T Nation

How Important is Dietary Composition vs Macro's?


I would like to know, in the opinion of most bodybuilders, whether dietary composition is significant to body recomposition versus simply "hitting your targets" with respect to macro's and caloric intake.

Can fat loss be achieved on a McDonald's diet, for instance?
And would said diet elicit the same results as an iso-caloric diet with the same macro split consisting of traditional "bodybuilding foods"?

I want to hear from people who cut, not bulked. Don't tell me about your "McDonald's bulk" that resulted in "solid gains". I've already read those stories on this site and others. That's not what I'm after. I'm after the bodybuilder who ate McDonald's pre-competition while hitting all of his macro targets and came in shredded on the day of the contest. Sort of like Morgan Spurlock's experiment turned inside-out.

Surely someone has put this theory to the test?


gets popcorn


Is this the guy who said a squat can't be single-legged?

According to that line of thinking, we don't have one-arm overhead presses because overhead presses are supposed to be bilateral movements. Same goes for quite a few other exercises.

What bodybuilder would fucking AIM for or invite disaster like this? Getting his starchy carb allotment from white-bread rolls, ice cream, fried breading, protein and fats from fast-food meat, mayonnaise, processed cheese, high-heated polyunsaturated oils, etc.?

I don't know if he aimed to do so, but undisciplined Flex Wheeler would eat shit up until about three weeks before a show.

NEARLY all men can't get away with this shit?


Lol I though he meant Lyle McDonald at first.

For cutting, (1) eating below maintenance to lose 1-2 lbs per week, (2) with adequate protein (1 gram per lb of lean body mass) and (3) working out with weights 3x per week are what is needed. These are the 3 essentials. The rest is just tricks.

Eating "clean" is nice for health, but if you get adequate protein and eat a deficit and workout, bodyfat will be lost. I do it fairly cleanly myself (get good fats, avoid simple carbs except PWO, etc.) but it isn't necessary.

Cardio can aid in creating the deficit, but isn't necessary (it is for me though, b/c I like to eat a bit more). I like HIIT and LISS for this purpose.

The weight workout can be an upper/lower, a split, a whole body of some sort, whatever. Intensity with weights 3x per week is the key.

Drastically reducing carbs is not necessary. I've tried it both ways and you lose more steadily, retain more LBM and have better workouts if you avoid ketosis. Of course, carbs should generally come from whole grain and "clean" sources and veggies, but eliminating an entire macro is simple trickery AND a good way to make yourself overly sensitive to carbs once you reintroduce them.

So, a basic 40/40/20 or 50/30/20 is best for most folks. It requires consistency over time (1-2 lbs per week isn't much...requires a few months of consistency) and doesn't have the instant gratification appeal that very low carb diets provide, but it's best.


Arnold had a burger and a beer everyday - even pre-contest. I know for a fact he loved Dairy Queen.

Actually, a Mc D's Big Mac has solid ratios. If you keep the total cals at cutting range for the proper length of time, you will lose the weight. You'll look lousy from all the sodium and carbs, but you can probably stop eating the bun and just eat the veggies and meat for 2 weeks, then the last week reduce total meat intake to deplete as much sodium as possible, then do a "bun only" carb up 2 days out and come in full and ripped.

As for the Jay video below, don't believe it. This is the IOB on Pico. My friends see him here all the time pre contest. Good luck!




That's the question this thread is designed to answer, and you're not going about it very scientifically at the moment.

But I did get this from another board:


Exactly the type of thing I was looking for.


Are you fucking kidding me? You mean to tell me that 600 calories from pizza will have the same effect on the body as 600 calories coming from chicken and a salad with various veggies and beans and olive and flax oil and fruit?

If that were so, pre-contest bodybuilding wouldn't be the nightmare that it is and we'd have far less fat asses walking around.

Actually, what you're saying goes against dietetics and nutrition counseling as a whole. Instead of telling patients and clients to pay attention to calories AND QUALITY, I'll just tell them to eat below maintenance.

It isn't necessary? Right, probably not necessary for genetic freaks like Flex Wheeler and Dexter Jackson. But for 99 percent of the rest of us, it will NOT.


easy now, you'll awaken the wrath of JMoufc with your blasphemy


If you get adequate protein, lift weights, and eat at an appropriate caloric deficit to lose 1-2 lbs per week, bodyfat will be lost, regardless if the rest of your calories are the cleanest. I'm not saying the rest of the calories should be skittles or anything, but yeah, i'm serious. It works. I also said that it isn't optimum for health goals/purposes, but it works fine for cutting bodyfat if the other rules are followed.


Isnt there a thread round here with reference to Carb GI where this very arguement was played out??? For about 5 pages....

If your calorie count is below maintenace then you should lose weight. But I wouldnt want to be your bowels if you did this by eating McDonalds


No, because pizza and salads don't share the same macro ratio's. Notice that I didn't say all isocaloric diets would elicit the same results. I said diets containing identical caloric content AND macro ratio's.

This is a CRUCIAL point.

Now that you [hopefully] understand, why do you think it wouldn't work?

Maybe so, maybe not. BBers do many things out of habit, such as eating plain chicken breasts before contest. What if they ate fat-free slim jims instead? You think it would affect their body comp differently? Explain why, if so.

It's pretty well established in bodybuilding circles that dietitians and nutritional counselors are full of shit.

So 250 P / 150 F / 100 C from bodybuilding approved foods is going to bring about different results than 250 P / 150 F / 100 C from non bodybuilding approved foods? You think so?

Prove it, explain it, prove it, explain it


You're the one that wanted to know the answer to this.
Why don't you take pics/measurements then go about losing fat in the way you propose, see how it pans out. You know, just a thought


Nutritionism suggests that foods are nothing but transport devices for common macronutrients. To suggest that a vegetable is just a carbohydrate/fiber source or that meat is simply 'protein' is an idiotic oversimplification. I don't have to tell you that there's qualitative differences between the carbohydrates in white bread and those in whole grains, beans, etc.

Why do you think there's no difference with regards to body composition? The idea that 'just getting the macros right' is all it takes to change your physique suggests that the body works through some alchemical process in which only the proper formula will create the desired results. Even nutrition science is more complex than that.


You wont find a bodybuilder worth his salt (pun to follow) who will eat a macdonalds before a show - due to all the sodium.

However, yes - generally speaking macro's have a massive impact on body composition. I wasn't aware this was even up for debate. i am aware however that you, Nominal Prospect are one of those intellectual posters who likes to cause shit - but...

I won't be using the pre-comp dieting BB as the example, as they are really an extreme - as you should know. Apart from 2-3% BF being the goal, the water manipulation throws a hammer in the works of most foods that one would consider healthy.
Of course T3, Trenbolone and Lasix help - but that too is a different discussion.

As for general fat loss - in loss of fat primarily and not muscle. then it IS possible to eat badly with low calories to achieve some. However it would be much more effective (for the same goals) to choose a diet that restricts sugar or simple chain carbohydrates, as well as excessive amounts of (saturated) fats.
It is generally well understood (in my mind if not yours) that if one ate a macro profile of.. say 10:50:40 of Pro:Cho:Fat but restricted calories to 2000kcal below maintenance - they would lose weight. It is also well understood that they would likely lose as much if not more muscle and water as they would fat.
If someone had the above macro ratio's but reduced calories by just (the recommended) 10-15% below maintenance, they would lose weight slower - but they would STILL lose a large proportion of metabolic tissue - albeit not as much due to less catabolism from the 'starvation' type diet above.

Now if you look at someone who has a macro ratio of 40:40:20 or 50:10:40 (depending on their own metabolism and tolerance to carbs, etc.) but restricted 2000kcals below maintenance - i would expect to see a similar response to the first example. They would NEED to drop muscle to lower the metabolism.
If they reduced by just the 10-15% - then they would lose the vast majority bodyfat, whilst preserving their muscle. This is shown repeatedly isn't it?

As for real world results - it is simple. Whether putting on muscle or dropping fat, one will ALWAYS get a better result when they eat cleaner (all else equal). Always.

As for using a show (BB) to experiment whether you can come in dry and shredded on a diet of mackie-D's is IMO, making a mockery of the sport and the dedication to compete in it. Maybe that is what your post is about?

If i missed the point - excuse me.


If the ratio 250:100:150 of ANY food is eaten - it will illicit the exact same physiological response in a person. Fact. AS LONG AS ALL ELSE IS EQUAL.
This is correct.. however your argument loses its point when you consider that the fibre content, salt content, sugar content and saturated fat content will all be different in a pizza with those macro values than a wholegrain tuna sandwich with those ratios.

Thats all.. the macro ratio is NOT important - but where those Macro's come from is. I don't see why a thread is needed to argue this moot point? Isn't it obvious?



Herr Nominal,

Here's a picture of registered dietitian and Olympia competitor Colette Nelson. I suppose that she qualified for the Olympia through her "full of shit" dietetic practices.

Heil! (Gives Roman salute.)


Herr Nominal,

Here's another dietitian, author for this site, professor, and bodybuilder
Lonnie Lowery. He built those guns to the size of your fucking head with "full of shit" dietetic practices.


Herr Nominal,

Here's a pic of Tom Incledon, dietitian, author for this site, strength coach, and strongman competitor. He gets athletes in shape (including Bob Sapp) with "full of shit" dietetics counseling.


isn't that Magnus ver Magnusson?