IIFYM vs. Clean Eating – What’s better for natty bodybuilders? Is flexible dieting the most optimal way to eat?

| by Truth Seeker |

It was about 8 in the morning when I woke up. I was hungry as hell. There was nothing in the fridge except a few Pop-tarts. I ate all of them, but then I felt guilty.

Was I sabotaging the growth of my muscles by eating junk food full of bad sugars?

I started the computer and launched YouTube right away. This is where I take most of my knowledge from. I am a proud YouTube graduate. I love the YouTube philosophers. They are great. Very professional and well educated. I greatly enjoy videos showing what my muscle idols eat.

I follow many natural bodybuilders on YouTube. One of them is Matt Bogus. That day he had a video that lifted my spirit. I needed the boost after taking care of those Pop-tarts.

Ironically, he is a big Pop-tart fan too. According to him, you can eat whatever you want as long as your macros are covered. The moment I heard those words, I started my research. I wanted to learn more about the miracle of If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).

I started typing on the keyboard with great enthusiasm. A piece of my happiness was contained in every key stroke.  Click. Click. Click.

I was just about to discover the secret to eating garbage all the time while still looking lean and mean, but then I remembered the golden rule – if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Note: The text above is fictional.



As long as you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight regardless of the foods you eat. That’s an undeniable fact. You can’t increase your savings when your expenses are more than your salary, can you?

I would go as far as saying that you could only count calories, not even your macros, and still lose a ton of weight.

In high school, many girls relied on crackers supposedly high in fiber to control their weight. A pack was about 150 kcal. Many skinny girls were eating those suckers all the time while retaining a starveling appearance. Obviously, crackers are not among healthiest food choices. They are processed and made out of cheap ingredients with poor nutritional value. The main reason why those girls remained skinny and fragile is the fact that crackers are very effective at reducing hunger without providing too many calories.

In brief, as long as you are in a caloric deficit any diet will result in weight loss. IIFYM does not make an exception.


Yes. If your diet provides enough protein and calories, the environment for muscle hypertrophy is present. That’s undeniable. A protein is a protein.

Whether your protein comes from chickens living on a nice farm somewhere in Switzerland or cows pumped with growth hormone and forced to live in cells is irrelevant when the body is looking for building blocks to repair itself. It’s not like the organism blocks the “dirty” protein while opening the gate for the clean and happy version. Therefore, IIFYM won’t prevent muscle growth from occurring.


There are several major flaws with this style of eating. The first one is that many people use IIFYM as an excuse to eat carbohydrates from very poor sources. What do you think is healthier for your body? A banana or a Pop-tart? This choice may not make a huge difference as far as your body composition is concerned, but processed food comes with extra baggage and strain on the body.

Let’s imagine that you have come up with an ingenious plan to only eat foods from McDonald’s menu. You have calculated your total calories and macros in a way promoting weight loss or respectively gain. What do you think will happen? As long as the numbers are somewhat correct, you will lose or gain weight. However, you will feel terrible, and your stomach and teeth will hate you.

If you keep the bad foods limited to 10-15% of your total intake, you will still look the same as long the total calories and macros are identical, but you will feel much better overall. People forget that building muscle mass and pleasure are not the only reasons to consume food.

Another major downside of IIFYM is that it stops people from developing discipline and proper nutritional habits. Eating clean all the time is not needed, but consuming sugary drinks, burgers, and hot dogs is not the answer either… even if it fits your macros.


There are many different types of fat, but many IIFYM followers don’t acknowledge this fact. There’s a big difference between the fat contained in cheese and the hydrogenated fats which many cheap foods come with. The first type is healthy while the second one has a negative impact on your health and appearance.

Hydrogenated and other bad fats are known to cause cellulite. Therefore, you may be covering your macros and still look unsatisfactory.


Many bodybuilders and fitness models who are obviously enhanced rely on IIFYM dieting as a way to explain how they remain so lean despite eating garbage all the time. Their true secret, however, would be the drugs in their system.

To summarize:

IIFYM a.k.a. flexible dieting can be an effective way to add bad but tasty foods to your diet without measurable negative effects. Nevertheless, this style of eating should not be used as an excuse to consume garbage. It’s better to limit the processed meals to about 10-15% of your total daily intake. Sure, you can go up to 50-70% and still look the same, but you are risking health problems and poor performance.

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  1. Antoine

    Ahahah you’re just so much fun!!!

    Can you cite the research you evoke? For instance, that cheese fat is good for you…

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