The Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate Ratio for Losing Weight

When it comes to weight loss, there is no magic combination of foods to eat or nutrients to balance that will yield positive results for everyone. Some nutrients are more likely to fill you up than others, however, especially protein. Thus, if your goal is steady weight loss, it’s smart to build a diet plan that has a slightly higher-than-normal percentage of calories that come from protein.

Normal Ratios

According to the Merck Manual Home Health Handbook, in a typical healthy eating plan you should get about 50 to 55 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 15 percent of calories from proteins and no more than 30 percent of calories from fats. Regardless of specific percentage breakdowns, healthy foods for weight loss in each nutrient group have low calories per serving and high vitamin and mineral counts. Carbs that fit the bill include whole grains, fruits and vegetables; proteins could include lean poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat and nonfat dairy, nuts and nut butters, seeds, beans, legumes and soy; and healthy fats include plant-based oils, olives and avocados.

Ratio for Satiety

Satiety is a particularly important factor in weight loss because it can impact your cravings and eating frequency as well as how much you eat. Protein is the most satiating type of nutrient and has the potential to keep you fuller for longer than either carbohydrates or fats. In a research review published in 2008 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” scientists discovered that study subjects who ate a diet that was 30 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 10 percent fats felt fuller throughout the day than subjects who ate 10 percent protein, 30 percent carbs and 60 percent fats.

Ratio for Weight Loss

Registered dietitian Kathleen Zelman agrees that following an eating plan that contains plenty of low-fat protein may help you eat fewer overall calories, especially if you also eat plenty of dietary fiber and healthy fats. In 2005, the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” published the results of a study in which subjects who ate 30 percent protein, 20 percent fats and 50 percent carbohydrates felt fuller and ate an average of more than 400 fewer calories daily when compared to subjects who ate a diet of 15 percent protein, 35 percent fats and 50 percent carbohydrates.

Calories Matter

Regardless of how you divide up your diet by nutrients, calories still matter for weight loss. To drop pounds over time, you need to consistently burn more calories than you eat, which can happen whether you eat a high-protein diet, a high-carb diet or a high-fat diet. Additionally, to keep the weight off, it’s important to make an eating plan for weight maintenance that you can sustain long term. Before you make any significant changes to your eating plan, see your doctor.