Clean Eating Versus IIFYM

If you’ve spent any time purusing popular fitness websites, magazines, or social media sites,

you may have witnessed the sparring match between two distinct fitness and nutrition “camps.”

Fans of each nutrition philosophy are extremely dedicated (and vocal), frequently sparking heated debates ( or all out wars).

So, what’s all the fuss about? Many clients I’ve spoken with have questions about these nutrition philosophies and what makes them so appealing ( and polarizing).

Let’s take a look at our contenders, and examine their fighting styles, strengths, and weaknesses.

Ready to rumble? Let’s go…


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Flexible Dieting Mastery

Flexible Dieting Mastery

In the blue corner, we have the “Clean Eaters” 

This nutrition diet philosophy maintains that you should, most of the time, eat only “clean foods.”

What makes a food “clean”? Well, no one really knows. BUT, I’d say that a good definition of a “clean” food in one that’s minimally process and/ or comes straight from nature ( as opposed to out of a box).

How exactly do I make my food "clean?"

How exactly do I make my food “clean?”

Examples include fruits and vegetables, lean meats, minimally processed whole grains, potatoes, raw nuts and seeds, etc.

Of course these are all very reasonable and healthy choices, but Clean Eating Extremists shun the thought of ever letting a cookie, with its processed-ness and harmful “chemicals” pass their organic lip balm coated lips.

In the red corner, we have the “IIFYM” crowd ( an acronym for ‘If It Fits Your Macros’).

This nutrition philosophy maintains that no food is “good” or “bad” and as long as you “meet your macros” for the day ( read: macro = macronutrient. The macronutrients are protein, carbs and fats).

IIFYM’ers frequently posts alluring photos of pizza and pop tarts on social media, not because they ONLY eat those kinds of foods but because they’re making the point that you CAN enjoy treats on occasion and still see incredible results.

For example, it’s no problem to enjoy a few Thin Mints with my protein shake post workout, because it fits my macros. And post workout, when you need to replenish glucose the most, the body doesn’t know the difference between the sugar in, say, an apple, versus the sugar in four Girl Scout cookies. It all gets converted to glucose (this is where the Clean Eaters gasp in shock).












So, where does flexible dieting fit in?

In the boxing analogy, if IIFYM and Clean Eating are your contenders, flexible dieting is your referee.

I’d say this philosophy falls right smack dab in the middle. Sure, you’re eating “clean” 80% of the time, but because you’re tracking your macros a’ la IIFYM,

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you may also already know that I, being a “reformed” clean eater, am a BIG fan of flexible dieting. I even created an entire “how to” course around the topic.


You can also learn more about this subject in this episode of Q&A Friday

Additional resources

Check out this blog post where I walk though a complete “day in the life” as a flexible dieter

Check out my recently released Flexible Dieting Course and Receive 50% off for a limited time!

I’d love to hear, your thoughts, questions, and experiences. Leave your comments below!





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