The optimal macronutrient ratio for losing body fat is 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat (try to seek out unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat). However some people use the following as a baseline:
- 45% carbohydrates
- 35% protein
- 20% fat
It depends on one’s lifestyle and physiology. Some people have very hectic and physical lifestyles and therefore will require a slightly higher proportion of carbohydrates to keep one going through the day.
Here is a calculator to find out exactly the proportions you need to consume in order to lose weight.
What are Macronutrients?
Any meal should consist of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate and fat. These are what are termed as macronutrients. When meals are smaller, quality matters. Make sure you include protein, high-fiber carbohydrates, as well as healthy fats (olive oil etc.) in your meals:
- Lean protein will help you feel full
- Carbohydrates that are low on the glycaemic index so that it does not spike your blood sugar levels, whilst fiber binds to bad fats and help carry them out as waste
- Unsaturated fat, which also digests slowly, and helps your body absorb essential nutrients and vitamins.
Why the 60-20-20 Ratio?
The high carbohydrate intake is to provide the body with its preferred energy source. A high storage of carbohydrates in the form of glycogen helps keep you feeling energetic and ready for physical activities, such as exercise.
Providing the body with plenty of carbohydrates also limits the amount of protein the body uses for energy. If your body uses too much protein for energy you’ll lose lean muscle and result in a lowered metabolism, and less effective weight loss.
The relatively low protein element is to help keep the amount of saturated fat out of the diet. Unless you are a vegetarian, it may be difficult to obtain meats which have little saturated fats. Fats, however, are essential to any diet because of the important role they play in the body.
Thermogenesis is the technical term for heat production. Every time we eat our body temperature rises and this increases the metabolism slightly, burning more calories. Each macronutrient produces a different effect on thermogenesis. There tends to be a higher rate of thermogenesis from protein and carbohydrates, than from fat.