Christine Envall Female Bodybuilder Australia


Diets and fashion have a lot in common.  Like fashion, there has been a huge variety of styles come and go over the years, some of which seem to return every so often.  People will embrace the latest trend, no matter how ridiculous it seems.  There is always an "old favourite" that appealed more than the others that make us feel comfortable and confident.   And as with fashion, trends change quickly, but you can't go wrong with a classic.

The last few years has been no exception, bringing a range of diets, some old, some re-vamped and some new, but unlike fashion, when it comes to diet, there is a right and wrong.  That is not saying there is just one correct diet, simply that certain dietary principles are dictated by our physiology in the same way that one plus one will always equal two.  Our body will always need water, protein, fats, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

The ratio in which the body needs these main nutrients will vary depending on what you are trying to achieve, i.e. muscle gain, fat loss, how you go about it with respect to exercise and your health status, i.e. diabetes, heart health.

Firstly, how do you calculate the ratio of fat, protein, carbohydrate and fibre?

Take your total daily energy intake (E).  I use calories, simply because the numbers are smaller and easier to calculate in my head, but kJís are just fine.

Lets say E = 2000

If you want 35% of your diet to be protein, multiply E % protein you want.  Remember, 35% = 35/100 = 0.35

2000 x 0.35 = 700 (Calories from Protein)

This is how many calories per day you need to get from protein.  To work out how many grams of protein you need, divide the number of Calories from Protein by the number of calories in one gram of protein. 

Since protein has 4 calories per gram,

700/4 = 175g 

This is the number of grams of protein you need per day so that 35% of your daily energy intake is made up from protein.  If you wanted 35% carbs, you would need 175g carbs per day, but if you wanted 35% fat, you would need:

700/9 = 77.7 (78g) per day. 

NOTE:  Remember too, that this means actual grams of protein, fat or carbs, not of food.  If chicken is 20% protein, 100g will provide 20g protein, so you would need 875g chicken to provide the 175g of protein you require for the day.



Protein = 4 calories per g

Fat = 9 calories per g

Carbs = 4 calories per g

Fibre = 2 calories per g



If you are looking for a good dietary profile to follow to maintain good general health, an excellent place to start would be:

(35 - 40):(30 -35):(20 -25):(5 -8) carbs:protein:fat:fibre

These macro-nutrient ratios are very balanced and it should be possible to obtain all the necessary micro-nutrients without excess calories to cause weight gain. 

This particular profile provides plenty of carbohydrate for energy and brain function.  To further enhance health, it is recommended that the majority of carbohydrates eaten have a low Glycemic Index (GI).  Choosing Low GI Carbs will also make it easy to get the required amount of fibre for this nutritional profile.

Fat intake is moderate, ensuring the diet is more than palatable for long periods of time.  Care should be taken to keep saturated and trans fats to < 20% of total fat intake.

Protein intake is high enough to provide recovery and repair for even the hardest training athlete.



The key to fat loss is consuming less energy than you burn.  As fibre has the lowest energy value of all the macro-nutrients, increasing fibre in the diet will help to reduce itís energy density.  Fibre also helps keep you feeling fuller longer.

A good fat loss diet would have ratioís like this: 

(35 -40):(30 -35):(15 -20):(10 -12) carbs:protein:fat:fibre.

Reducing fat (high energy density) with low energy density fibre will dramatically reduce the energy content of the diet without compromising protein or carbs for energy and repair.  Ensure the fats you do consume contain Essential Omega 3 fats, preferably from fish like tuna or salmon.



Gaining good quality muscle requires extra calories and protein.  It can often be hard to consume the volume of food needed to gain muscle, so a slight reduction in fibre can assist with this.  A good dietary profile for muscle gain would be:

(35 -40):(35 -40):(22 -27):(3 -5) carbs:protein:fat:fibre

Keeping a good level of carbohydrate in the diet provides energy for high intensity training required to catalyse muscle growth. Carbs and fat also help to spare protein, leaving the protein to be utilised for muscle recovery, repair and growth.  A basic amount of fibre helps keep the digestive system healthy so it can assimilate the nutrients required for optimal muscle growth.



Low Carb diets gained popularity recently for their ability to promote rapid weight loss.  Low Carb diets have their place in some specific circumstances, particularly for obese people with life threatening health conditions who need to lose weight rapidly to bring these health markers back into normal range.

For people who exercise, cutting carbs cuts out the fuel the body uses for activity and brain function, leading to loss of physical and mental performance.  Cutting carbs also forces the body to use protein as an energy source and the risk is loss of lean body mass as well as fat.  Dropping carbs below 30% of the diet is not advisable.

Another thing to avoid is dropping fat to too low a level.  Less than 10% fat in the diet can compromise cell membranes, nerve coverings, digestive secretions and most importantly, hormone production.  When fat levels in the diet are low, consuming essential omega fatty acids becomes even more critical.   

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