Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Macronutrient ratios are the percentages of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in your diet.
For example, let's say 30% of your total calories come from protein, 50% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fat.
The total must always add up to 100% between those 3 macronutrients.
Now, let's also say that you ate 2000 calories.
How many protein grams, carb grams, and fat grams did you eat if 30% were protein, 50% were carbohydrates, and 20% were fat?
Are you good at math? If so, you can figure this out rather easily…
- Protein = 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates = 4 calories per grams
- Fat = 9 calories per gram
Each gram of protein contains 4 calories of energy. Each gram of carbohydrate also contains 4 calories of energy. Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient and contains 9 calories of energy per gram.
With the above information, you can now easily figure out how many grams of protein, carbs and fat were eaten in the 2000 calorie example at 30% protein, 50% carbs, and 20% fat.
Let's go through this together:
30% of 2000 = 600 calories from Protein
600 calories / 4 calories per gram = 150 grams of Protein
50% of 2000 = 1000 calories from Carbohydrates
1000 calories / 4 calories per gram = 250 grams of Carbohydrates
20% of 2000 = 400 calories from Fats
400 calories / 9 calories per gram = 44 grams of Fat
So, if you wanted to eat a 2000 calorie diet with 30% of your calories from Protein, 50% from Carbohydrates, and 20% from fat, you would eat about 150 grams of protein, 250 grams of carbohydrates, and 44 grams of fat.
Don't worry so much about the calculations, I will be providing you with several different calculator options you'll be able to use.
I just wanted to go through an example so you know how these values are calculated.
You'll be using this to make your own custom diet plan — and I'll walk you through everything you need to know.
What About The US RDA Macronutrient Ratios?
The US RDA recommends that you eat 91 grams of protein, 65 grams of fat, and 263 grams of carbohydrates on a 2000 calorie per day diet.
The macronutrient ratios come out to be:
(91 grams of protein)(4 calories per gram) = 364 calories from Protein
364 calories / 2000 calories = 18.2% Protein
(263 grams of carbohydrates)(4 calories per gram) = 1052 calories from Carbohydrates
1052 calories / 2000 calories = 52.6% Carbohydrates
(65 grams of fat)(9 calories per gram) = 585 calories from Fat
585 calories / 2000 calories = 29.3% Fat
So, the US RDA recommends around 18% Protein, 53% Carbohydrates, and 29% Fat. This actually is a pretty good recommendation for the individual who doesn't lift weights and exercise.
Not bad at all.
But, you will be lifting weights and exercising very hard on this program so expect different macronutrient ratios on this program.
The US RDA recommendations will not help you build muscle and burn fat optimally.
The optimal macronutrient ratios for building muscle and burning fat will be discussed in the next section:
Optimal Macronutrient Ratios — Here They Are:
Optimal macronutrient ratios are going to be different for different people, and we're all different.
So many different factors influence your optimal macronutrient ratios — body type, carb sensitivity, whether or not you gain fat easily, whether or not you build muscle easily, and many more factors.
I'm going to give you a starting point for your diet.
Stick with these ratios no matter what your goals may be. As you become more experienced, you will be able to experiment with slightly different macronutrient ratios.
You're going to learn how to adjust your diet on a weekly basis when needed so the experience you need will come very quickly.
Since the optimal macronutrient ratios are different for everyone, you'll be able to adjust your diet until you find your optimal macronutrient ratios.
I'm going to give you starting macronutrient ratios, and I'll give you my recommendations for future adjustments.
Basic Macronutrient Ratios — START HERE:
I want you to start with the ratios above for the basic diet plan. You must follow the food choices presented to you earlier in this section too.
The basic ratios above will work great for everyone if you follow the food sources recommended in this program. Think natural foods — and you will do great.
It doesn't matter how advanced you are or how much experience you have. Please start with a clean slate and follow the basic diet recommendations.
The basic WLC diet works great for the vast majority of people.
As you gain experience, you can start experimenting with different macronutrient ratios but only if needed. There's no need to change something that is working. Make changes when something isn't working.
Once you feel it's time to experiment, you can change the ratios but I want you to stay within certain ranges. Carbohydrates should never be decreased to very low amounts.
You will find this in the recommended macronutrient ranges:
Stay Within These Macronutrient Ranges:
Protein Ranges: 30 to 50 percent
Carbohydrate Ranges: 25 to 55 percent
Fat Ranges: 15 to 30 percent
So, once you start experimenting, never go out of the ranges given above. You can be close to the upper and lower limits, but never stray too far from the ranges above.
Only during the advanced programs, will you leave these ranges. And you will only do so for a few days at a time … this is later on down the road, though, when you are very lean and very muscular.
As you get more experience, you'll most likely want to start manipulating these percentages according to your muscle building or fat loss goals.
For example, a muscle building diet will be higher calorie, possibly lower protein percentages, and higher carbohydrate percentages to fuel harder and more intense workouts.
Always follow the basic macronutrient ratios until you have at least 3 to 4 months experience. The basic 30P/50C/20F is a great diet that works very well for building muscle and burning fat. And you will soon see how great it works.
Some people will be very carbohydrate sensitive and may have trouble losing fat with higher carbohydrate intakes. These people should first ensure they are eating the best carbohydrates from natural sources.
Then, they can start lowering the carbohydrate percentage in their diet while raising the protein/fat percentages. This may lead to faster fat loss in carb sensitive people.
Be aware, however, that whenever you lower your carbohydrate percentages you are lowering the fuel for your workouts.
Your workouts may suffer depending on how low you go with your carbohydrate percentage.
You will never be short of fuel with the basic macronutrient ratios above.
And this is very important for your workouts and for building muscle. So, don't manipulate until you have several months of experience with the basic diet.
You'll know your body much better, you'll see how it responds, and you'll be able to make better decisions.
Usually, manipulation of the ratios for fat loss means the protein ratio goes up, carb ratio goes down, and fat ratio goes up.
The reasoning behind this is you are giving your body less carbohydrates for fuel, more protein to increase metabolism, and more fat in hopes that your body will start to burn fat as a source of energy.
And vice versa, muscle building means protein ratio goes lower, carb ratio goes up, and fat ratio goes down.
The reasoning behind this is that you are eating more calories so protein intake stays high even though the ratio goes down.
Carbs spare protein and provide you with more energy for pushing harder during a workout.
Lower fat ratios still provide you with plenty of essential fats, keep hormone levels high, and do not keep you full as long so you can eat more throughout the day.
Sample Macronutrient Manipulation for Different Goals
Always stay within the ranges given earlier in this section. As an example of how to manipulate macronutrient ratios for muscle building goals and fat loss goals, see below:
Sample Muscle Building Ratios
Sample Fat Loss Ratios
You can experiment with any macronutrient ratios you want as long as you stay within the ranges given. Remember to stick with the basic diet for at least 3 to 4 months before experimenting.