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Macronutrients: Definition & Setting Your Macronutrient Ratio





The last post I did regarding nutrition answered the question:  “How many calories should I eat“?  That post will help you determine the volume of food.  Now the next question is “What should my my macronutrient ratio be?  To answer this question you first need to understand macronutrients.

What are macronutrients?  Definition:  Macronutrients are nutrients which contain calories which supply us with energy.  They consist of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  The calories per gram of each of the macronutrients are as follows:

  • 1 Gram of Protein = 4 calories
  • 1 Gram of Carbohydrates = 4 calories
  • 1 Gram of Fat = 9 calories

Your macronutrient ratio is the ratio of calories from protein, carbs, and fat.  If you chose a 2000 calorie target with a 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate, 20% fat ratio, then your targets would look like this:

2,000 cals x 40% protein = 800 cals protein.  Protein is 4 cal per g, so 800 cals is 200 g protein

2,000 cals x 40% carbs = 800 cals carbs.  Carbs are 4 cal per g, so 800 cals is 200 g carbs

2,000 cals x 20% fat = 400 cals fat.  Fats are 9 cal per g, so 400 cals is 45 g fat.

Now that you have a better understanding of what macronutrients and macronutrient ratios are, let’s talk about what is right for YOU.  There are a lot of discussions about what the “best” macronutrient ratios are and I agree with some and disagree with others, but instead of going into a debate of what the “best” is, I will just share what worked for Tekoa and me.

Before I get into this I want to stress that your weight loss is more dependent on your calorie deficit / surplus more than it is your macronutrient ratio, but I have found certain ratios “speed up” the process a bit. Be sure you calculate what your calories should be per day first by clicking “How many calories should I eat“.

Macronutrient Ratio for Weight Loss:

When we started our journey we followed the “Fat Shredder Ratios” as described by the P90X Nutrition Plan.  Those ratios are 50% protein, 30% carbs, and 20% fat.  We followed that ratio for a while as we lost the weight.  After further research and the recommendations from Beachbody, that should really only be followed short term (no more than a month).  A high protein nutrition can be tough on your body long term so only follow this for about 30 days.  Some of the short term benefits of this is that protein is slower to digest so it helps keep you full longer which helps you out when you are switching to a calories deficit.  If you eat a 100% plant based nutrition, then I would not bother with the fat shredder ratios because you will have a hard time reaching those targets without incorporating highly processed protein sources.

After the 30 days of “Fat Shredder Ratios”, I would move to the “Energy Booster” ratio of 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat. This is a good ratio to set for continued weight loss and a lot of people like this ratio when they adjust their calories for maintenance.

Macronutrient Ratio for Maintenance:

When your body fat is where you want it and you want to set your ratio for maintenance, you can either keep it at the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% protein, OR you can switch it to 30% protein, 50% carbs, 20% fat. Everybody’s body reacts differently with energy levels and body fat fluctuations, so play around with the ratio that fit your needs.  Again… macronutrients are secondary to calorie intake so the important piece of maintenance is choosing the correct calorie intake to maintain your weight.

Macronutrient Ratio for Building Muscle:

If you want to really focus on building muscle mass, then you want to start with something like a 30% protein, 50% carbs, 20% fat ratio if you are a HARD GAINER then you may need to increase the calories even more from your daily calorie recommendation to gaining mass and go with a 20% protein, 60% carb, and 20% fat nutrition plan.

Tracking your Macronutrients:

Now that you have determined what your calories and macronutrient ratios should be, you should track everything in a calorie tracking program such as MyFitnessPal.  You can change your calorie and macronutrient goals at and track your food on the site or through their mobile app.

Get the MyFitnessPal app free for iPhone HERE

Get the MyFitnessPal app free for Android HERE

I hope this post helped you with understanding macronutrients and macronutrient ratios.

For FREE one on one support on your health and fitness journey be sure to make one of us your coach here:

Make me (Chris) your coach HERE

Make my wife (Tekoa) your coach HERE




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