Let’s start with a simple question. Do you want to achieve any of the following fitness goals?
- Burn fat
- Gain muscle
- Gain strength
- Get lean
- Enhance performance
- Improve your health
If you answered yes to any of the goals listed above, one of the secrets to your success lies in the ability to properly balance your macronutrients through consistent effort.
In other words, consuming a proper balance of proteins, carbs and fats should be the primary objective of your nutrition program.
Without doing complicated calculations, you can get your macronutrient ratios within range by eating a lean protein and natural carb at each meal. A breakfast example of a protein and starchy carb is eggs and oatmeal. A dinner example is chicken with rice and veggies.
Eating meals consisting of only 1 macronutrient (eg. protein by itself) is more likely to throw off your ratios. Popular diets containing only protein or only veggies often fail to produce long-lasting results since they overemphasize a single macronutrient.
Restricting yourself from entire food groups is not only unhealthy, but makes it easier to regain lost weight due to increased cravings or rebound hunger. Other than allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, entirely restricting a food group is NOT the way to go.
In fact, there’s no evidence that there are benefits to separating protein and carbs. Here are the 5 key benefits of eating carbs with protein.
5 Key Benefits of Eating Carbs With Protein
1. Meals WITHOUT Protein May Cause Muscle Loss
When building muscle, it’s optimal to consume protein regularly throughout the day. Protein isn’t stored in your body like carbs. Consuming meals without protein does NOT give your body adequate nourishment to build muscle.
This also applies when trying to lose weight. When you’re in a caloric deficit, your body can choose to either burn your body fat or your hard earned muscle as an alternative fuel source.
Obviously, burning muscle tissue for energy is not what you’re going for. Your aim is to burn fat exclusively and leave your muscle tissue untouched.
The key to maintaining muscle mass during weight loss is to consume a sufficient amount of protein throughout the day. The amount of protein is a bigger factor than the size of the deficit when it comes to maintaining muscle.
So if your goal is to lose weight without losing muscle in the process, consuming the right amount of protein is key. But how much protein is “right” for your body? I answer that question and more in my free KFX Workout & Nutrition Manual.
2. Protein Suppresses Your Appetite
Research has shown that protein has an appetite-suppressant effect. This means consuming protein will make you less hungry.
You are much less likely to overeat protein compared to carbs, so consuming a lean protein with each meal is an ideal way to control your caloric intake.
3. Protein Boosts Your Metabolism
Compared to carbs and fats, protein containing foods have the highest thermic effect.
In plain English, it means that protein requires the most energy to digest. And more energy equals more calories burned.
This means eating carbs with protein will boost your metabolism by naturally burning more calories. Pretty cool, huh?
So, if you’re trying to shed a few pounds and preserve your muscle, a protein supplement can help the process.
4. Carbs Replenish Glycogen
Glycogen stored in muscle is the primary source of energy when it comes to exercise. And glycogen capacity is limited to carb consumption. So, eating only protein-based meals will NOT replenish your glycogen stores.
Depleted glycogen stores lead to poor performance and slower recovery. Even if you have a carb-sensitivity or prefer low-carb diets, carbs are needed to support your workouts.
5. Protein Slows Carbohydrate Digestion
Ever feel that nagging hunger creeping up throughout the day? Or that craving for a certain food? It’s likely from consuming too much sugar and processed carbohydrates without protein, fiber and fats.
Balancing your macronutrients slows the digestion of carbs which results in more stable blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day.
What’s a Macronutrient Ratio?
Now that you understand why balancing your macronutrient intake is so important, it’s time to determine the ideal macronutrient ratio for burning fat, building muscle and improving your health.
But first, let me explain the macronutrient ratio.
A macronutrient ratio is the percentage of your total calories that come from carbs, proteins and fats. To design your meal plan, start by calculating your daily calorie maintenance level. From here, distribute your total caloric intake based on the percentage of macronutrients.
Imagine cutting a pie. If you cut your total calories into three equal pieces, the ratios would be 1/3 carbs, 1/3 protein and 1/3 fat.
What’s the IDEAL Macronutrient Ratio?
So what’s the ideal macronutrient ratio? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer.
My advice would be to avoid extremes since problems arise with extreme diets. For example, “very low-fat diets” often do not provide an adequate amount of essential fatty acids and are too low in protein to support training for muscle maintenance.
For improving body composition, the best approach for most people is moderate carbs (40-50%), moderate fat (20-30%), and moderate to high protein (25-40%). This is balance at its finest! From this baseline, you can tailor the percentages to how your body responds.
But before you make any drastic changes to your macros, be sure to establish a plan to track your progress. If your baseline nutrition plan is already producing desirable results, then don’t change anything. If not, begin making small tweaks and adjustments.
Bottom Line: To improve body composition, moderate carbs (40-50%), moderate fat (20-30%), and moderate to high protein (25-40%) is the macronutrient ratio that works best for the majority of people.
Like anything you’re trying to improve at, you must start with the basics. Without a solid foundation, nothing else matters. In case you haven’t already read it, my free KFX: Workout & Nutrition Manual provides valuable macronutrient information and establishes a baseline of nutrition fundamentals to ensure your castle doesn’t crumble.
As Emerson said, “The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base.”