We’ve had a few clients reach out and ask about the right macronutrient profile and I’m sure that a lot of you can agree, tracking macros and finding the right percentages is a pain in the A$$, isn’t it?
I’ll start off with what you might find on the internet when trying to find the right profile for you; then I’ll give you my subjective opinion based on anecdotal evidence as to what I feel like the right profile is. In reality, the right answer is, “It depends”. It depends on what your goals are, what your age is, how much lean mass you have, what your total body composition is, whether you’re male or female and so on. There’s a lot that goes into it but first, let’s discuss a few of the basics.
What are macronutrients? Macronutrients are the energy sources I.E. Carbs, proteins, and fats that we need in large quantities in order to sustain our physiological functions. We NEED all of these energy sources for several reasons.
Carbohydrates are our body’s primary fuel source. Like the gas you put in your vehicles to get from your house to the gym. They’re found in all sorts of foods, including breads, grains, pastas, rice, vegetables, fruits and sweets. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into a sugar called glucose, which is then used as fuel. This powers literally everything we do, from running and lifting weights, to walking the dog, thinking and even breathing. Having a balance of carbohydrates in your daily eating pattern will optimize your performance. Not only in the gym but in your activities of daily living as well. With that said, consume most of your carbs from fruits, vegetables and unprocessed grains like rice. Current recommendations for carbohydrate intake are 45-65% of your total daily intake (I’ll comment on this later).
Protein is a VITAL nutrient that plays a critical role in our bodies. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of almost every structure in the human body. Muscles, skin, our bones, even hormones and enzymes are made of amino acids. As it relates to fitness, proteins aid in muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth AND preservation), satiety (hunger reduction) and increased metabolism. The current RDA for protein intake is .8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Athletes and older adults needing more due to increased activity for athletes and for older adults to combat the effects of sarcopenia (age related muscle loss). If you are above 40 years of age, this pertains to you. RDA for these individuals is 1.2-1.8 grams of protein per lb.
Fats – OH NO!!! The dreaded fat! I think more and more the powers that be are doing a great job of dispelling some of the myths pertaining to fats, but I’m sure that there’s still some folks who have concerns about eating it; however, YOU NEED IT and healthy fats CAN assist in weight loss. Fat has many benefits such as nutrient absorption, cell function, brain function, hormone production and yes, even heart health. Good fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats can actually help REDUCE bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. Fats can give us steady energy, keep us full (so we don’t over eat), increase our basal metabolic rate (burn more calories just being alive), reduce adipose tissue storage, and improve insulin sensitivity. Current RDA 20-35%.
And This Means What?
Yeah, yeah, yeah Erik, get to the point. How does this pertain to you, right? Well, here’s my take. Regarding carbohydrates, 45-65%, is just too much in my opinion. If you’re a long-distance athlete, someone who’s constantly on their feet working a rigorous job all day, or you’re in the gym 3 hours a day working at an intense level, then maybe that will work for you. But the average individual is not going to burn that many carbs throughout the day and the excess amount will just be stored as fat. I would recommend you aim for somewhere between 30-35% of your daily calories coming in the way of carbohydrates. So, if you’re on a 2000kcal eating pattern, that’s 150-175 grams per day. You can adjust based on your current needs (if you need help figuring this out, let me know).
When it comes to protein, unless you have a condition that is deemed contraindicated to protein intake, the more you eat, the better. I would put this somewhere between 35-40% of your daily caloric intake. Protein is vital to muscle growth, bone development, skin health, hormone production…I mean, literally everything. If you’re on a weight loss journey, the general rule of thumb is to eat your DESIRED weight in protein. So, if you’re a woman who wants to weigh 125lbs, you should be consuming 125 grams of protein a day. If you’re a 115lb woman, who wants to increase lean tissue and bone density, I’d recommend 1-1.3 grams per LB. If you’re over 55, I would recommend you lean towards the higher end, as sarcopenia is something you’re actively battling, whether we like it or not.
Finally, fats! Again, don’t be afraid of fat. It’s an essential nutrient that plays an enormous role in our overall health and well-being. I’d aim to consume somewhere between 25-35% of your total calories from healthy fat sources. This includes things such as nuts, seeds, avocado, mozzarella cheese and more.
In summary, there’s a lot that goes into determining what your individual macronutrient profile should look like, but I believe that a 30-30-40 profile is something that would work really well for most individuals, regardless of what your goals are. There are nuances within these ranges but I believe this is a good place to start. Understanding that this can be overwhelming and hard to get a hold of, I’m always here to help and so is the entire CustomFit360 staff. We’re more than happy to sit down and help map this out with you!
I hope everyone has an amazing, and safe New Year. Thank you all so much for your continued support this year and I hope 2024 brings you much success, health and prosperity!