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Macro-Nutrient Manipulation


The macro-nutrient manipulation nutrition plan has been developed over the course of many years, using trial and error coupled with a great deal of research and a dose of good old common sense. As stated, the macro-nutrients are composed of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We have already discussed each in detail, giving you a firm idea of why each is important to our ongoing success. Reducing levels of carbohydrates initiates a number of reactions that favour fat burning, while urging the body to use fat as a fuel rather than glucose. When using a low carbohydrate approach to planning meals, our bodies release hormones that raise blood-sugar levels. Epinephrine from the adrenal glands and Glucagon from the pancreas are released. This prompts the liver to break down stored sugars and releases them into the blood stream as glucose. These two hormones stimulate a condition referred to as lipolysis, or the breakdown of fat from fat cells. Keep in mind that fat cells are made up of glycerol and fatty acids. These fatty acids are freed as a direct result of the low blood sugar levels brought on by low carbohydrate diets. These fatty acids can be used by muscles for energy. Glycerol can be converted to glucose in the liver to feed our vital organs. As you can see, fat can be converted to EFA's or protein. If we reduce the levels of our body's preferred energy source, the body creates its own sugars.

One drawback to the low carbohydrate approach to dieting was always attributed to muscle loss encouraged during periods of carbohydrate restriction. Insulin is needed to drive amino acids into the muscle for recovery. Experts have always stated that this was one of the biggest pitfalls of low carbohydrate dieting. Two recent studies provide answers to the nay sayers of the low carbohydrate diet.

Recently, a group of experts from Ball State University conducted a study in which 10 men were placed on a low carbohydrate diet for six weeks. The subjects of the study continued with their exercise programs in order to maintain muscle mass. At the conclusion of the six week study, the subjects had lost nearly six pounds of weight, 10 pounds of fat and gained nearly 3 pounds of lean muscle.

A recent study from the University of Illinois evaluated the difference between high protein and high carbohydrate diets on lean muscle mass and fat loss. 24 women between the ages of 45 and 56 years of age were tested, all of whom where between 10-30% above their ideal weight. These women had been following a typical North American diet. The women were to consume 1,600 calories each day, along with 50 grams of fat. The only variable was the ratio of protein to carbohydrates.

After 10 weeks the high protein group showed slightly greater weight loss than the high carbohydrate group. The significant difference was that the high protein group lost 18% more body fat than the high carbohydrate group. The women using the high protein diet were also able to hold onto 27% more of their existing muscle mass. Another point of interest is that the high protein group maintained higher levels of thyroid hormones and high resting metabolic rates.

The next topic of discussion is that of ketones. We have looked at ketones and their role in the success of the low carbohydrate approach to dieting. Once our body has used most of its stored glycogen, it goes looking for other sources of fuel. With the macronutrient manipulation diet plan, we take the steps necessary to ensure that this alternate energy source is body fat.

It takes between two and four days, depending on size and activity level, to use up our body's carbohydrate stores. At this point your body will begin to use body fat as a fuel and body protein, or muscle. As stated in the studies above, a high protein diet in addition to low carbohydrates, all but eliminates muscle wasting. Ketones are formed as a by-product of fat breakdown. Ketones then begin to leak out of the liver into the bloodstream and are excreted in the urine.

Ketones can be used by both the brain and our muscles for fuel. Ketones spare the body from having to produce so much glucose from body protein, thus, actively sparing muscle.

In this chapter, you will be able to choose from two methods of figuring out your daily caloric intake. Both include your current body fat percentage. You can use skin fold callipers, electrical impedance or any convenient method of measurement. Those of you who are really aware of your body fat percentage can make an educated guess. Estimates within 2-3% will be fine for our purposes. You may wonder why this is important. We do not want to feed our stored body fat. We obviously want to lose it. This extra Adipose tissue was stored, at least in part, due to extra caloric consumption. When figuring out our daily caloric needs, we use lean body mass (LBM) rather than your sheer weight. Feed what we want to keep and build upon, and not what we wish to be rid of.

You may use the formula below or use the chart outlined on page (__). If you use the chart, use the 100% of daily caloric intake number. Keep in mind that you are using LBM and height to get your daily caloric intake, not your weight. If you have used the chart, skip directly to step 3.


What, When & How Much To Eat
(Muscle and Fitness, August 1998. "The No Meal Diet" by Chris Aceto)


The first thing you must do is establish how many meals a day you can eat.

Step 1:
Establish meal frequency. For example, if you wake up at 6 a.m. and eat every two hours, you can fit nine meals into your day if you go to bed at 10 p.m.

Step 2:
Find the amount of calories you need at rest in a 24-hour period. This is often referred to as your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

To find your BMR: Example:
A) Take your bodyweight 200 pounds
B) Determine your percentage of body fat 12%


You can use skin fold callipers, electrical impedance or any other method of measurement. Those really in tune with their bodies can even use an educated guess. Estimates within 2-3% will still work well with this formula.
C) Find your lean body mass (LBM) To do this, multiply your bodyweight be your percent of body fat (represented decimally).
D) Subtract the product of Step C from your bodyweight in Step A. This represents your lean body mass (LBM). 200 - 24 = 176
E) Move the decimal of your LBM one place to the right. 176 to 1,760
This gives you the number of daily calories your body needs to maintain itself at rest. In our example, 1,760 calories per day is a fairly accurate metabolism.

Step 3:
We must then determine how many grams of each macro nutrient you must consume.

Protein - you must achieve 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Not LBM, as with calories, but weight. Reason being, we want to ensure adequate intake of protein. ie) 200 x 1.5 = 300 grams of protein per day Multiply 300 grams of protein by four (calories per gram of protein) = 1200 calories from protein. That leaves us with 560 calories left to consume (total calories minus calories from protein)

Carbohydrates - we want to keep carbohydrate intake between 60 and 100 grams per day. 60 is optimum, so we will use it for our example. ie) 60 grams of carbohydrates x 4 calories per gram = 240 calories from carbs *remember that this does not include free foods from vegetables. This leaves us with 320 calories to be derived from fat (560 - 240).

Fat - The fats will be made up from protein sources and healthful fats ingested, such as extra virgin olive oil or peanut butter. To figure out your fat intake in grams, simply divide 320 by 9 (calories per gram of fat) = 36 grams of fat to be taken in each day.

Step 4: Determine meal frequency. If you are going to ingest 5 meals, simply divide your daily macronutrient grams by 5.
ie) protein - 300 divided by 5 = 60, or 60 grams of protein per meal.
ie) carbohydrates - 60 divided by 5 = 12, or 12 grams of carbohydrates per meal.
I would consider changing this to higher levels over two or three meals, which will be much more satisfying.
ie) fats - 36 divided by 5 = 7. Again, this may not be accurate in that a protein shake contains no fats, while a can of salmon has 11 grams of fat. These are rough estimates. Be sure to spread your protein evenly throughout the day. Aside from that, be sure to take in the required calories, fats and carbohydrates.

As stated, this is a cyclical diet. You will follow the latter macronutrient configuration for 5.5 days and then do an about face, increasing your carbohydrate intake while dropping protein and fat intake. I always follow this approach from Sunday through Friday after work or school. I would then increase my carbohydrates for Friday until bed and all day Saturday, getting right back to the low carbohydrate approach on Sunday.

This is quite simple to do. We want to drop our protein to one gram per pound of LBM. 176 x 1 = 176 grams of protein. We want to increase our carbohydrates to 3 grams per pound of bodyweight, 200 x 3 = 600 grams of carbohydrates. As well, we want to drop fats as low as possible. The key is to choose lean protein sources and eliminate intake of extra healthful fats of the day and a half of high carbohydrate intake. You will also note your caloric totals will go up during this phase. That is fine. Your body will use the extra calories to boost your resting metabolic rate. If your caloric intake is kept too low for too long, your metabolism will slow to a crawl. This surge in calories will counteract this phenomenon, giving your metabolism a weekly kick in the pants.

You will note an increase in muscle fullness and perhaps an increase in water retention. Do not be alarmed by this. The water will be held under the skin, blurring definition. It is not an increase in weight on the scale. This is normal, healthy and desired. This is a combination of water retention and glycogen retention.

You may wonder why you have to increase carbohydrates for that day and a half. The most important reason is to keep the level of ketones in your blood at the moderate level. High levels of ketones over a prolonged period of time will lead to muscle wasting. The high carbohydrate days also enable your body to replenish depleted glycogen stores, warding off muscle loss. In addition to these benefits, consider this a day and a half to be a welcome reward. Have your rice, pasta, bread, cereal or potatoes. Giving your body fuel will give your mind a rest. Indulge in that craving for toast or pasta. Not only is it satisfying, it is good for you. Just a reminder, since you will be switching to high carbohydrates after work on Friday, you will need to consume half of the amount of carbohydrates that you will consume on Saturday. Our 200 lb individual would consume 600 grams of carbohydrates on Saturday, thus, only 300 grams on Friday after work.

Some may wish to take their high carbohydrate days on Saturday until mid afternoon on Sunday. As long as you take one and half high carbohydrate days out of a seven day cycle, you can do them whenever it is convenient for you.
1) 5.5 days of high protein, low carbohydrates
2) 1.5 days of moderate protein, low fat, and high carbohydrates
3) always drink plenty of fluids
4) adjust your macronutrient intake levels as your LBM or weight changes
5) feed LMB, not weight or fat
6) Eat plenty of "free foods"
7) Do not feel guilty during high carbohydrate days, as you are not getting fat on these days.

Followed correctly, the macronutrient manipulation diet plan is simple, easy to follow, and extremely effective for fat loss. In conjunction with your Shape-Training program, and a quality aerobic activity schedule, you will reach your goals in record time.

Start with the 14-day shape-up and then move into the macronutrient manipulation plan. Stick with it until you have reached your goal. Once your goal has been reached, set another one and continue to strive toward future success. Focus determines your reality. Focus on your goals and they will ultimately equal success beyond your wildest dreams.