Curbing confusion over calories. What’s the right ratio of protein, carbs and fat?
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By Andrea Holwegner, For The Calgary Herald March 10, 2011

Danielle was a 56-year-old engineer and mother of three who was trying to shed a few dozen unwanted pounds and reduce her blood pressure. She had tried various diets over the years, including high-protein, low-carb and most recently a vegan diet.

She initially lost weight on these diets, but didn’t enjoy them and therefore the weight always crept back. Since her blood pressure always fell when she lost weight no matter what she was eating, she knew that she needed to find an eating plan she could stick with for life.

Heated debates and contradictions about carbohydrate, protein and fat are everywhere. The truth is, you can lose weight following any mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat as long as you reduce your calories. However, not all eating regimes provide you with the same health benefits or sustainability for weight loss and enjoyment.

To make sense of this debate, you need to understand the science of macronutrients, which are collectively known as carbohydrates, protein and fat.


Carbohydrates (carbs) can be simply described as sugar. Fruits, sweets, and the lactose found in milk and yogurt are simple carbs (single or double units of sugar). Complex carbs (long chains of sugars) are found in grains and other starchy foods.

You can think of carbs as “gasoline” to fuel your brain and muscles. If your diet is too low in carbs, you may feel tired, moody or obsessive about food, or have difficulty concentrating. You may also experience muscle fatigue and poor sports performance.

But, if you repeatedly eat too many carbohydrates, they will be stored as body fat. Since eating carbohydrates stores water on the body, if you have lost weight on a low carb plan you may only have lost water if your calorie intake didn’t change.


Protein is found in food such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy foods, eggs, nuts/seeds, legumes such as lentils, chick peas or black beans, and soy foods such as tofu and soy milk. It is involved in the structure and repair of tissues, production of antibodies to fight infection, enzyme function and as an oxygen carrier. If you miss a source of protein in your meals, you may feel highs and lows in your energy and be hungry more often. If your diet is too low in protein, you may also find your immunity is decreased and muscle repair and recovery from exercise is poor.

If you eat too much protein repeatedly over time, you will store these extra calories as body fat.


Major sources of fat in the diet include high-fat snack foods, fast food/restaurant meals, fats added to foods (such as butter, margarine, mayo and oil) and some meats and dairy foods. In general, the healthiest fats for your heart are supplied by plant-based foods and seafood.

Fat is an essential nutrient needed to provide us with essential fatty acids for your brain and disease prevention as well as to supply fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Fat also makes food tasty and contributes to satiety.

If you eat too much fat, it can contribute to health issues such as weight gain, obesity and heart disease.

How much do I need?

Although many factors influence how many calories you need, adult females need approximately 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day while adult males need approximately 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

Andrea Holwegner, “the chocoholic dietitian,” is the owner of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visit www.healthstandnutrition.com or phone 403-262-3466.

Daily goals for ADULTS 19 years+

Daily calorie intake 1500 calories

Carbohydrates 45-65% of total calories/ 169-244 g Protein 10-35% of total calories/38-131 g Fat 20-35% of total calories/33-58 g

1800 calories

Carbohydrates 45-65% of total calories/ 203-293 g Protein 10-35% of total calories/45-158 g Fat 20-35% of total calories/40-70 g

2100 calories

Carbohydrates 45-65% of total calories/ 236-341 g Protein 10-35% of total calories/53-184 g Fat 20-35% of total calories/47-82 g

2400 calories

Carbohydrates 45-65% of total calories/ 270-390 g Protein 10-35% of total calories/60-210 g Fat 20-35% of total calories/53-93 g

2700 calories

Carbohydrates 45-65% of total calories/ 304-439 g Protein 10-35% of total calories/68-236 g Fat 20-35% of total calories/60-105 g

3000 calories

Carbohydrates 45-65% of total calories/ 338-488 g Protein 10-35% of total calories/75-263 g Fat 20-35% of total calories/67-117 g

Sources: Dietary Reference Intakes. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies in partnership with Health Canada. 2005.

Read more:http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Curbing+confusion+over+calories/4414543/story.html#ixzz1GEMExMwz

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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