Fat evokes negative associations for many. To what extent is that justified, which fats should you avoid and how important are fats for muscle growth?
1. Fat from food performs vital functions in our body. Fat does not necessarily make you fat: body fat is created by an excess of energy (calories), regardless of whether it comes from carbohydrates, proteins or fats.
2. Not all fats are healthy. Especially trans fats, which are found in snacks and to a lesser extent in (full) dairy products, are bad for the heart and blood vessels.
3. Saturated fats have also traditionally been known to be bad for blood cholesterol, but according to more recent insights this may not be the case. Cholesterol from food (for example from egg yolks) is also not harmful.
4. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (including omega 3 and 6) are healthy, except as mentioned trans fats (which belong to the unsaturated fats).
5. Adequate intake of saturated and monounsaturated fat is important for healthy hormone levels, including testosterone levels.
6. The amount of body fat also influences the testosterone level. With a fat percentage between 8 and 15 percent, the testosterone levels in men are optimal.
7. For optimal muscle growth, it is probably best to eat a relatively large amount of carbohydrates instead of a relatively large amount of fat. Carbohydrates are a much more efficient source of energy for strength training.
8. Advice for muscle building: eat 1-1.5 g of fat per kg of body weight per day, about half of which is saturated fat. Divide unsaturated fats evenly between simple and polyunsaturated fats. Also eat enough proteins (~1.6 g/kg body weight), the rest are carbohydrates. All this with a calorie surplus of 10-15% of your maintenance level.
DOES FAT MAKE YOU FAT?
‘Fat’ can mean two things: body fat or fat found in food. Both meanings often evoke negative associations: if you eat a lot of fat, you become fat. And that is unhealthy and also aesthetically undesirable.
But that is not entirely correct: your body stores fat when there is excess energy. In other words, you get fatter because you eat more calories than you use. In principle, it does not matter whether that energy comes from carbohydrates, proteins or fats.
It is true that fat has a high calorie density: 9 kilocalories (kcal) per gram. In comparison: carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 kcal per gram and alcohol 7 kcal. In addition, fatty food often becomes tasty, so that it can lead to a calorie surplus more quickly than, for example, protein-rich food, which provides relatively few calories.
Your body stores fat when you eat too many calories. Calories can come from fat, but just as well from carbohydrates, proteins and alcohol.
THE FUNCTION OF FAT
However you look at it, we simply need fats from food. And no, not just as seasonings. Fats function as a source of energy, as a building material for cells, as a means of transport for, among other things, fat-soluble vitamins, and also as a component of vitamins and hormones. Body fat protects organs and nerve cells, and against the cold.
To fulfill all of these functions, the average person’s diet should consist of at least 20 percent fat [ i ] . One speaks of 20 energy percent. The upper limit of fat intake is 30 energy percent.
Fat performs vital functions in your body. The general guideline for the daily amount of fat intake is 20-30 energy percent.
TYPES OF FAT
Fats are made up of, among other things, fatty acids. When we talk about ‘types of fat’ we actually mean the type of fatty acids that are found in the fat. But the terms “fat” and “fatty acids” are usually used interchangeably.
Based on the molecular structure of their fatty acids, we can distinguish fats into:
- saturated fats (including in whole milk products and cheese, fatty meat, pastries, snacks and coconut fat);
- monounsaturated fats (eg in olive oil, peanuts, eggs and avocados);
- polyunsaturated fats (including in sunflower oil, nuts and fish oil);
- trans fats (including in sweet and savory snacks, and dairy);
- cholesterol (eg in eggs and cheese).
The difference between saturated and unsaturated fat lies in the chemical composition of the fatty acids. Because there are ‘kinks’ in the atomic bonds of unsaturated fat, this type of fat is softer and liquid at room temperature. This includes, for example, all types of oil. There is also room to tie another fabric at the place of the kinks. With fatty acids with one nod we speak of monounsaturated fat. If there are two or more kinks in the atomic bonds of unsaturated fat, we call this polyunsaturated fat.
In a typical diet, you will consume each of these fats on a daily basis.
We distinguish saturated fat, unsaturated fat (poly, mono and trans fat) and cholesterol.
GOOD FATS, BAD FATS
You hear and read a lot of conflicting things about how (un)healthy the different types of fat are. For example, the currently very popular Pioppi diet promotes that you can eat saturated fats with confidence. Just look at the people in that cute Italian village of Pioppi who “forget to die”. However, many of us were raised with the idea that saturated fats raise blood cholesterol and can therefore cause cardiovascular disease. How about that?
Let’s take a look at the different types of fat and their health effects.
UNSATURATED FATS (GOOD)
Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered ‘good’ fats, with the exception of trans fats (see below). Not only because they perform the important functions mentioned above, but also because they have a preventive effect on cardiovascular diseases.
Unsaturated fat raises the so-called good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. Too high LDL cholesterol is not good for the blood vessels and can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease. By eating a lot of unsaturated fats, you maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
It is recommended that 50-65 percent of your daily fat intake consist of unsaturated fats [ ii ] .
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for your health, partly because they lower the cholesterol level in your blood. Try to have 50-65 percent of your total daily fat intake consist of unsaturated fats.
OMEGA 3 AND 6
Some unsaturated fats are even essential. We need those fats, but our bodies cannot make them on their own. We must therefore get these fats through our diet. The two best known (and most important) are omega 3 and omega 6, both of the polyunsaturated type.
Many good properties are attributed to omega 3 (also called alpha-linolenic acid). It inhibits inflammation and is said to be good for the heart and blood vessels. It is also said to promote healthy blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases [ iii ] . Omega 3 even has a positive influence on the mind, skin, eyes [ iii ] and yes, possibly also on muscle protein synthesis , the process that causes muscle growth. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oil and some vegetable oils, for example mackerel, herring, linseed and walnuts.
Omega 6 (also called linoleic acid) also has positive effects on health. It inhibits the production of cholesterol and strengthens your immune system. On the other hand, an excessive intake of omega 6 could have adverse effects, such as promoting inflammation, which can increase the risk of several diseases. However, this possible effect is still largely hypothetical. What is certain is that we now consume much more omega 6 than in the past. The omega 6:omega 3 ratio in an average Western diet is now 16:1, while that in a pre-industrial diet was between 2:1 and 4:1 [ iv ]. This is partly due to the fact that animals nowadays often receive feed based on grains, with soy and maize. This lowers the omega 3 content in the animals, so that the polyunsaturated fats in their meat mainly consist of omega 6 [ v ] . Some nutritionists claim that a ratio of 1:1 to a maximum of 1:5 is desirable.
Reputable organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), however, do not prescribe an omega 6:omega 3 ratio. The problem is probably not so much in too much omega 6, as in too little omega 3. Many people eat little or no fish, the main food source for omega 3. If you eat less (fat) meat and a little more fish, you automatically get less omega 6 and more omega 3. This improves the ratio, if it is that important at all. You can also consider using less sunflower oil and coconut oil instead. In this table you can see how different fats and oils are made up of, among other things, omega 3 and 6.
Of course you can also take fish oil capsules to get (more) omega 3. But the positive effect of eating fish on health is probably due to more substances in the fish than just the fish fatty acids [ xxxvii ] . A pill is therefore not a full-fledged replacement for a piece of fish.
Some unsaturated fatty acids are essential: you have to get them through your diet. The most important are omega 3 and omega 6. You usually get plenty of omega 6 already. Omega 3 often not. Therefore, try to eat more fish instead of meat. Omega 3 offers many health benefits and may even have a positive effect on muscle protein synthesis.
TRANS FATS (BAD)
Most scientists agree on one thing: trans fats are downright bad for your health. They can significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Ironically, trans fats are actually unsaturated fats, which are precisely known as “good fats.” Which just goes to show how confusing terminology can be.
Trans fat occurs naturally in milk and meat from ruminants such as cows and sheep, also known as animal trans fat. It arises in their stomach under the influence of intestinal bacteria. It can also be found in hard margarines (nowadays significantly less than in the past), frying, baking and frying fats, and in pastries, biscuits and snacks: industrial trans fat. Many ready meals also contain trans fats. Organic products should not contain industrial trans fats.
Trans fat raises the harmful LDL cholesterol and lowers the good HDL cholesterol, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Health Council therefore advised in 2015 that a maximum of 1 percent of your calorie intake should consist of trans fat. So if you eat 2000 calories a day, there should be no more than 20 of trans fat. That is about a maximum of 2 grams per day.
Animal products contain less trans fat than industrial ones. Whether animal trans fat is also less unhealthy than industrial (or maybe even healthy, as you sometimes read) is not yet entirely clear. In any case, the Health Council’s guideline applies to all trans fats, including animal fats.
Trans fats are bad for your health. A structurally large intake of it can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Avoid especially snacks, which contain a lot of (industrial) trans fats. Dairy products also contain trans fats, but less than in snacks and also of animal nature. Although it has not been proven that animal trans fats are (much) less unhealthy than industrial ones.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that forms the building blocks of body cells and hormones. Moreover, without cholesterol we cannot make vitamin D, and no bile. It is therefore an important and certainly not a malicious substance. The negative association that cholesterol evokes comes from the danger of elevated cholesterol levels in the blood. This mainly occurs in older people, who are therefore at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
For the most part, your body produces cholesterol itself in the liver, which uses the fats in our diet as a building material. But cholesterol is also ‘normal’ in your diet, for example in egg yolk. It is often thought that eating them can be harmful because it would raise the cholesterol levels in your blood. The fact is, however, that dietary cholesterol has only a very limited influence on the cholesterol level in the blood [ vii ] . In addition, the production of cholesterol is regulated by the body [ viii ] [ ix ]. If you eat a lot of cholesterol, for example from eggs, your liver will produce less cholesterol, so that the total values do not rise too high. The same goes the other way around: if you don’t get enough cholesterol from food, your intestines will increase their absorption to compensate. As a result, foods with high cholesterol have a very low effect on blood cholesterol [ x ][ xi ] in most people .
Cholesterol from food is therefore certainly not bad and may even have a positive influence on muscle building [ vii ] . For example, it appears that eating whole eggs (with egg yolk, which contains the cholesterol) stimulates muscle protein synthesis 40 percent more than eating egg protein alone. Whether this actually results in more muscle growth in the long term has not yet been investigated.
Either way, you can easily eat several eggs a day. In addition, the egg yolk contains many valuable nutrients, in addition to cholesterol.
Cholesterol from food has only a very limited influence on the cholesterol level in your blood. You can therefore eat products with a lot of cholesterol, such as eggs with egg yolks, with peace of mind.
SATURATED FATS (NEUTRAL)
Saturated fat – the fat from butter, cheese, milk and meat – has a bad reputation. Its origins lie in the epidemic of heart disease in the United States in the middle of the last century. When the cholesterol level turned out to be the main cause of this, the culprit was quickly found – saturated fat. After all, the cholesterol that the body produces in the liver is mainly made from the saturated fat from our diet.
Influenced by major publicity campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s, fat turned into the evil genius of nutrition. The important nuance which on saturated fats are just good for health because they lower cholesterol levels correctly, insisted in the 90s yet to the general public.
But the insights with regard to saturated fat are now also shifting [ xii ] . The idea that saturated fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease was mainly based on evidence from non-human studies. And somehow that idea became commonplace and widely accepted [ xiii ] . A number of extensive meta-studies were published in 2014 and 2015, which cast serious doubts on the link between saturated fat intake and the development of heart disease [ xiv ] .
The influence of saturated fat on cholesterol levels is therefore somewhat different than is often thought. For example, saturated fat not only raises the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), but also the ‘good’ (HDL) [ xv ] . In addition, it is important to know that there are two subtypes of LDL: small, compact LDL, and large LDL. Large LDL is benign. And let saturated fat change LDL particles from small, compact to large. As a result, saturated fat does not appear to be responsible for a poor blood lipid profile (high total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol) [ xv ]. A poor blood lipid profile therefore seems more likely to be the result of the intake of the previously discussed trans fats. These are also often found in foods that also contain a lot of saturated fat.
So aren’t saturated fats bad for the heart on their own? Well, we don’t dare to say it that hard now. In 2016, three new studies were published investigating the link between saturated fat and heart disease. The former reports a 25 percent increase in heart disease for every 5 percent increase in saturated fats in the diet. The second study saw more overall mortality and more heart disease among the people who ate more saturated fats. On the other hand, a third Dutch study found a protective effect of saturated fats [ xvi ] .
The World Health Organization is currently finalizing a guideline on saturated fat. An emphatic recommendation remains to eat less than ten energy percent saturated fat. In other words, to get less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake from saturated fats. And a recent review by four leading US nutrition researchers states that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats of natural origin provides the most health benefits [ xvii ] .
It seems obvious that unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats. It is still unclear whether saturated fats are really harmful to health. As long as you stay below the mentioned 10 energy percent, there is probably nothing to worry about.
Saturated fat has traditionally been known as the cause of cardiovascular disease. New and improved research is increasingly questioning this. Perhaps only trans fat is the main culprit in heart disease, and saturated fat is not or hardly at all. Nevertheless, the World Health Organization continues to advise eating no more than 10 energy percent saturated fat.
FAT AND TESTOSTERONE
The production of testosterone partly depends on the fats from your diet: on the one hand because they increase the activity of enzymes involved in the production of testosterone, on the other hand because they maintain your cholesterol level. Cholesterol provides the building blocks for body cells and hormones, including testosterone.
It is probably only the saturated fats and monounsaturated fats that contribute to healthy hormone levels [ xviii ] . Not polyunsaturated fats. If you eat quite a lot of fat and still have low testosterone levels, you may be eating mostly polyunsaturated fats (fish and nuts, for example). Try eating some more monounsaturated fats, such as peanuts, eggs, and avocados. And don’t shy away from saturated fats. Several studies have shown that diets low in saturated fats lower testosterone levels [ xix ] [ xx ] . Also the fact that coconut oil has such a positive effect on testosterone [ xxi] , demonstrates the importance of saturated fats in testosterone production. Coconut oil (read: coconut fat) contains no less than 85 percent saturated fats! Saturated fat is also very important for the absorption of vitamin A and vitamin D. And vitamin D also makes an important contribution to the production of testosterone [ xxii ] .
For good hormone levels, make sure that at least 25 percent of your daily fat intake (see below) consists of saturated fat [ xxiii ] . However, try not to eat more than 50 percent saturated fat and get the saturated fat as much as possible from dairy products, such as milk or cheese. It does not contain as many trans fats as, for example, snacks. Moreover, we already saw that animal fats may be (slightly) less unhealthy than industrial fats.
For healthy hormone levels, including testosterone, it is important that you get enough fat, especially saturated and monounsaturated fat.
HORMONES AND BODY FAT
That fat is important for testosterone may sound contradictory to some. Fat is often associated with low testosterone levels. But there is that confusion again: it is not about fat from food, but about body fat. The higher the fat percentage , the lower the testosterone values and the higher the female hormone estrogen [ xxiv ] . The latter happens under the influence of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. The activity of aromatase is increased by stress, aging and therefore also by increasing the fat percentage. And because of the suppression of testosterone, you will put on even more fat, especially in the abdominal and chest area. A snowball effect.
Remarkably enough, a very low fat percentage also has negative consequences for the testosterone level. If you are very lean, for example only have 8 percent fat, the level of the hormone leptin is continuously low, which signals your brain that there is not enough energy available. As a result, your body will do everything it can to conserve energy, including reducing testosterone production [ xxv ]. Also hunger, decreased resistance, decreased performance and general apathy are possible consequences of persistently low leptin levels. It is not for nothing that competition bodybuilders cannot and do not want to be ‘competition lean’ all year round. With a slightly higher fat percentage you function better in all respects, including in the gym.
For optimal testosterone levels and functioning in general, men should have a fat percentage of between 8 and 15 percent [ xxxviii ] .
The amount of body fat has an influence on the testosterone level. At a fat percentage of 8 to 15 percent, the testosterone levels in men are optimal.
FAT IN BODYBUILDING DIETS
So fat isn’t so bad, provided you don’t get too many trans fats and maybe not too many saturated fats. But how much dietary fat is optimal for the strength athlete, in particular that bodybuilder, who strives for maximum muscle and minimum fat mass? Or does it not matter that much?
THE IMPORTANCE OF MACRONUTRIENTS
To achieve maximum muscle growth, you essentially need to do three things:
- Exercise. And in such a way that it creates a growth stimulus. You do this by creating overload in your workouts .
- Eating enough food. You should follow a diet where you eat more than you need to maintain (‘bulking‘). For most people, a calorie surplus of 10-15 percent of maintenance (or 200-500 kcal above maintenance) is sufficient.
- Eating enough protein: about 1.6 g per kg of body weight daily. Eating more proteins makes no sense for muscle growth (at most you go a little higher when cutting). It may even be counterproductive, because protein is not an efficient source of energy, while you need a lot of energy for your training and to facilitate muscle recovery and growth.
- Get enough sleep.
If you meet these four conditions, you are guaranteed to build muscle.
Whether that is also maximum muscle growth depends on the one hand on how well your training is programmed, on the other hand whether your calorie surplus is high enough – but not too high either. Because a too large calorie surplus probably means that in addition to muscle mass, you also grow a relatively large amount of fat mass. And that fat has to come off sooner or later. The trick is to find a surplus that allows you to optimally build muscle with a minimal increase in fat mass.
One aspect is missing from the above list: the distribution of macronutrients. We know how much protein we should eat, but what about carbohydrates and fats? More concretely: what ratio of carbohydrates and fats is optimal for muscle growth?
The fact that we do not consider this aspect to be ‘the essence’ is because it is relatively unimportant. If you meet the above four conditions, it does not matter much whether you eat more carbohydrates or more fats in your diet. In addition , this aspect has been little or not investigated [ xxxix ] . Although science teaches us about the role of carbohydrates and fats in muscle growth, there are (to our knowledge) no studies that directly compare the effects on muscle growth at different ratios of carbohydrates and fats.
However, we don’t want to just ignore that role. For more advanced bodybuilders, optimizing muscle growth increasingly comes down to details. Whether you put a lot or few carbohydrates in your diet can make a difference. In addition, it is possible to say something sensible about the optimal distribution of macronutrients for muscle building from the existing knowledge about carbohydrates and fats.
Eating for muscle growth mainly means that you have an adequate calorie surplus (usually around 10-20% of your maintenance level) and eat enough protein (1.6-2.2 g/kg body weight per day). The ratio between the remaining macronutrients, carbohydrates and fats, is of much less importance. In addition, it has been little researched. Still, it could make a (small) difference for advanced bodybuilders in particular.
CARBOHYDRATES VS. FATS
Most respected bodybuilding experts, perhaps with the exception of Menno Henselmans, consider carbohydrates to be of paramount importance. These are the main arguments for a high intake of carbohydrates during the bulk, at the expense of fats [ xxvii ] :
- In the first place, carbohydrates are a much more efficient energy supplier than fats, at least when it comes to strength training. As an energy source, fat is especially useful in everyday activities, such as walking [ xxviii ] .
- Eating more carbohydrates produces more insulin, which is anti-catabolic.
- Carbohydrates promote recovery from strength training and thus increase Maximum Recoverable Volume (MRV).
- High carbohydrate intake reduces the amount of cortisol (‘stress hormone’) in your body.
- High carbohydrate intake promotes muscle pump during exercise, which may have a (small) effect on muscle growth [ xxix ] .
When we put fats against that, we see only one advantage in terms of muscle growth: maintaining testosterone levels. And of course, that’s important for muscle growth, but with normal natural testosterone levels you don’t have to eat too much fat for that, especially not during the bulk [ xxx ] . Coach and scientist Mike Israetel on this:
If you have a choice and your sex drive is good, your hormones are good (…), let’s layer in more carbs to meet your calorie goals – of course protein stays constant. [ xxx ]
In short, if building muscle is your goal, it’s better to go for ‘high carb, low fat’. A plausible philosophy that was previously propagated by one of Israel’s teachers, coach Broderick Chavez. He advises bodybuilders to eat a maximum of 1 g of fat per kg of body weight daily:
I find one gram per kilogram more than sufficient to get everything done and not particularly problematic. [ xxxii ]
Mike Israetel thinks you can even sit a little below that. He marks 0.7 g of fat per kg of body weight as the daily minimum [ xxxiii ] . His colleague Eric Trexler thinks you can get away with even 0.6 g [ xl ] .
As you can see, Israetel, Trexler and Chavez do not assume a percentage (energy percentages ) of fats, but grams per kilogram. According to Chavez, it doesn’t make sense to express macronutrients in percentages at all, as is usually done [ xxxiv ] . Yet you often hear the ‘40% rule’. It states that your daily intake of fats should cover about 40% of your maintenance level [ xxxix ]. To get the number of grams you have to divide that number by 9 (1 gram of fat provides 9 kcal). The outcome is often not very far from the 1 g/kg body weight. This is because a percentage of the maintenance level, especially for bodybuilders, makes much more sense than a percentage of the total calorie intake. Nevertheless, we find the ‘1 gram rule’ much more convenient to work with.
How much or how little fat you should eat also depends on your fat percentage. If that is low, for example around 10%, it is better to eat a little more fat than the 1 g/kg body weight. After all, you then have only a few fat reserves at your disposal. In overweight people, there is more than enough fat reserve, so that they can safely eat less fat than the aforementioned recommendations.
The ratio of carbohydrates and fats in a diet aimed at muscle growth has not been specifically studied. Coach and scientist Menno Henselmans, who is known as a supporter of ketogenic diets, therefore questions the ‘high carb, low fat’ approach [ xxxv ] . For example, the effect of insulin secretion due to high carbohydrate intake is relatively small [ xxxi ] . He also points out the importance of healthy hormone levels and the fact that high-fat diets work very well for some, including some bodybuilders.
Henselmans is also co-author of a scientific review that concludes on the basis of 49 studies that the amount of carbohydrates and fats does not matter much for strength training performance [ xliii ] . It also makes little difference for fat loss, according to the analysis by Examine.com [ xliv ] .
Our opinion? In the bulk, the division between carbohydrates and fats does not matter much, as long as you mainly eat healthy fats and no trans fats. In our experience, you would do well to eat as many carbohydrates as possible in the cut. You do this by observing the protein quota and by not eating more fats than necessary: between 0.5 and 1 g/kg/d.
For optimal muscle growth, it doesn’t matter how you divide your calories between carbohydrates and fats, especially not in the bulk. In the cut, like many renowned coaches, we prefer to eat a relatively large amount of carbohydrates, because carbohydrates are important for energy during training, as well as for other anabolic properties. Advice: eat 0.5-1 g of fat per kg of body weight per day in the cut, part of which is saturated fat. You can eat more fat in the bulk: assume 1-1.5 g/kg/d.
MUSCLE BUILDING MACROS
And so we arrive at the following winning numbers for muscle building (per day):
- calories: maintenance + 10-20 percent
- proteins: 1.6-2,2 g / kg body weight
- fat: 1-1.5 g / kg body weight (of which 25-50 percent saturated fat*)
- carbohydrates: the rest
* try to maintain a good balance between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for optimal hormone values, for example fifty-fifty
Example of a person of 75 kg body weight, with a maintenance level of 3000 kcal:
- calories : 3400 kcal
- proteins : 150 g (= 600 kcal**)
- fat : 75 g (= 675 kcal**)
- carbohydrates : 354 g (= 2125 kcal)
** 1 g protein provides 4 kcal, 1 g fat provides 9 kcal
Cutting is a different story, because then you no longer strive for muscle growth, but fat loss, while preserving muscle mass. For pure fat loss, there is something to be said for a ‘high fat’ or ketogenic approach. But because a bodybuilder, even in the cut, must continue to do intensive strength training, possibly with cardio added, we advise to continue to eat as many carbohydrates as possible.
In short, the following applies to cutting: keep your protein intake up to scratch (if necessary increase it slightly, to 1.8-2,7 g/kg/d) and maintain a minimum fat intake, 0.5 to 1 g/kg. So don’t cut more carbohydrates than necessary.
- calories : maintenance minus 20-25%
- proteins : 1.8-2.7 g per kg body weight
- fat : 0.5-1 g per kg body weight
- carbohydrates : the rest
Example of a person of 75 kg body weight, with a maintenance level of 3000 kcal:
- calories : 2400 kcal
- proteins : 165 g (= 660 kcal)
- fat : 52.5 g (= 472.5 kcal)
- carbohydrates : 316.88 g (= 1267.5 kcal)
During the cut, eat about 0.5 to 1 g fat per kg body weight per day. This way you keep your testosterone levels up, without having to cut carbohydrates too drastically.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE ALL THIS?
Yes, we are from the macro counting camp. Of course it does not come down to a calorie or gram more or less. In fact, it’s practically impossible to accurately calculate your calorie needs and intake. Still, a few hundred calories or a few tens of grams too much or too little can have a major impact on your results. Not in one day, but if you misjudge those nutritional values every day. We believe that is the main reason why many natural bodybuilders, even with well-programmed training, do not achieve optimal results.
As far as we’re concerned, it’s best to use a calorie app. Thanks to barcode scanners, they are super convenient and fast these days. We have had good experiences with Lifesum. You have to pay for detailed macro information, such as the distribution of saturated and unsaturated fats.
Use a daily calorie app to track your calorie and macronutrient intake.
Fat from food performs vital functions in our body. Fat does not necessarily make you fat: body fat is created by an excess of energy (calories), regardless of whether it comes from carbohydrates, proteins or fats.
Not all fats are healthy. Especially trans fats, which are found in snacks and to a lesser extent in (full) dairy products, are bad for the heart and blood vessels.
Saturated fats have also traditionally been known to be bad for blood cholesterol, but according to more recent insights this may not be the case. Cholesterol from food (for example from egg yolks) is also not harmful.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (including omega 3 and 6) are healthy, except as mentioned trans fats (which belong to the unsaturated fats).
Adequate intake of saturated and monounsaturated fat is important for healthy hormone levels, including testosterone levels.
The amount of body fat also influences the testosterone level. With a fat percentage between 8 and 15 percent, the testosterone levels in men are optimal.
For optimal muscle growth, it is probably best to eat a relatively large amount of carbohydrates instead of a relatively large amount of fat. Carbohydrates have better muscle building properties than fats.
Advice: eat 1-1.5 g of fat per kg of body weight per day, about half of which is saturated fat. Divide unsaturated fats evenly between simple and polyunsaturated fats. Also eat enough proteins (about 1.6 g/kg body weight), the rest are carbohydrates. All this with a calorie surplus of ~10% of your maintenance level.
- [ i ] https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/many-grams-fat-low-fat-diet-7157.html
- [ ii ] https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/recommended-amount-unsaturated-fat-per-day-6385.html
- [ iii ] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3
- [ iv ] http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/09/pracical-approach-to-omega-fats.html
- [ v ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219103
- [ vi ] https://www.gbhealthwatch.com/Science-Omega3-Omega6.php
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- [ viii ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22037012
- [ ix ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8857917
- [ x ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26109578
- [ xi ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7585286
- [ xii ] https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat
- [ xiii ] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900711003145
- [ xiv ] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-saturated-fat
- [ xv ] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saturated-fat-good-or-bad
- [ xvi ] https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2018/12/14/pas-op-voor-saturated-vet-in-het-pioppi-dieet-a3060680
- [ xvii ] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6416/764
- [ xviii ] https://youtu.be/25RQ2nSqUAI?t=196
- [ xix ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6298507
- [ xx ] https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/63/11/1260/759439
- [ xxi ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19130109
- [ xxii ] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20050857
- [ xxiii ] https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/dietary-saturated-fats-eat
- [ xxiv ] http://www.m10fitness.co.uk/articles/fat-loss/high-body-fat-and-low-testosterone-in-men
- [ xxv ] https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/15-negative-effects-having-low-body-fat-percentage/
- [ xxvi ] https://youtu.be/25RQ2nSqUAI?t=60
- [ xxvii ] https://youtu.be/NQS-bhb_vk8?t=2200
- [ xxviii ] https://www.verywellfit.com/sports-nutrition-how-fat-provides-energy-for-exercise-3120664
- [ xxix ] http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Abstract/2014/06000/The_Muscle_Pump___Potential_Mechanisms_and.11.aspx
- [ xxx ] https://youtu.be/NQS-bhb_vk8?t=2241
- [ xxxii ] https://youtu.be/HZWtfOLzRDk?t=1212
- [ xxxiii ] https://idealnutrition.com.au/mike-israetel-interview/
- [ xxxiv ] https://youtu.be/HZWtfOLzRDk?t=1089
- [ xxxv ] https://youtu.be/5Keqzx1G1rY
- [ xxxvi ] https://youtu.be/5Keqzx1G1rY?t=1460
- [ xxxvii ] https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/omega-3.aspx
- [ xxxviii ] https://youtu.be/S2Smv6UKbgs?t=291
- [ xxxix ] https://youtu.be/BVIHnPQGsqY?t=1627
- [ xl ] https://youtu.be/9X_66lkCNdI?t=3343