Hey Angels and Alphas,
You know just as well as I do that following a healthy, well-balanced diet requires sustainability and flexibility when it comes to the long-term. And when you’re trying to achieve a specific health or fitness goal, tracking macros seems to be one of the best ways to make sure that your diet is indeed balanced and healthy.
The process of setting a fitness goal begins with calculating a calorie intake target based on your current height, weight, physical activity, age, past training history, and so on.
Once determined, this calorie intake is further broken down into proportions of the three main macronutrients – protein, carbs, and fat.
And that’s why today, we’re taking a look at what proportions of macros you should be striving for based on your fitness goal!
To start, we need to understand the three big macronutrients – and the purpose they serve in our diet.
What are the three main macronutrients?
Protein allows your body to build, repair, and grow tissues, as well as protect your lean body mass. Protein is composed of amino acids, which come in 2 types: non-essential and essential. Essential amino acids are acquired through your diet. Non-essential amino acids are not required to be consumed through your diet since your body can produce them on its own. By eating a rich variety of veggies, fruits, nuts, grains, beans, lentils, and other foods abundant in protein, you’re getting the amino acids your body needs to build and repair itself.
All carbohydrates are eventually broken down by the body into glucose, the body’s main energy source. In fact, organs such as your brain need glucose so they can function properly. Your body can create glucose out of a necessity by using proteins through a process called gluconeogenesis. Not only are they your primary energy source, but they also help synthesize specific amino acids. They provide you with energy and help your body get rid of waste by keeping your intestinal tract healthy. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, depending on the difficulty your body has with breaking them down into glucose.
Fat basically allows your body to store energy, create specific hormones, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, cushion organs, and helps with the integrity of your cell membranes.
Fat comes in three main forms: trans fats, saturated fats, and unsaturated fats. Trans fats are the only type of fat that should be totally eliminated from your diet.
Saturated and unsaturated fats are essential to a healthy diet and a healthy body.
That being said, now that we know what the main three macronutrients are and what their purpose is, what proportion should they follow in our diet?
Here’s how to calculate them. Every example is given with a person with a 2,000-calorie target intake as a baseline.
If your goal is to maintain weight…
If you want to stay in maintenance mode and keep your weight steady, a good standard to follow is 50 carbs / 30 carbs / 20 protein.
Then just multiply your target calories by ratio by calories per gram. Keep in mind that carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, fat contains 9 calories, and protein contains 4 calories per gram.
2,000 calories X 0.5 = 1,000 calories / 4 calories per gram = 250g carbohydrates
2,000 calories X 0.2 = 400 calories / 4 calories per gram = 100g protein
2,000 calories X 0.3 = 600 calories / 9 calories per gram = 67g fat
If your goal is to build muscle…
If you’re trying to build muscle as hard as possible, and enhance your performance in and outside the gym, you will want to prioritize protein.
Use the example above, but keep the proportions 45 carbs / 35 protein / 20 fat.
If your goal is to lose weight…
In this case, you will need to put yourself at a calorie deficit. This means reducing your overall target calorie range by 10-15%, basically depending on the amount of weight you wish to lose.
In the example we shared above, the person with a baseline 2,000 calories will shift down to 1,800 calories. Then, based on the result they see in the next couple of weeks, they’ll either bump up their calorie intake or decrease it even more.
For this goal, proportions should look something like 45 carbs / 30 protein / 25 fat.
If you want to reach ketosis…
Many people are trying the keto diet right now, so it’s important that we address this. For people looking to lose weight and emphasize the calories from fat, proportions should look like 10 carbs / 20 protein / 70 fat.
That being said, there are many things you should know before trying out keto, so make sure you’re going in with an educated approach.
If heart health is your goal…
If you want to improve your heart health, you’ll likely want to put a special focus on limiting refined carbs and reducing saturated fat. If you exercise about half an hour a day, try a macronutrient breakdown of about 40 carbs / 30 protein / 30 fat.
The more active you are, the more you’re going to want to emphasize complex carbs instead of fat.
Regardless of the proportion of carbs, fat, and protein in your diet, what’s more important is maintaining a balanced diet with high-quality, energy-dense foods. A good rule of thumb is that you should always prioritize whole foods over processed foods, whenever you can.
When it comes to carbs, go with nutrient-dense starchy veggies and whole grains over the more processed, refined carbs and sugar out there on store shelves.
When it comes to fat, choose the most heart-healthy options you can find such as nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, and avocado.
Once you find your macro mix, stay consistent with it, and you will see the results you’re looking for. You’ll see your body change and adapt to your goals as you progress with developing your macro mix and finding the most optimal and sustainable proportion for you.