Last month, my friend’s wife accidentally put gasoline in his diesel F350 truck. It is fairly common in multi-vehicle families where most vehicles are gasoline, and one is an outlying diesel, perhaps a Volkswagen TDI or, in this case, a truck. Regardless, the mistake was quite costly requiring new fuel pump, injectors, fuel filter, fuel and exhaust sensors, and more. All said, the repairs cost them $4,200 and it cost her a very sincere apology.
Similarly, and even with the best of intentions, feeding our bodies with the wrong fuel type can end up being very costly and do more harm than good. Whether we want to shed extra pounds, tone up, get stronger, become more flexible, reduce joint pain, or lower our blood pressure, we must consider the fuel we use to do all of this.
Ideal fuel ratios vary
The calorie is the fuel element for the human body. Calories can come from a variety of sources, but predominately from macro-nutrients, also known as “macros.” The wrong macro ratio will make us gain unwanted wait, exacerbate soreness, and degrade our health; while the ideal macro ratio will work for us in our desire to build muscle, harness energy, and increase longevity. In other words, simply watching our total calories is tantamount to indiscriminately filling a vehicle with “fuel” without discriminating between fuel type. In this example, fuel type = macro ratio.
So, what is the ideal macro ratio? Answer: It depends…I know, it sucks, but this isn’t a tabloid or a quick-fix diet. When we talk about macros, we typically refer to the main three—carbohydrates or “carbs,” proteins, and fats. By thinking of our body as an engine that requires a specific fuel mixture, we can build a foundational understanding of our nutritional needs.
Burn rates vary
Just as diesel engines and gasoline engines have different burn rates, our bodies also have varying burn rates. Not everyone can burn carbohydrates at the same rate. The same applies to proteins, fats, and other nutrients. It is important to understand that we are all uniquely created and therefore have varying macro requirements. How can I know what macro ratio I require? A lot of it can depend on your body type.
Know your body type
In the 1940s, American psychologist William Sheldon popularized three broad categories of body:
- Ectomorph: Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle
- Endomorph: Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat
- Mesomorph: Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells
Each of these body types process foods differently and at differing rates. Interestingly, you may think you are an ectomorph until one day you determine to build out your frame. After a few months of lifting consistently, while combining your exercise with proper nutrition and rest, and you become surprised at how quickly your metabolism reacted, and how quickly your muscles sprang into action. Then, you realize that you might actually be a mesomorph having missed out on years of opportunity under a false assumption that you were an ectomorph.
A goal properly set is halfway reached. -Zig Ziglar
I won’t elaborate too much on these body types as there is plenty of information available for us to research on our own. Learning our body type will require some discipline and consistency. Each body type or combination of body types will have a different reaction to various macro-nutrient ratios. If you’re not sure which body type you have—or how to even begin thinking about your macros—here are the ISSA recommendations:
What do we do with this information? The above macro ratios are simply suggestions based on the three body types. If my body does not respond favorably to the ratios listed for my body type, I may be mistaken on my body type. I may even have a combination of two or all three types. It could also be that I am not properly counting my macros. There are many variables, so the best option is to control your intake tracking as much as possible.
Often people fail to start or complete a task because they don’t see any connection between what they’re doing and what they really want to accomplish in life. -John Maxwell
What do I recommend? Use an app on your phone that tracks your macro intake with a simple scan of a barcode. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal, but there are many apps out there. Simply scan the barcode on the back of your food package, adjust portions, and done! It can be time-consuming at first, but the process streamlines as you realize how little your foods vary.
MyFitnessPal and other applications can also link to your Fitbit or performance watch to incorporate your calorie burn. Together, you will be able to identify whether you are burning more than you eat and drink.
Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them.
My body type(s)
About a year ago, I learned about the three body types and concluded that I am predominately an ectomorph, but I do have mesomorphic traits. If I had to guess, I am 70/30 ratio between the two. So, where’s my formula? Well, I started with the benchmarks discussed above and weighted each body type accordingly. It seems to work well for my body. I have also realized that if I eat or drink fatty or unhealthy foods, I notice a negative change in my body appearance approximately 2-3 weeks later.
Over the course of this year, my goal is to identify meal combinations that will complement my ideal macro ratio. I also want to identify snacks that will bridge the gaps between meals but will not work against my nutritional goals. Once I measure out 8-10 meals and 4-5 snacks that I can eat, I won’t even have to use the application to support my nutritional habits.
Similarly, once I calculate workout combinations (i.e. 10-15 minutes of weightlifting plus 20-30 minutes of cardio/aerobics and vice versa), I will have an idea of how much I am burning to ensure I continue to increase my level of fitness and endurance. We will discuss more on exercise in future blogs.
What is your challenge?
If you have a challenge you would like to meet and have the boldness to announce it, comment below!
You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.
Today, we introduced the second portion of our three-part blog series on self-development—the body. We introduced a new way of looking at the value of nutrition as we develop our body. In the next blog, we will dive into nutrition and discover the calorie, its value, and find that not all calories are created equal. You won’t want to miss it!
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