To explain, let’s examine both sides of the diet spectrum: “Clean eating” and “If-It-Fits-Your-Macros”. “Clean eating” focuses more on what you eat and “If-It-Fits-Your-Macros” focuses more on how much you eat; that classic battle between quality and quantity. Each of these diet methods has good intentions, but too much focus on one side can cause more problems than you might realize.
Clean Eating – Improving Your Life One Meal at a Time
The Good Intentions of “Clean Eating”— encourages people to focus more on filling and nutrient foods. The problems begin, however, when people take this focus to extreme levels. They exaggerate the potential dangers of certain foods and confuse and frustrate people in the process.
The Problems with “Clean Eating”
“Clean eating” has no one, unchanging definition.
Everyone has their own definition of what “Clean Eating” means for them, depending on beliefs, personal experience, and any rational—or, oftentimes—irrational food fears they might have.
“Clean Eating” can encourage unhealthy eating behaviors and stress that could otherwise be easily avoided.
Too much focus on dividing every food into “good” and “bad” categories can be mentally exhausting as the foods you’re “allowed” to eat becomes either too demanding on your brain to remember or nearly nonexistent. In either case, such stress will pressure you into indulging and, as is often in such cases, to binge on “bad” foods. Such stress can also, over time, become a catalyst to a full-fledged eating disorder.
“Clean Eating” fortifies irrational, fear-based food choices.
Sensationalized warnings from public health authorities have one of two effects on people: none, because they don’t care or know that it’s sensationalized and over-the-top; or too much, causing those who already worry about what they eat start to over worry. In the latter case, warnings like “gluten tears holes through your intestines” augment irrational fear and stress, which encourages unhealthy eating habits.
“Clean Eating” followers believe that their version is the “RIGHT” one.
Those who follow a “Clean Eating” diet often claim that their version of the diet is the best and “right” one that everyone should follow. While whatever version of “Clean Eating” might work well for one person, that doesn’t at all guarantee that it’ll work well for everyone by default. Each person’s body has different requirements and food tolerances. There are healthy principles that everyone should follow, but how you follow them is customary to you.
“Clean Eating” isn’t a fat and weight loss guarantee.
One popular version of “Clean Eating” focuses on some level of avoiding as many calories as possible to help encourage fat and weight loss. This method might work at first, but eventually you’ll reach a standstill. Avoiding calories is not a healthy way to lose weight and, furthermore, it doesn’t encourage your body to keep off any weight lost. A better way to help yourself eat less, and therefore encourage weight loss, is to include more filling foods in your diet.
IIFYM — If It Fits Your Macros & Flexible Dieting
The Good Intentions of “If-It-Fits-Your-Macros” (IIFYM) Eating — IIFYM claims that a food is okay to eat in whatever quantities as long as it meets one of your daily requirements for protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. Scientific research supports this sort of diet, showing that optimizing your calorie and macronutrient intake can have a healthy effect on your body regardless of where those calories and nutrients came from. IIFYM eating is also simple and flexible, making it easy for people to follow.
The Problems with “If-It-Fits-Your-Macros” Dieting
Those that already eat junk food could take IIFYM eating too literally and take it as a justification for their unhealthy eating habits.
Some people take IIFYM eating too literally and don’t actually change their eating habits—they simply adjust them to fit in more of a variety of unhealthy foods.
IIFYM eating can make you obsessed with staying within your macronutrient requirements.
Facing a need to fill nutrient requirements can cause some people to become obsessed with exactly fulfilling each requirement every day. IIFYM eating is meant to help you include varieties of healthy foods, but stressing too much about meeting your nutrient requirements is counterproductive.
The Solution? Both!
Food quality and quantity are equally important to muscle gain, weight loss and your personal health.
Balancing your focus on quality and quantity is less stressful and, by keeping track of your food, you subconsciously start to eat healthier.
Remember: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet, so find your own balance and let others find theirs!