The best macronutrient ratio for building muscle and how to meet it

Whilst working out in the gym and hitting the weights is an integral part of any muscle building program, a lot of the time, people tend to overlook the fact that your diet also plays a very important role.

In fact, to say that it plays an important role is a bit of an understatement, as you simply cannot achieve your ideal muscle mass and size with a poor diet. All the bench presses and bicep curls will not help – if you’re not eating the right foods, in the right quantities, you may as well not bother at all.

Essential reading: 14 ways weightlifting changes your life for the better

Macronutrients, sometimes known simply as ‘Macros’, consist of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Consuming the right ratio of each is absolutely essential.

When it comes to determining the best macronutrient ratio for building muscle, it really depends on the size of the person, their goals and objectives. A 180 pound man trying to add a few pounds of lean muscle, is not going to be on the same diet as a 275 pound bodybuilder, trying to gain muscle mass fast or bulk up to 300 plus pounds.

Read on for a few handy tips on how to calculate and meet your ideal macronutrient ratio.


Calculate your macros

As previously stated, there is no set amount of macros required for building muscle, as it depends on your genetics, your activity levels, your size, and your goals in general. The good news is that a simple search online will take you to a number of helpful macro calculator tools. Enter some basic info about yourself, and you will be given a breakdown percentage of what your macros should be.

Most bodybuilders will aim for around 50% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 20% fats.


Know which foods you need to eat

Once you know your daily macronutrient goal, the next thing is knowing which foods to eat.

As you’re trying to build muscle, your protein sources should primarily be made up of clean and healthy sources such as lean beef, chicken, fish, seafood, egg whites etc. Your carbohydrates should mainly come from complex carbs such as rice, beans, potatoes, whole grain bread, and pasta etc. Your fats should only be from healthy sources such as oily fish, avocados, organic eggs, and nuts.


Be wary of hidden macros

A common mistake is to be caught out by “hidden” macros found in certain foods. For example, as you know, meat is obviously a primary source of protein, yet some meats, salami or bologna for example, also contain pretty large doses of fat.

Despite this, people will consume fatty meats, count the protein that the meats contained, but forget about the fat, or not realise they contain fats. This means that by the end of the day they could very well have consumed far more fat than they should have done, which in turn will lead to weight gain, or at the very least, will slow down weight loss.


Plan meals in advance

Another very effective tip is to plan your meals in advance, rather than leaving everything for the last minute. By planning meals in advance you are able to get foods and ingredients prepped ahead of time. Meeting your goals becomes much simpler.


Plan meals around one another

Another common mistake is not planning meals around one another. You can only consume so much, so make sure you plan accordingly. One mistimed or misjudged meal can then have a ripple-effect on all of your other meals, so make sure you plan ahead.


Use technology

Thanks to modern technology, now you can use apps and software to track your daily macro intake. These allow you to not only enter the foods and drinks you’ve consumed manually, but also to scan barcodes, enter weights and quantities, and then be left with the exact macro ratio of each meal.

Essential reading: Boost your gym session with these gadgets

Software and apps are handy because they leave nothing to chance and allow you to enter absolutely everything you’ve consumed. They also keep a running tab so you always know where you are in terms of reaching your daily macro goal.

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Reda El

My name is Reda El, entrepreneur and fitness fanatic for 8 years, and also BJJ blue Belt. I've gathered both my experience and the information I've read throughout these years on my website Shreddedphysique.com.

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