T Nation

Macro Nutrient Percentages


Firstly I just wanted to say hello to everyone. Been lurking for a while. Tons of great info here. Was wondering about the macro nutrient % and what seems to be the consensus for the lifter that wants to keep current lean muscle (adding would be even better) while lowering body fat %. I eat relatively clean and have been using fitday.com as a tool to watch my caloric intake, expenditures, and any deficits. I have been consistently around 26-30% fat (mostly good fats), 39-42% carbs, and 32-35% protein. Just curious as to what has worked well for others.

My goal here is to get to about 9-10% body fat while gaining a few pounds of lean muscle along the way. I know this almost sounds like an oxy-moron but I think I can do it with a little guidance. If I have left out any pertinent info. just ask


i also want to gain some muscle w/o too much fat.

i've been experimenting with carb cycling for a couple months now. honestly it hasn't worked so well thus far. i put on 5lbs real quick, and then not so much. probably because i'm just not eating enough.

until this week it's been mostly 3g carb per lb bw on high days, 1.5g/lb on med days and 1.1g/lb on low days. then ~1.5g/lb protein. this does not seem to be enough food for me.

my idea now is to set a cal/day goal using the same carb/prot ratios and just make up the cal difference with good fats. gonna try sticking with a calorie/day goal for a week and then adjust up from there if i haven't gained anything.

fat/carb/prot percentages are 19/54/27 on high days to 55/18/27 on low days. we'll see if it works.

fitday is great btw.


I actually change my breakdown on various days of the week. Some days, I have a higher carb intake, and other days, when I try to keep carbs a little lower, obviously you need to up your intake of healthy fats. Some people can handle a higher percentage of fat vs carbs, and some people can't.



I am still trying to learn what I can and cannot do. Have only been tracking for about 2 weeks now. The hardest part that I have found so far is keeping the fat low (around 20%).

@Stu - Are you adjusting your carbs/fats because of certain muscles your training on those days of just as a cycle schedule?


That's exactly what I'm doing. Today for example, is scheduled to be an 'off' day for me. I'll probably go in and do a little ab work, maybe peddle the bike a bit, but knowing that I'm not going to be 'working', I'm keeping my carbs a little lower than usual, as well as keeping an eye on my total cals (most days I'm a little more lenient as I'm trying to put on a little size between shows).



As Stu mentioned, it is very dependant on the person in question - for example, you will get one person who in order to improve body composition, will see the best results from something like 35:55:10 of Pro:Car:Fat.. and another who will require something along the lines of 50:10:40.. and of course a very common one which is kinda a compromise is the old 40:40:20.

To be honest it is my opinion that low carb will work for everyone, but i just think that if your goal is only 9-11% and you can achieve that with carbs.. then you may as well!

The question IMO isn't so much what ratio is needed, but what ratio works for YOU (for a specific goal) and also what types of foods will you benefit from the most. For example, i eat higher carb even when trying to lower bodyfat - this is simply because i can.. however when i do want to drop well into singles, i will be cutting carbs drastically.. likely a carbohydrate cycling method over ketosis, as i just cannot see it being necessary to get to ~5%.
However, when i am going for a modest 10% of BF i will simply eat low GI carbs and low fat.. with my body-type it is all i need to do (along with a controlled caloric intake) to achieve that particular goal.

Of course there are those who gain fat very easily (and on the plus side, these often gain muscle faster too), and for those it is generally well accepted that a low carb approach is best, and you will find many endomorphs using a low/controlled carb approach to bulking too in order to control the bodyfat that accumulates.



Hey, thanks for the replies! Going to continue to fool with it and see what works. The hardest part right now is eating the amount of food that I am supposed to. I feel like I am going to puke! And that is just at 6 meals, 3,000 - 3,200 calories. Might adjust the type of carbs so that it doesn't make me feel so full all day...


I remember when i first began counting calories when bulking (which is a great tip for you - count your calories in detail, this will make you think about food more, and help you to eat more) i was shooting for ~3000kcals.. these days i can hit upto 5000 as a max, and try to bulk around ~4500kcal. But trust me, 5000k feels no harder than 3000k did.. so all i am saying is - you get used to it :wink:


Thanks Brooke! Just out of curiosity, what are you eating to get to 5,000kcals a day. Would like to see what your diet looks like on paper. Just to get some ideas. Yesterday I felt like complete ass from eating so much but after waking up this morning I realized that is is most likely due to the fact that I have apparently gotten sick. Have absolutely no appetite this morning and that is after sleeping for 11 hours....


Liquids go down pretty easily when you're not hungry. I was up at 5:30 taking my dog out this morning (I'm off for the summer, so I had no intention of being awake yet), so before I went back to bed, I nuked a bowl of oatmeal, mixed in some met drive,. and some PB. Tah Dah! 570 cals! Even if I had just drank a shake, or downed some PB by itself, it would help.



Yeah, I have found myself waking up at night to use the bath room and quickly making a shake. I think my problem right now is 2 things: 1) I have tried to change my diet as far as calories go overnight instead of working up to it. 2) All meals are solid foods with the exception of the PWO and event hat has some other foods that I take with it.

I am focusing too much on clean food and solid food and it make it hard to get where I want ot get to in terms of calories.


For me as a slim build who doesn't gain fat easy the answer is simple.. GORGE!!

Simple carbs do me very very well.. because 30mins after eating them, i am hungry again.. same can be said for a protein shake with 50g protein and 50g oats and 400ml skim milk.. this is highly calorific and i can get around 4 of these in a day among my regular food.. alot of breads, no pasta as that fills me personally.. potatoes make me hungry.

Not TOO much red meat, as it fills me too much.. chicken or preferably turkey is better.. or even better a white fish or maybe salmon.. even an oily fish is less filling to me than steak.
If i eat a steak i wont want to eat for another 3 hours.. when bulking i generally eat every 1-2hours.. as much as possible.
I fill up immediately in the morning and then eat as soon as i don't feel full - not hungry mind you.. just not sick.
I can eat like this for a month or two before having to cut back a little.. then jump back on again.. Almost cyclic in nature - but more for psychological reason than physiological, although i believe the regular breaks is necessary both for body and mind.

Of course gains don't come all the time, nowhere near!

I also am not natural, so this has a large effect on how much i can eat and actually benefit from. For example if i eat 2g/lb of protein a day, i can see results from that - if all is in order and my body WANTS to grow of course. If a natural ate 2g/lb they would never have the anabolism to use near that amount and it would be stored (as fats in adipose) or excreted.

Being a non-natural BB doesnt mean i CAN eat more of course, just that if i do i can benefit from it. Or am more likely to than a natural athlete.

It is neither enjoyable nor comfortable force feeding to gain.. it leaves you sick, tired, bloated, and most certainly not like training (i find training earlier before getting in all the food helps - as does eating the majority of calories after working out in the late morning). It can leave you feeling fat too.. but to be honest, my 'fat' is another's 'athletic' so my judgement is off somewhat!

JMO :wink:


Thanks Brook. I think that it may be something in my diet that kills me towards the middle of the day. By the time I hit the gym, usually around 12:30 pm, I have almost 2,000 calories in over 3 meals. Once I have that PWO shake or even solid meal after lifting I hold that food for hours feeling full. As I type this now (6:45 pm)I still feel full from 2 pm.

My diet typically consists of oatmeal, eggs, egg whites, whole wheat toast, PB, chicken, steamed veggies, tuna, shakes, so on and so forth. Pretty clean. I was debating starting the cardio back up again to help with the metabolism but that will also increase the caloric need. Catch 22! I think I may try to have just a light meal for the sake of a little food about 1 1/2 hours before lifting so I am not full going into the gym. I lift good when I am there, still making gains, can't wait to get there everyday. It is not until after that the problems start.


I would definitely add steady state (only) cardio, as it can burn off a little when full, allowing room for more than you burnt! Bonus!

Also, you will find that Oats and Whole wheat anything are significantly filling due to the high fibre content. filling you up but with no extra calories.

When gaining, i like to supplement some fibre in the PM before bed with protein and fats or slow digesting carbs.
This fulfills the large need for it with a lower fibre diet - high fibre is a mandatory addition to a diet and i recommend it to everyone who is not simply force-feeding to gain as much size as possible. Then and then only it makes for a difficult life.



I am going to start back the cardio next week. Have to do morning fasted cardio. Probably 3 days a week to start and see how it goes. Eating went much better today. Pretty sure it was because I started this whole tracking calories and shooting for a certain number right as I was getting sick. Had 3,726kcal today. You can check it out here http://fitday.com/fitness/PublicJournals.html?Owner=agnafl

Was a rough start but yesterday and today were much better....