40/30/30 Macros: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic Macro Split

Section Summary
A Brief History of the 40/30/30 Macros Overview of the 40/30/30 macro split’s origin, starting from bodybuilders in the 1970s to its popularization by Dr. Sears
Calculating Your Calorie and Macronutrient Needs Instructions on calculating daily calorie and macro needs based on gender, age, activity level, and goals
Choosing the Best Carb Sources Explains the importance of choosing nutritious carb sources and timing intake around workouts
Choosing the Right Protein Sources Details the significance of protein intake and suggests various protein sources
Selecting the Best Fat Sources Highlights the role of fats and lists recommended sources, emphasizing unsaturated fats
Sample Meal Plans for the 40/30/30 Macros Provides sample meal plans at different calorie levels with food suggestions for each meal
Benefits of the 40/30/30 Macros Lists advantages of the 40/30/30 macro split, including muscle preservation, energy, and body composition benefits
Tips for Success and Sustainability Offers practical tips for implementing and sustaining the 40/30/30 macros, including tracking and meal prep
Sample Recipes for the 40/30/30 Macros Presents sample recipes designed to fit the 40/30/30 macro split
40/30/30 Macros – Proven Macro Nutrition Concludes the article by highlighting the effectiveness, versatility, and sustainability of the 40/30/30 macros


The 40/30/30 macros refer to a specific ratio of macronutrients – 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fats. This balanced macro split has become one of the most well-known and recommended approaches for those looking to build muscle, lose fat, or simply eat healthier.

The term “macros” refers to macronutrients – the main nutrients that provide calories, including protein, carbs, and fat. Tracking macros involves paying attention to the grams of each that you eat per day, rather than just overall calories.

While the 40/30/30 macros have been popularized by bodybuilders and fitness models seeking a lean, muscular physique, this macro ratio can also be utilized by regular gym-goers and individuals looking to lose weight, gain energy, or improve health. When combined with exercise, these macros provide a great nutritional framework without needing to strictly count every calorie.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to successfully implement the 40/30/30 macros, including:

  • The history and origins of the 40/30/30 macro ratio
  • How to calculate your calorie and macro needs
  • Which foods to eat and avoid for each macronutrient
  • Sample meal plans and recipes based on the macros
  • The benefits of 40/30/30 for health, fitness, and body composition
  • Tips for sustainability and customizing the macros to your needs

Ready to master the 40/30/30 macros? Let’s dive in.


A Brief History of the 40/30/30 Macros

While it’s unclear who originally came up with the exact 40/30/30 macro split, the general practice of tracking macros has been around since at least the 1970s. During this decade, bodybuilders began carefully tracking their intake of protein, carbs, and fat with the goal of fueling muscle gains while keeping body fat low.

The 40/30/30 ratio itself was popularized in the fitness community by legendary bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman in the 1990s. Coleman advocated these macros to support intense weight training and building his famously hulking, muscular physique.

The macros gained mainstream popularity in the early 2000s when Dr. Barry Sears utilized a 40/30/30 split in his famous Zone Diet. While the Zone Diet was originally developed for heart health and weight loss, the macro ratio aligned well with fitness goals too. Books by Dr. Sears brought the 40/30/30 split into public consciousness.

Since then, these macros have become a mainstay of pop culture fitness, referenced by celebrities, athletes, trainers, and nutrition gurus. They remain one of the most well-known and sustainable macro splits for achieving body composition goals.


Calculating Your Calorie and Macronutrient Needs

To follow the 40/30/30 macros correctly, you’ll first need to calculate your total daily calorie needs along with the grams of protein, carbs, and fat that will make up those calories. This requires factoring in variables like your:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Height/weight
  • Activity level
  • Goals (maintain, lose fat, gain muscle etc)

Luckily, there are many macro calculators available online that simplify this process. You input your stats and goal, and they provide your total calorie needs plus the gram amounts of each macro to hit the 40/30/30 ratio.

For example, a 30-year-old male who is 6’0, 180 pounds, lifts 4x a week and wants to maintain his weight/physique would need around 2,700 calories per day, broken down into:

  • 270g protein (1080 calories)
  • 135g fat (1215 calories)
  • 337g carbs (1350 calories)

This provides the optimal fuel and macronutrients to support his training while keeping his current body composition.

If your goal is fat loss, reduce total calories while keeping the macro ratio the same. For muscle gain, increase total calories with more calories from protein. The calculator adjusts your macros accordingly. Re-calculate every 4-6 weeks as your stats and goals change.


Choosing the Best Carb Sources

Carbs make up 40% of calories on the 40/30/30 macros, so it’s crucial to choose nutritious sources to fuel workouts and recovery. Some top choices include:

  • Whole grains – Brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole grain pasta
  • Starchy vegetables – Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, winter squash
  • Legumes – Lentils, beans, chickpeas
  • Fruits – Berries, apples, bananas, citrus fruits
  • Low-fat dairy – Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese

Opt for less processed carbs when possible, like steel-cut oats instead of instant. Limit refined carbs like chips, baked goods, and sugary drinks. Time your carb intake strategically around workouts to maximize performance and recovery.


Choosing the Right Protein Sources

Protein makes up 30% of calories in the 40/30/30 macros. Getting enough high-quality protein helps build and preserve metabolically active muscle mass when combined with strength training.

Some excellent protein sources to rotate include:

  • Lean meats – Chicken, turkey, 93% lean beef, pork
  • Fish – Salmon, cod, tuna, shrimp
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Greek yogurt
  • Protein powders – Whey, casein, plant-based

Whey protein is ideal for before/after workouts due to its quick absorption. Casein digests slower, making it a good nighttime protein source. Spread out protein intake over 3-5 meals per day.


Selecting the Best Fat Sources

Don’t fear fats – they play an essential role in health and hormones. But focus on unsaturated fats from whole food sources like:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Full-fat salad dressings
  • Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
  • Whole eggs
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt

Limit intake of processed foods containing trans and hydrogenated fats. Pay attention to the source and type of fat rather than fearing the amount.


Sample Meal Plans for the 40/30/30 Macros

Here are some sample meal plans at different calorie levels to give you ideas for implementing the 40/30/30 macros:

2,000 calories:


  • 3 egg omelet with veggies and cheese
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Slice of whole grain toast


  • Chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, avocado
  • Apple
  • Carrot sticks


  • 4oz salmon
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup broccoli


  • Trail mix
  • Whey protein shake
  • 1 oz mixed nuts

2,500 calories:


  • Protein smoothie with banana, peanut butter, milk, protein powder
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Toast


  • Beef taco salad with lettuce, salsa, cheese, rice
  • Orange


  • Chicken breast
  • Sweet potato
  • Green beans
  • Salad with dressing


  • Cottage cheese
  • Protein bar
  • Apple with peanut butter

3,000 calories:


  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Oatmeal with protein powder, almond butter, and milk


  • Salmon
  • Brown rice
  • Vegetables


  • Steak
  • Baked potato
  • Salad
  • Quinoa


  • Trail mix
  • Protein shake
  • Rice cakes with almond butter

Adjust serving sizes to meet your calorie and macro goals. Use these meal plans as a starting point!


Benefits of the 40/30/30 Macros

There are many excellent reasons this macro split has stood the test of time, including:

  • Maximizes muscle protein synthesis when combined with strength training. The high protein intake preserves and builds muscle.
  • Provides carbs to fuel tough workouts and replenish muscle glycogen.
  • Includes sufficient healthy fats to balance hormones for efficient fat burning.
  • Keeps you feeling fuller compared to low fat/high carb diets. Protein and fats are very satiating.
  • Eliminates the need for strict calorie counting. Flexible meal plans are more sustainable.
  • Supports simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain or maintenance. This sculpts an athletic physique.
  • Customizable based on individual carb and fat preferences. There is room for modifications.

This time-tested macro ratio supplies the ideal nutrition for performance, recovery, body composition, and health. It’s easy to see why it remains so popular.


Tips for Success and Sustainability

Here are some tips to help you implement the 40/30/30 macros successfully over the long haul:

  • Use a macro tracking app to easily monitor your daily totals. MyFitnessPal makes it simple.
  • Meal prep healthy, macro-friendly meals and snacks for the week ahead of time.
  • Stay hydrated with water and unsweetened drinks instead of sugary beverages.
  • Incorporate “free foods” like mustard, hot sauce, and seasonings for flavor.
  • Build meals with a fist-sized protein, cupped handful of carbs, and a thumb of fat.
  • Allow yourself a small daily treat in moderation. Balance is key for sustainability.
  • Adjust carb timing and overall calories if you hit plateaus.
  • Re-calculate macros every 4-6 weeks as your stats change.
  • Don’t stress about occasional indulgences. Just get back on track at your next meal.

Stick with the proven 40/30/30 macro framework while implementing these tips for lasting success.


Sample Recipes for the 40/30/30 Macros

You can adapt almost any healthy recipe to fit these macros. But here are some delicious recipes specifically designed for 40/30/30:

Shrimp Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

  • Riced cauliflower
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Avocado oil
  • Eggs, whisked
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Frozen peas
  • Soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil

directions: Cook shrimp in oil 2 min per side. Set aside. Cook cauliflower 5 min until tender. Push to the side, scramble eggs in pan. Mix together cauliflower, shrimp, eggs, garlic, onion, peas. Season with soy, sriracha, sesame.

Per serving: Calories: 290 Protein: 27g
Carbs: 17g Fat: 13g

Baked Chicken Zucchini Pasta

  • Zucchini noodles
  • Cooked shredded chicken
  • Marinara sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning

Directions: Top zucchini noodles with chicken, marinara and cheese. Bake 15 min at 400F until heated through.

Per serving: Calories: 400 Protein: 50g Carbs: 15g
Fat: 16g

Superfood Protein Smoothie

  • Almond milk
  • Protein powder
  • Greek yogurt
  • Banana
  • Spinach
  • Almond butter
  • Chia seeds
  • Cocoa powder
  • Ice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Per serving: Calories: 430 Protein: 35g Carbs: 33g Fat: 20g

The 40/30/30 macros allow for many delicious, macro-friendly recipes to fuel your goals!


40/30/30 Macros – Proven Macro Nutrition

If you want a simple yet effective diet approach for fitness and health, the 40/30/30 macros check all the boxes. With proper calorie and macro calculations, smart nutrition choices, and strategic meal timing, you can’t go wrong following this balanced macro framework.

While fad diets will come and go, this classic protein/carb/fat ratio has stood the test of time thanks to its versatility, sustainability, and undisputed results. Don’t be afraid to eat nutrient-dense carbs, healthy fats, and ample protein. Combined in the easy-to-follow 40/30/30 ratio, you have dietary success.



What are macros in nutrition?

Macros, short for macronutrients, are the main nutrients that provide calories in our diet. They include protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

What is the 40/30/30 macro ratio?

The 40/30/30 macro ratio refers to a balanced distribution of calories from macronutrients – 40% from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fats. It’s commonly used for various fitness and health goals.

How do I calculate my calorie and macro needs for the 40/30/30 macros?

You can use online macro calculators that take into account factors like your gender, age, weight, activity level, and goals. These calculators provide the recommended calorie intake along with the grams of each macronutrient to achieve the 40/30/30 ratio.


Contact Lean Lifestyle for Help!

Visit Lean Lifestyle to learn more, chef-prepared and delivered fresh to your door.