Nutrition Articles

Healthy Carb, Fat and Protein Ranges

The Numbers You Need to Know

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"Help, I am way over in protein!"
"I’m not meeting my fat goal. Is this a problem?"
"How many carbohydrates should I be eating?"

Based on years of research that examined the relationship between nutrient intake and disease prevention, generally-accepted ranges have been established for carbohydrates, fat and protein intake. These healthy ranges also help to ensure that a person is getting a sufficient intake of other essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The recommendations are:
  • 45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates.
  • 20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat.
  • 10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein*.
The SparkDiet takes a middle-of-the-road approach with these ranges. Our specific breakdown is approximately 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 20% protein, all of which fall into the healthy ranges above. *Because our members are striving to meet weight loss goals through calorie restriction, we also recommend a minimum level of protein—at least 60 grams daily for females and 75 grams daily for males. This requirement will help prevent muscle loss and promote feelings of fullness among dieters. Both your Nutrition Tracker and the chart below reflect this recommendation.

Your intake of carbohydrates, fat and protein may be somewhat higher or lower than the SparkDiet recommendations, due to your taste preferences, cooking style, culture, fitness routine, health conditions and day-to-day changes in diet. Does that mean that your intake is bad or dangerous? No!
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I fought and was miserable and fat trying to follow low fat high carb guidelines for most of my life. Now I am eating low carb high fat , no grain, and no processed foods. I have dropped 50 lbs. In 4 months, I feel great, my blood pressure is down, and blood sugar is normal, and I am happy and satisfied! So my diet is more like 60% good fats (no trans fats, or seed oils), 25% highest quality protein I can afford, and 15% nutrient dense carbs, lots of spinach, and kale..

    So I have to agree, current research is showing Ancel Keys (the guy who did observational studies and led us down this low fat /high carb path) was wrong!
    Glad to see so many other low carbers are here giving testimony, so maybe the word is out, and others won't suffer into their 60's as I have.
    You know America started getting really obese when we started following the low fat guidelines in the the late 70s, and big food jumped on board in the 80's. - 5/6/2016 10:15:28 AM
  • I'm surprised by this as both my endocrinologist and cardiologist are trying very hard to get their patients to eat more protein and less carbs. I started in February substantially upping my protein and deleting carbs. I am now at the point where I eat whole wheat bread products and almost no white products except occasional rice. Most of my meals consist of lean meat and veggies, fruits and peanut butter. If I do have carbs, I limit them to one or two servings. For breakfast, I use low carb protein shakes and fruit or wheat toast if I'm really hungry. After I broke my carb addiction, I'm amazed at how good I feel. I'm not hungry all the time and my blood sugars are normal and stable. Keep your carbs, I prefer protein anyday. - 4/22/2016 5:22:36 PM
  • DTRAD7
    For me, I talked to my Doctor. We agreed on a healthy diet of normal food - limited processed food, good fats, carbs, and protein. I can't afford grass-fed stuff or organic all the time - I want to be normal after having suffered with bulimia and anorexia for most of my adult life. I needed to do what was right for me, and I've lost 54 lbs since March 2015, with 8 lbs to go until I reach my goal. There are many roads on this journey, so whichever road you choose, don't wreck your health while you're on your way. Do what is best for YOU! - 4/14/2016 1:35:50 PM
  • The latest books that I'm referencing are Dr. Hyman, Eat Fat, Get Thin and Dr. Ludwig Always Hungry. Those only name a few, but there are tons of recent studies that for a healthy diet it should include at least 50% good fat, lower carbs (I don't remember a number), and reasonable protein 70-100 grams. All the low fat products replace fat with carbs/sugar to maintain a good taste, so I have learned that if I'm going to eat a product, I eat the full fat version (mayo, cream cheese, cheeses). I take a good Omega balanced oil and coconut oil daily because of recent research touting their benefits. - 4/12/2016 4:10:04 PM
  • Some of the latest research is showing that higher fat and lower carbs are the preferred diet even for those with Diabetes. Researchers at Harvard and the Cleveland Clinic have tons of evidence for this. Fats 50% or more is preferred. Can you provide an updated article, please. - 4/11/2016 9:16:39 AM
  • DOROTHY5445
    I have now have diabetes. I need all the help I can get. - 3/24/2016 10:04:37 PM
  • I guess it was inevitable that this common-sense article would inspire comments by people who think low-carb is the only way to go, and that Taubes is always right. Neither is the case, and there are rational, well-researched arguments for both low-fat and low-carb ways of eating. Your own choice depends on a multitude of factors. But I admit I get annoyed when I see people post as though there's only one way to do it 'right'. - 2/21/2016 12:00:49 PM
  • Jannebarn I have seen numerous comments from you before. Why are you on Sparkpeople at all if your constantly complaining about the info here? Find another program for you to follow that you can agree with. Just saying. - 2/3/2016 12:01:03 AM
  • When will Beck Hand ever join the 21st century and wake up to the fact that carbs are not the answer? And healthy fats do NOT clog arteries. Calcium can, though, if you re low in magnesium. And canola oil is not healthy, it's an over-processed vegetable oil very high in omega 6 which we already get too much of in our diet. Want to lose weight? Ditch all grains, eat lots of healthy fats, grass-fed pastured meats, wild fish and lots of veggies and - 1/8/2016 10:55:32 AM
  • I have to eat low carb. Almost no sugar, flour, any starchy foods. High protein, low carb, normal fat. All healthy fats. Lost 200 lbs on this plan, maintained 180 lbs lost for 4 years.
    No fake foods, natural, regular food.
    I think the reason women have trouble losing and keeping weight off is they are recommended to eat more food, especially carbs,'
    But that's my and my Doctors thought.
    Whatever works for a person.
    - 11/10/2015 5:56:37 PM
    I see afew comments about low fat ,well depending on where you are ,I do agree that low fat intake tend to push you toward more carbs,but I have recently been toldI have CAD ,and from what I gather its due to fat that comes from animal protiens,and milk meat fish chicken etc etc, so if you are doing a high protien diet and those proties are coming from meat fish cheken etc etc animal protiens,dont forget the fat comes with it that clogs artieries - 10/12/2015 3:41:45 AM
  • Carbs not good for us diabetics--I am very sensitive to carbs, so must keep them down; 60% sends my sugars soaring, 50% is much better. 8-) - 10/8/2015 1:49:23 PM
  • I hate that carbs get such a bad rap. Eating a plant based diet means eating a carb rich diet. Carbs are not the enemy. Eating highly refined is a recipe for weight gain but protein rich carbs like beans are nutritionally dense and should be incorporated in menu planning. - 9/29/2015 6:05:58 AM
  • "Based on years of research..." --- Please consider listing the sources you are referring to. - 9/22/2015 8:00:07 AM
  • Low carb works for this carb addict (me) - I lost 130 pounds between 2006 and 2009. I've maintained 120 pounds of that since 2009 (so about 6 years). Low carb was and is the easiest way for me. It's not for everyone, I understand, but for me it's what keeps me feeling good (fewer blood sugar swings and fewer issues with craving).

    Note: If you think you want to try low carb (or want motivation to keep going on low carb), a great book is 'Living Low Carb...' by Jonny Bowden. It's a good (though long) book about why the high carb diet was mistakenly pushed on the American public and includes much information about various diets. It doesn't say 'one diet fits all' the way this article does. It talks about individual differences and groups of differences.

    - 9/22/2015 7:55:46 AM

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