Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

Distributing daily calories into different groups of food

If you followed our last week’s article titled “How many calories do I need per day to lose weight?”, then you should be able to determine your daily calories intake to reach certain physique goals by now. The next step will be how to turn this number (it could be from 1300 kcal to 2800 kcal or more) into the food that’s available in Palau and accessible to you.

First of all, we have to have some knowledge on the three major nutrients (Macronutrients) – Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats. These are the nutrients that provide us energy (Calories); vitamins, minerals (Micronutrients) and water don’t produce calories but they’re fairly important to maintain our body function (we can have a separate section to talk about how they work as a crucial part in our body next time).

When we consume food, different groups of food have different amount of macronutrients that provide us calories. For example,

  • 1 serving of rice (which is around 1/3 cup) contains approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein and a trace of fat.
  • 1 serving of fish (which is around 1 ounce) contains approximately 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat and a trace of carbohydrate.

A little insight →What happens after we eat?

While the food enters our body, it will work hard to break these macronutrients into smaller molecules such as amino acids, glucose, and triglycerides either to be used as fuel, store them for later use, or for other function.

  • Proteins are broken down as amino acid and are mostly taken to build bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. 1 gram of protein provides 4 kcal.
  • Carbohydrates are broken down as simple sugar(glucose) to provide energy to cells in the body, particularly the brain. One gram of carbohydrate provides 4 kcal.
  • Fats are broken down as triglycerides to synthesize hormones or to store as fat cells. During fasting periods, fat cells are taken out as fuel to burn. One gram of fat provides 9 kcal.

So now you know the calories each macronutrient provides. Take a quick review:

The next step would be to decide what are the percentage of each macronutrient should be. Below are some examples of different diet plans (Balanced, low-carb, and keto) that specifies different percentages of each macronutrient.

So here comes the difficult part: how am I going to determine the percentage?

Well, this is the part where we need to consult the dietitians or nutritionists as this differs from person to person. Everyone has different type, intensity, endurance exercise, and different ability of taking up glucose from the blood stream depends on your insulin sensitivities. In short, the way people uses energy varies.

From last week’s example, if a girl works at Surangel needs 1674~1874 kcal to lose weight, let’s pick 1800 kcal as references to calculate the amount of macronutrients she needs.

If she practices paddling twice a week and as a cashier stand sat work almost every night, then the percentage I’d suggest her to have would be:

  • Protein- 25% of daily calories
  • Carbohydrate- 45 % of daily calories
  • Fat- 30% of daily calories

For advanced reader

We can calculate that:

  • Protein- 25% of daily calories means I have to take the daily calories 1800 kcal times 25% and you get 450 kcal. This 450 kcal is what you’ll have to receive from protein. But how much of it? Well, remember our previous chart that 1 gram of protein provide 4 kcal?

Therefore, 450/4=112.5 gram of protein is the amount she’ll have to take from any foods that contain proteins.

What food contain protein? You might ask. Mostly, meats, dairy or soybeans products, some of them from vegetables and whole grains, are the common sources of protein.

Let’s do the same calculation with other two major nutrients:

  • Carbohydrate- 45 % of daily calories→1800*45%=810kcal→ 810/4=202.5 grams of carbohydrate is the amount she’ll have to take from any foods that contain carbohydrates.
  • Fat- 30% of daily calories→1800*30%=540kcal→ 540/9= 60 grams of fat is the amount she’ll have to take from any foods that contain fat.

Pay attention to 112.5 grams of protein, this does not equal to 112.5 grams of meat.

Pay attention to 202.5 grams of Carbohydrate, this does not equal to 202.5 grams of rice.

Pay attention that she cannot straight up intake of 60 grams of fat from cooking oils because most of the food contains fats, except vegetables and fruits.

However, not everyone is calculation freak, so here’s the menu I designed for the girl who works at Surangel that has to intake 1800 kcal to lose weight and has the three major nutrients percentage of protein 25%, carbohydrate 45 %, fat 30%.


How to distribute my daily calories into different groups of food?

If you like this article, please give us some support and we’re going to show some other examples of different diets (Low-carbs and keto) reflected on different menus and how to do the meal prep. Stay tuned!

-Licensed Nutritionist


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