Why The ‘Best Macro Ratio’ Doesn’t Exist

There is an idea out there that ‘golden’ macronutrient ratios exist that can transform a person’s physique. The idea was born in bodybuilding forums by people looking at someone else’s body transformation, asking their macro intake, then reverse engineering it to come up with a macro ratio that is assumed to be somehow special.

I’m not a fan of this idea. It’s logically flawed and here’s why…

Metabolism is adaptive. Calorie needs increase over time when bulking, and decrease over time when cutting.

  • When cutting it isn’t prudent to decrease the calorie intake by reducing all macronutrients equally, because protein intake is best set according to lean body mass due to the muscle preserving properties when dieting.
  • When bulking it is neither cost effective (protein is expensive), nor optimal (fat storage is more likely with higher fat intakes), to increase equally either.
  • There is a broad scope for personal preference between fat and carbohydrate intake to make up the remainder of the calorie balance for most people, outside of specific situations. But for most serious trainees, once fat intake (tolerance/preference) has been established, carbohydrate increases and decreases will be used as the prime energy balance manipulator.

Macro ratios are therefore a function of the stage of dieting, not something specifically to target.

Let’s explain this with one quick and very simplified example.

Take a macro ratio ‘P40/C40/F20’ that has been proposed as perfect for cutting (meaning that 40% of a person’s diet will come from protein, 40% from carbohydrate, 20% from fat).

  • Take a guy that can initially lose his target rate of fat loss eating 2500kCal per day. As the diet progresses over many weeks he finally needs to adjust to 2000kCal per day, and finally 1500kCal per day by the time he gets on stage.
  • At the start of the diet, he’ll be consuming 250g of protein at the end of the diet he’ll consuming 150g a day.
  • If that guy carries 70kg (154lbs) of lean body mass (LBM), he’ll be consuming ~3.6g/kgLBM of protein at the start, and ~2.1g/kgLBM at the end of the diet, which is an overconsumption of protein initially, and an underconsumption at the end.

Why does it matter if we over or under consume protein?

It’s suboptimal.

An overconsumption costs unnecessary $$ and steals away our ability to have a higher carb intake. An underconsumption when dieting can cost us muscle mass.

There is a similar issue with the other macronutrients also when you fix them as a ratio of the overall calorie intake rather than to lean body mass.

  • Fat is important hormonally and allowance should be set to lean body mass (and then adjusted per tolerance).
  • Carbs make up the remaining balance and are important for training intensity and recovery.

Nothing should be arbitrary.

Set your macros according to, 1. Your energy needs, 2. lean body mass, 3. body type, 4. then personal preference. Ignore macro ratios and let the myth die.

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I am the founder of RippedBody.com, this is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing online, via email, for the last six years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one nutrition and training coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation.


  1. Josh C. says:

    I wanted to get your opinion on a Fruitarian Diet. I’ve seen a lot of videos and read articles and seen youtubers who claim they eat like 30 bananas a day and their macro split looks something like 80/10/10. How is that even possible? Do you know anything about this?

    Thanks, Andy.

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      Hi Josh.
      It’s possible because the body is exceptionally adept at making the most of what you put into it. Some people succeed in spite of themselves – some people will get away with it and others will simply flounder and that’s down to genetics.

      The proponents are those that have thrived (or feel that they have), love the attention, and fall into the trap of “it worked for me so it’s right for everyone”. This pretty much explains why you have so much nonsense online that strays from what the bulk of the research points towards as being optimal.

      Whenever you hear something extreme, it’s nearly always science taken out of context, if not total BS. I’ll have a guest article on the website from Alan Aragon next month titled, “How not to be bullshitted” or something like that, which you should enjoy.

  2. David says:

    Im sorry I might have missed it or maybe i didn’t understod it when i read it, but how do you know which bodytype you are? 🙂
    I hope you understand my spelling, swedish is my main language 😛

    1. Andy Morgan says:

      ‘Bodytype’ as in what sense David? You talking the theorised meso, ecto, endomorph categories (which really is classifying people by genetic pre-disposition), or physical condition currently? If the latter then I’ve covered that in an old article, ’12 Weeks: What You Can Expect to Achieve…’ which I’m currently re-writing. If the former then it’s simply not worth worrying about cause there’s nothing you can do about your genetics, some things may come quicker or slower for you compared with average but that’s just the genetic lottery – the tactics don’t change.

      Most people whose first language is Swedish speak better English than the English. – Seriously.

Questions welcomed. (Over 16,000 answered)

For the sake of other readers, please:
  • Keep questions on topic,
  • Write clearly, concisely, and click reply when responding,
  • Don't post diet calculations or full training plans asking me to critique them as it depends too heavily on context.