Designing your meals around your macronutrient intake - the amount of carbs, fats, and protein you ingest each day - is a lot simpler and easier for most people who want to meet their fitness goals. But how much of each should you be getting? And how do they make their individual contributions to your gains? Well, we'll go into detail below.
"Fat?! Builds muscle?! But I thought fat was bad for you and should be avoided at all costs - especially if you're looking to get shredded." Yes, Hypothetical Question Asker, you have a right to be skeptical, because your body and your muscles are picky when it comes who which kinds of fats they want (and which ones you need to avoid).
Obviously, trans fats are right out. They produce so many unhealthy effects in the body that we'd need a whole separate article to explain them all. Next down the line are saturated fats. The established science is still on the fence about saturated fat. In the past, it was thought that this type of fat was responsible for higher cholesterol levels and heart disease in general. But more recent studies have identified some sources of saturated fats (like olive oil, avocados, and eggs) as being beneficial to your joints, organs, and your energy levels.
Unsaturated fats contain the bulk of the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), which include your Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Fish, eggs, flaxseed oil, and nuts are all great sources of these unsaturated fats. And when you have enough of them in the body, they regulate everything from joint lubrication to muscle repair to hormone levels and more.
As with fats, the trick is to get the right kind of carbs into your body. Despite common "If It Fits Your Macros" broscience, there is a huge difference on a molecular level between the carb you get from a fast food French fry and the carb you ingest from a grain of quinoa. Think whole grains, whole foods, and as little processing as humanly possible. The less refined and more complex your carbs are, the more efficiently your body can digest them (and the fewer molecular waste products you'll release into your system, which could hinder muscle recovery).
Carbohydrates are also important for keeping your Glucose Economy in balance. If this economy ever slips out of balance (which is common on low-carb diets), it can have some pretty disastrous consequences for your muscle-building goals.
You're probably thinking "Duh! How can protein NOT build muscle? It IS muscle!" Well, the truth is that it's a little more complex than that. Remember the Glucose Economy we just mentioned? Well, if your protein/carb macronutrient balance doesn't give your body the energy it needs, which it prefers to get from carbs, it'll switch to either fat or protein. And if it switches to protein, your gains could be in trouble.
If you ingest too few calories from complex carbohydrates and/or healthy fats, and your body switches to protein, it could start consuming its own muscle cells in order to get the energy it needs to function. And this is the exact opposite of what every bodybuilder wants! Not to mention that if you like your kidneys, you should keep a closer eye on your protein intake, too.
When it comes to choosing the right macronutrient profile, remember one very important, classic piece of wisdom: life is all about balance. Based on what we now know about human physiology, it looks as through skewing your macros strongly in one direction and away from the other two could maybe help you meet a short-term goal, but have negative consequences long-term. Just remember: fat isn't the boogeyman anymore, too much protein can be bad if you aren't careful, and eating the right kinds of carbs is great for building muscle.
Even if your diet is on point, it can be hard to get some of the nutrients you need from whole foods alone. More importantly, it can be hard to get them into your body during the right time of day. With Growth Factor, you have just the right amount of essential amino acids that you can take whenever you're ready to hit Beast Mode in the gym. But don't just take our word for it - try it out yourself.