What makes up “food”?

  • MACROnutrients - provide calories/energy

    • Carbohydrates - our #1 source of energy; the simplest form (glucose) is what our body prefers to use for fuel. Our brain and red blood cells ONLY use glucose!

      • Food sources: grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, dairy

    • Protein - our body’s building blocks for cell structure, muscles, hair, finger nails, and more!

      • Food sources: animal muscle, beans, nuts & legumes, dairy, soy, some vegetables

    • Fats (AKA Lipids) - a concentrated source of calories; provides energy storage, cell structures, antioxidant properties, and more!

      • Food sources: animal fat, dairy, plant oils, nuts & seeds

  • MICROnutrients - provide necessary chemical processes for proper functioning

    • Essential Vitamins:

      • Fat Soluble: A, D, E, K

      • Water Soluble: B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pentothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate), B12 (Cobalamin), and C

    • Essential Minerals:

      • Larger amounts needed: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, sulfer

      • Trace amounts needed: iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, selenium, fluoride

  • Other Nutrients

    • Water - essential for digestion, temperature regulation, joint health, and nutrient absorption

    • Fiber - soluble & insoluble food material that helps lower cholesterol and move food efficiently through the digestive tract (food sources: whole grains, vegetables, fruit)

Nutrient Needs & Recommended Intakes

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) - the evidence-based ranges for the percentage of total calorie intake should come from each macronutrient to meet energy and structural needs.

  • Carbohydrates: 45-65%

  • Proteins: 10-35%

  • Fats/Lipids: 20-35%

Micronutrient Needs - daily recommended intake of each vitamin and mineral is age, gender, and life-stage specific. See the recommended intakes HERE.

Water - needs vary, but generally aim for about half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water intake per day. Choose foods (fruit, broth, etc) with high water content as well!

Fiber - for adults:

  • Women: 25 grams/day

  • Men: 38 grams/day

Putting it Together in a Meal: MyPlate & Portion Sizes

USDA MyPlate

An easy way to get a variety of essential nutrients in your meal is to use the MyPlate as a template:

1. Make half your plate fruits & vegetables.

2. Make one quarter of your plate a whole grain.

3. Make one quarter of your plate a lean protein.

4. Include a low-fat dairy on the side.

5. Healthy fats/oils can should be used in moderation for flavoring and cooking agents.


Determine Your Nutrition Needs:

Click “Start” to estimate your daily calorie needs and view your MyPlate plan for food group recommendations.

Common Diets & Eating Patterns

Popular/Fad Diets (Note: the patterns below are generally attempted/used for weight loss and are not followed for an indefinite amount of time.)

  1. Paleo Diet

  2. Ketogenic (Keto) Diet

  3. Plant Paradox “Lectin-free” Diet

  4. Zone Diet

  5. Intermittent Fasting Diets

  6. Detox & Cleanses

Evidence-Based Eating Patterns (Note: these patterns below are generally meant to be followed as a long-term eating plan for disease prevention and sustained good health.)

  1. DASH Diet

  2. Mediterranean Diet

  3. Vegetarian & Vegan Eating Patterns

A note on weight loss…

…The AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults recommends that any diet pattern that restricts caloric intake can induce weight loss. Considerations include chronic disease, nutrient supplementation, and personal choice.

The 8 Common Food Allergens

  1. Milk

  2. Eggs

  3. Peanuts

  4. Tree Nuts

  5. Wheat

  6. Soy

  7. Fish

  8. Shellfish