Macronutrient Ratio

By Kami Pham

Once you’ve become accustomed to eating the proper amount of calories, dialing in your macronutrient ratio is the next step to reaching your goals. I have heard several people describe their weight loss process of going to a very low carbohydrate diet, and then feeling lethargic and weak during their workouts as a result. By adjusting your macronutrient ratio, you’ll be able to get very lean without losing your strength, performance and sanity or you’ll finally be able to gain the muscle and size you’ve been struggling to put on. First off, what are macronutrients? Macronutrients are large, calorie containing molecules – protein, carbohydrates and fat. The main function of proteins is to provide the materials for building and repairing tissues, while carbohydrates and fats provide energy to the body. Carbohydrates are fast-burning energy sources, whereas fats are denser and slower-digesting sources. The macronutrient ratio is the proportion between the amounts of each macronutrient you consume relative to your total calories consumed. By dividing the Macronutrient Calories by the Total Calories, you can calculate what percent each macronutrient comprises of your Total Calories. MyFitnessPal will calculate your daily macros for you: Scroll to the bottom of the Diary, click on Nutrition, then swipe right to Macros. For example, let’s say you ate 2,500 Cal total: 600 Cal of protein, 1000 Cal of carbohydrates and 900 Cal of fat. By simple arithmetic, you can calculate that you ate 24% protein (600 Cal / 2500 Cal), 40% carbohydrates (1000 Cal / 2500 Cal), and 36% fat (900 Cal / 2500 Cal). Another way you may see macronutrient ratios written as is 40/24/36 (Carb/Protein/Fat). While your experience will dictate what ratio is the best for you based on your goals and own body, a good place to start for most people would be around 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. This is the prescription from the Zone diet by Dr. Barry Sears as well as many other sources. If you currently eat a low carb diet, I would advise you to slowly increase your carb ratio by 5-10% every few weeks rather than completely switching from fat to carbs for fuel. After you’ve consistently been able to eat the correct number of calories, understanding macros is your next task. By adjusting your macros, you will be able to reach your goals faster, whether that is to gain weight, maintain muscle or lose fat. MyFitnessPal has an enormous database of foods and makes it incredibly easy to track your macros and calories. While many people fear calorie counting and macros, it is not much work once you understand the guidelines and principles. Next week, I will go into much more detail into setting your macros.

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