The Optimal Macro-Nutrient Ratio for Humans

There is a lot of information around what is required around macronutrients for the human body. A lot of programmes advise that you need to find what is right for you. This can be very confusing as well as hard to work out.  Since every human being’s digestive system is the same it is safe to say that our macronutrient ratio requirements are also the same. In fact, world-renowned nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell PhD (Author of The China Study) agrees with this concept.  He states that the ideal macronutrient ratio for humans is 80% carbohydrate, 10% protein and 10% fat.

Protein:

Protein is the most publicised and least understood of the 3 macronutrients. Protein is required for rebuilding, but not to the extent that most people think.  If I use the metaphor of a house, once the house is built, do we continue to pour in all the building materials or just make repairs as needed? The same is true of the human body; once the body is built we only require enough protein to make the necessary repairs. If we have too much it will overload our body and make us sick.

The minimum protein requirements for humans are 20-30 grams per day. This is because the body is able to recycle up to 400 grams of protein via its metabolic processes. Most governments and health organisations have doubled this minimum amount to between 40-60 grams a day to build in a buffer over the minimum requirements. In fact, if you were to only eat rice or potatoes, you would get all of the 8 essential amino acids the human body requires.

Fat:

The body uses fat primarily for energy storage when no food or other immediate energy source is available. Plant foods contain adequate amounts of fat and only plants make the essential fatty acids your body needs to function. Plant foods also contain no cholesterol; the best way to lower your cholesterol levels is to not eat it.

Animal foods provide too much fat, especially the most harmful kind (saturated fat), which damages the arteries and causes heart disease and stroke. Beef derives 60% – 80% of its calories from fat; pork, 80% – 95%; chicken, 30% – 50%; and fish, 5% – 60%.

What about oils?

Even poly and monounsaturated fats – found in large amounts in vegetable oils and fish – have been shown to depress the immune system, increase bleeding and promote cancers, especially those of the colon, prostate and breast. Because all fats are easily stored by the body, too much dietary fat makes people overweight and lays the foundation for a host of other problems like heart disease, cancer, and adult-onset diabetes.

Carbohydrate:

Ah Carbs, the most feared macronutrient of them all. Well here is a bombshell; carbs do not make you fat. Unless you load them with fats such as cheese, oil, butter etc. If fact they are actually a fat loss food.  A recent study in Cell Metabolism showed that even when controlling for calories, reducing dietary fat results in 67% more body fat loss than reducing dietary carbs. The real truth is that the fat you eat is the fat you wear.

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel, as they convert into glycogen. Every movement you make is based on the use of glycogen stored in your muscles. This is especially important for athletic performance, as the greater your stores of glycogen the longer you are able to train for. Once you run out of your glycogen stores, your body goes into ketosis. This is not a good thing as the body goes into an emergency mode of using fat for energy, commonly known in athletic circles as ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’.