A 50-20-30 diet plan is based on the acceptable macronutrient distribution rate of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet. On a 50-20-30 diet, 50 percent of your calories comes from carbohydrates, 20 percent from fats and 30 percent from proteins. These percentages fit the macronutrient recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and will help you get complete nutrition from your diet. The 50-20-30 ratio is commonly used for athletes during off-season and training days as well and could improve your performance at the gym.
Your body converts carbohydrates into its primary source of fuel, which is known as glucose. Getting half of your day's calories from carbohydrates comfortably fits into the Institute of Medicine's recommended 45 percent to 65 percent recommendation for the macronutrient. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram and are found in healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beans, legumes, breads, whole grains and cereals. Junk foods like cookies, candies and sweetened beverages also contain carbohydrates, but these carbs are mostly from sugar and are empty calories.
Fats are required for normal bodily function and vitamin assimilation. Not all fats are good, though. Avoid trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol when possible and instead focus on polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet. With 20 percent of your day's calories coming from fats, your diet will fit the institute's recommendation to consume 20 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories from fat. Fats contain 9 calories per gram and are found in healthful foods like nuts, seeds, fatty fish, avocados and oils such as olive oil.
Protein is the building block for every cell in your body and is required for tissue repair. Consuming 30 percent of your calories from protein fits within the institute's recommendation of 10 percent to 35 percent. Protein, like carbohydrates, has 4 calories per gram. Healthful protein sources include lean meats, lean poultry, fish, legumes, eggs, dairy, grains, nuts and seeds.
About Calorie Intake
The calories you eat per day determine how many grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat are in your diet on the 50-20-30 plan. Break your daily calorie intake down to 50 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent to find how much of each nutrient you should eat. The recommended intake for adult women is between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day, and for men the range is between 2,000 and 3,000 calories daily. On a 2,000-calorie diet, 1,000 of your calories would come from carbohydrates, 400 from fats and 600 from proteins. Considering that carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram and fat has 9 calories per gram, you would eat 250 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of fat and 150 grams of protein per day on the 50-20-30 diet plan.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- Gustavus Adolphus College: Meal Planning
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- University of California: Calories Count
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010