What is a good ratio of protein, carbs, and fat in terms of Target percentage of each?

I started using MtFitnessPal Premium nearly 2 years ago. It has been a great investment, I am an older male, and have lost 87 lbs by drinking water, eating clean, and limiting calories to < 2,000 a day. Taking up weight training and walking more.

I want to build some lean muscle, so I wondering what % of my calories per day should be from protein, carbs, and good fats?

Replies

  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,736 Member
    Since you're an experienced MFP-er, with all of the premium features available for setting macro goals, might I suggest you use a more nuanced approach? The MFP default percentages aren't terrible for most people, unless they're losing weight faster than sensible, but for someone who's active and has body composition goals, it can be good to set goals in grams, rather than percentages, and to think of protein and fats as minimums in that context.

    This is a good thread about setting macros:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/819055/setting-your-calorie-and-macro-targets/p1

    It assumes you only have free MFP, so can only set in 5% increments, but that's not true, for you, with premium. You can set in grams, and decide how to let exercise calories affect your gram goals.

    That thread also suggests 1g protein daily per pound of lean body mass. If you don't have a good estimate of your body fat percent, 0.8g per pound of healthy goal weight is approximately equivalent, for quite a wide range of people.

    Protein is especially important - though of course not the only important thing - with muscle gain goals. This is an calculator that gives you a personal protein range based on your personal characteristics and goals, based on research:

    https://examine.com/nutrition/protein-intake-calculator/

    This is their explanation, with links to the research they considered in making those recommendations:

    https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/

    That site is generally regarded as neutral (for example, they don't sell supplements) and evidence based. Typically their recommended range will overlap with the "1g per pound of lean body mass" idea.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,270 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Since you're an experienced MFP-er, with all of the premium features available for setting macro goals, might I suggest you use a more nuanced approach? The MFP default percentages aren't terrible for most people, unless they're losing weight faster than sensible, but for someone who's active and has body composition goals, it can be good to set goals in grams, rather than percentages, and to think of protein and fats as minimums in that context.

    This is a good thread about setting macros:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/819055/setting-your-calorie-and-macro-targets/p1

    It assumes you only have free MFP, so can only set in 5% increments, but that's not true, for you, with premium. You can set in grams, and decide how to let exercise calories affect your gram goals.

    That thread also suggests 1g protein daily per pound of lean body mass. If you don't have a good estimate of your body fat percent, 0.8g per pound of healthy goal weight is approximately equivalent, for quite a wide range of people.

    Protein is especially important - though of course not the only important thing - with muscle gain goals. This is an calculator that gives you a personal protein range based on your personal characteristics and goals, based on research:

    https://examine.com/nutrition/protein-intake-calculator/

    This is their explanation, with links to the research they considered in making those recommendations:

    https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/

    That site is generally regarded as neutral (for example, they don't sell supplements) and evidence based. Typically their recommended range will overlap with the "1g per pound of lean body mass" idea.

    Never seen it stated but I would guess the .8g per pound of lean body weight at goal weight is just assuming 20% bodyfat.

    Definitely would not hurt to bump it to 1g per pound of goal weight especially for an older individual that is strength training.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,736 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Since you're an experienced MFP-er, with all of the premium features available for setting macro goals, might I suggest you use a more nuanced approach? The MFP default percentages aren't terrible for most people, unless they're losing weight faster than sensible, but for someone who's active and has body composition goals, it can be good to set goals in grams, rather than percentages, and to think of protein and fats as minimums in that context.

    This is a good thread about setting macros:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/819055/setting-your-calorie-and-macro-targets/p1

    It assumes you only have free MFP, so can only set in 5% increments, but that's not true, for you, with premium. You can set in grams, and decide how to let exercise calories affect your gram goals.

    That thread also suggests 1g protein daily per pound of lean body mass. If you don't have a good estimate of your body fat percent, 0.8g per pound of healthy goal weight is approximately equivalent, for quite a wide range of people.

    Protein is especially important - though of course not the only important thing - with muscle gain goals. This is an calculator that gives you a personal protein range based on your personal characteristics and goals, based on research:

    https://examine.com/nutrition/protein-intake-calculator/

    This is their explanation, with links to the research they considered in making those recommendations:

    https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/

    That site is generally regarded as neutral (for example, they don't sell supplements) and evidence based. Typically their recommended range will overlap with the "1g per pound of lean body mass" idea.

    Never seen it stated but I would guess the .8g per pound of lean body weight at goal weight is just assuming 20% bodyfat.

    Definitely would not hurt to bump it to 1g per pound of goal weight especially for an older individual that is strength training.

    I don't know if that's the origin (might be), but I actually did the math for some common-ish example cases (recognizing that men typically have lower body fat than women at similar "healthiness"). It works out that way, even though generically looking at it as taking 20% off the gram multiplier to account for 20% body fat is pretty iffy mathing. (When I said I did the math for examples, I mean, calculated fat/lean pounds for a small range of cases in healthy to fit body fat percentages for men and women, looked at the resulting per-gram gram goals for LBM vs. goal weight. Yeah, I'm a data geek.)

    I agree with the idea that going higher is fine, probably good for older** people, strength training, eating lots of plant-source protein, and some other categories. Reading the Examine article, and using their calculator, tends to bring in that top end of the range saying it "may provide additional benefit, based on limited evidence. "

    My individual example to illustrate: My goal weight (roughly current weight) is 125 pounds. I don't have a super-good BF% estimate, but several different poor methods all suggest something just under mid-20s, let's say 23-24%. If that were accurate, LBM would be 95-96 pounds. The protein goals by the various methods would be:

    95-96g at 1g per pound LBM
    100g at 0.8g per pound goal weight
    91g as the Examine calculator's "optimal minimum"
    136g as the Examine calculator's "up to . . . may provide additional benefit" number

    In context of overall food variability and probably issues with logging accuracy, 91-100 is a pretty small range. In practice, I treat 100 as a minimum, average 120-130 in practice. I'm F, 66, vegetarian, quite active (row boats/machines, mostly, which is on the strengthier end of cardio), weight train only sporadically/desultorily. Most people aren't vegetarian/vegan, but people who are should also be paying some attention to protein quality (EAA completeness).

    ** For older ages, also some higher benefit to spreading protein through the day, and around exercise, it looks like.
    23-24% https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23867520/
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,605 Member
    edited March 20
    Whatever percentage that allows you to hit a sensible protein intake in grams.

    Percentages really aren't a great way to optimise and personalise your nutrition.
    e.g. Today I will be eating over 4,000cals so my percentage can be half yours to hit the same amount of protein.

    As an older bloke when I was losing weight I set my goal to be 1g per pound of estimated lean mass as a minimum which was fine to exceed. Fat looked after itself (exceeded nutrition minimums naturally) and mostly used carbs as a filler to get close to my highly variable calorie goal.