When getting your macronutrients in order, there is a general idea in the minds of people following healthy lifestyles that there is a ‘magic’ macro ratio to follow that will help transform their health. The reason why this ‘magic’ macro ratio doesn’t exist is because everyone has a different metabolism. People who are looking to bulk up their muscles should be following a different macro portion than someone who is looking to lose weight.
If you’re following your macros closely to lose weight, your macro portions aren’t going to be the same as when you were at your heaviest weight. Your protein intake is going to be reduced as you lose weight, since protein intake is set based upon the amount of lean muscle mass your body has. Protein is the most important macro to constantly monitor, as without enough protein in your diet, your body will start to eat away at your lean muscle mass and you’ll lose muscle.
Macro numbers for fat and carbohydrates will also change up, depending upon the type of lifestyle and/or diet that person is following. To summarize all of that up, macro ratios are figured out based upon what stage in your healthy journey you’re at.
- 1 Does it matter if you eat too much or not enough protein?
- 2 Isn’t fat bad to eat if you want to be healthy?
- 3 Will my macros ever change?
- 4 How do I figure out what my macros are?
- 5 Conclusion
Does it matter if you eat too much or not enough protein?
Yes, it does matter. However, if you find that you’re eating too much (or too little) protein, don’t freak out. Once you identify the problem, you can work towards fixing it.
Eating too much protein cuts into your caloric intake, meaning that you won’t be able to eat as many calories in carbohydrates. Not eating enough protein can cause your body to start consuming your lean muscle mass, which will lead to a loss in your muscle.
Making sure that you’re still eating enough fat and carbohydrates is also just as important as monitoring your protein intake. Consuming enough fat in your diet helps your body to better control your hormones and will help you to make sure that you’re eating enough calories. Eating enough carbs will also make up any remainder calories you need to eat and will help you to recover faster.
Isn’t fat bad to eat if you want to be healthy?
Absolutely not! Fat is 100% essential in order for your body to properly function. Matter of fact, some of hormones are created from cholesterol and other fat molecules, so not eating enough fat can actually cause your body to not properly produce hormones (or enough of them). In that case, other functions in your body may begin to suffer, such as reproduction, your metabolism, vitamin absorption, and mineral absorption.
This does not mean that you should go and eat the fattiest meal at a fast food restaurant. Not all fats are created equally, as not all fat provides your body with the same nutritional value. Consuming healthy fats, such as monosaturated fats, medium-chain triglycerides, and omega-3 fatty acids will provide your body with proper nutrition! Try consuming foods such as salmon, beans, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and egg yolks, as these are all high in healthy fats!
All three sections of macros are important to monitor, as they all hold an important role in your overall health. There isn’t a ‘magic’ macro ratio that is going to work for everybody. What works for you may not be enough for your neighbor, just in the same sense that following closely along with your macros won’t really matter if you’re consuming too many (or not enough) calories.
Will my macros ever change?
Your metabolism is adaptive and your macros will change over time as your health level changes and as your fitness level changes. The macros that worked for you three months ago when you were twenty pounds heavier won’t work for you now. Your macro ratio isn’t something that you’re going to follow for the rest of your life.
As your body changes, your macros are going to change; this is because your body will need less (or more) fuel from your food to fuel itself. If you lose weight, you should readjust your macros. If you have gained weight, whether it be in muscle mass or fat, you should readjust your macros. Even if you’ve run into a weight loss plateau, try readjusting your macros to see if that helps to get your weight loss moving again.
You should build your macros based upon:
- Your activity levels
- Your body type
- Your lean body mass
How do I figure out what my macros are?
As we talked about earlier, there aren’t any magic macro numbers for you to follow to easily and quickly achieve a healthy body. Everyone has different fitness and/or health goals, which means that we all have to go about different ways of achieving healthier bodies.
Step one: figure out what your basal metabolic rate is
Before we get into figuring out what your specific macros are, you’re going to need to figure out what your basal metabolic rate is. Figuring this out will give you an idea of how many calories your body uses for energy in order to stay alive. You can use online calculators to figure this out. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm
Step two: figure out what your fitness goal is
Are you looking for build muscle? Are you looking to lose fat? It’s very common for people to want to lose fat and build lean muscle mass at the same time, but you may find more success by chasing after one goal at a time. It is completely possible to lose fat and gain lean muscle mass if you try carb-cycling or intermittent fasting. It just may be a bit more difficult for you since higher carb intake increases muscle growth while consuming a lower amount of carbs can help to cause faster fat loss.
Step three: figure out what body type you have
Just as important as it is for you figure out what your fitness goals are, you also need to figure out what body type you have. Figuring out your body type will allow you to understand how your body tolerates carbohydrates.
How do I tell which body type I have?
Usually when people are talking about body types, it’s in reference to which clothing styles look the best on their bodies. However, it’s very important for you to learn about what body type you have (or combination of body types), as different body types react differently to varying macronutrients.
If you’re not sure which body type you have or aren’t even sure where to start looking to learn about what body type you have, here is a quick explanation of each body type for you to gain a better understanding:
- Endomorph: People with this body type are naturally thicker and broader, both in terms with larger bone structure and higher amounts of body mass and fat mass. This body type is typically round or pear shaped, with a slower metabolism. These types of people have a lower carbohydrate tolerance and typically have a slower metabolism. If you feel like you fall into this body type, try following macros of 40% fat, 25% carbs, and 35% protein.
- Ectomorph: People with this body type are naturally thin and have thinner limbs, with a higher tolerance of carbohydrates. This body type may find that they have a harder time gaining weight or putting on any sort of mass, whether it be lean muscle mass or fat mass. In order for this body to gain weight, they will find that they have to consume a larger percentage of carbohydrates to gain muscle mass. If you feel like you have a fast metabolism, you are probably an ectomorph. Try starting out with a macro ratio of 20% fat, 25% protein, and 55% carbs.
- Mesomorph: People with this body type are naturally athletic and have a naturally muscular frame. This body type usually does well with a mixed diet, with a balanced intake of carbs, proteins, and fats. If you feel like you have a moderate metabolism with an average carb tolerance, try following a 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% carb macro ratio.
Don’t let the body type you have discourage you from reaching your goals; no matter if you’re having a hard time losing weight or gaining weight, you can beat your body type. It’s just going to take a lot of hard work and monitoring to do so. These macro suggestions are just suggestions- you may find that by playing around and adjusting your macros slowly, you find the perfect ratio to work for your personal needs for a while!
Step four: gender
While gender isn’t as important of a factor as your fitness goal and your body type are, it still does play a part in your fitness journey. Your gender does play a role in deciding what your macros should be.
Generally, women’s bodies are more efficient as burning fat stores, but less efficient at burning glycogen stored inside of their muscles. This means that women may have an easier time running off a lower carb intake than men. At the same point, this does not mean that women should always follow a lower carb intake. As an example, an ectomorphic woman that is completing high intensity training would need to consume more carbs than an endomorphic man who isn’t very active.
But at the same time, a mesomorphic male that is completing high intensity training should eat more carbs than a mesomorphic woman that is also completing high intensity training.
Step five: monitor your macros
The most convenient and easiest way for you to keep track of your macros is by using a daily intake app. My Fitness Pal is one of the most popular macro counting apps, simply because of how extensive their food catalogue is and is free to download.
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when tracking is that they don’t enter their snacks that they eat throughout the day. Always make sure to track your snacks, as these can add up throughout the day. Many people may not realize the calories that come with the portion sizes that they’re choosing or may not even realize how calorie dense some of their food choices are. While it’s completely normal and okay to give into your cravings, logging your snacks into a daily tracker may help you to realize how many calories you’re eating just in a small snack!
Figuring out what your perfect nutritional levels are is going to take time. As you figure out what these levels are, don’t get frustrated and give up on your calculations. At the same time, don’t obsess about finding the perfect numbers for your body; doing this will damage your motivation and you’ll have a harder time reaching your fitness/health goals.
If you’re just starting out in your health journey and want to start off monitoring your macros, make sure that you’re also keeping a close eye on your calories. All of the macro watching in the world won’t matter if you aren’t consuming enough (or too many) calories.
Instead of obsessing, try to get as close as you can to your macro numbers on a daily basis. If one day you happen to eat too much in protein and not enough in fat, don’t panic. It’s better that you know that you’re at least getting close to your macro goals instead of not monitoring what you’re eating at all. Monitoring your macros on a daily basis will eventually help you to achieve a healthier body and lifestyle. Good luck on your journey!
Health enthusiast, runner, protein nut. Owen likes to write about protein, particularly alternatve supplementation and supplement comparisons.