Something equally as important as knowing how many total calories you require for your goal, is your fat loss or muscle building nutrition ratio – In other words, what those calories consist of.
Now that you know how many calories that you need to eat in total to reach your goal (if you don’t know, use the Harris Benedict BMR Calculator), we’re going to look at what ratio’s of macro-nutrients should make up your total daily calorie intake.
Sure, you could reach your calorie goal pretty easily by shoveling junk food into your body but most of these calories would probably consist of saturated fats and would not give your body the desired effect, physically. Not exactly optimal fat burning or muscle building nutrition!
2000 calories consisting mostly of saturated fat and simple sugars isn’t the same as a 2000 calorie diet consisting of protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fats!
Now, with that in mind, how should you split your calorie intake if you’re planning to build muscle or burn fat? What percentage should come from protein, carbs and fat?
This is another area in which, if you research, you’ll come across a massive range of differing ratio’s from various experts. Truth is, nobody can tell you what the best ratio of protein, carbs and fats your total daily calorie intake should consist of for optimal results.
However, guidelines can be given and followed. Ultimately though, this is another aspect of fitness that will be perfected by actually getting out there and DOING and EXPERIENCING. Depending on your body type, genetics and activity levels you’ll find that different fat loss and muscle building nutrition ratio’s will work better for you than others.
Here is what your total daily consumption of calories should approximately consist of:
Macro-nutrient % of your total daily calorie intake
|Note: When ratio’s are recommended, you may often see them written like this : 30-40-30. What this means is 30% protein, 40% carbs and 30% fats. The order never changes. It is always protein and then carbs followed by fats.|
Which Ratio Shall I Start With?
|A good starting ratio to build muscle fast :- |
If you are not gaining weight on your muscle building nutrition plan – Make sure you are getting at least a gram of protein per lb of your bodyweight and/or gradually increase protein intake and total calories.
|A good starting ratio to build muscle if you have a high activity level :- |
If you are doing a lot of cardio/playing sport and trying to build muscle fast – Increase your carb % ratio to satisfy your bodies energy needs. You may also need adjust your muscle building nutrition plan to increase total calories consumed daily.
|A good starting ratio to burn fat and lose weight fast:- |
If you are not losing weight (burning fat) – Decrease your carb and/or fat % ratio, increase protein % ratio. Look at decreasing total calories if you are still not experiencing fat loss after 2 weeks.
Protein provides you with 4 calories per gram that you eat.Carbs also provide you with 4 calories per gram that you eat.
Fats provide you with 9 calories per gram that you eat.
Let’s say we require a 2000 calorie diet. Let’s say our goal is muscle building and we do not play any sports or do any intense activity. So, this means that we are going to use the 30-40-30 ratio.
This 2000 calories breaks down into:
Protein : 30% of 2000 = 600 calories
150 grams of protein = 600 calories
(The likelihood is that your muscle building nutrition will mean eating more than 2000 calories but I used 2000 as a nice easy figure to show you the math)
There are many sources of protein. Meat, dairy, egg, pulses etc. Typically, you will want to choose lean cuts of meat like chicken and turkey as they are complete proteins and contain very little fat. However, for one of your daily meals you may choose oily fish as your protein choice to provide you a combination of protein and essential fats. Red meat also provides this same combination but the fat’s will come from saturated fats. You want to limit saturated fat as much as possible. Therefore be sure to choose lean cuts of red meat and trim any visible fat.
There are 2 types of carbohydrates. Simple sugars and complex carbohydrates (see below for example foods for both). There is a place for both in your diet but, ideally, the majority of your diet will consist of slow-release, unrefined, complex carbohydrates that are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. (You may hear these foods being referred to as having a ‘Low Glycemic index‘) Once eaten, your body will turn these types of carbohydrates into energy gradually.
Whether your goal is to build muscle fast or to burn fat, you will want sustained energy throughout the day. Not just energy spikes and crashes.
The other problem with sugar (energy) spikes is that your body will release a large amount of the hormone, insulin, to regulate your high sugar levels. Insulin is great at shuttling nutrients into cells including fat cells
As you can see unrefined, slow-release (Low Glycemic Index), carbohydrates are essential to keep your physique lean. They are an important aspect of your fat loss or muscle building nutrition.
Finally, we have the infamous fats! Whilst there is some merit to their waist-inflating reputation, their benefits are often overlooked. Certain fats eaten in moderation will not only help to keep you healthy. You can actually increase your metabolism and help you towards your goals.
The good fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. The fats that the body has the most trouble dealing with are the saturate fats and these are the ones that should be minimized. Minimize means not cut out completely as they still provide some benefit.
You also have essential fatty acids which are the most beneficial. There are two types : Omega 3 and Omega 6. Regular eating of oily fish, flax seed oil/linseed oil will ensure that you have enough Omega 3’s. Whilst sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or safflower seeds/oils will ensure adequate Omega 6’s. If you can get Hemp seed oil where you live, this is the best option as it contains all of the known essential fatty acids!
The ideal ratio of Omega 3’s to 6’s has been argued but don’t waste your time on this matter. It’s an intricate detail. If you do not like consuming essential fatty acids in your diet, you will need to buy them in supplement form.
Overall, remember that although some fat’s are good, they are still very calorie dense (1 gram of fat = 9 calories!). So do not over indulge in fats. That would be a sure way to go over your target calorie intake AND increase your body fat levels. This is something you definitely don’t want out of your fat loss or muscle building nutrition!
|One thing to remember is that this section just offers you rough guidelines for your fat loss + muscle building nutrition. Your ideal ratio will be effected by many things such as genetics, body type, training intensity etc. |
Follow these guidelines but make sure that you are logging your progress and keeping a food diary. You only need to keep a food diary until you get used to the nutritional content of what you eat.
If you are not seeing results, take the initiative and change the ratio slightly to something that you feel might suit your body better. Tweak your diet until you start seeing results. The same applies whether your goal is to build muscle fast or lose weight fast
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