I'm 5'9", 158. Plan on shedding 10 pounds of fat and gaining muscle. I hope to get into amazing shape. (I'm already in shape, but I'm aiming for getting cut!)

I'm curious what I should aim for in terms of my Protein/Fat/Carb ratio?

I generally eat around 1,500 calories per day.

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    are you a woman or a man? 1,500 is nothing for a guy. – Mike S Jul 23 '12 at 2:42
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    @siouxfan Weight loss questions unrelated to sport and fitness are off-topic. – michael Jul 23 '12 at 14:33
  • @MikeS How many calories daily would you recommend for the situation? I find it hard to eat more than 1500 calories in a day. Maybe that is why I am not seeing many results! – le_garry Jul 23 '12 at 17:21
  • pump up that protein intake like the world's about to end, decrease you carbohydrate intake to a minimum and increase you omega-3s (think oils and butter and nuts) and omega-6s fats (think fish). – DribblzAroundU82 Jul 25 '12 at 6:26
  • Shedding fat and gaining muscle are contradictory goals. This is why a lot of bodybuilders go through build/cut cycles as opposed to trying to do it all at once. – Dave Jul 22 '13 at 13:32

You need to consult a sports nutritionist. There are FAR too many variables that affect your metabolism and how you digest food to tell you what you need.

That being said, you can take a few things into consideration.

1) You have to consume calories if you want to lose weight.
-If your body is needing 2,500 CAL/day, and you are only consuming 1,500 your body will think you are starving. This does not mean eat a 2,000 CAL burger, you still have to be responsible with your calorie consumption.

2) Carbohydrates are needed to burn fat.
-Therefore, you CAN NOT burn fat without carbohydrates in your diet. You will lose fat size; but, you will not actually burn the fat. Mike S. is correct about the varying degrees at which people burn carbohydrates. This is one of the reasons you need to consult a sports nutritionist.

3) After a certain point, protein consumption becomes inefficient and you pee out excess. -This level is different for everyone and is another reason you need to consult a professional. The United States Registered Dietitian's Association states that it, "recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day." A sub-point to be made here is that natural sources of protein are more beneficial that supplements. The exception to that rule is when you can not consume enough protein by eating regular foods and need a supplement.

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    John P. Thanks for the referral to wikipedia of fitness sites. Here is a link to a peer reviewed article that states, "The inability to consume enough calories to meet energy requirements is a common threat to survival. To meet this danger, animals retard their fuel depletion by lowering their metabolic rate..." nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199706193362507 My second is not misleading. There are very few ways the body can burn fat without consuming carbs. One is your body breaks down muscle (not ideal). Your insulin response theory is correct if you were to eat carbs only. – BryceH Jul 24 '12 at 19:54
  • I give up. Nutritional science is poorly understood at best. Since I can't find the military study any more, I withdraw my statement. – JohnP Jul 24 '12 at 20:17
  • I believe that the 'maximum quotas' of protein we all hear about refer to the amount that the body can assimilate into tissue. Your body can manufacture glucose from excess protein for general energy as well. The protein quota ideology comes from the carbohydrate centric food pyramid era. Excellent advice though. – Mike S Jul 24 '12 at 23:27
  • I'm interested to hear more about the shrinking fat cells vs the burning of them. I had no idea there was a difference? – Mike S Jul 24 '12 at 23:28
  • Fat cells don't go away. They are basically big bags where fat gets stored. When you have a lot of excess fat storage, the cells are big. When you lose that fat storage, they get small, but you don't "burn" the cells themselves, you use the fat in them for fuel. I also encourage you to read on the "starvation mode" myth and how fat actually gets used. Grohlier's first two points are either fallacies or only partially correct. – JohnP Jul 25 '12 at 14:23

Most diets that are followed before competition by body-builders are low-carb ones. Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It also strongly advocates keeping carbs to absolute minimum.

You need protein to keep your muscles grow. The most your body can process 2.2g to 2.5g per kilogram, which in your case amounts to 173g of protein. Which is roughly 46% of your 1500 calories/day.

What I suggest is 10% Carbs 45% Fat 45% Protein

I follow this very same diet, and the results are quite satisfying.

  • where does the remaining 10% come from ;) – Mike S Jul 23 '12 at 23:20
  • Good catch, fixed :) – Boris Jul 23 '12 at 23:44
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    @RobinAshe Proven by whom? Please give a source. – michael Jul 24 '12 at 1:46
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    Wow people still believe that low carb is harmful in 2012? People confuse lowER (in comparison to the carb rich diets of our largely overweight populations today) with the ketone diet (zero carb). There IS debate over the long term effects of a zero carb diet (using ketones as opposed to glucose as the primary fuel source) but not much at all over the efficacy and benefits of a lowER carb diet. – Mike S Jul 24 '12 at 3:28
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    If you're saying it's not high protein due to the overall amount being eaten, then it's incredibly low carb, and that isn't going to work at all. – Robin Ashe Jul 25 '12 at 2:55

Some people can burn carbohydrates more efficiently than others. I'm currently on 50,30,20 (pfc) and I've had good results. I'd definitely try lower carb first as that has the best success rate. If you have trouble putting on muscle I'd add in more calories 200 at a time.

Your appetite can be directly linked to your metabolism and so that would be my guess as to why you don't feel like eating any more than you are. The best way to increase your metabolism is to eat more and more often (ironically), which will in turn increase your appetite.

Here is a diet plan which equates to about 2800 calories (50,30,20) (protein,fat,carb).

Meal 1: 4 eggs + 1 piece of toast + 40g protein shake
Meal 2: 230g meat + 200g vegies + 50g rice
Meal 3: 25g almonds + 40g protein shake
Meal 4: 230g meat + 200g vegies + 50g rice
Meal 5: 25g almonds + 40g protein shake
Meal 6: 230g meat + 200g vegies + 25g + almonds (no rice)

Add to that a quality fish oil, a multivitamin, and probiotics for digestive health. All weights are uncooked and 'meat' refers to anything lean (chicken breast skinless, lean beef mince, tuna, etc). Veggies excludes potatoes - just stick to green fibrous like broccoli. Protein powder must be low carb as possible (no sugar). Drink plenty of water (at least 3.5 litres) but not on top of a stomach full of food!

Remember, its mostly about FOOD. As well as all this, you should be training about 3 or 4 times a week and HARD. Train every set to failure. Record your reps/weights and ensure you are always adding reps or weights (ever increasing intensity). There is a lot more to it all but this will be a good start. 15-20 reps on the compounds like squats and deadlifts will burn the most fat whilst growing (or at least maintaining) muscle. Forget cardio - and forget situps.

It sounds like you already have a grasp on listening to your body. At first you will feel like you are forcing food in and intuitively you will feel like you are eating too much. This will quickly change as your metabolism gets up a gear. You will enjoy sustained energy levels throughout the day.

Good luck.

  • What's your source on blood type influencing digestion? – Robin Ashe Jul 24 '12 at 0:34
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    Its a personal hypothesis that is entirely unproven - much like your 1:1:1 theory. I've removed it. – Mike S Jul 24 '12 at 3:20
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    @siouxfan45 Please skip the unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims. You aren't adding to the discussion. – michael Jul 24 '12 at 15:26
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    siouxfan45, actually Atkin's diet is the oldest, still very popular diet (originally introduced in the 70s). – Boris Jul 24 '12 at 17:53
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    Yes, and to add to that, there are more and more cardiologists that are starting to realize the dangers of a high carb percentage diet, and taking a close look at Atkins style diets. – JohnP Jul 24 '12 at 18:51

1:1:1, or 33% to 33% to 33%, or anything else to that effect, however you want to look at it. You probably won't nail it exactly, but the most important thing is to get a good balance of all the macronutrients, so your body can decide how to use what it needs.

A good rule of thumb I go by is to make sure I've had at least one of each throughout the day, and at least 3 different sources of protein, carb and fat each throughout the week. Then you won't be seriously deficient in anything, even if you're not particularly balanced.

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    -1 for totally ignorant and misleading advice. 1:1:1 is not how people naturally eat, is not consistent with any good diet, is not the way athletes eat. Having enough of the essential nutrients in your diet is what a 'balanced diet' means. – Boris Jul 23 '12 at 23:43
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    @RobinAshe What is essential in carbohydrate? How do you know no one has ever gotten sick from 1:1:1? – michael Jul 24 '12 at 1:48
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    Why would they fatigue quicker? Carbs get converted to ATP much faster than proteins and fats, but once in the blood, the energy from all the sources works the same way. – Boris Jul 24 '12 at 10:11
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    Very high metabolic exercise uses glycogen very quickly. (For example, Fran in crossfit.) If that exercise is extended for several minutes, glycogen will be used faster than it can be replenished, and an individual eating very low carbohydrate might run out, and "bonk". (This has happened to me.) But this type of exercise is not required for anyone, and most people don't do it. – michael Jul 24 '12 at 14:30
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    "Bonking" as you refer to it only happened with me when I was on a low carb program WHILST eating insufficient calories. I now eat my 3000 (50% protein) and I have never felt better energy wise. I don't even need pre-workout drinks or anything before I train. – Mike S Jul 24 '12 at 22:55

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