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I was wondering if macronutrient distribution is an effective method of achieving one’s desired weight. A calculator indicated that my daily caloric intake of about 1,500 calories should be split almost equally between protein, carbohydrates, and fats (about 130 g protein, 130 g carbohydrates, and 50 g fats). I am a 23-year-old female that exercises about 4 times a week, and my macronutrient recommendations are counter-intuitive to what I’ve learned in school about RDAs. What is the health significance of increasing protein while decreasing carbohydrate intake? – Star


The effectiveness of equally distributing calories among the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) percentages depends on how radically different that is from your previous intake pattern. As far as your individual macronutrient targets, the distribution of 35% protein, 35% carbohydrate and 30% fat is not out of line as part of a healthy weight loss plan.

With any program one is arduously following to attain target numbers, I will say that the initial process of meticulously weighing and tracking everything you eat and drink is sure to affect a reduction in calories, regardless of the energy or macronutrient gram goals.  If that plan is flexible in occasionally allowing favorite foods, encourages fluid and fiber intake, and doesn’t demonize carbohydrates than it has bonus points in my book.

The health impact of increasing protein while decreasing carbohydrate intake (given calories are stable) is that one feels fuller longer – to a point. If protein replaces all carbohydrate, one can feel run-down and depleted during exercise due to a lack of readily available energy. Since you exercise regularly, I wouldn’t advise a further decrease in carbohydrates beyond your stated goal, which is already at the minimum recommended by the US National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate. Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2005).

Check out some of our other articles right here at LIVING HEALTHY for more tips on reducing body fat percentage.

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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