When I have nutritional questions, I often turn to Registered Dietitian Heather K. Jones, The Diet P.I. Now I’ve teamed up with her to help answer reader questions and clear up nutrition confusion! (It's like having your very own personal dietitian at your fingertips!)
Your blog is absolutely one of my favorites. My question is about my daily nutrient requirements. How do I find my daily needs for carbohydrates/protein/fiber? And what should my daily limit for sugar be?
Hi Curious Cook,
The truth is, lots of people are confused about what they should eat to reach their daily nutrient needs – but don’t fret, it doesn’t have to be that complicated! Here’s what you need to know…
Calories are derived from protein (like fish, nuts, and meat), carbohydrates (like fruits, grains, and some vegetables) and fats (like oil and butter). Alcohol also has calories, but since it doesn’t provide nutrients, it is not considered necessary to health.
You can use this nifty Daily Food Plan tool from the USDA to help you figure out how much of each food you should be eating.
After entering your height, weight, age, gender, and activity level, the Daily Food Plan tool will tell you the total number of calories you need to maintain your weight. For example, a 35 year old, 5’5” 135 pound woman who is active less than 30 minutes a day requires 1,800 calories per day to maintain her weight.
The recommended fiber intake is about 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. Beans and peas, veggies, fruits, whole grains, and nuts (all Skinnytaste staples!) are all packed with fiber. (For a complete list of fiber in food see the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Appendix 13.)
Once your calories are calculated, the tool then tells you how much of each type of food – grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein – you should be eating to reach that number. And if you are having trouble fitting the different foods into your diet, you can refer to the helpful tips provided to help you reach your goals.
Want to lose or gain weight? The tool can help with that, too! It provides sensible tips to help you adjust your daily calorie needs to reach your ideal weight.
For sugar, you can follow the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations to eat no more than 100 calories from added sugar per day if you are female, and 150 calories of added sugar per day if you are male. That is equivalent to about 6 teaspoons for females (or 25 grams) and 9 teaspoons for males (or 37 grams). For more on sugar be sure to check out these fab tips from AHA.
Need more help building a healthy lifestyle that works for you? Take my free 3-minute
Diet Type test and find out how your personality affects your health and food choices.
Happy healthy eating!
Heather K. Jones, RD
The Diet P.I.