What are they? Also known as nutrient ratios, macronutrient ratios refer to the percentage of your total daily calories that come from protein, carbohydrate and fat. For example, 60-30-10 or 40-30-30 are nutrient ratios.
For decades, bodybuilders developed nutrition plans based on ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats; however, it wasn’t until 1995 that nutrient ratios gained widespread attention from the public with the release of a book by Dr. Barry Sears called “The Zone.” This book made “meal ratios” household words because the entire Zone program is based on the nutrient ratio of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat (or “40-30-30″). By following the 40-30-30 ratios, Dr. Sears claimed you would lose weight, gain muscle, improve athletic performance and cure a whole host of diseases and health problems.
The Zone is basically just another very low calorie diet. The down fall of the Zone program as Dr. Sears prescribed it in his 1995 book, is dangerously low calories. Zone dieters often fell into to the same pitfall that many other low calorie dieters succumb to – starvation mode.
As a whole, the Zone program was denounced by mainstream health and nutrition organizations around the world, including the American Dietetic Association, the Mayo Clinic, the American College of Sports Medicine, and many others. However, you can learn some important things from the Zone by plucking out useful tidbits and throwing away the rest. There were actually two particularly important contributions to modern trends in nutrition that changed the thinking about fat and weight loss since 1995.
Two Good Things We Learned From The Zone
- The Zone brought to the public’s attention the importance of having a good balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats instead of being heavily slanted towards mostly carbohydrate at the expense of protein and fat. It also pointed out the dangers of eating large amounts of processed carbohydrates such as white breads, white pastas, fat free snack foods and baked goods.
- The second important point made by the Zone program was the idea of always combining a lean protein and complex carbohydrate food at every meal. This is probably one of the most important aspects of a nutrition program designed for improving body composition, because it helps to control the hormones responsible for fat storage and it provides a steady flow of amino acids from protein foods for muscle growth and maintenance.
The Bottom Line
Contrary to what some “diet gurus” would like you to believe, there is no single best ratio. Calories are always the most important factor in fat loss and the first factor you should consider. Only then can you accurately calculate the optimal ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat specifically for your unique needs.