Monday, March 29, 2010

Percentages vs. Gram Macronutrient Recommendations

Thanks so much for all of your comments on my last post. As an RD I am always prepared to have people dispute what I write on my blog. In fact, I encourage my readers to share their opinions, whether or not it coincides with my own, and I'm always more than happy to comment with my own detailed thoughts and explanations. I also encourage you all to dispute anything I say if infact you believe I am wrong. I've actually had readers teach me stuff I did not know (when I did the MyPyramid post I said 1/2 cup cooked vegetables = 1 cup uncooked. WRONG! Apparently that's not the case with the new Now I know!).

I received another comment from a reader named Lara, to which I would like to respond. Again, her comment is in black writing, and my responses are in red.

In my previous post I wrote that my personal trainer at Urban Active had suggested that if I want to gain more muscle I should consider a 40% protein diet. In my blog post I wrote that I didn't think this was accurate, as I would likely lose weight if I chose such a diet. Lara said:

Why would you lose weight if you ate 40% protein. That makes no sense. Weight loss is primarily about calories. Yes, this is true. When my PT at Urban Active told me that I should consume 40% of my calories from protein, I was considering my own personal diet. I am aware that I consume an average of 2000 calories per day, and about 80-110 grams of protein. This equals about 16-22% calories from protein (there are 4 calories per gram of protein). When the PT said this to me I was considering what this would do for me personally, not the general public. If I started increasing my protein intake, I would likely decrease my carbohydrate and fat intake. I would also likely eat less calories, as higher protein diets have been proven to decrease a person's appetite, and I know that is the case for me.

And as an RD you should know that percentages are meaningless. 40% of 1500 calories is a lot different than 40% of 2500 calories. It is grams of the macronutrients that are what is important. Of course I know this. I don't feel that I need to explain every single thing I say, 100%, on my blog. If I did, my posts would be a mile long. I know that 40% protein for me would be about 400 grams, which equals about 4.2 grams per kg body weight. This is simply too much for me (and really too much for anyone if you ask me....).

Macronutrient intake is very personal of course, some do better with more of this or that but the comment that 40% would make the rest of your diet be unbalanced is totally unfounded. In my personal case, this is not totally unfounded. For others, you are correct. I was discussing my own diet, not the diet of someone else. That being said, perhaps I sounded like I was making a general statement, and I apologize for the confusion. I have seen people live happy and healthy lives on a high protein diet, and I really have no problem with these diets. If your kidneys are healthy and you compensate for the possible risk of dehydration, high protein diets are perfectly safe.

Any more comments out there? Bring them on! I'm happy to answer any questions, concerns, and/or complaints you may have. And please, don't ever hesitate to share your feelings.

This weekend I finally bought a new pair of shoes, thanks to Joanna's suggestion to do so on her post "Spring for Some New Shoes". I sprung!

The green inserts are for my high arches. I was told I have high arches, which is what causes my to get shin splints and stress fractures so easily. I started using these Dr. Scholl's inserts about 4 years ago and have not had any problems since. Of course, I also don't run outside as often anymore, and I think that makes a huge difference too.

Some of you asked me if I was sore after my session with the personal trainer on Thursday. The answer is YES. I was VERY SORE. I am now convinced that I need to do more resistance training. Nothing major, but more than my typical 10-15 minutes, 3 times a week. I actually enjoy it more than cardio anyway.

Coming Up
Did everyone watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on Friday?? I finally had a chance to sit down and watch it last night, and I plan on actually doing a post about it tomorrow. Stay tuned!

If you're interested in how I would eat if I were a vegetarian athlete, check out my post on our workplace wellness blog. I've been really into tempeh lately and I think tempeh would be a major staple in my diet if I were to become a vegetarian (heck, it already is!).

Thanks for reading. And have a great day!


  1. I loved Food Revolution! And would also love to read a recap from you :-)
    I have my opinions on cafeteria and children's nutrition but I think an RD's would be a good point of comparison

  2. I'm really excited to see your thoughts on FR-- I've been really enjoying it, but I think it will be especially interesting to get an RD's take on it.

    I want new shoes!!! Wah!! :-)

  3. Luckily I had a chance to watch Jamie's show so I am interested to see what you think about it! I've been enjoying tempeh lately too!

  4. Looking forward to the FR review!

    By the way... I LOVE your response to the readers comment :)

  5. I love that you answered all her questions and you did a great job on doing so. I honestly didn't see anything wrong when you made the statement about losing weight on protein because my nutritionist actually made me do this TO lose weight and it helped. Carbs effect people in different ways....

    I loved Jamie Oliver Food Revolition! I think EVERY parent in America needs to watch it.

  6. Thanks for answering honestly! I lost some weight on a high protein diet too. It really just depends on the person. Ah I have to go home and watch the show! Excited!

  7. I love the tempeh too! I'd never be a vegetarian but I'd say I only eat meat 3-4 times a week so tofu/tempeh and beans are staples for me!

    I think it's fine for people to tell you when they think a fact might be wrong but I don't think they have to be so rude about it! Just my opinion though :)

  8. Once again, I love your response. I also agree with Kelly!

    I watched Food Revolution yesterday also, and have lots of thoughts about it. I was totally thinking of you when the RD was on. I was wondering what you thought of her and the show in general would be.

  9. It's been years since I've had tempeh, and you've reminded me to buy it again.
    I also have to remember to watch FR.

  10. I am not sure why someone would think it is grams that count not the percentages. It is actually the percetages that let us compare someones 1500 calorie diet to someones 3000 calories diet because of the proportionality across the board. So someone looking to decrease intake from 2500 calories to 1800 calories can look at their current diet and if they feel it is balanced and works for them, then they use those percentages to find the new amount of grams to aim for at the lower calorie amount. In know it may seem like a lot of math, but the idea is balance, and I personally think the acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges (AMDR) are a good guideline. If you did 40% protein and then need 50% of carbohydrate for glucose stores and brain function, that leaves only 10% of the diet (regardless of calories) for fat, which depending on calories for that person may not be enough fat for proper flushing of the gall bladder, thus leading to an increased risk in gallstone formation (assuming they have not had a cholecystectomy). I hope that all made some sense.

  11. Love tempeh!!!!! It really is great, and its a great change to have other than tofu and my veggie burgers I eat!!

    Love the new sneaks!!!

    Oh that is great you are going to do more weight training!! I want to as well!!

    Love ya gir!!

  12. I enjoyed reading your answers to your comments on this and the last post.

    I haven't seen Food Revolution yet, but I hope to see it tonight.

  13. girl thank you so much for answering those questions! im loving reading this :) you speak your mind girl!!

  14. I really enjoy reading your answers to comments and questions regarding "controversial" nutrition topics. Who knew there could be so much controversy and differing opinion in nutrition? I suppose you knew bc you're an RD but I didn't have any idea of the depth of this controversy!

  15. Hi,

    I'm another dietitian that periodically reads your post. I think you do an excellent job of teaching about nutrition. Keep up the good work!


  16. You're such a great RD, welcome different opinions, and address them in a very educated, intelligent, and gentle way. You're just awesome!

    That said, my head is churning what with all the percentages, grams, blah blah blah...ah, can't we just eat and not obsess over numbers?!

  17. 3 cheers for new shoes! WAHOO!!!! ;-)

    Ok, I know the point of this article is not new shoes or Urban Active but we just got an Urban Active in my neck of the woods and I cannot wait to check it out! Now that I have my new shoes maybe it's time for a new gym!

  18. First, I love and appreciate your willingness to respond to challenging opinions. I think you are so intelligent, especially in the area of nutrition, and I understand that a lot of what you write on the blog must assume that we have some knowledge of nutrition ourselves- otherwise, like you say, you'd have to have posts a mile long to explain anything! You do an excellent job on relaying info, breaking it down, and relating to your readers on a personal level. That I admire so much. If there are gaps or miscommunications, I love that you are quick to admit them and eager to explain yourself. Thanks!

  19. as always your posts are so informative! love it and i love that tempeh too-so chewy :)
    have a great day!

  20. I've never tried tempeh before but have eyed it at the store before.

    Thanks for all the info, I thought it was interesting that a 40% protein diet for you would be so many grams, that's an insane amount!

  21. You are so poised, eloquent, and articulate in your answers! I'm truly impressed...

    Trader Joe's Tempeh is awesome!!! :-)

  22. Hey! I've been catching up on blogs and I wanted to say congrats on the house! So exciting! Both houses were gorgeous and I know you'll love your first home! :)

  23. Thanks for clarifying your comments. To me, it sounded like you were making blanket, general statements not that you were relating it to your personal situation. I think your explanation was very helpful for your readers who might be confused about all the nutritional information floating around.