IIFYM & “A calorie is a calorie”
violates the second law of thermodynamics.
If you’ve been active in the fitness community for a while now, even if you just follow a few folks on Instagram (quick plug). You have probably come across this abbreviation IIFYM or heard of the term “A Calorie is a Calorie”. Now, these two phrases are not quite the same and I will add more details into that further below. The point you should get from this post is that fitness, health, and nutrition go deeper than just the amount of food you can put in your mouth.
Thermogenesis – the process of heat from an organism. What does this have to do with anything? Well, it has to do with everything. Specifically, Thermogenesis has in relation to the second law of thermodynamics and why a calorie is not just a calorie. Here’s a quick reference on some data about how carbohydrates, fat, and protein are burned in your body’s metabolic process.
“There is a large literature on this subject and the general conclusion, as summarized in a recent review by Jéquier , is that thermic effects of nutrients is approximately 2–3 % for lipids, 6–8 % for carbohydrates, and 25–30% for proteins.”
A Carb is not just a Carb at all, First Blow to IIFYM
What that means for the curious, which should be anyone reading this article is that simply consuming calories for the sake of reaching your 2000 calorie daily recommendation is flawed logic. It is true that consuming more or fewer calories, in general, will help you gain or lose weight. What is more important though is consuming the right amount of calories. Seeing as proteins have the highest thermic effect in the body, it is best to increase the portion whilst decreasing carbohydrates. The reason I choose carbs over fat is that the average fit-minded individual doesn’t consume enough fat anyway. Especially with how the market is advertising what “diet” means these days.
Most people go to diets and the gym with the goal to lose weight. With the goal of losing weight in mind, it is in agreeance that a high protein/ low carbohydrate diet can lead to greater weight loss than isocaloric low-fat diets. 
The conclusion as to why a carb is much more than just another source of fuel.
So let me wrap up my first conclusion on the phrase “a calorie is a calorie”, it isn’t. Unfortunately, the food industry sees great value in increasing the carb content of foods and still selling them as “diet”. It’s easy to demonize fat for them because sugar and what are easy cheap fillers for food. Keep this in mind when you shop and choose what diet to follow. Let’s get to the next bit.
Results show that a modest increase in protein content and a modest reduction in the glycemic index led to an improvement in maintenance of weight loss. (3)
IIFYM is fun, without a doubt and getting into the gym should be a priority. Here’s the problem.
Most of my favorite bodybuilders have cheat days, like MASSIVE cheat days. Have you seen how the Rock pounds down pancakes? Those are all fun and all for someone who’s essentially maintaining a low glycemic diet and consuming small meals on the regular. Now here’s where IIFYM comes in and throws a curveball at your diet.
The Achilles heel in IIFYM is in the definition itself.
If It Fits Your Macros aka IIFYM, doesn’t address two key factors in dieting and fitness. When you consume food that contains calories (or some artificial sugars) it will have an effect on your blood glucose level. When you eat foods high on the glycemic scale, your body has to rush in insulin to keep your blood sugar in check. If you constantly consume primarily high glycemic foods (especially in large servings) your body will gain an insulin resistance. This insulin resistance will make it harder for you to lose weight and make you more inclined to diabetes.
The reason why The Rock can cheat but you cant afford to.
The average gym bro doesn’t pound down a serving of wheat chips and hummus. They’ll usually go for pizza for lunch, a burger for dinner and crack open a cold one with the boys at night. All those calories together may fit your caloric goal but they violate the first rule above, all calories are not equal in the laws of thermogenesis.
Not only do these types of foods not fit into your “diet” but they are also shooting your insulin resistance through the roof. This will only make it harder for you to lose weight or gain muscle properly.
So what’s the solution?
Eat proper servings of low-medium glycemic meals daily. Cheat days are a whole different topic for a later date. If you want to add some flair to your diet, you still can while staying on track. Even if you do eat a burger or occasion, make sure it’s a healthy option on the menu. The alternative is that you do not make it a habit. Generally, many low glycemic foods are fibrous which is another key factor in maintaining blood pressure, metabolism and cutting fat.
All in all, IIFYM is too broad and a calorie is NOT just a calorie. If you still want to follow it, I’d suggest buying a good piece of exercise equipment. You’ll need it.
Hope I didn’t put you to sleep! Here, have some food porn! Bye!