A healthy diet is one that features balanced nutrition. A 60-20-20 ratio diet plan provides a well-balanced approach by properly portioning out your carbohydrates, proteins and fats, respectively. The idea behind this meal plan is to maximize your energy levels, muscle tone and cardiovascular health. Talk to your doctor before starting a new diet program.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report suggests consuming 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent healthy fats and the same for protein. These recommendations fall well within the 60-20-20 ratio dieting approach, so it can be considered a healthy way to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Carbohydrates supply the body with most of its energy needs during the early stages of exercise, while fat calories provide energy during extended physical activity.
By the Numbers
When determining the exact amount of nutrients, in grams, you need to consume each day, it's best to compare how many calories per gram each nutrient supplies your body. Fitness and nutritional expert Lyle McDonald, of BodyRecomposition.com, says carbohydrates and protein both contain four calories per gram while fats contain nine calories per gram. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, this means you need 1,200 calories from carbohydrates, or 300 grams; 400 calories from protein, or 100 grams; and 400 calories from fats, or 44 to 45 grams.
The function of this diet plan is primarily to help athletes, or other physically active people, increase their energy levels and muscle mass. Protein is the basic building block of muscle tissue, so it's a critical nutrient required in the muscle-building process. The USDA suggests that the average adult female consume 46 grams of protein per day while men need about 52 grams, so based on the previous example using a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, the protein intake is about double these amounts. Too much protein can be unhealthy, so be sure to speak to your doctor before increasing your protein intake.
You have several choices when determining the ideal 60-20-20 diet plan for you. First, the MyPyramid plan was developed by the USDA, and it adheres to this food intake ratio. Plus, it's free to use. Another type of 60-20-20 ratio diet plan was developed by Colorado State University nutritional specialists. This plan was designed for use by athletes, and it maximizes carbohydrate and fat intake for increased energy during long physical activities. Determine your total daily caloric intake by multiplying your current weight by 20. For instance, a 170 pound man would consume 3,400 calories-a-day to gain muscle weight.
Sample Meal Plan
A sample breakfast meal plan based on Colorado State University's recommendation for athletes may include a glass of orange juice, 1 cup of oatmeal, a banana, toast with jelly and a glass of low-fat milk. Lunch could consist of a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with veggies, an apple, glass of skim milk and two cookies. Dinner may include spaghetti with tomato sauce and mushrooms, French bread, ¼ cup of strawberries and a slice of angel food cake. You can also have a low-calorie snack in between meals.