Nutrition, in general, is a fairly broad and controversial topic. In fact, one of the most hotly contested aspects of diet is actually one that is so very basic to human health that it's fairly surprising how little the experts can agree on.
Specifically, we're talking about macronutrient balance – or how much of your daily caloric intake should come from each nutrient.
To start us out, let's just talk about some of the general recommendations made regarding macronutrient balance. Typically, you're going to encounter numbers that look roughly like this:
- Fat: 20% - 30%
- Carbohydrates: 50% - 65%
- Protein: 15% - 35%
Clearly, though, there's a lot of variation possible here, particularly when it comes to protein intake.
As mentioned, this is largely caused by the somewhat unclear scientific evidence that exists regarding how the human body reacts to various macronutrient balances.
And, while this might be a little frustrating, this huge variation is also very freeing and allows for you to tailor your diet to your individual situation and goals. How?
Cranking your protein intake up to realm of 30 percent could have a huge amount of benefits for people who are looking to lose weight, gain muscle mass and just generally improve their body composition.
Because protein serves as a carrier for amino acids which, in turn, are used by your body to build and repair a wide variety of tissues and cells, the macro can effectively help you to thoroughly recover from your workouts and make faster progress.
There is also some interesting research suggesting that high levels of protein intake could aid in weight loss by suppressing feelings of hunger.
In one study, subjects on a high protein diet were even allowed to eat as much as they wanted, while other groups were held to calorie restricted diets. At the end of 12 weeks, the high protein diet lost more weight and generally ate fewer calories than their more limited counterparts.
Carbs and Fats
Interestingly, people will normally focus their dietary efforts on protein and just sort of shuffle fats and carbs around to make room. Of course, more precision can be used depending on goals.
People who want to not only lose weight but cut body fat, for example, will generally dial back on their carb intake. Because each gram of muscle that your muscles store brings with it 4g of water, it’s not uncommon for low-carbs to rapidly drop five or more pounds in their first week. Again, however, this is mostly water-weight.
Still bodybuilders or others who want to show off their muscles are going to want to get any possible obstruction out of the way. These changes generally don't last very long, however.
Endurance athletes, though, who are gearing up for a race will likely devote most of their dietary energy to carbohydrates. In fact, it's not uncommon for carbs to account for 70-80% of an athlete's daily caloric intake during the carb-loading process.
It's important to realize, though, that this is strictly a short-term strategy.