Macronutrients – Protein, Carbohydrate & Fat

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:


Common Names

  • Protein, Peptides

Recommended Intake

  • Male ≥ 19 years: 56 g/day
  • Female ≥ 19 years: 46 g/day
  • OR Male and Female ≥ 19 yrs: 0.8 g/kg/day

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR): 10-35% of energy should come from protein each day

What’s Protein for?

  • Builds and maintains muscles, organs, skin, and blood
  • Assists in energy metabolism and cell processes
  • Defends body against disease through immune function

Best Food sources

  • Meat, fish, poultry, milk products, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains


Common Names

  • Carbohydrates, Carbs, Sugars

Recommended Intake

  • Males & Females ≥ 19 years: 130 g/day

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR): 45-65% of energy should come from carbohydrates each day

What’s Carbohydrate for?

  • Acts as the main source of energy for the body
  • Creates an energy reserve with its storage form, glycogen

Best Food sources

  • Found in all plant foods, such as grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and nuts
  • Also found in milk and milk products


Common Names

  • Fat, Lipids

Recommended Intake

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR): 20-35% of energy should come from fats each day with less than 10% of total energy coming from saturated fat

What’s Fat for?

  • Provides energy during endurance exercise, in between meals, and in times of starvation
  • Essential component of cell membranes
  • Insulates and acts as a shock absorber for bones and organs
  • Unsaturated fats decrease risk of heart disease
  • Omega 3 fatty acids assist in growth, development, and brain function

Best Food sources

  • Unsaturated fats (good fats) found in vegetable oils, salad dressings and margarines made from vegetable oils, avocadoes, ground flax seeds, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel
  • Saturated fats found in high fat cuts of beef and pork, full fat dairy products, butter, and snack foods, such as cookies, pastries, and doughnuts
  • Trans fats found in some margarines, deep fried food, and snack foods, such as chips, crackers, pastries, and doughnuts


Common names

  • Fiber (Fibre)

Recommended Intake

  • Male 19-50: 38 g/day
  • Male 51+: 30 g/day
  • Female 19-50: 25 g/day
  • Female 51+: 21 g/day

What’s Fiber for?

  • Increases satiety, therefore assisting in weight management
  • Lowers blood cholesterol
  • Decreases risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer
  • Maintains GI system health

Best Food sources

  • Whole grains, such as brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, barley, bulgur, kamut, spelt, quinoa, and millet
  • Whole grain products, such as whole wheat bread, cereal, and pasta
  • Vegetables, fruit, and legumes

Nutrition 101

carbohydrate, fat, macronutrient, protein


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