My friend Kane Sumabat is one of the most muscular, lean and aesthetic guys I know.  Surpisingly, poptarts, pizza, hamburgers, and bacon are staples of his diet. How the heck can he stay in such great shape while eating all of that so-called “junk food”?

And I’m not talking about his “cheat meals”… those are just some of the food choices he fits into his carefully planned and monitored nutrition plan. After talking to Kane about his nutritional philosophy I was curious to learn more about it, so I did some research. In this post I’m going to share some of what I discovered.

When it comes to gaining or losing body weight (ie: shedding fat or gaining muscle), your nutrition has to be a priority. Obviously an intelligent approach to training is necessary, but for most people if their diet isn’t on track they will get disappointing results.

Knowing this, what’s the best approach to a solid nutrition plan? There are so many different “diets” available to us, how do we know what to choose? In this article I want to discuss and compare two very popular nutritional approaches. These two nutrition “plans” are called IIFYM and “Clean Eating.

What is IIFYM?

IIFYM stands for “If It Fits Your Macros”, also referred to as “Flexible Dieting”. This is the nutrition strategy that my friend Kane uses. Basically, flexible dieters believe that it doesn’t matter so much “what” particular foods you eat or “when” you eat it, as long as you meet specific ratios of protein, fats, and carbs (the macronutrients or “macros“) in your diet, and achieve your target caloric intake based on your individual needs and goals. A more detailed explanation can be seen in the videos below.

So why is Flexible Dieting or IIFYM so popular? Well, primarily because it is so effective! The principles of IIFYM are based on pretty solid science. If your goal is to improve your body composition, the fundamentals of this approach will help you get results.

Although the specific recommendations for calorie and macronutrient intake vary depending on which expert you talk to, here are some basic guidelines I suggest:

Caloric Intake

  • 15 calories per pound of body weight as a rough guideline for weight maintenance (basal metabolic rate)
  • Increase or reduce caloric intake by at least 10% OR 200-300 calories per day, depending on whether your goals are to gain muscle or lose fat.
  • Track your results (weight, measurements, body composition) and adjust accordingly over time.

Macronutrient Intake

  • Start with one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight per day
  • The remainder of your calories would come from fat or carbohydrate.
  • I suggest higher fat intake on non-strength training days (ie: rest days or HIIT / cardio days), and higher carbs on strength training days.

I discuss how to balance your calories and nutrients in greater detail and explain my reasoning for this in my ebook “Get Lean: Permanent Physique Transformation.”

Get Lean

The benefits of IIFYM are that by tracking your calorie and nutrient intake you create awareness of your food consumption. It also helps you to determine how many calories your body needs or uses, as well as how to meet certain macronutrient requirements. Recording your progress by keeping a journal is a proven way to get better results with ANY goal you have, whether it be in the gym, in business, or in the kitchen.

The drawback of IIFYM / flexible dieting is that many people misinterpret it as a licence to eat as much processed “junk food” as they want. Many flexible dieters pay less attention to their micronutrient intake or the affect of their food choices on their  hormones, digestion, metabolism, or overall health. However, the goal of IIFYM is to first meet your caloric and macro needs (as well as fiber) with healthy, nutrient dense foods; only once those basic needs are met can any remaining calories be made up by consuming so-called “junk food”.

It’s also popular for flexible dieters to post pictures on Instagram or Facebook of poptarts and bacon double cheeseburgers, because that obviously gets more attention than other typical food choices. This can lead to an unfair stereotype that IIFYM is a junk food “diet”.

In contrast, some individuals in the fitness industry will insist that as long as you “Eat Clean”, caloric intake doesn’t matter and so tracking your macros is not necessary.

What Is Clean Eating?

There are different interpretations of what “eating clean” actually means, which is one reason why following a Clean Eating nutrition plan can be somewhat vague and difficult to stick with. But the main focus is on food choices. Typically less processed food is recommended, and lower glycemic index carbohydrates are generally favored over simple carbs or sugar. More attention is given to micronutrient intake, consuming plenty of vegetables and whole foods, and generally trying to eat more “natural” foods.

The fact is that the food you eat does have an affect on your endocrinology (hormones), digestion, inflammation, and other factors that affect your health and body composition. The “Clean Eaters” are really focused on these aspects of nutrition! Unfortunately, many who focus solely on the quality of your food, eliminating certain foods, and timing their meals, often tend to downplay the importance of caloric intake. But no matter how “clean” you eat, calories DO MATTER, as explained in the following article:

=> 11 Reasons Why People Think Calories Don’t Count – And Why They’re Wrong

So which approach is correct? In my opinion, they both have virtues. Rather than viewing these two nutritional theories as adversarial, perhaps it is better to adopt the best of both. For example, use the IIFYM protocol to track your calories and macros, and still pay attention to including plenty of nutrient-dense unprocessed whole foods, while allowing yourself to enjoy so-called “junk food” once your primary calorie and nutrient goals have been met.

Tracking your calories and nutrients is a very effective strategy, especially if your goal is physique transformation, ie: change of body composition (lose body fat, gain lean muscle). To say “calories don’t matter” is nonsensical. However, to ignore the “quality” of the food you eat is not a smart plan either. We discuss this topic in depth in this interview with fitness professional Suneet from Sebastian Fitness Solutions; it is definitely worth watching to get a solid understanding of the popular subject:


If you haven’t already, click the link below to receive our training and nutrition tips as well as our free Mass Building Ebook:



I hope that helps you put together your own balanced and effective nutrition plan. If you have any related questions or comments, please post them in the section below, or stop by our facebook page at: www.facebook.com/topformfitness

Until next time,

Stay Lean!

Josh Hewett

Team YGT