Tag Archives: nutrition

What’s a Macro & What the Heck is IIFYM?

Quorn Vegan Burger Assembled 600

Ready for the quick and dirty lesson on macros and IIFYM?

Macro is short for macronutrient and macronutrient refers to the big three; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  Foods are generally categorized by the macronutrient they contain the most which is why rice is generally referred to as a carbohydrate even though it also contains protein and fat.

You may also have heard of micronutrients which are the vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintain health.  Our bodies require these to run at optimal levels.

IIFYM is an acronym for “If It Fits Your Macros.” ¬†IIFYM is a lifestyle that has been embraced by many in the fitness industry…many of whom previously spent years restricting their diets (myself included) to foods they considered “clean” (whole foods aka “bro” foods such as sweet potato, tilapia, asparagus, etc.). ¬†The IIFYM revolution has opened many of our eyes to the fact that as long as you eat your set macros for the day (specific grams of Carbs, Protein, and Fat tailored to your particular needs), you can eat those macros ANY WAY YOU CHOOSE. ¬†For years it was widely believed that in order to get lean and obtain those elusive abs you needed to eat all whole foods and eliminate treats.

Those of us in the IIFYM community are proving time and time again that you can achieve health with balance. ¬†Confession time… For years I have eaten those clean foods and deprived myself of treats only to decide to allow myself a treat now and then and with that first bite I would CRACK and an all out treat fest would ensue. ¬†Trust me, you would be shocked by the flood gates that would open. ¬†It was as if I couldn’t stop myself. ¬†After these treat fests my body would scream at me and to say I felt awful (both physically and mentally) would be an understatement. ¬†These food fests as I call them would make me so disappointed in myself.

Then IIFYM came into my life. ¬†Suddenly I was able to fit a treat in if I craved it and do so guilt-free. ¬†The mental freedom that this brought me was nothing short of amazing. ¬†Knowing that I could technically have a treat when I wanted one took away the “all or nothing” mentality that previously led to my food fests while following my restrictive lifestyle.

I stumbled upon this lifestyle by chance when looking something up on the web. ¬†I honestly can’t even recall how it happened. ¬†Somehow I was directed to Corina Nielsen’s blog,¬†live fit, and THIS¬†particular post which led me to Layne Norton‘s vlogs and countless hours of research. ¬†The idea of finally achieving balance while simultaneously remaining fit was so appealing to me. ¬†My IIFYM searches led me to multiple Instagram pages and I again stumbled upon a gem, Katie Ringley aka katiesfitscript. ¬†I decided to hire Katie (yep Nutrition Coaches hire their own coaches too) to help me navigate this new world of Macros and IIFYM and I am so glad I did. ¬†I started my own mostly fitness-based Instagram page (fitquestmom) and continue to gain inspiration from those I follow. ¬†Trust me when I say that following people you respect and that inspire you helps keep that fire stoked within to hit those workouts hard!

fitquestmom Instagram Page

That being said, 90 percent of my food still would be considered bro foods because that is what I truly like to eat and what makes me feel the best (gotta get those micronutrients in).  I am now more fit than ever and the flexibility this lifestyle has afforded me is so freeing.

ISSA Cert_LogoI am such a believer that I went back to school and earned another nutrition certification so I can help others achieve the health and balance I have finally found.  I am now an ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist and have been helping clients learn this simple and maintainable lifestyle.

My client, Gracie, was able to achieve the results you see below in just 9 weeks and I have to tell you they were 10 weeks when she was traveling for work, working CRAZY hours, and experiencing a truckload of personal stress.

FitQuest Before and After IIFYM

In her own words:

“I have started another part of my path in life. ¬†Instead of just trying to ‘lose weight’ my focus is on being the healthiest person I know my body wants to be. ¬†I am working with such a great, positive, supportive, loving woman! ¬†@fitquestmom has put me through a nutrition program. ¬†I am coming up on 10 weeks now and this is my progress so far. ¬†I am very thrilled by my results due to the fact that I am doing it healthy this time. ¬†Counting macros is everything! ¬†And patience is another. ¬†You must have this…health is not a race but a lifestyle…Diet is almost what got me to this point…my workouts have now picked up again finally (due to an old injury acting up from time to time). ¬†I am so happy that I have made it this far, but I know I still want to achieve excellence in myself.

Before I started the program I told Gretchen why I wanted to do this, ‘I want to wake-up every morning and look in the mirror and be happy in my own skin.’ ¬†I can finally say that is where I am right now and I am overjoyed! ¬†I feel comfortable with myself again. ¬†I can’t wait to see where the next 12 weeks takes me. ¬†So thank you for standing strong beside me @fitquestmom, I really couldn;t have done it without you. ¬†XO.”

I truly love helping people learn how to eat and how to create a lifestyle that is healthy and easy to maintain.  I want my clients to learn how to eat in a way where they can go out to eat, live their lives, and not be stuck with a Tupperware kind of life.  Through macro counting my clients are able to lean out while eating as many calories as possible.  The popular diets out there ruin our metabolisms through constant restriction, super low calories, and FEAR of carbs.  I love bringing people back into the world of eating carbs while simultaneously leaning out.

One thing I stress is that if you are looking to lose 10 pounds in the next 2 weeks, my programs and approach to IIFYM is not for you.  As I mentioned before, I like my clients to achieve results while eating as many calories as possible, so it oftentimes can take a few weeks for us to find the sweet spot where my client is eating a satisfying amount while simultaneously leaning out.  My programs are not cookie cutter and are tailored to the individual.

Does IIFYM only work for those who are fitness minded? ¬†No, of course not. ¬†Achieving the lean and toned look is done most efficiently while following IIFYM along with lifting weights, but it doesn’t have the happen that way. ¬†I calculate your macros based on your activity levels, how much you have been eating, and a multitude of other factors. ¬†IIFYM is for anyone and everyone.

The IIFYM lifestyle does require you to track your food (I use MyFitnessPal) and if that doesn’t appeal to you, then IIFYM is not for you. ¬†I also weigh my food when I am at home, but quite honestly once you have been doing that for a few months you get REALLY good at guesstimating the amount you are eating which makes it really easy for me to keep track of my food when eating out. ¬†Once you get through that initial learning curve you are home free.

If any of you are interested in working with me, check out my FitQuest Nutrition Coaching page.

If you are interested in trying to calculate macros on your own, here is a general IIFYM calculator.  When you work with a coach, they take much more into account when planning your specific macros, but this is a good place to start.

In my next post I will go into detail with regards to how MyFitnessPal works and how you can use it to track your macros.

P.S. If you are interested in seeing what I eat on a daily basis, feel free to send me a “friend request” on MyFitnessPal. ¬†My username is gretchentseng.¬†



Filed under IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition


By Gretchen Tseng for Chic Vegan

Posted 3/04/2011

March is National Nutrition Month. Since we have an excuse to celebrate nutrition all month, let’s use this opportunity to kick it up a notch.  Here are some suggestions to help you on the road to better nutrition:

Eat a Rainbow of Color

When we eat a rainbow of color from fresh fruits and veggies we know that we are getting the nutrients our body needs to function at its most optimum level.  Plants get their vibrant colors from phytonutrients and it is those phytonutrients that provide us with the antioxidants our bodies use to slow the aging process and reduce our disease risk.

Fresh Juice

Fresh squeezed juice is a fantastic way to provide our bodies with concentrated doses of phytonutrients and antioxidants.  When you juice, use vegetables as the base of your juice and use fruit sparingly to sweeten the juice.


Smoothies are another fantastic way to consume a rainbow of color.  Unlike fresh squeezed juice, smoothies provide your body with fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive tract.  Experiment with your smoothies this month.  Many people are surprised to discover that a handful of spinach or half of a cucumber will not change the taste of a fruit smoothie.

Cut out Processed Foods

Challenge yourself to forgo processed food this month.  Vegan or not, processed food is processed food.  Reacquaint yourself with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  I know that convenience is a huge factor, but you will be surprised by how easy it is to whip-up a tasty soup from scratch or a batch of beans and rice with steamed veggies on the side.

Try Some New Recipes

The internet is a smorgasbord of amazing recipes.  There are so many wonderful websites dedicated to vegan recipes that are sure to inspire you to try something new.  On the weekend take some time to search the web for recipes to make for the following week’s meals.  When you do a little prep work, making meals from scratch can be quick and cost effective (and the left-overs make awesome lunches the following day!).

Add Some Super Foods

Try a new super food this month.  It is easy to enhance your health by adding a teaspoon of maca (for hormone health), or spirulina and chlorella (both are natural chelators) to your smoothies.  Another great add to a smoothie is açaí pulp (super concentrated antioxidants).

Give Wheat Grass a Try

There are a lot of people intimidated by wheat grass.  The next time you are at a juice bar or health food store, give it a try (ask for a chaser of orange juice).  Wheat grass contains chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes; many of which help to combat oxidative stress.  If you don’t have access to wheat grass juice, try the powdered form and mix it with water as I often do.

Live Active Cultures

Add yogurt and kefir to your diet.¬† Thankfully, So Delicious now offers coconut yogurt and kefir.¬† I personally add coconut kefir to my smoothies on a daily basis since the live active cultures are so beneficial for our gut.¬† According to Dr. Perricone, ‚Äú[P]robiotic microbes help the body‚Äôs ongoing fight against infectious diseases by competing with the pathogens for food, nutrients and survival.‚ÄĚ


While exercise is not something we consume, I consider it a valuable nutrition partner since it aids digestion.  Studies have also shown that exercise can help prevent gastro intestinal symptoms.  That being said, it is important not to eat a large meal before exercising since the digestion of that meal will compete for your energy.  A great pre-exercise snack is a banana and a few nuts.

Drink More Water

I know we all are aware of the importance of consuming enough water.  Really focus this month on upping your water intake and replacing other beverages (namely soft drinks) with water or herbal tea.  Since our bodies are on average 70% water, your body will thank you for properly hydrating it.

image via ericawondergirl

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian


Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

I am spending the weekend in a true health food Mecca,¬† Santa Cruz, Ca…It doesn’t get much more earthy/crunchy than here!!!¬† Which of course means that I am a happy lady.¬† It seems as though there is¬† a juice bar or health food store on every corner.¬† I would be in heaven if I could pack up all of the grocery stores they have here and bring them home with me.¬† Two of my favorites are Staff of Life and New Leaf.

New Leaf

New Leaf

New Leaf Produce

New Leaf Produce

My trip up here was motivated by the fact that Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts was holding an open house tonight and I wanted to learn more about their programs.  Tonight I was able to spend some one on one time chatting with Ed Bauman, the Executive Director of Bauman College.  I always enjoy meeting like-minded people and learning something new from them.  It was a very informative and interesting evening.

Grettie & Ed Bauman

Grettie & Ed Bauman

One of the best perks of being up here is that I get to visit with my parents who live in Santa Cruz.  After they picked me up from the airport we had the most amazing plant based lunch at Dish Dash in Sunnyvale.  We ate:


Layers of grilled eggplant, grilled tomato topped with a special seasoned lemon-garlic sauce and parsley.

Hoset Sabanech

Spinach sauteed with onions topped with lemon-garlic sumac sauce.


Mushrooms sauteed with onions in fresh lemon-mint sauce.


Mix of parsley, tomato, green onion, fresh mint, lemon juice, burghul and olive oil.

M’shakaleh Vegetarian

Layers of grilled eggplant, grilled tomato topped with a special seasoned lemon-garlic sauce and parsley.

I hope all of you are enjoying your weekend as much as I am.¬† Since it’s the weekend try to take the time to cook together…maybe even tackle a new recipe!

To read more about Bauman College click here.  

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Filed under Education, Restaurants, Vegan, Vegetarian