Macronutrients are more than just a weight loss trend. Also referred to as “macros,” macronutrients are chemicals from foods that are required by the body in large amounts for growth, energy, and maintenance. Personal trainers and dietitians evaluate macronutrient ratios to understand where their clients’ calories are coming from and identify dietary imbalances. However, macronutrient ratios can also be used to customize diets to support health and fitness goals.

Macro Basics

Macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as water and macrominerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. While macros make up the bulk of your diet, excess intake of one or more macronutrients can lead to obesity and obesity-related disorders. Customizing macro ratios can help individuals lose weight, build lean muscle, manage blood sugar and maintain health and fitness. 

Macros for Weight Loss

Identifying the most accurate macronutrient ratio for weight loss depends upon each individual’s size, age and activity level. However, most people who exercise for less than an hour a day require a macro ratio of 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs for weight loss. People who exercise one to two hours a day generally require 30% protein, 25% fat and 45% carbs. For people who exercise more than two hours daily, it is recommended to consult with a certified sports dietitian for a personalized macronutrient ratio that supports a high level of physical activity and healthy weight loss. 

Macros for Muscle Building

Muscle building often requires higher caloric intakes and higher carbohydrate ratios to generate muscle mass after workouts. Timing macronutrient intake with more carbs immediately post-workout and more protein later in the day to aid recovery helps bodybuilders get the right fuel at the right time for optimal results. A typical daily macro ratio for bodybuilding could look something like 30% protein, 30% fat and 30% carbs. 

Macros for Managing Blood Sugar

Macronutrient-based portion control can assist with managing glucose levels in diabetics. Macronutrient ratios for diabetics include food choices like fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins. The safest way to determine the appropriate ratios for glucose regulation is to consult with a professional dietitian because diabetes is a serious medical condition.

Macros for More

Macronutrient ratio diets can also have significant effects on athletic performance, endurance, strength and weigh gain. The standard ratios for these impacts are:

  • Macros for athletic performance: 25% protein, 20% fat and 55% carbs. 
  • Macros for endurance: 15-25% protein, 20-30% fat and 50-65% carbs. 
  • Macros for strength: 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs.

Macros for weight gain: 20% protein, 20-30% fat and 50-60% carbs.