember that your long-term health depends on more than just macronutrient intake.

Eat an abundance of nutritious foods and be moderate with your indulgences and you’ll never again struggle with the anxieties of “dieting” or the eventual health complications of foregoing nutrition for taste.


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

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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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! 😀

        • 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.

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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.

  • 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 😀 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.

          • 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

          • 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?

          • 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! 🙂


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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?

    • 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)

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  • MathFood

    I built a tool that auto calculates how to balance your foods to hit your macros over at http://mathfood.com (no signup, no ads). Tell it what your ratios are, what foods you want to eat and it does the math behind the scenes. Give it a try!

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  • laurenmuncy1292

    i did my calculations I am 149lbs female 22yo 5’4″ I calculated 119 g protein 59 g fat and 296 g carbs is this right

  • Eddy

    Great article I have a question regarding meat, chicken, and poultry! Do you recommend weighing them raw or after it is cooked because I noticed weight differences!

    • I always weigh my foods raw/uncooked.

      • John Doe

        You’d have to eat them raw/uncooked to get the listed calories, then.

        Finding nutrition data for cooked food and weighing final products will yield much more accurate results.

        • You can look up the cals and macros of raw food by weight. I like calorieking.com.

          Once you’ve weighed it and have the numbers you can then cook the food and eat it and know the cals and macros of what you’re eating.

          • John Doe

            Not exactly. There’s times when it’s notably more accurate to use either raw or cooked weight, depending on the situation and specific food item.

            For something lean, like chicken breast or cod, that might be OK because the protein content won’t move much at all and since there is little to no fat, that won’t cook off and be left behind.

            Also, raw weight / macros, for example, would be better if you are cooking a chilli or bolognese sauce and all of the contents of the original ground meat will remain in the pot after it’s done.

            Here’s an example where you’d want cooked weight: a burger (the fattier the meat, the more important this is) .. which you grill or pan sear, the cooked and raw macros will differ significantly (calories due to fat cooking off, and protein content due to density of the food at final weight). Similar concept for fatty fish (arctic char, salmon, mackerel, etc.)

          • Honestly you’re overthinking it.

            Burger = weigh the meat raw in grams, add bun etc. in, cook, and enjoy.

            Cooking doesn’t alter macros/calories enough to matter unless you’re draining off large amounts of fat.

          • John Doe

            Take a close look at the macros of cooked and raw ground beef. The macro profile changes completely when looking by weight. Protein/weight ratio increases by 50% and fat decreases by 15%. Net effect on calories is small at a *modest* portion, but if you are targeting actual daily macro targets then the difference is NOT trivial.

          • To be fair I rarely ever cook with ground beef because the macros are kind of fucked. 😛

            Protein/weight ratio doesn’t matter. 8 ounces raw still has the same amount of protein when you cook it.

            Fat reduction is valid though.

          • John Doe

            The ratios matter when trying to target macros based on weight 🙂 that’s my point. So yes, protein targeting via raw weight OK – the rest (fat + cals) is not.

            If cooking everything in a pot = use raw macros. If cooking on grill / pan and fat drains, get final macros from cooked weight. That’s it!

            Why are the macros “fucked?” Just use 93/7 or leaner if you are cooking something like chili or bolognese. Both have been staples for me during my 9 months of cutting. You might get a little skimpy on carbs during that meal, but you get a tasty, rich dish 🙂

          • Yeah exactly.

            Haha I just like to use my fats elsewhere and enjoy leaner dishes. Personal preference.

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  • Tracy Sherman

    Hi! Your advice is so thorough, thank you! What I can’t get my mind around is all the calories I have to eat! Is it true at 156lb, and 36yr old I should be eating about 2300 calories a day? I’m guessing it’s all healthy food (which I’ve been doing for 3 months but only getting between 600 cal and 1500 cal a day). Like I said I can’t get my mind around the calorie intake, is that right??, 2300??? (Cause I’m trying to get down to 125-130 and gain some muscle) ty

  • Trace

    Hi, You are so thorough with your advice! The only thing I can’t get my mind around is all the calories I think I should be eating to lose weight and gain muscle, 2300 cal…I’m 36 and 156lb, about 27% body fat and want to be 125-130lbs. I’ve been eating healthy for 3 months, excersing for 9 mo. But only getting 600 cal to 1500 cal a day…Am I right?? 2300 cal a day??? Ty!!!

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  • Amber Dawn

    Hi Michael;

    I realize most of these comments were posted a year or more ago, but I’m going to write in hopes for a response anyway.

    I have been on my fitness journey for about 5 years now, but I started lifting weights 1 year ago. When I first started at the gym I found myself having great success, I incorporated a lot of bodyweight exercises (high intensity) along with weight training, but I will admit I was training 2x per day and usually 7 days a week. I meal prepped every Sunday for the entire week and only weighed/measured protein and carbs. I started working with a trainer at my gym and was quite surprised with what I had accomplished. I’m 5’9, was 160lbs sitting at 12% body fat. Looking back, I feel like I crashed because I was SO strict with my diet and I was training like a mad woman.

    Since then, I have gone back to training once a day, but still 6-7 days a week. During the winter I did a lot of binging.. Probably because of all the restrictions I put on myself for months on end, and as a result I’ve gained about 10-12lbs of fat. I’m not overly concerned about the few extra pounds, however, after hearing everyone rave about the “IIFYM”, I decided it was time to give it a try. So, I found a macro calculator online, punched in my digits and it gave me back some numbers that look like this.. 2000 cals/ 56F/225C/150P. Now, I told the calculator I was looking to cut, but it didnt ask anything about body fat%. Currently, I weigh 175lbs.. and as I mentioned, I am quite tall, but I dont have a whole lot of body fat sitting on me, based on being 12% at 160lbs, I’m thinking I could be around the 17% mark? but thats nothing but a complete guess.

    Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is I thoroughly appreciated reading your article, it very much helped me understand the concept of IIFYM and I do enjoy the flexibility of it, but, do these numbers seem right to you? They seem high to me, but I’m use to eating very little carbs/fat. For a little while I got away from cardio, probably got a little lazy, but I have been incorporating some high intensity bodyweight work daily.

    Could you maybe help me a little bit in regards to the macros I was given/ the type of training I should be doing? I’m just feeling so overwhelmed with all the information out there.. I read through all the comments on this post and your responses and tried to get some answers that way, but I figured everyone is different and I should ask about my own scenario.

    Thanks in advance, I appreciate your knowledge!


  • Jay

    Hey buddy nice article. I reckon the hardest thing is a guideline for sugar intake with IIFYM. If a sugar is a carb for example how much can we have as most treats take up a lot of our sugar allowance

      • Jay

        Nice one. So if I’m having 2600 calories a day with approx 350 carbs how much sugar can I have? Does this figure include sugars from fruits also? Cheers

        • Don’t worry about what’s in fruits and personally I do try to keep my sucrose intake relatively low (under 30 grams per day).

  • Rouge Surreah

    What do you use to track your macros? MyFitnessPal? I feel like it can become a bit obsessive to track macros… is it better to make a meal plan and then slightly tweak that every now and then?
    Also, is nutrient timing really not important at all? I know its best to eat your carbs after your workout… if you do fasted cardio in the AM and then lifting in the afternoon or PM, what would be a simple breakdown of what macros to eat and when throughout the day?
    <3 thank you in advance

    • Yeah MFP works well for that. Set custom macros on the site.

      I prefer making a meal plan and sticking to it and tweaking as I go.

      This will help you:


    • MathFood

      If you’re looking to be obsessive about your macros, you should check out my free (literally, no ads, no membership, no login) web-app over @ mathfood.com. Also, I’m sure you know this, but you’ll be most successful if you plan what your diet should be rather than tracking it after you’ve already eaten it.

      • Emiliano Parizzi

        I really like MathFood, although I was expecting it to give different plates/meals. I eat 4 times a day but it would be crazy to repeat the same meal during the day.

        • MathFood

          That’s awesome!
          Thanks for the kind words.
          Feel free to carry this discussion over to my site if you’d like.

          The idea behind mathfood when I came up with it was for you to tell it what your macro goals are, then plug in the foods that you want to eat; and have it tell you how much of each food to eat.

          The example on the site is something like eggs, potatoes, bacon, and cheese. Obviously, you don’t want to eat that forever. Hit the clear button at the bottom of the ingredients; then hit the “Add Food” button to search for other foods.

          An easy example would be chicken breast, broccoli, brown rice, and olive oil. Look each ingredient up; add it; hit solve. If it tells you to eat too much broccoli; click on broccoli and tell it to use at most 150 grams; then hit solve.

          Seriously, if you have any questions, drop me a line on the disqus on my site or tweet me @mathfood .


  • Theresa McCormack

    I’ve recently start counting macros and i love it, but find myself always having some left carbs fats protein left over at the end of the day. Can someone tell me if this is ok or do I have to have them on point everyday?thank you

    • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

      Try to get within +/- 5g. If you’re short at the end of the day, make it up with a shake of whey and peanut butter and oats before bed.

    • It’s a not huge deal, but your goal should be to hit your target macros daily.

      It helps if you have meal plan set up so you know exactly what to eat daily.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    Generally break your protein up into equal portions, then let the chips fall where they may with carbs and fat, although you’ll want some carbs before and after workouts if you’re strength training. Some people try to not eat (much) fat around their workouts, but I’m not sure that’s terribly important. If breakfast is your main meal, then, yeah, a good bit of your macros will be at breakfast.

  • Jessica Riley

    This was EXTREMELY helpful! I love that you supplied example meal plans for cutting, bulking, or maintaining. I can relate to Kathleen, it’s hard to get in 5-6 meals with a calorie of 1400+ but her plan makes so much sense in IIFYM. Thank you! I’ll be sharing this article with others 🙂

    • Happy to hear it. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

      LMK if you have any questions.

  • Craig Beadnall

    Hi Mike, do you recommend refeed days or carb cycling whilst cutting. I really like the flexible dieting stops the cravings. Your info is alway great and very helpful

  • karen

    Hi Mike, thanks for a really useful article. I’ve never properly tracked macros before, I tried but found it so laborious and time-consuming. However, my “winging it” approach just isn’t producing results. I need to face facts that I actually have to find out wot I’m putting in my mouth!!
    My question is; it’s easier to track a meal with only a few components i.e, a piece of chicken, some veg and a starch. But wot about the 1 pot meals ( curries, stews etc ) that we’re so fond of in my house, that I enjoy eating with my family? These contain many components so I get a bit lost as to how you find the macros in such a meal….Sorry for being clueless but I’m a bit green re all this tracking lark, so any advice from others on how they do it would be much appreciated.
    My lifts are progressing in the gym but you wouldn’t think I lifted at all to look at me! : ( It’s bloody frustrating. Cheers in advance.

    • Glad you liked the article!

      Yeah it’s tricky. You have to work out the numbers for the whole dish, cook it, weigh it, determine numbers per gram, take your portion, eat.

  • Maxwell

    Hi Mike, I really appreciate how much effort you put in every of your article to make it so detailed and easy to follow. But I have a question, so do I need to follow the macros system for the rest of my life in order to maintain my weight? Because sometimes I find it extremely difficult to track every macros on the food I eat in a day. Like for example when I have to eat at the restaurant with my friends, it was impossible for me to track how much macronutrients in it.
    Secondly, I heard this lots of time that we have to drink water 15-30 mins before meal and 30 mins after meal. What do you think about it?
    Many many thanks to you, Mike. 🙂

    • Thanks!

      No, you don’t. You can learn to maintain a physique by establishing good eating habits as opposed to tracking/planning everything. I will write about this soon.

      Never heard about drinking water before/after eating for any special reason…

  • Frederik Linderberg

    Hey Mike, thanks for a great article as always!
    How do you calculate the burned calories from your lifting workout into your Macros?

  • Emily

    Hey Mike, I love your article! Thank you.
    I have a question for you.
    I’m young (14 years old) and recovering from an eating disorder. I’m able to challenge my food fears easier with IIFYM.
    In regards to my health, I currently go in and out of the dangerous ‘bradycardia zone’ depending on my energy expenditure/food consumption. I’ve found going down from even 3,600 calories causes my heart rate to drop.

    What I wanted to ask you is, if I wanted to try and build muscle in this state- as I have lost so much muscle- what would you recommend I do nutritionally? Currently, my rest day looks like 190p/305c/180f. I’m kind of wandering around 3,800 calories on days I lift, with 50g extra carbs. I only lift x3 a week at most (doctors current recommendation), so should I cycle calories this way, or go on a full 200cal. surplus a day? Should I cycle carbs/fasts?

    I don’t know how much I weigh. Maybe around 125? I figured I could get away with 190g protein because I get a lot anyway from so many non-animal foods and it might help repair cellular and muscular damage. I’m having a tremendously hard time eating so many carbs (anywhere from 80-110 grams of fiber a day) and hate feeling so sick all the time.

    Whew! That was long, sorry.
    Thanks a ton,

    • Thanks Emily!

      That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that before.

      You’re definitely eating enough food to build muscle so it sounds like we just need to get you on a proper weightlifting routine?

      Your metabolism is crazy fast. I’m jealous. Hahah.

      Your protein most definitely doesn’t need to be that high. The most you’d need is about 120g…

      • Emily

        I was kind of nervous about the protein. If I were to bring it down, the majority of my calories would come from carbs/fats and, because my metabolism goes up and down and I have absolutely know way of telling where exactly I stand metabolically on any given day, I’m worried my body will more readily store energy as fat. What do you think about this?

        • Hmm check this out:


          I think it will help you.

          • Emily

            Thanks, Mike; you’re the best!
            And I really appreciate all the advice and honesty you just give out to everybody. Can’t say, even after all the Google searching, I could find someone willing to help others without simply wanting to sell themselves and their products.
            Keep writing, I love the articles!

          • My pleasure!

            I’m happy to do it.

            Keep me posted and LMK if you have any questions!

          • Very Conservative

            Hi Mike,
            I love your books and your program. Thank you so much for them and for always answering my questions so quick.
            Here it is. I bought your Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and The One Year Challenge for Women and began following the program. I am seeing great results already!! My husband has noticed that I am toning up faster than he is and he has been working out for years in our home gym. Now he wants in. So I told him about Bigger Leaner Stronger and he said that he doesn’t want to get bigger (and I agree, he has big muscles under a layer – he is a strong guy) he said he’d rather have a copy of mine because he isn’t looking to get any bigger but wants to tone up and slim down a tad.
            My question is would he be better of with the Thinner Leaner Stronger because of his situation or is the man book good for that as well only it’s geared for guy muscles?? What is the main difference between the two books??
            Thanks again, you are changing my life!!

          • YW. Glad you’ve been enjoying them.

            He should definitely pick up BLS. TLS is for women and lays out exactly how to get leaner and how to build muscle.

            BLS does the same thing for men. It’ll lay out everything he needs to know to build muscle and/or lose fat.

            The main difference is the training for men and women are different.

            Have him check out BLS:


            LMK what he thinks!

  • Kirsten

    Hi Mike! I just came across your article and found it to be the most knowledgeable and articulate description of IIFYM. I just started doing this 3 days ago and I’m struggling because according to the online macros calculators I’m eating a lot more calories than I’m accustomed to. So my question is…do you think that my body has been in starvation mode so to speak which is why I’m struggling? Or could the online macros calculators be off? Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated!!!

  • Okay cool. Let’s stick to that. As long as you’re actually sticking to the cals and losing 1-2 pounds a week, you’re on the right track. 🙂

  • Hi mike. I have thinner leaner stronger and one of your cookbooks. I think I have a problem though. I like to eat a keto diet so how do I do that? Can it still be as easy as you say? Immediate lifter. Need to have less fat.

  • Tom

    Wellllll….I feel like an idiot. I figured I was inadvertently doing IIFYM, but I guess I’m not. I read your article after reading a Reddit post about pro bodybuilders and if they do IIFYM or not. All the posts on Reddit made it seem like an excuse to eat pizza, cheeseburger, and fries. None of which I’m doing.

    I’m cutting right now and follow your guidelines….first and foremost making sure I eat properly under my maintenance calories. That’s most important. Then I make sure I hit my protein macros so I don’t lose too much muscle, and follow up by filling in carbs and fats (in the proper macro ratios). But all I’m eating is chicken, beef, rice, oatmeal, salad, protein shakes, etc.

    Am I just eating clean vs. doing IIFYM? Just got to 12% body fat on-the-dot last week and plan on going down to 8%. After that I’ll add in more meals from your Shredded Chef book for variety, but still maintain proper macros for bulking (or rather, slow progress maintenance). At least that’s the plan.

    It seems like there is a very subtle difference between IIFYM and eating “clean”, but that they’re two different things, do I have that right?

    • No worries Tom!

      IIFYM is simply eating whatever kind of foods you want, but you make sure that you’re hitting your target macros daily.

      Clean eating is simply sticking to healthy foods (meat, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) Hitting macro targets isn’t a part of clean eating.

      Clean eating is definitely healthy, and if you’re doing both eating clean and IIFYM, that’s awesome!

      Hope that makes sense! LMK.

  • Shannon

    Hey Mike!
    When counting my macros, sometimes I have a trouble not going over with fat. With your formula, it suggests that for my weight (116 pounds) I should have 23 grams of fat per day, but if I eat an avocado then I’ve already reached my daily fat intake limit. I tend to find that by the time I’ve hit my 23 grams of fat, I still have at least 50 carbs and 60 grams of protein left, and am usually at least 250-300 calories under 1200. But its hard to find only fat free foods that will fill these gaps (and I already ate a lot of chicken haha). Do you have any suggestions?
    P.S. Just finished your book and now my mom wants to read it!

    • Yeah, avocado is tough to work into a low fat diet.

      I recommend sticking to lean meats like chicken, turkey, etc.

      Then for any dairy product you normally get, I recommend reduced or zero fat versions.

      Glad you’re mom is interested in the book! If she has any questions, just ask. I’d be happy to help.

      • Shannon

        It’s sad because I really do like avocados. I really enjoy non-fat yogurts and I have been eating a lot of those too.
        But, having read your book, and started counting macros for almost 3 weeks now, I have actually lost 2 pounds. So that gives me more motivation and I can probably forego the avocados haha.

        • Yeah I feel you. Good job on the results you’ve gotten so far! Keep it up!

  • Dawn

    Hi Mike!
    I was wondering if I am at a good starting point. I am 5’6 and weigh 120 and have my macros at 145p/160c/40f and still feel like I am starving. I have been lifting for a while and really getting into the heavy lifting. When will I start seeing muscle definition results or what can I except?
    Thank you!

  • Sam

    Thank you! I find everyone uses IIFYM to eat junk food all the time – and the biggest proponents of it are the ones always upset that they have binged or fallen off the wagon or something…
    I find the whole calorie AND macro counting a little neurotic and obsessive, but I guess if that’s what works for the individual then that’s the best option! As you say, it’s easy to forget that health is more important than being shredded. (I just want both lol).

    I prefer clean eats 80 – 90% of the time plus treats when I feel like it.

  • Sean

    Hi Michael, I really enjoyed this article. Quick question.

    Before I ask, basic stats and context: 5’10, male, 172 lbs, 26 years old, estimated body fat is 18%. I’ve lost 26 lbs using Tim Ferris’ slow carb diet. Planning on switching over to IIFYM once I reach my target weight of 165 lbs.

    Some of my reading has indicated that you should “slowly re-integrate carbs” when starting IIFYM from a low carb diet. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations on this? Thanks!

    • Thanks Sean!

      Cool on your stats.

      Nah you don’t have to slowly reintegrate. Just make sure your cals/macros are good and you’ll be fine.

  • Frankie Williams

    Hi Michael. Bought your book and have a question regarding IIFYM.

    Say for the sake of argument I am on a cut diet, lets say I’m 180 pounds and my macros are 210 protein, 180 carb, 37 fat, which is along the lines of what you recommend. My question is if I hit my protein macro and my minimum fat requirement, does it really matter what my carb and fat macros are if my gym time is not suffering? Let’s say I’m eating 100 carbs and 70 fat, which is roughly the same caloric content of 180 carb and 37 fat? Would that still be an effective cut diet?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Thanks for picking up my book!

      In terms of weight gain or loss, it relies solely on calories. If you’re in a deficit you will lose weight. If you’re in a surplus you’ll gain weight–regardless of the macro breakdown.

      That being said, you do want to keep the carbs high for energy in the gym. A minor change like that won’t effect anything though.

  • León Rehgallàg

    Be careful with that health.com’s list of foods with trans fats, though. It includes some sources of natural trans fats, which as far as I know aren’t bad.

  • Bob

    Hey Mike. Love the book and podcast and now the site. Quick question regarding when to modify your macros. I have heard two approaches. One is to set your macros for your current weight and the other is setting for your goal weight. Since we all know weight is not the best measure (losing fat, gaining muscle etc) I am curious about how/when to modify my numbers. I am currently trying to lose fat and so for an example, should I recalculate my macros every day that I lose? Every five pounds? What is the best approach? Also, in the unfortunate situation where you should gain a few pounds do you up the macros again or leave them lower. Thanks and look for a lot more questions from me now that I am on the site 😉

    • Happy to hear it. 🙂

      You should calculate your intake based off your current weight, and you’d stick to those numbers until you stop getting results. When cutting you should be losing 1-2 pounds a week. Once you’re not losing at that rate, you should adjust and lower your intake.

      If you’re gaining weight sticking to your macros, you should recalculate your intake. If you’re gaining weight because you’re not sticking to your plan, stick to your plan!

      NP brother. I’m here for you.

  • Bob

    Alright, I waited 30 seconds and now have to ask another question. Should I try my best to hit all three macros everyday? Is it ok to be short? Should I be most focused on hitting my protein even if that means the other two are not as close ie. eating egg whites at night to hit protein goal, but doesn’t do much for carbs or fat. 41yo, 6’2″ 210 @ 22%BF with macros currently at 172/150/65.

    • You want to be hitting all three of your macros daily. The more consistent you stick to your macros the better your results will be.

      Check this out:


      • Bob

        OK, a little confused. In this article it says “If you’re overweight or obese, your first priority should be fat loss, and your protein intake should be set at 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of lean mass per day.”, but the way I set up my macros was in your book where it says “.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, .7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight and .3 grams of fat per pound of body weight”. What am I missing? Since I am focused on fat loss do I up my protein and lower carbs and fat to get my net calories?

        • Bob

          As I just re-read what I copied and pasted from the article it says 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of LEAN MASS. Which in the case of being 210lbs and 22% BF would likely be around 164lbs and the book’s formula .7 X 210 = 147 so I guess it is somewhat close.

          • There you go. 🙂

            The book will you give you workable numbers. However with the calculator, we get a bit more info so it will get you more exact numbers.

  • Greg

    I have diabeties 2 and have to limit my carbs to about 100 grams a day net carbs and 40 per day of fiber. Using this approach i have been able to get off of all the diabeties medication i was on and over a two year period dropped my wt from 327 to 207, BFC from 46% to 21% while increasing lean muscle mass. I set goals for calories, fats, protein and carbs on a daily basis and attempt to reach all three.

    It does not seem my lack of carbs hurts me any as i am eating much protein. I eat roughly 1 gram of protein for every lb of lean body weight as opposed to total body weight. (180 grams per day).

    Any suggestions?

  • AnnaD

    Hiya Mike, do you count incomplete proteins, e.g, like those in oats?

    • All protein are complete but some are higher and lower in certain amino acids than others.

      So yes count all.

  • Martha RN

    You better have a nice body with a face like that.

  • emeck123

    Great article! Just bought your book, excited to read it. I’ve never had my body fat measured. Since most affordable techniques are not reliable, how should I most accurately measure? Looking at the pics you have posted, I’m thinking I’ll probably fall in the 25-30% range. But I really have no idea. I’m 5’11, 158lbs. Currently striving for weight loss and toning. I workout 6 days a week, 4 of those heavy lifting. I try to do a short HIIT cardio session on weight days, but there are also 4 days a week that I teach a 60 min med-high intensity cardio class. By chance am I wrecking my progress in the weight room with so much cardio? I’ve been following the flexible dieting for 2 weeks now, weight hasn’t budged. Current macros set at 164P, 140C, 45F. Do these numbers sound right? Thanks for posting the sample cutting plan menus, very helpful to see what a whole day of eating within my macros can look like. Thanks!! Emily

    • Thanks! To measure your BF% cheaply and accurately, check this out:


      That’s a lot of cardio. No need to do the HIIT session with the 4 hours of cardio a week you have with the classes. Check this out:


      Regarding the weight not coming down, take a look at this:


      NP for the sample meal plans!

      LMK what you think about all that.

      • emeck123

        More great information. I’m going to cut back on the cardio and keep my macros where I have them set for now. Focusing less on the scale and more on measurements. I’m seeing some slight definition in my obliques, hope to see some improvement in the belly. Feeling strong and fantastic! Thanks again 🙂

        • Sounds good! I look forward to seeing your results!

          Happy to help. 🙂

  • Aikas

    Mike, do you always get around 10% of your daily fats from saturated ones? I was wondering if it’d be harmful if I upped my intake to 15-20% of them, I would eat more tastier foods for sure.? 🙂

    • Remember it’s 10% of daily calories and yeah that’s generally where mine is at. Sometimes lower based on what my meal planning is like.

      There are many people that will say 25%+ daily calories from saturated fat isn’t harmful and many that say we don’t really know yet.

      Personally I try to keep mine around 10 to 15% of daily caloric intake.

  • Paulo Dias

    Hello Mike, I am Paulo from Portugal and i am 38 years old I started doing a strict diet at least 40 days after reading your book in detail, I eat a lot, but never count the calories, weighed 187 pounds and now I’m 183 pounds, at the beginning I started to eat around 2800cal but every week I went up beacause i continued to lose weight, now i eat 3100cal and i´m waiting for results (weight gain, muscle mass) my diet is around 190gr protein, 400 hydrates and 80 fat. It is true that i lowered my body fat from 16% to 15%, but my aim now is to lift more weight, without gaining too much fat. I came to the conclusion that I need to eat more calories than most people, but what should I increase since have increased practically only hydrates.

    Best regards,

    Paulo Dias

    • Hey Paulo! Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      If you’re trying to bulk, and you’re not gaining weight, yes we’d keep adding carbs until you’re gaining 1/2-1 pound a week. We can add fat if you’re having trouble eating the amount of carbs you need.

      However, at your BF% I recommend you cut first to 10-12% BF and then bulk and focus on building muscle. Here’s why:



      Oh and what did you think of the book?

  • Sofia Guizar

    I’m glad I found your article since all this nutrition stuff seems so confusing lol!..
    Now, I was wondering if you could give me some advice.. over the past year I was able to loose around 30 lbs and I am now in my “ideal weight” however I would like to start gaining some muscle and want to look toned. I joined a crossfit gym about 3 weeks ago and I have been working out around 5 days a week for 1 hour.
    I decided to give the IIFYM diet a try and calculated the following macros with your calculator: 1822 TDEE and with surplus-> 1900 calories -> 130gr Protein/ 70gr Fat/ 188gr Carbs

    Do you think those numbers are aligned to my bulking goal?
    Should I increase my calories more?

    I am a 28 yo female with the following stats: 5’10, 128lbs and about 22% bf

    Thank you so much!! 🙂

    • Happy to help!

      Great job on the weight you lost! Cool you started Crossfit. I like the plan to build some muscle. Let’s do it.

      The cals and macros are a bit off. Check this out:


      Welcome! LMK how it goes.

      • Sofia Guizar

        Thank you for getting back to me :)..

        I checked the article and re-calculated my TDEE to 1822 and with 10% surplus -> 2004 calories
        and macros -> 130gr Protein/ 40 gr Fat/ 283 gr Carbs

        Do you think that’s better?

        Thanks again!

  • Michael Johnson

    IIFYM seems like a much better way (vs dieting) to view food intake. Every diet has restrictions. I can only restrict myself for so long before giving up and overindulging on sugar.

    Questions: With IIFYM, if our daily caloric intake is set to 2,200, but we work out and burn 300 calories, should our total calories equal 2,500 – and let carbs make up those remaining 300 calories? Or do we treat 2,200 as the total amount of calories no matter what we burn during exercise?

    • Michael Johnson

      After doing some research, I’ll answer my own questions.

      You should not eat back those calories. Since you already already subtracted the amount of calories you burn (while finding your BMR), adding food back in after exercise will not help you achieve maximum success. We should treat the “2,200” as exactly what our body needs, nothing more.

  • Brian Marenco

    Hey mike quick question ,could i use this for my cutting even though im skinny fat? The 80%/20% sounds very easy because i often have a hard time following 100% clean diet. btw just read your book BLS:) had to say i love it!

    • Absolutely! You can set up your cals and macros for it here:


      Thanks for reading my book! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Would you mind taking a minute to write a blurb about the book where you bought it? You don’t have to write much and I’d really appreciate it. 🙂

      • Brian Marenco

        Of course!:D i will write it on amazon since that where i got it lol!

  • Manny G

    Hey mike! I have a question about counting the macros. When I use Olive oil, the nutrition facts label says that there is 14g of fat per tablespoon. So If i use a tablespoon of olive oil when I cook pasta or eggs, etc.. Do I include 14g of fat in my macros, or is it less because I didn’t really eat all 14g of fat from the olive oil? How do I calculate things like this into my macros?

    • Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how much is lost from cooking so I recommend counting all 14g of fat. It’s better to be on the safe side…

    • Rott Weiler

      Holy shit, that’s the best question ever. Always wondered that myself

  • Rott Weiler

    Hi Michael! I’ve come across you through Radu’s videos, and loved your content! Quick question: what’s your take on hitting your actual macros everyday, but twice a week, hitting only the protein intake and then doing whatever the fat/carbs intake might be, as long as they fit the macros? I’m asking because me like my dessert haha… and they’re usually very high in fat, so… thx!

    • Thanks brother!

      Yeah that’s fine so long as your cals are where they need to be. Make sure you eat plenty of nutritious foods in general though. Don’t be an IIFYM Pop Tart muppet. 😛

  • Adrian M

    Hi there. I am an amateur American Football Player from the UK, that plays in the Cornerback position. I have always been conscious of my bodyfat percentage (currently 14.2), & up to now I never really understood the IIFYM principle. I thought I was doing it right which is why I got down to 14.2%, but when I do sprint drills, I jiggle a little, if that makes any sense, lol! My question is, is it a question of cutting back my calorie intake rather than watching my macros, for more better results?

  • Aikas

    Mike, do you have a good rule of the thumb about the maximum daily intake of Simple carbs in which you should stay as not to deprive yourself of sustainable energy levels (excluding micronutrients such a fibers which could be supplemented), for a fit person with a healthy metabolism? 🙂

    • What type of simple carbs are we talking about?

      • Aikas

        Foods on the higher end of the GI – I like low-fat frozen french fries and adding honey to my oatmeal.. To rephrase my question: “How much of my Carbs should come from foods with Low Glycemix index as to have optimal energy levels and reap the benefits of the complex carbs?” 🙂

  • Christine Zhou

    Hi there just wondering if you can help me to see which way is correct

    let’s say I eat clean the whole day and hit all my macros and still have some calories left, so does that mean I can treat myself with something
    Or The other way is Same thing I eat clean the whole day and let’s say I still have 5g protein 15 carbs 20 fat, that’s when I can squeeze something naughty in

    Which way is right?
    Please help
    I am new to this and just try to work my way around it

    Thanks so much

    • What’s important is that you stay within your cals. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

      • Christine Zhou

        Hi Michael,

        I have read the article. Great job!
        Correct me if I am wrong. From my understanding doesn’t matter what I eat as Long as I stay within my macros = total calories obviously that’s all the matter, which is why iifym so great. People can eat junk food whole day as long as they stay within their macros they would still get the same result ( but obviously no one wants to do that)

        Thanks x

        • Thanks!

          Exactly right. Weight gain or loss all comes down to calories.

          Macros are important for composition or the quality of the weight you gain or lose (fat and/or muscle).

          And of course, I don’t recommend using IIFYM as an excuse to eat tons of junk foods. I still recommend eating lots of nutritious foods and getting several servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

          Happy to help! Talk soon.

          • Christine Zhou

            Great ! Thanks your reply . Now I know where to go if I have any questions 🙂 since I am still new to iifym. I have been a clean eater for a while and just finished the caeb cycling – found it super hard to not binge . I am so happy with iifym now as I’m still eating nutrition food 90% and have treat once in a while 🙂

          • Welcome. 🙂

            Glad you’re enjoying IIFYM and eating nutritious foods. Nothing wrong with a treat every now and then!

            Sounds like you’re doing it right. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Swapnil

    Great article…..If I save my calories to be taken up to end of the day……can i have some drinks and cheat meals??????

    • Thanks! Yes you can. As long as by the end of the day, you’re within your daily totals of cals and macros .

  • Sam K

    Okay, I was reading this blog because lately I have been giving into a daily muffin/cookie/bread. I decided to fit them into my calories and macros, and ideally before/after training, rather than deny myself. I think its all coming together following your tips.

    Meal 1. Slice molasses bread + 1 egg + 1/2c egg whites + spinach
    Meal 2. Protein shake + muffin/apple
    Meal 3. Fish + broccoli
    Meal 4. Chicken + broccoli + pb
    Meal 5. Greek yogurt/cottage cheese + raspberries + cocoa powder
    I could probably add in some sweet potatoes but I don’t have many carbs to play with at 100g and I think I’m borderline insulin resistant. Thoughts?

    • Totally fine as long as it fits. 🙂

      Those foods look good! Again, in terms of results, as long as they fit in your cals and macros, you’re good!

      If you think you’re dealing with some insulin resistance, we should keep your carbs low. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Ivana Campos

    This is a great and informative article! I recently began IIFYM and I am having a bit of trouble with it. I have been keeping track of what I have been eating with MyMacros App. I am 23 years old, 130lbs, and 5’3. I try to work out 4 times a week with cardio and weight training. I would really like to add muscle to my body (especially to my gluteus area), but I also want to lose the fat I have left on my stomach. It isn’t much because my six pack is slowly coming in. I just want there to be little to no fat in that area. So I commented on a forum on the iifym’s website and they said that if I want to bulk up I need 485C/100P/60F. Not sure how many calories though. (Not sure if this is totally correct so please help!) Also, I am not sure about what I should focus on more, hitting my macros exactly or hitting my daily caloric intake? Please help me! I really want to get this right! Thanks! 🙂

    • Thanks!

      Cool on everything you’re doing.

      To build muscle and lose fat, check this out:


      Awesome that the six-pack is coming in! To help build the glutes, take a look at this:


      Nah those macros are way too many cals. You can calculate your intake here:


      Cals are most important. Macros come second. Here’s why:


      Hope these help! LMK what you think. My pleasure. 🙂

      • Ivana Campos

        Thanks! So I calculated my macros again. I got 2438 calories per day
        I adjusted the protein to high because I want to gain muscle as well
        Do you think this is correct for me? Or is it too high still?

      • Ivana Campos

        I just calculated and got this 328C/129P/68F for 2440 calories
        Is that still too high? I intentionally made the protein higher

        • Hmm. That still seems high. What’s your BF% and how many hours a week do you exercise? Weightlifting and cardio included.

          • Ivana Campos

            I haven’t figured out what my body fat percentage is yet. I work out about 4 times a week and try to incorporate weight training each time unless it’s only cardio day. What do you think my macros should be? Sorry I haven’t done my body fat percentage

          • You’ll need to know that among your body weight and hours a week of cardio and weightlifting you do to get accurate results from the calculator in the meal plan article. You can calculate your BF% here:


            Once I have that info, I can help you determine your intake and macros.

            LMK how it goes!

  • ashley faulkner

    Hi Mike,
    Great article. I’m about to start tracking macros / cals. As I’m new to tracking is the main focus to hit the goals on DAILY basis rather than try to be specific and hit set macros per meal? I’ll make sure I get sufficient carbs and protein around training.

    • Thanks! Cool you’re starting to track cals and macros.

      As long as you hit your targets of cals and macros within the day, you’re good!

      The protein and carbs pre-workout and post-workout will have some added benefits so that’s good. 🙂

  • Chelsea Parker

    Hi Michael! I’m a 25 year old mom that got down to 134, 15% bf this summer. After having multiple surgeries this fall (another tomorrow), I have been unable to lift or do cardio and have gained about 12 pounds. I am starting all over from scratch and wanted to try IIFYM. Ideally I would like to build muscle (especially in the glute area) with the fat I’ve gained without having to get much bulkier. Is that possible? Are there target times of day for certain macros (__% carbs before/after working out, etc.)? These are the macros that I’ve come up with from calculations 247p/185c/82f….any suggestions? Thank you!!

  • Elizabeth LeWay Gonzalez

    Hi Michael! My name is Liz, I’m 33, 133, 25 BMI, I just had my daughter in sept and excited to get back into shape (my pre-preg weight was 119, and I was just starting to see some abs) my only concern is I don’t want to hurt my breastfeeding supply. Cutting calories could do this, and I’m nervous as ever to get started with this in mind. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!!!!

    • Hey Liz!

      Congrats on the baby!

      I’ve worked with quite a few women that breastfeed and so long as you account for the calories burned (500 to 700 per day) and don’t be too aggressive with your calorie deficit (20% is fine), it shouldn’t impact your milk production.

      Let me know what you think!

      • Elizabeth LeWay Gonzalez

        Thank you, and thank you for the tips!

  • Karn Kerry

    Hi michael my names karn i have done much need research on macros, diet plans and any other form of watching what i eat im just stuck as i want to count my macros and eat clean but i dont want to pay for a private nutritionist to devise meal plans to fit my macros im just having major problems filling the rest of the macros up to close for ex. I can have an intake of 337g of carbs but can only manage to make a meal plan upto 250 carbs.. so i was just wondering if there is any advice or pages that could help me devise a meal plan with the type of foods i like that will help me achieve my daily macro target
    Looking forward to hearing from you

    • Hey Karn! I get where you’re at. Fortunately, you don’t need a nutritionist. You can do it yourself here:


      You could also have a meal plan custom made for you for $77. Check this out:


      Hope this helps. LMK what you think!

      • Karn Kerry

        I really appriciate the reply michael as im starting my diet on the 8th and i think im going to keep track of what i eat for the first week to see if my macros are being met or exceeded if they’re then i can adjust accordingly as i really want to make the transformation this year everytime i start a diet i keep it going for a little period of time then stop i think ill stick to it this time as i have not done so much preperation or research than befor but i really appriciate your advice and i will let you know how my transformation goes in the coming weeks

        • NP!

          Cool on your plan to start your diet and track your macros.

          Let’s stick to it. 🙂

          I look forward to seeing your results!

          Talk soon.

  • Nicole

    I just recently started IIFYM I notice in your book you say to build a meal plan, but i find even a meal plan makes me binge later, so I just made a blue print of food for the day to match my calories and Macros, and if I dont feel like that particular meal i just swap it out for something but make sure to match macros. Is this ok? I prefer to eat different things everyday, eating the same old thing everyday gets boring and makes me crave other things

    • As long as you stay within your cals and macros, you’re good!

      Talk soon!

  • denise

    Here is my question: I just started counting my macros using the Lose It app. Each time I lose a pound or a half a pound, the app adjusts my calories down a little bit (maybe 7 calories). Because the calories allotted are going down every other day (just started), am I supposed to adjust my macro grams each day also?? Even though I have less calories, I still give myself 57g of fat, 107g of carbs and 114g of protein. Does that make sense??

    • I recommend you keep intake the same as long as you’re getting results. Once you stop losing 1-2 pounds a week, you can lower your cals accordingly. When you do lower cals, you have to lower the macros as well because they’re based off cals.

      When you do lower the cals/macros, I don’t recommend going below 1.2g of protein per pound of body weight and .2g of fat per pound of body weight.

      Hope this helps! My pleasure. 🙂

  • Cletus Kilker

    Good stuff thank you. Q: I fluctuate in weight between 183-185lbs. I’d like to stay at that weight but decrease body fat and therefore become more muscular (as I was in college). Should I be cutting, bulking, or maintaining with regards to my macros? Ty.

  • Livo

    To be honest, For me it is more easy to think about keeping my calories intake (1400), of course I am not eating junk food, I found hard to keep the same amount of protein, carb and fat everyday, sometimes one is over the another, but still the same Calorie intake.

  • Luke Denyer

    Yo Mike,

    Have you done any research on Walden Farms products (or just 0 calorie foods in general)? They have products like peanut butter and ranch dressing that could usually take up quite a bit of one’s diet (calorically speaking) and I was wondering what you thought. I’ve stayed away from so far but I wanted to see if it was a good/safe idea to incorporate some of them into my diet.

    You da man

    • I haven’t, no, but WF sketches me out, haha. CAN’T be good for you I’d think?

  • Melissa Marie

    I read your book and am going to get started. The issue I am having: I am allergic to dairy, all grains, and a few other foods (I have an autoimmune condition and gut issues that I have been managing many years). Anyway the real issue is I can only eat 1300 cals a day to slim down but I am finding it impossible to get the amount of protien, carbs, and fat I am supposed to eat on 1300. I am 125 pounds trying to cut to 118. I have been there before, but not paying attention to my weight has made it creep up 10 pounds this year! So how do you get all of your ratios with such a low amount of food?

    • Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Glad you’re gonna get started on the program. 🙂

      Understood on everything you’re allergic to.

      It’ll take some thinking, but it is definitely possible. With lean cuts of meat, fruits, nuts, veges, protein powder (as necessary) etc, you can hit your numbers.

      If you prefer not having to work it all out yourself, you can have a meal plan custom made for you. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Jen

    What are your recommendations for IIFYM for someone recovering from an eating disorder? For 8 years i’d been restricting anywhere from 500 – 1400 calories, with intense 5-6 day/week exercises regimen. I’m working with a nutritional therapist, who says I should eventually make my way up to 1800-2000 cals a day with the way i workout (23yrs/5’3). Basically my metabolism is SHOT from consistent restriction and my body treats calories like gold, and conserves a lot of energy…I really haven’t been able to lose weight for years. IIFYM is nice for me because I always assume I am eating “too much” so this makes it more concrete. I’m worried I’ll just gain weight if I go into IIFYM at 1800 cals.

    • Hey Jen! I agree with the nutritionist. You should RD:


      RD correctly, and there will be little to no weight gain, and it’ll really just be from water and glycogen if there is any.

      After that, you can go into a deficit and actually get results. 🙂


  • Dan

    Hi mike I came across you on YouTube and listening to the info you give on everything to do with losing weight and maintaining muscle mass is helping me greatly Iam 6ft4 and weight 18.2 stone not sure what it is in pounds I train 6days a week hard and since following the if it fits your macros I’ve noticed a different in my body size and definition also with the help of different supplements but one thing I struggle with is I did my bmr online it said it was 2,239 kcals a day so I put myself at 2,000 a day now with the bodybuilding I do and the intense cardio on top I crnt seem to feel full what would you surgest am I in to much of low kcal intake or could if be that my carbs are wrong meaning I hardly eat sweet patato like I used to and have also changed brown rice for pasta and white rice I just crnt seem to feel full and Iam always eating thank you for reading this and thank you for your videos and this blog it’s brillant

    • Hey Dan! Happy to hear it!

      Thanks for all the info. That intake is WAY too low. I recommend a 20-25% deficit from TDEE–not BMR. I don’t recommend going below BMR. To recalculate your intake/macros, check this out:


      LMK how it goes! My pleasure. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words and support!

  • Michael West

    Hi Mike,

    Been working to drop fat using macro of 45-35-20. I am eating about 1900 calories per day. Looking for modifications for a 300+ mile cycling trip from Pittsburgh to DC in June. What would you recommend as a macro before and during the ride? Also how many calories during the days immediately preceding and during the ride. I expect to be pedaling 8-10 hours per day with a goal of 100 miles per day. My ability to carry stuff is limited. Thank much for your support.


    • Wow that’s going to be crazy. I’m thinking you’re going to have to get as many freaking calories in as possible and that will mean drinking carbs and protein and aminos as well. The goal there is going to be losing as little muscle as possible…

  • Sarah Ginsberg

    Hi mike! My macros are 1610 cal, 90gr protein, 200gr carbs, and 50g fat. At what point during the day/ in my calculations do I have the flexibility to eat the “unhealthy/indulgent” type foods?

    • Hey Sarah! Anytime of the day is fine! I just recommend getting 80% of your calories from nutritious sources. The other 20% you can use for treats when you like. 🙂

  • Laura

    Hi Mike! I train hard every day, eat super super clean but still do not get the results I want! I am 19 y/o, 5’2″ and 112lbs, I am a small person and don’t want to lose weight. My goal is to look like a fitness model! I dream about having nice, sexy and lean muscles :). But I just don’t know what to do!!! I do not go to the gym, I train at my own home gym (large set of dumbbells, bands, spin bike, chin up bar, fit ball)… but I think my lack of results is because of nutrition. So please, help me! What should I do? How can I calculate my macros accurately? What’s the difference between calculating them here http://www.muscleforlife.com/macronutrient-calculator/ and purchasing one of your books or custom meal plans? I AM DESPERATE! I really want to see results, I do my best every day and try so hard!

    Thank you for being you, I love EVERY article you publish, besides you are so kind and I feel like you were talking directly to me. It’s very nice! Thank you again 🙂

    Love from Colombia!
    Laura O.

    • Hey Laura,

      If you’re lifting weights, doing the big compound movements, and seeing little results, then you’re right–the issue is most likely diet. The article you linked can help you establish your daily calorie and macro targets. What you do with the information is the difference. You can have a professional plan your meals or you can try it yourself. If you want to build meal plans yourself, websites like myfitnesspal, CalorieKing, and CalorieCount.com are great resources to research food nutritional info.

      You are very welcome. Thanks! Happy to help.

      • Laura

        Thank you so much for the response Mike 🙂 I guess I am going to go for the macro calculator here on your page! Would you recommend to follow that (choosing the right types of food) and training at home with the BeachBody programs? I am a psychology major and have NO time for a gym. That’s why I started to build my own home gym!

        • Hi Laura, That’s great you started to build your own home gym! It’s not an ideal solution, but BeachBody programs in the meantime can tide you over while you’re assembling equipment. Definitely start on meal planning and tracking though.

          • Laura

            Thanks for answering Roger 🙂 but I have a further question… will counting macros with the calculator from this site ( http://www.muscleforlife.com/macronutrient-calculator/ ) work even if I am not lifting super heavy? Does is works with any type of exercise/program/workouts I might choose? Like the BB programs, TRX, Bootcamps or any other? Or does is work only if I am lifting weights in the way Mike recommends?

          • Hey Laura,

            It’ll work just fine. Remember though, these are still estimates even though the numbers are really close to actual values. Based on your body’s results, you will have to adjust.

          • Miz Eloise

            hello. im no expert but ive done beach body programs p90x and body beast cause my goal is same as yoirs. bottomline: either i lost lots of weoght and looked emaciated or looked bloated cause of bulking incorrectly. i grew tired cause of d long workouts mostly isolation movements. i didnt see results

            now i do mikes 5day program. inly 3 exercises per day but focuses on compound movements. im also calorie on a deficit. i still have a looong way to go but im seeing progress here than in beachbody.

            goodluck on your journey!

  • Sean Steinmetz

    Awesome read. Been waiting for an article on this. The IIFYM thing is taking over Instagram. It’s kinda out of control.

  • Victoria Skelly-Buck

    Hi thanks for posting this! Can you give an example of a low carb meal day? All the examples (the people above) are very high in carbs and IIFYM had mine set as follows:

    Protein Grams :124
    Fat Grams : 62
    Carbs Grams : 77
    Fiber Grams : 23 – 31

    • Happy to hear you like the article. You can try this macro split for a low-carb day:

      45% of your calories from protein (155g)
      20% of your calories from carbohydrate (68g)
      35% of your calories from fat (52g)

  • Leslie

    Hello Mike, I am 28 yr old female 69 inches following a program that calls for my macro breakdown to be

    With my calories being 2,328 and somewhat intense workouts 45-60 min. I am trying lose weight, do you think I should lower these?

  • CrackerJack


    Do you think 190g protein is excessive for my weight 128lb? I lift 5 days a week, heavy 4-6 rep range. Carbs are usually around 120-130g, Fats 35g. 1500-1600kcal.


    • Hey Jacklyn, all you really need is 1.2g/lbs body weight–or 154g in your case.

  • Greg

    Hey Mike,

    I’m trying to cut so planning a 40-40-20 (protein-carb-fat) macro split per your article above, but reading your other article (http://www.muscleforlife.com/macronutrient-calculator/) under the heading “If You Want To Maximize Fat Loss” you said cutting is:

    protein: 1 to 1.2g per lb
    fat: 0.2 to 0.25g per lb
    carb: the rest

    Following the 2nd option has given me a 50-30-20 (protein-carb-fat) macro split. Is there one that’s better? Will one make it harder to do/recover from heavy lifting? Basically: is it worth sacrificing carbs for protein when cutting through lifting/cardio?


    • Greg,

      If your body fat is less than 25%, then use the 1.2g/lbs guideline for protein. 1g/lbs if your BF is over 25%. Keep fat at 20% of your total cals, and the rest goes into carbs. You’ll recover just fine, and you’ll need the protein during a cut.

  • Zane Heflin

    Hey Mike i’ve got a couple questions. 1) As far as gaining muscle is concerned (bulking, which is what I’m aiming to do right now) is 1 or 1.2g/lb of body weight better? 2) If it fits my macros, then why does it matter if I get more of my calories from fat rather than carbs?
    I ask this because my macros are
    Pro: 310g (which I’m going to have to lower)
    Fats: 146g
    Carbs: 219g
    On a normal week I workout for about 1 and 1/2- 2hrs every day of the week with 2 legs days spread apart. I’m 22, 181 lbs, 5ft 11in, mesomorph/ectomorph with fast metabolism. I ask because I’ve had these macros for a while now and have remained the same size and body fat % (which varies between 10-11%) and have gained some strength when I stay consistent, but since i’ve stayed consistent with these macros and don’t gain fat, but not really muscle either, maybe I should just stick with these macros and up my carbs?? Lots if questions I know, but you’re insight would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Hey Zane!

      1. 1g per pound of body weight is good.

      2. As long as you hit your target cals and protein, you do have room to play with your fat and carb intake. That being said, generally speaking, I recommend sticking to higher carbs. It’ll improve performance in the gym and aid in recovery. However, if you don’t do well with carbs, feel free to lower them and increase the fats accordingly. You can still get great results.

      Check this out:


      Hmm. That’s a LOT of training. Keep this in mind:


      Also, if you’re getting stronger, but not gaining weight, you simply need to eat more. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Michael Porter

    If I’m hitting my protein number does it matter how I split up my carbs and fat? I like higher fat (nuts, avocado ) and workouts don’t suffer with lower (.5 X body weight). Will it hinder cutting?

  • Pablo Sandstrom

    Hi Mike. Loved your book. Had some questions regarding incorporating sauna into working out and dieting. Can you comment on the effects of sauna after a workout? Also more concretely, if I am having my post-work out shake (between 30-50g of protein and also having 1g of carb per pound of weight) will me going straight into the sauna have an effect (might sound stupid but will I sweat out the nutrients of the shake before my system takes them in). Finally when do you recommend within the normal day to go into the sauna (if at any point). Thank you so much

  • Stephanie Robleto

    I am sooo scared to try this (I’m currently in weight loss challenges) how can upping my calories by almost double get similar or better results? EEEKK

  • Natasha

    Im so confused where to even start with my meal planning..got the book, but what app should i use to track? I have a littl weight to loose, not much, but a ton of muscle to gain, help!

    • If you’re going to do meal planning, you don’t need an app to help with tracking because your meal plan has everything calculated on there. 🙂

      As for apps, myfitnesspal is a good start.

  • Manuel Rojas

    Hi Mike,

    I am a 25 year old male, weighting 157 lb and 5’5. 21.8% body fat (want to reduce it to 15%)

    Want to work with 2000 calories a day. 40% protein, 30% carb and 30% fat. is this good?

    Also, I work out 5 times a week, should I take less carbs the days I do not work out?

    Thank you,

  • Jenny

    Hi, I was looking at you book for women, the thinner leaner stronger. I am actually not wanting to lose any weight but put on muscle mass and become stronger would this book still be suitable for me please?

    • Yes, absolutely! The workout routine would be the same, and the book explains how to set up your diet for gaining muscle/size. You might like this article, by the way: http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-ultimate-fitness-plan-for-women/

      • Jenny

        Thank you so much for your reply and the link it was really helpful! I currently weigh about 53kg My bf % is 15ish and muscle mass is around 43ish! I am 29 and have 3 daughters so the eating is my main problem as I don’t eat enough! I am wanting to gain much more muscle but finding it so Hard! I am hoping your book will help me with this! Thank you

        • My book will absolutely help! Getting in enough food will be important for gaining size. If you find it difficult to get in enough calories, you can always focus on more calorie-dense foods like whole fat dairy, eggs, nut butters, etc. Let me know how it goes and keep me updated on your progress 🙂

  • Julia Masotti

    Really cool article and very informative. Very curious thou…why most iifym plans are really high in carbs and lower in fat? Even for cutting? I absolutely love a high fat diet and prefer do my cut on a 20%carb 35% protein and 45% fat.

  • Do0G1

    pls can you show those macros in food example ?

  • Rocky68

    Hi Mike,

    Both my wife and I have just finished your BLS and TLS books (which we think are the best books in the area we have read!) and are going to start the 3 day push pull workout in October but i have a few questions if you don’t mind.

    I’m 49 years old and weigh 182lbs and my height is 5′ 11″ with around 22-24% BF ( I think as I don’t know how accurate the calipers are).

    I would like to cut first as you suggest but was wondering if the macro’s are 40p/40c/20f no matter if you are cutting, maintaining or bulking and only the caloric input changes? I’m on 1750 calories for the cut to start with.

    Or should we go for the 1 to 1.2g protein per lb etc to cut and 0.2 -.25 fat and make up the rest in carbs?

    I also read in your book that older men shouldn’t do the compounds if they are injured etc but i have no injuries so do you think I should just go to 4-6 rep range and see how i get on or should I start slowly and move up?

    Thanks for all of your information both here and in your books and a few things really clicked with us whilst reading them! We can’t wait to start the workout proper as we have been to the gym to get started with weights so it’s not too much of a shock to the body!

    • The 40/40/20 macro split is a good general target, but more specifically, while cutting, I recommend setting your protein at 1.2g per lb, getting at least 20% of your calories from fat, and getting the rest of your calories from carbs. You can read more here: https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      I would ease into the training as you find what weights to work with, but as long as you don’t have any pre-existing issues, you should be fine working in the 4-6 rep range. You’ll probably like this article: https://legionathletics.com/fitness-at-any-age/

      I hope this helps!

      • Rocky68

        Thanks for the response Mike.

        I worked out the calories based off the calc in your book and i need 1900 calories based on 178g carbs, 216g protein and 36g fat.
        Does that sound right to you?

        How important is it to get more than 20% fat every day? I mean if i hit around 17-18% fat every day is that ok as long as I’m hitting my protein and carbs?

        Thanks again for taking the time to reply!

        • I’d aim for at least 20% fat if you’re cutting. The formulas in the book are a good general guideline, but the calculators on my site will be a bit more precise because they can take body fat percentage into account. 1900 is a good starting point for you, regardless 🙂

          • Rocky68

            Thanks again Mike!

            I know you must be very busy but it’s a credit to you that you answer most questions yourself!

            Will let you know how I get on!

          • No problem! Sounds good 🙂

  • Farih Muhammad

    Hey Mike,
    I wonder what are the risk ‘overtaking’ protein (without supplements) and how can you tell if you are?

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