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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is one macronutrient ratio the end of the road?

Part of any diet plan is the macronutrient ratio or the division of proteins, fats and carbs. The macronutrient ratio is what separates or defines many nutrition plans or diets. There is great confusion with this topic and many don't understand the pathway for long term nutrition. Because of the heated topic of which macronutrient ratio is best, there are division lines in various fitness and nutrition groups. Everyone thinks their way is best and each have their reasons why. Of course, I am no different.

I start all of my clients with a controversial ratio of 50% protein, 30% fat and 20% carbs. Other nutrition / diet plans use very different ratios. Crossfit uses the zone diet ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. Alot of bodybuilding type ratios are in the 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. The popular south beach diet rotates through phases of ratios. Are any of these ratios wrong? There really are pro's and con's for every ratio and ratio plan.

So having said all that, is there any one ratio that is the end all -be all. My answer is no there is not. You will make progress using just about any of these ratios and for that matter, any plan out there - for a brief period at least. That's where the confusion and problems truly reside.

I believe that if a person who is not exercising regularly and is not following any type of nutrition plan adopts any nutrition/diet plan and any exercise plan -then they will make initial progress. The progress comes from a change in your eating and activity habits alone. It really doesn't have anything to do with the type or label of the plan. This lasts for a couple weeks, sometimes longer but then the party grinds slowly to a halt as your body adjusts to the changes. Then people quickly enter what they say is the plateau stage. You keep grinding away at your new plan and your working hard but nothing seems to happen or at least nothing good. You get frustrated and then burned out and ultimately give up. This is a common thing that happens to a bunch of people and you probably know what I mean. Yes, I have a solution for this problem but it's not what we are talking about right now. More on that later.

Back to the macronutrient ratios. I start my clients as I said earlier, on a 50/30/20 plan. I have found through years of trial and error on myself and many others, that this will work initially and beyond for most people. But it is not the end of the road. Most people face their greatest challenge adopting any nutrition plan. So after you have changed your bad habits to good habits and have your ratios in place, then you can worry about changing your macronutrient ratio. For some people this takes weeks (usually takes around a month to make or break a habit), for some people it takes months and some never get to the initial plan ever.

What happens when you get the initial plan going and are doing well? Where do you go from there? There are many more phases in my nutrition plan and I adopt new techniques all the time for those who require different things. There are many factors involved with this. A couple of these factors are your metabolic type and your organ type just to name two. So now I offer a simple metabolic typing quiz and organ body type quiz. They aren't high speed and you probably already know the answers if you think about it for a second. Some people need more protein, more carbs and more fat than others. Some people need different ratios for different meals at different times of the day. One basic ratio change that I tell all new clients is that I recommend that they change the 50/30/20 ratio for breakfast and post workout to 50% carbs/30% protein/20% fat for those two meals only and then return to the 50% protein/30% fat /20% carbs for the remainder of their meals.

Once a person has a grasp on their macronutrient ratio plan then they can look at advanced stages such as carb rotation, depletion and loading cycles and the list goes on. But you have to have a foundation in place first. Long term nutrition planning takes time and perseverance. You can't jump ahead and skip stuff for long term success. I train people to adopt lifestyle changes and implement long term habits that you continue forever. This is very different from a short term fix for you 10th high school anniversary party coming up in 3 weeks. I try to stay away from that type of stuff.

So don't skip ahead. Build your nutrition foundation with whatever plan you decide to follow and stick with it until you have established good habits and then look at making changes. You need a macronutrient ratio plan to start with and once you have it in place there are many different paths to adjust to when the time is right. Get the basics in place and then make changes.

If you want more info or have questions drop a comment or email me.

Train Hard and Eat Right,

Dempsey's Resolution Fitness
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