Why Nutritional Macros Are Worthless
Macros are a useful concept to teach beginners about nutrition but they have no value for strength trainers, bodybuilders, and athletes because the QUALITY of what you eat is far more important than its macros.
Let me give you a great example, which is better for your health, your muscle building, and your strength gains?
- Twinkie (70% carbs, 30% fat)
- Avocado (100% fat)
No question here, the avocado is better for health, muscle building, and strength gains. Fat is better than carbs in this case. Next question. Both of the following foods have 25% of their calories from protein, which is better for muscle, strength, and health gainz?
- Spam – nitrate cured pork leavings (25% protein, 75% fat)
- Black beans (25% protein, 75% carbs)
No question, the carbs (beans) win this time and not the fat. Its not the carbs and fat that matter, or even the protein content, but the quality of the food. Highly processed means low quality and both Spam and Twinkies are the pinnacle of processed foods.
Macros and Protein
When it comes to protein, the elixir of athletes, macros make no sense whatsoever. You protein needs are not determined by some percentage sign! You protein needs are based upon your lean body mass and how much you are brutalizing your muscles – nothing else! Its not just intense resistance training and strength training that brutalizes your muscles, the protein needs of endurance athletes like marathon runners and long distance cyclists are just as high. For athletes pushing their bodies to the limits, 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight is the best rule to follow. Setting protein as a percentage of total calories makes no sense whatsoever for an athlete.
Look at this another way, lets assume a competing 100kg bodybuilder sets his protein at 40% of his calories, fine. He needs 2486 calories a day according to his meal plan. Now he decides to do an hour of cardio a day which raises his daily calories to 3936. Why is it exactly that doing an hour of cardio a day has increased his need for protein by 60%? It hasnt! He is wasting money and making his kidneys work extra hard to piss out un-needed protein.
Set your protein intake level based upon the level of physical abuse your body is getting. If you are an elite athlete, you need 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. If you are just casually working out to get a bit stronger and a bit bigger then 0.75g/pound of bodyweight is probably fine. If you are just trying to get healthier and a bit more fit then 0.5g per pound of bodyweight is probably just fine.
Fat and Carbs
OK, NOW it makes sense to think about how much of your calories you want to go to carbs and how much you want to go to fat. There are no right answers here and no magic. Again, I need to emphasize that the quality of the food is far more important than its macros. Eat as unprocessed as possible. Unprocessed means vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, eggs, dairy, un-processed meats. There is no right and no wrong when it comes to setting what percentage comes from fat and what percentage comes from carbs – you just have to find what works for you. Please read the truth about low carb, its great and works for many, but its not magic. Same with high carb, many find that by eating high fiber, high carb foods they are able to avoid hunger while cutting. Find what works best for you!
Keto and low carb do NOT mean no-vegetable though! There are PLENTY of healthy low carb vegetables and if you choose low carb or keto as your nutritional choice, you need to make sure to have a lot of leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. If you choose a high carb nutritional plan you can have starchy things like legumes, tubers like potatos, and grains like corn, wheat, quinoa, etc.