Spread the love We have all been there. Sooner or later we all hit a weight loss plateau. No matter how hard you diet or train the scale is stuck. Those pounds of fat that were once falling off effortlessly are now clinging to your body for dear…
Guide to Macronutrient Ratio for Weigh Loss, Weight Gain & Maintenance
We often hear or ask ourselves questions like: “How many carbohydrates do I need for bulking”, “how much protein do I need for weight loss” etc. You have probably tried at least one macronutrient Ratio the internet provides, but probably failed to reach your goal. Now, each and every one of us does not need to start from the beginning. There are few starting points I will go over and explain, but keep in mind that you will have to tweak them to your own particular needs and body type. Not everyone is the same. Some react to one macronutrient ratio better than others.
Your macro mix is an important consideration. Your body type, metabolism and weekly physical activity level all have some bearing on your ideal percentages for that moment in time. But that does not mean it will be the macronutrient ratio you will use forever.
Determine your fitness goal
Most of all, you need to determine your goal. You either want weight loss, muscle gain or maintenance. Yes, you can achieve weight loss and lean muscle gain at the same time, but you cannot harness the full potential. Even bodybuilders, with all the knowledge, trainers and nutritionists supporting them, have bulking and leaning out periods. Higher carb diets support muscle gain, whereas lower carb diets support weight loss. Again, not all bodies are the same and some people need higher percentage of carbs in their macronutrient ratio for muscle gain than other. You can try something like carb-cycling but if you are beginner or intermediate level I do not recommend it very much because it is tricky and a lot of things can go wrong.
You should never drop the fat below 15%! Since hormones are constructed from cholesterol and other fat molecules, getting any less than that can actually suppress normal hormone levels. This also has a negative effect on the bodily functions driven by those hormones, including growth and development, metabolism, reproduction, and mood.
As you already know, not any fat source is the same. You should eat high quality unsaturated fats like: avocados, egg yolks, olives, nuts, peanut butter, canola oil, olive oil, high-oleic sunflower oil), medium-chain triglycerides (coconut oil), and omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, and other fish, grass-fed beef, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, soybeans, tofu, edamame, beans, wild rice, and walnuts).
Timing is everything
If you like to train in the morning, in this situation, a high-carbohydrate, low-fat meal is needed. This kind of meal will meet the body’s needs quickly, with lower fat expediting digestion. At dinner time, our muscles have different needs. Out body has not trained in several hours and its glycogen stores are essentially refilled. It does not need the same fast-acting, high-octane fuel as it did eight hours prior.
Instead, dinner needs to contain adequate protein to continue to drive protein synthesis and recovery, fiber for satiety and some surplus calories. So this meal should be high in protein, high in fat, and low in carbs. Throughout the day, between post-workout meals and the last meal of the day, the amount of fast-acting grain and starch-based carbohydrates should decrease, while the amount of fat and vegetables increase. Protein intake can stay constant across all meals.
Determine your body type
There are three more distinct body types: Ectomorph, Mesomoprh and Endomorph. Chances are, you probably are between two of them. A lot of us are in-between. Hell, you may feel that you change all three body types in a year! As a result, use them only as a starting point to tweak and adapt your macronutient ratio as you progress.
An ectomorph has the body type that is most often seen in the pages of fashion magazines. They are typical skinny guys. Ectomorphs have a light build with small joints and lean muscle. Usually, ectomorphs have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Shoulders tend to be thin with little width. Their metabolic rate is fast and they have a higher tolerance in carbohydrates. They tend to require a greater percentage of carbohydrates in their macronutrient ratio to prevent muscle catabolism, as well as a higher calorie intake overall. On the other hand, it is easy for them to get lean.
Ectomorphs should stick to the high end of the range for carbohydrates (40%-60%). Higher carbohydrate ratios augment lean mass gains, while lower carbohydrate ratios tend to accelerate fat loss. High end for mass gains, the mid-upper end (45%-55%) for maintenance and the low-end (25%-30%) for fat loss are recommended for this body type. At least 25 percent of total calories should come from protein, with the remainder from fat.
Do not allow ectomorphia to be an excuse to eat crap. A healthy diet always includes plants, protein and fat with every meal. Ultimately, getting bigger is not an easy task for the ectomorph. Most of the information out there is about weight loss and most of the time, ectomorphs need weight gain diets.
Here are some tips on weight gain: Tips on How to Achieve Fast Weight Gain.
A mesomorph is someone who trends toward being muscular. They’re often strong, athletic hard-body types with well-defined muscles, broad shoulders, and dense bone structure. Mesomorphs generally have little trouble gaining muscle or losing fat, though they will put on fat more readily than ectomorphs. They can handle moderate amounts of carbohydrates in their macronutrient ratio but, weight gain will happen if carbohydrates and calories are too high.
It is a great advantage to have mesomorphic qualities, as one has great foundations on which to build. Mesomorphs do not have to worry too much about what they eat and they can gain muscle mass and lose weight fairly quickly with relatively easily. This combination allows the mesomorph to achieve fantastic definition of the body. However, as easily as you lose fat, you gain fat also.
Balance is most important for the mesomorph, who falls between endomorphs and ectomorphs — the other two body types characterized by excess body fat and skinniness, respectively. Mesomorphs can strength train more often and for longer periods of time, but should be careful not to overdo it. They should train with moderate to heavy weighs and keep a moderate pace, making sure not to rest too long between sets. Muscle gain is quite easy for them. Don’t fear; you won’t get “bulky.” When you are happy with your muscle size, simply train to maintain.
Mesomorphs do well in the middle range for carbohydrates, between 30%-50% of total calories. Again, recommended percentage for them is the high-end for mass gains (40%-50%), the middle for maintenance (30%-40%), and low-end for fat loss (20%-30%). To prioritize fat loss, increase both protein and fat while lowering carbohydrate intakes, with no more than 40 of calories coming from fat.
The endomorph is best described as soft. They typically have a round or pear-shaped body, shorter limbs, a stocky build, and a slower metabolism. Endomorphs can put on a lot of muscle. On the other hand, they also tend to carry more adipose tissue and thus have a greater propensity to store fat.
Endomorphs will have a harder time losing weight. But this is not to say that endomorphs can not lose weight! They will simply have to work harder to lose the weight than their fellow ectomorphs. They also find it difficult to lose weight through diet alone. Endomorphs do not have to be overweight. They simply require more determination than perhaps a mesomorph would, to achieve the same goal. Also, endomorphs have to train hard and must eat healthily most of the time.
Unfortunately, food is not consumed according to how you feel, but what works best for you. No cheating allowed. Training is not negotiable. You must do it regularly and frequently, whether you feel like it or not. For the endomorph to achieve their dream body, they must follow their program and macronutrient ratio with military precision.
Endomorphs should stick to the low end of the carbohydrate range, between 10%-40% percent of total calories, depending on their goals. Here, the recommendation is: no more than 30%-40% carbohydrates for mass gains, the middle range for maintenance (20%-30%), and low-end for fat loss (10%-20%). As with the other body types, protein and fat provide the remainder of your calories, with 25-50 percent of total calories from protein and 15-40 percent from fat.
Although not such big of a factor, it is definitely worth mentioning. In general, women are more efficient at burning fat and less efficient at burning the glycogen stored in muscle. As such, they may be able to operate on lower carbohydrate intake than men.
Research suggests a variety of reasons that women have a greater reliance on fats for fuel during exercise, including:
- Estrogen enhances epinephrine production, the primary hormone that stimulates fatty acid breakdown (lipolysis);
- Estrogen promotes the release of human growth hormone (HGH), which increases the mobilization of fatty acids from adipose tissue;
- Women have increased blood flow to adipose tissue, which could assist in fatty acid mobilization;
- According to one study, men appear to rely more on stored carbohydrate for fuel than women when doing the same exercise.
Does this mean that women should always have a lower carb intake than men? Not necessarily. An ectomorphic woman training at high intensity would likely need a higher carbohydrate percentage than a sedentary endomorphic man. On the other hand, a mesomorphic male trying to maintain weight would likely require a higher percentage of carbohydrate in their macronutrient ratio, perhaps in the range of 40 percent, while a woman of the same body type with the same goal may wish to start at around 30 percent.
Macros are not everything
After the hundredth or so time that you hear “abs are made in the kitchen,” it can be tempting to spend all your time worrying about macronutrient ratios and pay less mind to other factors that are just as important.
Most of all, calorie intake is the crucial factor. You can watch out for macronutrient ratios all you want but if you eat too much or less calories than needed you will lose/gain weight. If you need 2500 calories for maintenance and you eat 2800 you will gain weight for sure. Determining your ideal nutritional strategy will take time, and as your fitness goals evolve, your ideal macro ratio will too.
As Obi Obadike explains in his article, even though you macronutrient ratio is important, you will not use the same ratio forever. “Your body type, metabolism and weekly physical activity level all have some bearing on your ideal percentages for that moment in time. But that doesn’t mean it will be the macronutrient ratio you’ll use forever. It may change if and when your body weight or body fat fluctuates, or if you run into any plateaus”.
Most noteworthy, use the all of the things I explained above as references. You should closely monitor how your body reacts to the changes you make. This may sound like a lot to keep in mind, but do not get frustrated. You are building a healthier lifestyle here, not just doing math. The best thing about this lifestyle is that you get to know your body.
Finally, another important point I want to mention is that no matter what your body type you can build a big, ripped, muscular physique. Even the skinniest of guys can bulk up. Yes, it is harder but if you are willing to put in the hard work it can be done.
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