There are hundreds of dietary alternatives out there. From Paleo dieters to Atkins followers, all promise weight loss and a wholesome lifestyle.
Any nutritional coach worth their salt knows what makes them all work: Caloric deficit.
Any regime that creates a caloric deficit will result in fat loss.
However, this does not mean that all diets and nutritional regimes are sustainable. Diets that impose draconian restrictions on food tend to be ineffective. Not because they don´t produce the desired effect, but because sooner or later they will rebound.
A proof of this is that the term “Cheat Meal” has become both a buzzword and an institution during the last few decades.
Fortunately, the new millennium has given way to systems that see metabolism under another light.
Ketones and Macronutrients
These terms have gained traction during the last decade. They are the foundation of very different and innovative nutritional approaches and offer elegant solutions to those who want to lose weight, but still want to enjoy great food.
Let´s see what they are about:
The Keto diet relies on a known fact about our body´s sources of energy.
We know our bodies primarily use glucose as fuel. We absorb carbohydrates and transform them into glucose, essentially sugar, and then our liver sends it to our muscles as fuel as needed. Any excess is stored as fat.
However, when we deprive our body from carbs, it switches to our backup source of energy. Yes, that body fat your liver had been putting away for later.
This has a lot of benefits.
First, our bodies burn fat for fuel, which helps with cognitive function (brain power). The liver takes fat and transforms it into ketones, which can be thought of as fuel cells for our muscles and brain.
Secondly, this kind of diet helps regulate cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin levels. Awesome effects for people with certain types of cancer, diabetes and even Polycystic ovary syndrome.
The best part? Bacon!
The diet is based on the consumption of high fat foods, while drastically reducing carbohydrates consumption. More on the benefits of the Keto Diet here
As long as you cut down on grains, baked stuff, starches, sugary treats and alcohol, you can eat fatty foods such as red meat, ham, bacon, eggs, cheese, and your veggies. This is certainly preferable to most low-fat/high-bore diets.
Its counterintuitive principles make it a favorite of fat lovers. But there is a catch (there always is, isn´t it?).
First, you have to enter Ketosis. This is when your body switches energy sources as it runs low on carbs. But the process is quite uncomfortable, unbearable for many.
Your body and brain are not used to ketone as their primary source of energy. This causes a flu-like condition that some have compared to a withdrawal syndrome. Most experience headaches, nausea and general fatigue. Many discontinue their keto diet before they reap the benefits of accelerated fat burning because of the keto-flu.
The second drawback is that you have to almost completely renounce to sugar, processed foods and alcohol. They can all throw you out of ketosis as your liver is rushed with sources of bad old glucose.
While keto diets are not as restrictive as most others, it still imposes a narrow cap on delicious food. Forcing you to eat “clean” for months at a time is simply not sustainable. Many people enter into a diet/binge cycle that is very hard to get off of.
Moreover, keto diets that have high protein intake do not really offer any advantages over other dietary regimes.
Many people get baffled after they find out there is still glucose fueling their muscles even if they completely cut on Carbs. Well, the liver, which is an incredible machine, uses proteins in a process called glucogenesis to produce the glucose some bodily functions cannot do without.
This makes Ketogenic diets a bit more restrictive than one would assume as proteins must also be kept in check.
Here is the real truth about keto:
The keto diet only works if you are in a calorie deficit, and that means you have to hit your macros.
There is nothing special about burning fat for fuel. NOTHING!!
If you don’t hit your macros, keto will not work
Macro Diets or Flexible Diets
It is important to point out that IIFYM is not actually a dietary regime but a system that helps you control your daily caloric intake. The uniqueness of this approach is that it lets you eat anything as long as you stick to your calculated caloric intake. More info at our advanced macro calculator page
Suddenly, cheat meals become unnecessary, and the psychologic incentives for binge eating are drastically reduced.
This is the holy grail for those who suffered under cruel coaches who starved them and put them through punitive sessions of cardio.
The main criticism comes from diet zealots who advocate for strict food discipline.
Many believe this approach is lazy as it lets you indulge in junk food, and use the derisive If It Fits Your Mouth acronym.
But, is this true?
The regular approach most diets use is one that tells people exactly what to eat and when to eat. Their followers don´t really have to keep track of anything. They just have to stick to a strict list of Do´s and Don´ts.
Flexible Dieters, on the other hand, must make a conscious effort to find out the nutritional value of everything they put in their mouths and keep track of their caloric intake before every meal.
True. It would give anyone the freedom to hit their macronutrient requirements with pop tarts and sodas. But this is not what actually happens among IIFYMers.
We have seen a tremendous interest in learning about optimal body composition and macronutrient breakdown. Meaning that people appreciate the flexibility and freedom, but also tend to take this approach more seriously than, say, someone who spends a week in almost complete inanition and then indulges in a two-day junk food feast.
The philosophy behind IIFYM is really easy to understand:
In order to increase sustainability, people have to be able to have fun with what they eat.
However, as most things in life, flexible eating requires a plan.
This is not as confusing or as restrictive as all other fad diets. It just requires a bit of knowledge of the science behind the system to start outlining a macro plan. Of course, it takes time to really learn how to do it right. That´s why we offer an easy to follow and customized blueprint for those who want to learn more.
Advantages of IIFYM over Keto Diets
Maybe one of the most important advantages of the flexible IIFYM is that Ketogenic diets can be adapted to it, while the reverse is not true.
Can you drink alcohol on Keto? Nope.. Not if you want to stay in ketosis at least.
Can you drink alcohol on the macro diet? You bet your carb eating ass you can!!
By simply keeping track of your caloric intake, making sure most of it comes from high-fat foods and keeping carbs away, you can still reach ketosis and replace glucose as the main fuel source. Again, you can eat anything as long as it fits your macros.
However, keep in mind that the body can still produce glucose if protein consumption is not kept in check. This makes IIFYM less fun.
But the main advantage of Macros over Keto, and any other fad diet, is that it does not create habits that slowly become a burden. This is the real secret. This is what grants IIFYM its sustainability.
I hope this clarifies a bit the differences between the two nutritional approaches. Keto is still a diet, while IIFYM is more of a system that does not require you to change your lifestyles or give up the foods you love. You can even go Keto under the IIFYM philosophy, but it won´t be as enjoyable.
The base of all sustainable habits is the satisfaction they provide!