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“What's The Best Macronutrient Ratio For Building Muscle?”

Ask The Macro Manager
Mike Roussell, Ph.D.

Ask The Macro Manager: What's The Best Macronutrient Ratio For Building Muscle?

Harness the power of proper nutrition to build muscle without gaining fat. The Macro Manager shows you how, including two muscle-building recipes!
Q

What's the ideal macronutrient ratio for building muscle? Do you have a perfect muscle-building meal that fits?

To gain the most muscle with the least amount of fat (or even sparking some fat loss), I like to use the calorie breakdown of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat.

This is the overall breakdown for the day, but during the day not all meals will follow this structure. Why? Throughout the day, your fueling needs change with your body's ability to optimally process and use different types of fuels.

A solid approach to nutrient timing allows us to give our body what it needs at the right time of day, which results in better body composition changes.

Timing Is Everything

Let's take the example of a person who trains in the morning. Directly after training, his body will be a sponge waiting to soak up carbohydrates (due to the insulin-sensitizing effects of exercise) in order to start the rebuilding and regeneration process.

In this situation, a high-carbohydrate, low-fat meal is warranted. This kind of meal will meet the body's needs quickly, with lower fat expediting digestion.

At dinner time, our sample muscle builder has different needs. His body hasn't trained in several hours and his glycogen stores are essentially refilled. He doesn't need the same fast-acting, high-octane fuel as he did eight hours prior.

Instead, dinner needs to contain adequate protein to continue to drive protein synthesis and recovery, fiber for satiety, and some surplus calories. So this meal should be high in protein, high in fat, and low in carbs.

Throughout the day, between post-workout meals and the last meal of the day, the amount of fast-acting grain and starch-based carbohydrates should decrease, while the amount of fat and vegetables increase. Protein intake can stay constant across all meals.

This approach to muscle building will take advantage of your body's time-dependent changes in biochemistry, allowing you to get big while staying lean.

Perfect Muscle-Building Breakfast Cranberry-Almond Oatmeal

(One Serving)

Ingredients
Directions
  1. Combine water, oats, and cranberries in a bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir and let sit for one minute.
  4. Mix in protein powder and almonds.

Cranberry-Almond Oatmeal PDF (53.8 KB)

Perfect Muscle-Building Breakfast Flank Steak with Mushrooms and Onions

(One Serving)

Ingredients
Directions
  1. Place onions, mushrooms, soy sauce, and olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook until the onions caramelize and the mushrooms soften and become a deeper brown - approximately 20 minutes. The volume of the onions and mushrooms will greatly reduce as they cook.
  3. While the mushrooms and onions are cooking, rub steak with garlic powder, salt, and pepper on both sides.
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium/high heat. Once pan is hot, place the steak on the pan for four minutes, then flip and cook for another three minutes. Depending on the thickness of the flank steak, this cooking method will produce a medium cooked steak.
  5. Once you remove the steak from the pan, let it sit for at least five minutes before cutting and eating.
  6. Finish the dish by pouring the onion/mushroom mixture over the steak and topping with blue cheese.

Flank Steak with Mushrooms and Onions PDF (26.6 KB)

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About The Author

Author, speaker, and nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits...

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Enix

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Enix

Timing is everything... my ***.

Jul 10, 2012 7:29pm | report
 
limegreenorange

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limegreenorange

well said!!

Jul 13, 2012 7:23am | report
SuzanneS

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SuzanneS

"My ***" = "well said"? Really?

Nov 16, 2012 11:21am | report
Ellaa

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Ellaa

What If you workout at the second part of the day? More around 5-7pm? You don't want to load up on carbs before bed time....

Jul 10, 2012 7:35pm | report
 
mroussell

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mroussell

Yes. The insulin sensitizing effects of exercise trump the fact that it is late at night. Carbs also stimulate the release of serotonin so you'll sleep better as well.

Jul 11, 2012 8:39am | report
nemix

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nemix

Don't carbs also stop the release of growth hormone which is greatest while sleeping though?

Aug 3, 2012 9:18am | report
fascismforfun

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fascismforfun

Yeah carbs do influence growth hormone, which is very high during NREM 4 sleep cycles. It is not a good idea to eat carbs later at night. You could use a few high glycemic ones with your protein shake to increase uptake of amino acids, but I wouldn't use too many if close to bed. Just enough to give you that little spike. If you really need help sleeping just try ZMA or melatonin, skip the carbs.

Aug 15, 2012 12:56am | report
morton101

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morton101

Totally works, I did this variation most days when trying the cyclical ketogenic diet, it works. Oats and maple syrup with greek yogurt and fruit, protein lunch, veggie and fatty protein for dinner

Jul 10, 2012 7:52pm | report
 
Vise09

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Vise09

you weren't doing the CKD if you were having carbs lol

Jul 15, 2012 1:33am | report
0rangeBlast

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0rangeBlast

The percentile macro breakdown is not ideal since its difficult to adjust macros. Most people respond differently to carbs, I know guys that can take in 400 and will look fine, then their are carb sensitive guys that would blow up like a blow fish.

The best macro breakdown for gaining lean muscle mass is simple to follow. Take a 150lb male, he would need about 1.25 to 1.5 of protein per body weight, let's take 1.5 that will give us 200 grams. He should consume half his body weight in fat, so that would be 75. With carbs one could adjust, I would recommend starting at 1 gram of carbs per body weight so 150. If you are not gaining lean body mass then take in maybe 170-180 carbs. Tweak accordingly to minimize fat gains and maximize muscle gains.

The write of this article looks like he doesn't practice what he preaches, a lot of phd and gurus out there are out just to make money off of people that are new to lifting and bodybuilding. I'm not saying this article is poor, some very good and valid points were made. It's very vague, telling people take this percentage that percentage especially to new lifter or younger guys and girls.

Hope this helps some of you guys!

Jul 10, 2012 11:54pm | report
 
gorana

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gorana

does this recipe work only for guys or for girls as well :)? (goal - building muscle, losing fat ;))

Jul 11, 2012 1:13am | report
0rangeBlast

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0rangeBlast

Yes it would, I know most would assume that a female would not need that much protein, but at the end of the day you have the same goal as me and others on here which is to build muscle and get leaner.
Now a female should stick to 1 gram of protein per body weight, just because males generally have a higher metabolic rate.

Jul 11, 2012 3:08am | report
TheDarkHorse77

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TheDarkHorse77

Bump. Good stuff, bro!

Jul 11, 2012 7:46am | report
mroussell

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mroussell

@gorana - Yes. You might just have to adjust it for calories. Those recipes are about 600 calories.

Jul 11, 2012 8:42am | report
mroussell

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mroussell

0rangeBlast - You are right in that people often assume that women don't need as much protein but there is no evidence to show that is the case. And as you pointed out oftentimes males have higher metabolic rates. Taking that into consideration more protein would be beneficial for women.

Jul 11, 2012 8:43am | report
SugarNation

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SugarNation

This article, like all our content, is provided for free, so not sure I understand the reference to "gurus just out to make money." As for practice/preach, our contributors are a mix of practitioners, health-and-fitness journalists and academics. Some authors cross boundaries; many do not. Dr. Mike has a doctorate in nutrition sciences from Penn State. No small feat, trust me.

Jul 11, 2012 2:17pm | report
liah76

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liah76

I am about 114lbs now ;( and i have lost all of the muscle "look" i had in my stomach midsection. Trying to get back. Do the meals above help get the muscle back while working out??

Jul 11, 2012 2:47pm | report
mroussell

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mroussell

You get different physiological responses to food when you ingest them based on percent calories vs. grams/kg. I find working on a percent of total calories basis to be more effective and broadly applicable. Partly because when using grams/kg (or grams/lb) you make a big assumption regarding body composition.

Jul 12, 2012 5:47am | report
CalonLan

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CalonLan

0rangeBlast I agree dude. Everyone should go through trial and error of their experience and see for themselves what works and what not. Although figuring stuff out on your own takes a lot of effort, I'm still battling my lazy habits of noting everything down and reviewing it. ;-). I can see why so many people religiously listen to what others say, they are looking for a shortcut. Cookie cutter plan that will fit their needs. Ignorance and fear is all that holds people back.

But still, gotta give credit to Mike for giving out these ideas and tips. The more opinions and ways we know of, the wider options for our own testing. And while the header of this article might suggest its content is a definite guide to building more muscle, the article itself is still great.

Jul 12, 2012 7:08am | report
jwethall

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jwethall

free advice is worth what you pay for it. dialing in your specific dietary needs is a very grueling process. I use an excel spreadsheet I have programmed to adjust calories and macronutrient contents in cells that correspond to whatever measurement I change. IE 2/3 cup of rice vs 1/2 cup. Its an efficent way to tweak with your diet and see what works week by week. Values are based on nutritional guides and the USDA values.

Its an idea. A FREE idea. So take that for what its worth. hahaha.

Jul 12, 2012 1:26pm | report
body_sculptor

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body_sculptor

CONGRAS BRO! YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT R YOU TALKING ABOUT! BECAUSE YOU HAVE WALKED THE WALK! YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

Sep 1, 2012 7:46pm | report
Thermal69

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Thermal69

Great read

Jul 11, 2012 9:10am | report
 
dir1bag

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dir1bag

Timing is great for building a great body but what about the rest of the day regarding intake. Instead of 2 meals you should have a whole days worth of meals in your article.

Also your article doesn't take into account most people workout after work. Which is a normal 9-5 job.

Jul 11, 2012 1:29pm | report
 
afranczyk

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afranczyk

Regardless of the input on why meal timing is useless has become redundant. These articles will never die.

Jul 11, 2012 7:59pm | report
 
PussyLiquor

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PussyLiquor

Not bad, but not great either. I expected more about p.m. training even though I do a.m. Also some "perfect" meal plan samples would have been nice.

Jul 11, 2012 9:51pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 51 Comments

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