If you haven’t read my previous article on what macronutrients are then I suggest you do that first ...
Before I start; this article may seem a little complicated to those that are not familiar with this concept. It is nothing to get hung up on and it is not something that I practice myself but this article is here to give you a basic understanding of macronutrient ratios and how they can be manipulated. It may make you question what foods are you actually eating? Do you simply eat to achieve satiety (fullness)? Or do you eat for health/performance/aesthetics etc.?
In the bodybuilding world; “macros” is part of the lingo.
You may hear “what macros do you use?”, “what macro ratio is the best for bulking?”, “what macros should I use to cut?”
But what does this mean and why is it worth considering?
I’ll explain the ratio’s first (Note, this is an example and not what I’m recommending)
The total foods you consume in a day make up 100%.
Macros refer to the percentage that each macronutrient group made up of that 100%.
E.g Total macronutrient consumption for one day was 2000 calories (100%).
Protein = 200g / 800Kcal / 40%
Carbohydrate = 150g / 600Kcal / 30%
Fat = 66g / 600Kcal/ 30%
Many may be wondering why does this matter?
Each macronutrient has different roles within the body and the makeup of your diet could affect your performance/muscle gain/fat loss/well being/energy and so on.
Step 1: Decide your goal.
Before trailing any nutritional plan/approach you initially need to decide what your goal is. Are you looking for fat loss/muscle gain/physical performance/mental performance?
Step 2: Determine total calorie intake.
If you are going to consider using a macronutrient approach then you need to determine a total calorie intake for each day. (I am not going to discuss all of the considerations for total calorie intake; that’s a topic for another day).
Step 2b: Consider your body type.
This is simply a “consideration” and is far from fact. But your body type may help you with a place to start.
Body types –
- Ectomorph – Naturally skinny, narrow frame, would be considered to have a high tolerance for carbohydrates and high metabolism. A “hard gainer” if you like.
- Mesomorph – Naturally muscular/athletic, finds it easier to build muscle and easier to lose fat. The one everyone else hates.
- Endomorph – May be considered as soft/round shaped body, can carry and build large amounts of muscle but struggle with body fat. Lower tolerance for carbohydrates.
Step 3: Determine your macronutrient breakdown.
In my opinion there should be a baseline for fat and protein which the macro ratio should be built around. Both are essential and should not go below a certain amount; they’re required for protein synthesis and hormone production plus many more functions. Carbohydrates are typically the macronutrient that get’s manipulated most.
These are some common macronutrient ratios and what they are typically used for.
Muscle gain Macros (Higher carbs)
Protein = 25%
Fat = 20%
Carbs = 55%
Maintenance Macros (Moderate carbs)
Protein = 30%
Fat = 30%
Carbs = 40%
Fat loss macros (Lower carbs)
Protein = 40%
Fat = 30%
Carbs = 30%
These ratios are a starting point, you should experiment and manipulate for better results. Sometimes, decreasing your carbs and increasing your fats can show great fat-loss results. Get to know your body!
On a final note;
It is crucial to remember that good food is good food. All of these different approaches based on varying goals should still contain large amount of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants obtained from fruit and veg etc. It should not just contain chicken, rice and nuts for example to meet your macros).