Does macronutrient proportion make a difference for body weight?

Does macronutrient proportion make a difference for body weight?

The Institute of Medicine has established ranges for the percentage of calories in the diet that should come from carbohydrate, protein, and fat. These Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) take into account both chronic disease risk reduction and intake of essential nutrients

Recommended Macronutrient Proportions by age

carbohydrate Protein
Young children (1–3 years) 45–65% 5–20% 30–40%
Older children and adolescents (4–18 years) 45–65% 10–30% 25–35%
Adults (19 years and older) 45–65% 10–35% 20–35%

To manage body weight, Americans should consume a diet that has an appropriate total number of calories and that is within the AMDR. Strong evidence shows that there is no optimal proportion of macronutrients that can facilitate weight loss or assist with maintain­ing weight loss. Although diets with a wide range of macronutrient proportions have been documented to promote weight loss and prevent weight regain after loss, evidence shows that the critical issue is not the relative proportion of macronutrients in the diet, but whether or not the eating pattern is reduced in calories and the individual is able to maintain a reduced-calorie intake over time. The total number of calories consumed is the essential dietary factor relevant to body weight. In adults, moderate evidence suggests that diets that are less than 45 percent of total calories as carbohydrate or more than 35 percent of total calories as protein are generally no more effec­tive than other calorie-controlled diets for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance. Therefore, individuals who wish to lose weight or maintain weight loss can select eating patterns that maintain appropriate calorie intake and have macronutrient proportions that are within the AMDR ranges recom­mended in the Dietary Reference Intakes.

individual foods and beverages and body weight

For calorie balance, the focus should be on total calorie intake, but intake of some foods and beverages that are widely over-or underconsumed has been associated with effects on body weight. In studies that have held total calorie intake constant, there is little evidence that any individual food groups or beverages have a unique impact on body weight. Although total calorie intake is ultimately what affects calorie balance, some foods and beverages can be easily overcon­sumed, which results in a higher total calorie intake. As individuals vary a great deal in their dietary intake, the best advice is to monitor dietary intake and replace foods higher in calories with nutrient-dense foods and beverages relatively low in calories. The follow­ing guidance may help individuals control their total calorie intake and manage body weight:

  • increase intake of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits: Moderate evidence shows that adults who eat more whole grains, particularly those higher in dietary fiber, have a lower body weight compared to adults who eat fewer whole grains. Moderate evidence in adults and limited evidence in children and adoles­cents suggests that increased intake of vegetables and/or fruits may protect against weight gain.
  • reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages: This can be accomplished by drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and/or consuming smaller portions. Strong evidence shows that children and adolescents who consume more sugar-sweetened beverages have higher body weight compared to those who drink less, and moderate evidence also supports this relationship in adults. Sugar-sweetened beverages provide excess calories and few essential nutrients to the diet and should only be consumed when nutrient needs have been met and without exceeding daily calorie limits.
  • Monitor intake of 100% fruit juice for children and adolescents, especially those who are over­weight or obese: For most children and adoles­cents, intake of 100% fruit juice is not associated with body weight. However, limited evidence sug­gests that increased intake of 100% juice has been associated with higher body weight in children and adolescents who are overweight or obese.
  • Monitor calorie intake from alcoholic beverages for adults: Moderate evidence suggests that moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages38 is not associated with weight gain. However, heavier than moderate consumption of alcohol over time is associated with weight gain. Because alcohol is often consumed in mixtures with other beverages, the calorie content of accompanying mixers should be considered when calculating the calorie content of alcoholic beverages. Reducing alcohol intake is a strategy that can be used by adults to consume fewer calories.

Strong evidence in adults and moderate evidence in children and adolescents demonstrates that con­sumption of milk and milk products does not play a special role in weight management. Evidence also suggests that there is no independent relation-ship between the intake of meat and poultry or beans and peas, including soy, with body weight. Although not independently related to body weight, these foods are important sources of nutrients in healthy eating patterns.