Jump to content

macro nutrient ratios

Recommended Posts

I have been managing very well to adhere to my allocated calories of late but must admit to total confusion over macro nutrient ratios..........The more i read the more i am not sure,  I read Ornish Pritikin and it sounds plausible.....i was on Pritikin for years and scored zero on the coronary calcium scan,..........

Then i ate sad and moved towards metabolic syndrome..........cr has fixed this , but how should i eat now........

There is a huge movement towards high fat and olive oil, and it all makes sense...........I dont feel happy with a Paleo approach as i dont eat meat anyway.............ON a strict  low fat regime like Pritikin i will have low cholesterol and ldl but also very low Hdl............some say this is risky , Pritikin says it isnt and higher fat diets which in my case would lead to  better hdl levels,  lead to more arterial plaque.   

Whatever is thought about recent changes in attitudes to fat if Ancel Keys practiced what he preached he did live to a 100.

At the moment i have increased my fat intake to 50% of calories, and although mostly healthy fats my sat fats go up to nearly 20g a day along with them.

I dont eat refined carbs at all or sugar, no bread, rice pasta or potatoes.

Part of me says go back Ornish ?pritikin and the other part just doesnt know, and the more i read the more it seems the scientific community doesnt know either.(conclusively)

What sort of macro nutrient ratios do most others follow on here?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I follow mostly 15% Protein, 35% Fats and 50% carbs.  Once I balanced out my fatty acid intake (5:1 ratio or less) and fat consumption, my cholesterol numbers went from bad to good. My saturated fats are around 10 g per day and cholesterol intake is < 200 mg.  I eat mostly vegan.  I brought my HDL from 27 up to 58 or so and I'm quite happy with that. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad someone stepped in to answer you, Paul :) . I suspect there is some reluctance to weigh in on this on the part of long-time CR Society members because these issues have been hotly debated for decades now (literally), and nothing has ever really been resolved — and, of course, a few times a year a newcomer pops in convinced that hir approach is correct, and that we can't possibly be familiar with the incredible body of knowledge that s/he has accumulated on the subject from reading Gary Taubes or articles on the internet ;) .
In the early days of the CR Society, most people were still under the sway of the very low-fat dogma that was predominant in nutrition advice of the time, and that was advanced by none less than Dr. Walford in his books, and championed by several members who were quite active on the Listserv, such as Ben Best. I personally think this is very unwise (more on this below). One thing that came up a lot at the time as a result was constipation (see discussion here).
Around the time that I joined the Society back in 1999, the Society made a pretty big transition into the Zone macronutrient profile, which is often said to be a 30:40:30 P:C:F but actually involves determining your protein needs (by Zone standards of 1 g/kg body mass), then calculating a P:C of 0.75, then making up the rest of one's Caloric target with fat. One can then further tweak one's ratios by adjustment according to subjective & objective responses to the meal (see Mastering the Zone for the former, or The Anti-Aging Zone for the more complete list, including the full "stool evaluation" referenced in the just-linked discussion of the low-fat constipation problem). The Zone diet itself had been quite the rage in the relatively recent past, and several people (of whom Sherm (Michael Sherman)) and I were the most active) advocated in favor of it extensively on the Listserv.
A poll of CR Society members' macronutrient balances done back in 2001 revealed a wide range of macronutrient choices, but that a Zonish macronutrient cluster that seemed to make up the largest portion.
As Dean P. said at the time,

Based on 38 people responding, my (potentially biased) interpretation is that a Zone-ish diet seems to be favored among the respondents. The interpolated "peak" of responses for the three macronutrients are:
Carbohydrates: ~41% Protein: ~25% Fat: ~32%
Interestingly, there appears to be a definite spike of "Walfordians" in the 61+% carbohydrate range (10 out of 38 respondents = 26%).

38 respondents is of course a tiny fraction of the List membership, and they were self-selected; also, this was in the recent wake of fairly vigorous promotion of the Zone by Sherm and me, and indeed the relatively recent publication of the Zone books prob meant that a significant # of people prob got interested in CR after reading them.
That said, I suspect that this survey was still pretty representive, and may still be. The WUSTL study (1,2) reported (albeit again in a small, largely self-selected group -- but NB that by definition they were long-term, successful CR folks at substantial %CR) that their subjects consumed "~26% of calories from protein, ~28% from fat, and ~46% from complex carbohydrates". 
The next big move was in reaction to Dr. Fontana's discovery that such modestly high intakes of protein could block the effects of CR on IGF-1 in humans, and the move (which I eventually joined) to cut back protein quantity and quality sufficiently to bring IGF-1 levels down to low-normal; see my discussion of protein in the CR diet, which includes a link to alert you to the complicating factor of vegetarian/vegan protein sources and IGF-1 in the CR diet.
More recently, we've had a fair number of people come aboard practicing and/or advocating for very-low-carb Atkins-type diets, either full-on ketogenic or nearly so.
I personally have, in the course of my >15 y of CR tweaking, varied from 15-35% protein at each meal, never let myself go below 30% fat, and made up the remainder in carb accordingly. I am currently at 20:38:38 P:C:F plus ≈4% alcohol from red wine. I have a really hard time getting my IGF-1 levels to stay low-normal, as opposed to sky-high or too-damned-low. I keep my fat between 30-38%, and adjust my carb accordingly.
On Esselsyn/Ornish/Pritikin/McDougall: the studies purported to support the ultra-low-fat approach are not worth the paper on which they're written (to the extent that anyone keeps hardcopies any more). Esselsyn's and Ornish's  reports are in very small numbers of intensely-managed patients with existing CVD; neither of them have reported any actual improvement in survivorship; and there are major confounders for both. Esselstyn is reporting a case series from his personal practice, and not (as is often claimed) a clinical trial: there was no control group, and moreover ALL of his subjects were on cholesterol-lowering drugs.(3) The benefits reported for Ornish's program are not demonstrably related to the diet, let alone demonstrably better than a diet higher in quality fat: his intervention not only included lower saturated fat intake (which is of course achievable with a diet high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats), but also a "vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training, smoking cessation, group psychosocial support" (4), none of which were administered to the controls.
In any case, I think the main thing to remember is that pretty much everyone recognizes that these are actually really rather marginal, tweaking issues next to the incredibly powerful effects of CR itself on anything that macronutrient manipulation might meaningfully affect.
1. Fontana L, Meyer TE, Klein S, Holloszy JO. Related Articles, Links Free in PMC Long-term calorie restriction is highly effective in reducing the risk for atherosclerosis in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 27;101(17):6659-63. Epub 2004 Apr 19. PMID: 15096581 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
2. Meyer TE, Kovacs SJ, Ehsani AA, Klein S, Holloszy JO, Fontana L. Related Articles, Links Abstract Long-term caloric restriction ameliorates the decline in diastolic function in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Jan 17;47(2):398-402. PMID: 16412867 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
3. Esselstyn CB Jr. Related Articles, Links Abstract Updating a 12-year experience with arrest and reversal therapy for coronary heart disease (an overdue requiem for palliative cardiology). Am J Cardiol. 1999 Aug 1;84(3):339-41, A8. PMID: 10496449 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
4. Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Brown SE, Gould KL, Merritt TA, Sparler S, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, Kirkeeide RL, Hogeboom C, Brand RJ. Related Articles, Links Free Full Text Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA. 1998 Dec 16;280(23):2001-7. Erratum in: JAMA 1999 Apr 21;281(15):1380. PMID: 9863851 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the replies Keith and Michael, they are very much appreciated. I am at the moment about 16/40/40  and 4% alcohol for my 100ml glass of red wine............when i tried to increase fat levels i did not feel as well and had less energy when exercising.  Also unhappy about increasing sfa levels, so will probably stay at my current ratio which seems to work best for me.  It is always re assuring to know what others are doing, especially those that have been practicing some time............

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have personally never had a diet more than 15% protein.  That's what I have currently only because I'm deliberately losing weight at a pretty rapid clip.  When I transition, I'll cut back to 10-12.5% protein...still higher than I used to do, but far more will be plant-based and much less meat, with regards to methionine restriction.  I'm playing with the idea of glycine supplementation.  Straight gelatine is fabulous in Indian-style lentil soups and curries--don't even notice it.  It's revolting in yogurt.  I'm hoping straight glycine will work in yogurt.  I really like it.  :)


Overall, I used to eat about 8% protein, 10% fat, 82% carbs, probably half the bad kind.  I wasn't consciously controlling fat or protein.  I just like carbs.


I will be eating 10-12.5% protein (7% or less from animal sources), 20% fat, and the remainder carbs, with only one once a day refined max and/or only 2 teaspoons added sugar across all foods max.  (Added sugar's easy.  Refined is a sacrifice.)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now