What macro ratios should I aim for?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 26, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Fairly simple question, I think...

Is there a generic macro ratio we should be aiming for? Or are there different macro ratios for different aims and outcomes?

My aim is to lose weight (fat) primarily.

Any help would be great, cheers. John

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7 Answers

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on October 26, 2012
at 07:08 PM

Contrary to popular belief, those following a paleo diet don't usually prescribe a high-protein diet. Many here are in ketosis, which from what I understand requires a fairly low protein intake (very high fat, low protein, practically nonexistent carb). Though a higher-fat intake seems to be the consensus across the board. Myself, I eat high-fat, moderate protein, moderate carb (50%/20%/30% respectively). Many here eat fewer carbs than I.

Though, as far as protein goes, it's still pretty high compared to a vegetarian diet. I tried for a long time as a semi-vegetarian to get my protein intake closer to 15% and it was HARD. These days, as long as I'm not relying on vegan sources (legumes, grains, and nuts) for my protein, I'm fine. Eating eggs and meat in most my meals makes me naturally hit my protein targets.

As for weight loss, that's something you may have to discover for yourself. I lost my weight pre-paleo, eating probably 60-70% carbs, but I had a calorie deficit. I'm not all that metabolically damaged, so I could afford that kind of flexibility. If I were to do it again, I'd definitely switch my macros around a bit more, but mostly for satiety's and nutrition's sake. I was definitely pretty hungry and undernourished then. Keep in mind that carby foods tend to have less nutritional punch than naturally protein-and-fat-rich foods. Might be better, for nutrition's sake, to start off with high-nutrition foods, and then see how much room you have left over for those other things.

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on October 26, 2012
at 10:29 PM

Just for your reference, two common ratios are (in C:P:F) 40:30:30 (Zone) and 20:15:65 (generic high-fat). Ketogenic is closer to 5:10:85.

I personally go 15:25:60.


on October 26, 2012
at 09:53 PM

If you are a good weight and don't exercise like a maniac, ignore macros.

If you need to need to fuel killer workouts, eat post-workout carbs.

You fall in a third camp, those who want to lose weight. Keep carbs minimal to avoid stoking your appetite. And don't eat too too much protein protein, or at least eat fat with your protein.



on October 26, 2012
at 06:44 PM

The main reason you'd want to aim for any sort of macro ratio is for you to make sure you get enough nutrition while maintaining a calorie deficiency. So, figuring out your protein requirements is the first order. Opinions vary on this one- I was aiming for 150g. I was essentially guessing my muscle weight and giving myself 1g per pound of it. I am now of the opinion that I probably didn't need that much, but I did lose weight. I have no real way of knowing this, but I think I kept whatever muscle I had. Since carbohydrates seem to be my weakness, I ate more fat and fewer carbs.


on March 28, 2013
at 02:08 AM

I don't aim for any macros, but I track what I eat and just looked at my percents for the past week, carbs range from 10-20%, fats about 65-75% and protein 15-20%... is working for weight loss for me... id agree with the answer above, once your body feels satisfied stop, I find that if I am still hungry/have any cravings after a medium size meal that drinking a coffee with cream stops any more hunger. so im guessing quite high fat is good for keeping you satisfied while losing weight, just don't go over board.


on March 28, 2013
at 12:03 AM

If you're thinking about macros and weightloss, I'd say don't do anything until you have a basic understanding of micronutrient needs.

For most people, adjusting macros means eating with less food variety. This puts folks at greater risk for nutrient deficiencies, which can eventually cause overwhelming cravings and the yo-yo pattern of dieting.

The Perfect Health Diet has the best macro breakdown I've read, but it also explains what you should be eating to fulfill your micronutrient needs. The idea is, once you've satisfied these needs, your body should stop asking you for food.



on March 27, 2013
at 11:06 PM

Loren Cordain composed a macro break down using food groups from the paleo era. It was P:40% F:40% C:20% the info is on his website.

If you are training hard & long (not like a cave man) then try 30-40% Carbs (ZONE) & lower fats Or for distance runner more like 50-60% Carbs

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