I may or may not be opening a can of worms here, but I've wanted to address this for a while and after being asked about it several times recently, I figured now was the time.
I'm sure many of you have heard this phrase that's been floating around "IIFYM" or If It Fits Your Macros. Basically, the theory behind this is based on calories in vs. calories out and it says that you can eat whatever foods you want, as long as they fit your macros. Many common foods you'll see people who subscribe to this method eat are Pop Tarts, Mountain Dew, ice cream cones, pizza etc.
- Don't like the term "clean eating".
- Clean eating is too restrictive
- Clean eating causes binges
- Clean eating is associated with "cheat meals"
- Clean eaters are obsessive
*Before I get my head chopped off, I'll remind you these are just my thoughts and how I perceive things after doing my own research on this topic.*
So, what do I think? I believe that eating whole foods with minimal ingredients helps the body function optimally. I believe that by eating processed foods containing preservatives, artificial ingredients, and chemicals you are doing your body a disservice. Our bodies are not made to break down these types of ingredients and frankly, they are wreaking havoc on our society [hello obesity epidemic].
With that said, do I think some clean eaters are too restrictive? Sure. Can it cause binges? Yep. Do I like the term cheat meal? No. Clean eating is often made a lot harder and more complicated than it needs to be, and this can lead to people becoming obsessive. This obsessive, extreme behavior can be applied to both sides of the spectrum though. There are clean eaters that only eat tilapia and asparagus just as there are IIFYM followers that literally eat "junk" foods all day. I think the theory behind IIFYM comes from a good place-- it's purpose is really to make a fitness diet less strict while still maintaining the physique you're after. But, like many other "diets" some people are just taking it to extremes or misunderstanding.
In reality, to hit your macros, you're probably going to have to eat pretty healthy to be able to still be eating a decent amount of food. A box of Pop Tarts is going to add up really quick on the carb side, and you're probably going to be stuck eating plain chicken the rest of the day. So, whatever approach you choose to take, make sure you find yourself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, because that's likely where you're going to see your results.
As for me.... you won't see me eating Pop Tarts or Twinkies anytime soon :)