T Nation

Calories vs Macronutrients


If an individual was attempting to gain weight (muscle mass, along with the associated fat gain), would the absolute calories consumption be more significant (would the body distinguish the surplus) as opposed to tracking macronutrient ratios etc to gain "lean mass".

I would appreciate a response from someone with perspective who has attempted both or some combination of them to achieve success.



Why would they be separate focuses if one is serious enough to consider either?


I'm guessing OP wants to gain muscle and eat junk food. He's basically asking if you can gain muscle with high calories and low protein. Am I right?


Im thinking he didnt get to ratios yet in math class but dominated addition and subtraction.




If I am understanding you properly, here is my take on it.

ABSOLUTE weight gain- Determined solely by (usable) calories in vs. calories out

Weight gain COMPOSITION- Seems to be affected powerfully by the macro-nutrient ratios. There is not a ton of hard science on this score, but there is a horde of anecdotal evidence that this is the case. From my personal experience tracking macros does matter. I have seen the best results with 1g Prot/lb. (didn't notice significant benefits going higher than this) around 30-40% fat and the rest in carbs.

In short, Absolute calorie intake is most important for weight gain, but macros most likely affect that composition. I don't think there would ever be a situation, assuming hard training, where 100% of weight gain would be fat regardless of macros, but every little bit matters when dramatic body comp is your goal.

Also there are a lot of benefits to eating a healthy diet aside from just weight gain so food choice matters on the pure health score (blood pressure, lipid profile, organ health, etc.) as well.


When I diet, I definitely have to pay attention to everything, definitely calories as I must be in a negative balance first, and then worry about adequate macros. When not dieting though, I probably concern myself more with getting 'enough proteins', decent amounts of carbs, and 'enough' healthy fats, without really counting every calorie. Obviously I think you can be less strict when going upwards in weight, but as Christian once said, the body sees nutrients, not numbers :slight_smile:



Appreciate the response, Might Stu and kilpaba. While BONEZ217 and therajraj were sucking each others dicks, and climaxing over each others comical relief, you guys provided legitimate responses.

My curiosity stemmed from the fact that guys like Aceto and Shelby put much emphasis on nutrient ratio's as opposed to absolute caloric consumption, and based on their history and success with their clients I wanted some further perspective on this form of detailed manipulation.



Lol. But obviously they have their clients in a surplus in the offseason and a deficit precontest. What other choice is there?


Right, and reasonably so, since a surplus or deficit would ultimately lead to gains and losses, respectively. however, would a carb, protein, and fat intake (lets keep the protein the only consistent nutrient)at lets say 40%, if the "healthy" fat intake was a 40% and the carbs maintained at 20% would the resulting physique produced (if bulking) differ from one where the carbs and fats ratio's were switched or some form of manipulation, how does this translate into the physique, since both means of consumption ultimately lead to a surplus. I would supposed there would be individual variations as well, dependent on carb sensitivity and fat tolerance etc etc, but over a general consensus what are the variations and resulting outcomes.