Can changing your Macro ratios improve your results?


Until relatively recently, if you wanted to track your food intake, your main focus would have been calories. To lose fat, you reduced the number of calories you consumed, and if you wanted to gain weight (specifically muscle) you consumed more calories.


More recently, tracking calories has replaced tracking macros – macros being short for macronutrients which is the collective term for protein, carbohydrates, and fats.


Tracking macros is useful because, contrary to what many people think, a calorie is not always a calorie. Protein, carbohydrate, and fat all contain calories, but those calories are utilized differently, having very different functions and roles in your body.


So, if you choose to track your macros, the big question is – how much of each group should you have?  


The Zone diet, one of the first diets to focus on macros rather than just calories, suggests that you should consume 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat, whereas the standard American diet, what we used to call the food pyramid, recommends 50-60% carbs, 20% protein and 20-30% fat.


As with most fitness-related conundrums, there is no one size fits all answer and your ideal macronutrient ratio depends on several factors – including your personal preferences.


How to track your macros?


Tracking macros can be hard work if you do it “old school” with nothing more than a pen, paper, and calculator. Thankfully, there are lots of apps and websites that will do all the heavy lifting for you. Google “macro tracking tools” and you’ll get lots of great options, many of which are free. For a step by step guide to getting started with counting your macros, click here!


Macro ratios by body type


Most people are one of three main body types – mesomorph, ectomorph, and endomorph. Very few people are 100% one type, and most of us are a mixture, However, after reading the descriptions below, you should be able to identify the body type that most describes you. Once you have identified your body type, you discover what macronutrient ratio should suit you best.



Mesomorphs


Mesomorphs are naturally muscular, athletic, and are often drawn toward strength sports like weight lifting, rugby, and bodybuilding. They tend to have a good tolerance for carbohydrate and glucose, and often have a relatively high metabolic rate.


A good starting macronutrient ratio for mesomorphs would be 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat.


Ectomorphs


Ectomorphs tend to be naturally slim and are well suited to endurance activities such as running and cycling. They have a high tolerance for carbs and often have a very fast metabolism. Because of this, they can often “eat whatever they like” without gaining weight or fat.


A good starting macronutrient ratio for ectomorphs would be 25% protein, 55% carbs, and 20% fat.


Endomorphs


Endomorphs tend to be naturally broad and have a tendency to gain fat easily. Often described as having a slow metabolism, endomorphs can have a poor tolerance for carbohydrate.


A good starting macronutrient ratio for endomorphs would be 35% protein, 25% carbs, and 40% fat. As your body fat levels decrease you may find your carb tolerance increases and you will be able to up your carb intake accordingly.


Tweaking your macros based on your goals


While the above ratios provide a good place to start planning your macro ratios, you’ll get better results from your training and nutrition if you tweak your macros based on your goals.


1. Improved athletic performance


If you train long, hard, and often, your tolerance to and need for carbohydrates increases – especially immediately before and after exercise. The harder and longer you train, the more carbs your body needs.



If you often find yourself feeling flat or tired, consider increasing your carb intake by 5-10%. This is especially true for endurance athletes.


2. Increased muscle mass/strength


Training for increased strength or muscle mass starts with breaking your muscles down and so that they grow back bigger and stronger than before. This process is reliant on dietary protein. If you don’t consume enough protein, your body won’t have the building materials it needs to repair the damaged muscle tissue.


Most exercisers in this category need to consume around 1.8 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight, which could mean 30-40% of your calories need to come from protein. Too little protein could severely undermine your progress.


3. Losing body fat


If you want to lose fat, you may be tempted to reduce your dietary fat intake to 10% or less. Don’t! fat is a crucial macro that is important for your health, hormone production, satiety, and nutrient absorption. Resist the temptation of becoming fat-o-phobic and make sure you keep your fat intake at around 20%.


Instead, if you want to lose fat, consider lowering your carbohydrate percentage and increasing your protein intake by the same amount. This creates a favourable environment for fat burning.



With fewer carbs in the mix, your body is more likely to burn fat for energy. Additionally, protein has a high thermal effect which means it takes more energy for your body to transport, digest, and utilize it. In short, protein boosts your metabolism much more than carbohydrate.


If fat loss is your goal, lower your carb intake by 5-10%, increasing your protein intake by the same amount.


Macro split Recommendations

By physique type:

Mesomorph = 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat.

Ectomorph = 25% protein, 55% carbs, and 20% fat.

Endomorph = 25% protein, 55% carbs, and 20% fat.


By Goal Type:

Improved athletic performance = 5-10% carb increase

Increased muscle mass / strength = 30-40% protein intake

Decreasing body fat = 20% fat, decreased carb intake by 5-10%



There is no one size fits all macro ratio. Because of bio-individuality, what works for one person may not work for another. Adopt the macro ratio that’s right for your body type, tweak it based on your goals, and then be prepared to adjust it again according to your results. If you want to take the guesswork and time consuming planning out of your meal choices, sign up to one of my meal plans! Click here to check them out.

If my guide has helped you optimise your macro ratios, I want to know! Tag me @LaurenSimpsonFitness or use my hashtag #LSFbabes