A COMMON misconception among people is that simply balancing your calorie intake with your calorie expenditure will lead to fat loss.
The equation of calorie balance is not this simplistic. The recombinant effect of each food on the body’s hormones and blood sugar levels including the diverse nutrient contents of each food that make a simplistic approach to fat loss almost an impossibility.
What Comes After Calculating Your Daily Calorie Expenditure (DCE)?
After getting arriving at your DCE value, divide up your daily ration among the three major macronutrients proteins and carbohydrates including fats.
Dividing up and properly apportioning calories into the appropriate ratios can have a great effect on your overall body composition. If you eat a 2200 calorie diet of ice cream one day and a 2200 calorie diet of boiled yam and grilled swordfish the next, the ice cream diet will make you fatter whereas the yam-swordfish combination will do wonders for your body.
Nutrient ratios have one basic rule which you should always keep in mind. Food intake should never consist primarily of one food or macronutrient type; you must strive for proper P-C-F balance with more importance on the P-C combination.
Using the P-C-F mnemonics, you will never go wrong because that is the exact order of importance of the macronutrients the body needs: ProteinsCarbohydrates-Fats. Do not simply eat P’s, C’s or F’s by themselves because by themselves they will invariably do more harm to your body than good.
Essential Meal Combinations
Whether you are on a diet or not, meals are always a combination of various forms of P-C and F. A complete meal generally consists of lean proteins and complex carbohydrates and very little fat. Snacks on the other hand may simply be a protein drink, or a carbohydrate or protein food by itself.
The ultimate and essential meal is a proper combination of proteins (lean) and carbohydrates (both starchy and fibrous) eaten together all at the same meal.
Advantages of Essential P-C-F Food Combinations
Eating more proteins than carbohydrates maintains positive nitrogen balance ensuring a gain of muscle tissue.
Since protein can not be stored in the body like carbohydrates, protein intake needs to be regular and constant otherwise your body will break down muscle tissues to get the amino acids it requires. Insulin distributes the amino acids from protein to the cells and tissues of the body.
Eating carbohydrates triggers the body’s production of insulin to ensure the distribution of the amino acids. Therefore, one can not go without the other. If you eat carbohydrates by themselves, this results in a rapid increase in blood sugar which are followed by sharp drops and cause cravings, hunger and fatigue.
Rapid blood sugar elevations from excess carbohydrate intake cause overproduction and release of insulin. High concentrations of insulin in the bloodstream promote the storage of body fat and can lead to diabetes.
Eating proteins and carbohydrates separately contributes to the depletion of the body’s muscle glycogen, the primary source of energy for physical activities and weight training.
A combination of restricted carbohydrate intake with high protein and high fat foods inevitably cause energy reductions due to glycogen depletion. The best way is to insure a slow and moderate entry of proteins, complex carbohydrates and fat throughout the day.
Eating lean proteins and fibrous carbohydrates combined slows down the digestion of complex carbohydrates, resulting in stable blood sugar and energy levels and moderate output of insulin – without the erratic ups and downs if you eat carbohydrates by themselves.
Protein enhances the thermic effect of food and accelerates the body’s metabolism. Meals that consist of carbohydrates alone without the protein and complex carbohydrate component is not as good or beneficial.
Calculating Macronutrient Ratios
Simply put, macronutrient ratios are the percentages of your total daily calories (DCE) that come from protein, carbohydrate and fat.
For example, a P-C-F ratio of 50P-30C-20F based on your DCE (2800) means you will eat 840 Protein Calories – 1400 Carbohydrate Calories – 560 Fat Calories per day.
The theory behind this is that it is absolutely necessary to have a satisfactory balanced intake of foods that contain proteins, carbohydrates and fats (PCF) every meal as opposed to sacrificing one type for the other.
The goal is to always combine a lean protein and complex carbohydrate food every meal because it provides a steady flow of amino acids from protein foods for muscle growth and maintenance and regulates fat storage.
An important thing to keep in mind is that there is no magic ratio that will work for everyone. Each individual has a different and unique PCF ratio! It is dependent on differences in body types and other variables unique to the individual.
The most important and primary factor in fat loss is calorie intake. You must only calculate your PCF ratio based on your individual DCE value.To have a definite starting point, we have to establish some guidelines based on a conventional PCF Ratio Table. The most important consideration is to avoid the extremes unless you are either a competitive bodybuilder or an endurance athlete.
The best approach is to use the Moderate to High complex carbohydrate + Moderate protein and Low-fat ratio as a norm. You can then make the necessary modifications based on the data of your weekly progress chart.
Conventional PCF Ratios
High Carbohydrate – Low Fat – Moderate Protein.
The 30P-60C-10F Ratio is highly recommended and accepted by experts – if you are a professional and competitive bodybuilder!
High Carbohydrate – Very Low Fat.
This is the trend of most diet programs developed in the 80s and 90s, however, it is considerably unbalanced because of the favorable slant towards carbohydrates and does not take into consideration people who are carbohydrate-sensitive.
Very Low Carbohydrate – High Fat – High Protein.
This diet impose very strict rules on the amount of carbohydrate you can eat because carbohydrates promote fat storage because it stimulates insulin production. Instead of controlling calorie intake, the program is designed to control natural insulin production by restricting carbohydrates.
It is true that very low carbohydrate diets are successful for all body types, however, it also fails to keep body fat off permanently because it is almost impossible for any individual to stay on very low carbohydrates intake for extended periods.
At best, it is a temporary solution to achieve almost immediate fat loss but not a permanent solution. It is also unhealthy since it causes muscle loss.
The Middle of the Road
All things considered and simply using logic, the most suitable and safest baseline of the Moderate Level 30% Proteins – 50% Carbohydrates – 20% Fat.
Using 30-50-20 as the baseline and your weekly progress chart, it is very easy to make the necessary modifications to your nutrient intake by adjusting the appropriate percentages accordingly based on your progress.The most important factor you should know is that, “There is no secret or magic method to lose fat and build muscles.
Everything depends on doing the basics correctly.”By sticking to the basics, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time; what is necessary is to adapt the principles of fat/weight loss to your particular body composition and lifestyle.
Establish your baseline (use the Moderate Level), then see what effects it has on your program. If it works, then don’t change it, stick with it!
The only way you can determine your ideal ratio is for you to start with the 50C30P-20F baseline, measure the results for two weeks then make adjustments based on your results – if, and only if, it is necessary.
There’s no sense punishing yourself with crash diets to get results because you will never be able to keep it up and sustain your fat/weight loss. You will ultimately lose steam and quit. After a few days, you’ll start putting weight on again!
When you start on your personal nutrition/exercise program, remember that you have to first adjust your calorie intake based on your DCE.
Stay away from foods with high sugar content, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and saturated fats.It is best to realize that correct meal nutrient ratios vary significantly depending on your goals, the type of training you prefer and your body type.
Food Nutrient Ratios by Body Type
Mesomorph: If your body type is mesomorphic, you are very lucky indeed!You can eat almost anything and still get excellent (not just good) results!
Ectomorph: Losing fat is not a problem for an ectomorphic individual but gaining muscles are their concern. Muscle gain can only be accomplished by eating at least 55% complex carbohydrates every meal.
The ideal PCF ratio for an ectomorphic individual is 55% Complex Carbohydrates – 30% Protein– 15% Fat.
Endomorph: A great majority of endomorphic individuals are insulin resistant and carbohydrate sensitive, making the high carbohydrate intake a no-no.
The best starting point for endomorphs is the moderate 50% C – 30% P – 20% F; based on results, modifications can be made on keeping the carbohydrate component of the diet to a minimum of 40% with corresponding adjustments on the proteins and fats components.
PCF Modifications for Maximum Fat/Weight Loss
If you are really bent on achieving maximum fat loss immediately, you can modify the 30-50-20 baseline PCF to a higher ratio of protein/fat and a lower ratio of carbohydrates to increase the body’s metabolism while at the same time maintaining insulin control more effectively.
You can start off with 45% Carbohydrates – 35% Protein –20% Fat or 40% Carbohydrates – 35% Protein –25% Fat.You can do this more effectively, if you lessen your carbohydrate intake for your mid-afternoon snack, dinner and evening snack using the gradual calorie reduction method.
Although a high protein/low carbohydrate diet causes immediate results, it is very difficult to sustain. Moreover, a prolonged high protein/low carbohydrate diet also leads to decreased energy, muscle loss, dehydration, nutrient deficiencies and metabolic slowdown.
The safest method to achieve weight/fat loss is always to stay in the middle and then making the necessary modifications gradually in order to preclude any adverse bodily reactions.Your success depends on the combination of proper nutrition, aerobic exercises and weight training workouts and not just a single factor.
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