Beginners Guide to Macros

If you’ve been hitting the gym regularly, then you’ve probably met someone by now who’s mentioned the word macros to you. So, what are they on about? What does ‘Macros’ mean? Simply put the word ‘Macros’ refers to the ratio of macro-nutrients you consume in a given day. There are 3 main macro-nutrients; which are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; the most important of which is Protein.

First things first, it doesn’t matter what macro ratio you use if your aim is to lose weight, you must be in a calorific deficit; same is said if you’re trying to gain weight, you must be in a calories surplus. No Marco ratio will ever allow you to lose or gain weight if you’re not in a calorific deficit or surplus.

If you would like to know how many calories you should be eating in one day, you’ll need to use a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculator. I recommend using the one found at this should give you a great initial estimate of the calories you should be consuming per day and put you on the straight track to achieving your goals.

After you have your calories down its time to jump into sorting out your 'macros'.

Now if you are a complete beginner, I wouldn’t jump into tracking your macros straight away, especially if you’re in a calorific deficit. The added restrictedness of a macro-controlled diet may make it harder for you to stick to it and you may end up quitting before seeing any results. That being said, tracking your macros can add that little extra to your performance in the gym or your overall body composition.

So which macro ratio is best? 30/35/35 or 40/40/20 or 30/20/50?

Well, that depends on what your goal is and what you’re able to stick to. First, we must understand what all those numbers mean. Quite simply that’s the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbs eg. 30/35/35 means 30% protein, 35% fats, 35% carbs. If you used the TDEE calculator from above you might have already seen these ratios and how they are described: moderate carb, low carb, and high carb.

I’ve heard low carb is best carb is the best for weight loss I’m just going to do that.

As stated before no macro ratio will make you lose or gain weight, that is all dependent on calories in vs calories out. However macro ratios can help where that weight loss or gain comes from, muscle, fat or just water weight.

Moderate carb (30/35/35): perfect for your average gym goer looking for that little extra edge on their mates in terms of both looks and power. Having 30% of your calories come from protein means your definitely getting enough protein in your system improve or maintain muscle size and strength. The 35% carbs and 35% fats are then at a perfect ratio to allow your body to make optimum use of this protein. Another possible benefit of mod carb is that if you usually eat a lot of carbs you will notice an initial water weight loss which will motivate you more to stick to your diet; that being said, expect to have an initial rapid loss of weight which will slow down within a few days of the diet.

Low carb (40/40/20): usually followed when in a calorie deficit, the great part about consuming so little carbs is that it will make your body drop a lot of initial weight. The downside is that it's mostly water weight. Low carb is the perfect macro ratio for bodybuilders or those looking to get that summer body you always wanted a little sooner. Watch out however because as soon as you start eating more carbs that water weight will come back too. Whilst on low carbs your body will go into ketogenesis (your body will start using fat as its primary energy source) for this reason the fat percentage increases. The protein percentage also increases too, this is because its harder for your body to put on muscle whilst on a low carb diet and needs the extra protein to make it easier for your body.

High carb(30/20/50): perfect for athletes who main focus is performance and not looks. A high carb macro ratio allows you to train more with less fatigue and is usually followed when in a calorie surplus (otherwise known as bulking). Carbs are our bodies go to fuel and is what keeps us moving day in and day out, so it goes to say the more of them you get the more you can move, the more you can train. The downside is you’re not really going to be seeing those six pack abs any time soon, whilst its true you can still lose weight on a high carb diet (calories in vs calories out remember) it is also true that carbs are the reason we carry water weight and that water weight is what will be covering your abs.

So, what have we learned?

Mod carb is mainly for when you are consuming maintenance calories, are an average gym goer or a bodybuilder or athlete during ‘off-season’

Low carb is mainly used when in a calorie deficit (cutting) and is used mainly by bodybuilders or lads getting ready for summer.

High carb is used mainly when bulking (calorie surplus) and is mainly used by athletes who train a little more often and are focused on performance overlooks.