IIFYM: Don't Count Macros-- Look at Micros


Counting macros is all the rage these days, and while they are important to consider, it’s a trend that’s causing people to gravely overlook a different and arguably even more important set of biomarkers: micronutrients.

While macros include protein, fat and carbohydrates, micronutrients include all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and phytonutrients that are essential for keeping our bodies running in a healthy manner. The problem with this whole “if it fits your macros” (#IIFYM) movement is multifold, which I dove into in a separate blog (here), so I won’t rehash that now. But essentially, it’s putting all the focus on meeting specific grams and calories per macro and totally disregarding the nutrient quality of those grams/calories.

It’s quite obvious (or so I would hope) that, similar to looking at calories, 50 grams of carbs coming from carrots is far different than 50 grams of carbs from chips or pretzels. Not only do you get to eat more volume of food to get to those 50 grams by choosing carrots, but you are also getting lots of vitamin A, K, B, biotin, potassium, fiber, and even water! Contrast that with the pretzels, which aren’t exactly awful, but there’s simply no competition.

This applies for the other macro groups as well, and I have seen countless examples of people allowing their protein and fat intake to get blown way out of proportion. Just because you’re aiming for, say, 20% of calories from fat does not give you free reign to house bacon and butter and fried foods covered in processed vegetable oils. Will the ratios come out looking the same in your diet tracker app? Sure, but your body will look and feel completely different than if you were getting those fats from nutritious foods like avocado or sprouted nuts and seeds, which offer a more complete package of nutrients.

Understanding this logic, you can see how people can easily become malnourished even though they are eating at or above their daily caloric and macro-level “needs.” This is also how people can get easily frustrated with counting macros, and hitting their numeric goals, but still feeling unsatisfied and left with cravings.