Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/Average Macronutrient Distribution Range
2.1 Average Macronutrient Distribution Range
The average/ acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) is the predetermined ranges of intake for specific macronutrient energy nutrients in our diet. These ranges were developed by the DRI (dietary reference index) to help society monitor their diets and stay healthy. Macronutrients are nutrients that the body consumes in large quantities each day. These nutrients are important to our body and regulating our health. The three major categories of macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They provide us with the most energy and/ or calories. These substances are important in growth, metabolism, energy, repair of tissues, and many other functions. It is known that carbohydrates and proteins provide us with 4 kcalories per gram, while fat provides us with 9 kcalories per gram. Each of these key macronutrients plays a significant role in the functioning of our bodies and providing us with adequate nutrients to stay healthy. The dietary recommendations endorse specific percentage ranges of intake for these different energy sources within our diet, which will provide people with sufficient nutrients to promote better health and well-being. These values are used to reduce the risk of chronic diseases while making sure we obtain adequate energy and nutrients needs. They have proposed adequate intake values of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates should make up 45- 65% of the kcalories we eat, protein should make up 10- 35% of the kcalories we eat, and fat should constitute 20- 35% of the calories we eat. By following through with these guidelines, people have lower risks for disease and a better chance of losing weight. These guidelines were created for all of society in order to create an average range of acceptable energy intake to benefit everyone; the hope was to continue to improve the way our society eats. It is important that the composition of our diet is highly maintained and we continue to monitor our intake so we can maintain the proper amount of energy. Each of these nutrients is imperative to maintaining a proper diet and by following these national guidelines we can live a longer healthier lifestyle.
Diets require different macronutrient percent compositions in order to maintain the needs of the body. In a diet with low or no animal protein such as vegan and vegetarian, there are limits to the percentage of protein a person can acquire. The macronutrient profiles for a healthy vegan is about 10-20% range for fats and protein with a 60-70% range for carbohydrates. Keep in mind that there are micronutrients that are more scarce in these types of diets so those need to be taken into consideration. A diet that is accepting of animal meats such as fish and animal protein has more variability in the percent concentration of macronutrients. This is because animal protein has a high composition of protein and fibers. A normal range to maintain body function can vary significantly anywhere from 10-60% range for fats, 10-60% range for protein and a 10-70% range for carbohydrates. Diets on the extreme ends are being tested by people who are passionate about finding new ways to fuel their bodies more effectively. The flux in the distribution ranges of macronutrients is prominent when analyzing different cultural food and social norms. There are numerous correlations between distribution range and prominent diseases affecting a specific region in the world based on these premises. In general, there is a normal healthy range for macronutrients but there are cases where a person can function better with an “unbalanced” diet as seen by regulation. For example, Dr. Peggy Borum who is a professor here at the University of Florida runs a metabolic assessment laboratory to assess the how people with specific conditions react when to an abnormal change in macronutrient composition. This can almost be seen as a treatment because a person’s macronutrient distribution can determine whether or not they effectively go through ATP cycles all the way to preventing seizures.
According to the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) values, created by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an individual should be obtaining 45 to 65 percent of the kilocalories eaten from carbohydrates. They are one of the most important sources of energy for the body and are converted into glucose, or blood sugar, in the body after digested. (MedlinePlus, 2015) Carbohydrates are a known macronutrient that plays a large role in our diet and how much energy we are able to obtain. They are needed in much bigger amounts to allow an individual to have access to constant energy that will be used to fuel the body during the day. If an individual maintains an adequate level of carbohydrates then the body will be provided with enough energy to function efficiently. (Whitney & Rolfes, 2015)
While other nutrients usually vary with the age and sex of an individual, the AMDR for carbohydrates remains the same for all populations of people. If an individual is attempting to lose weight or lives an inactive lifestyle, that individual should want to eat carbohydrates at the lower end of the distribution range, near 45 percent. Athletes and fairly active individuals will do fine near the higher end of the distribution range at 65 percent. (Whitney & Rolfes, 2015)
If an individual consumes a 2000 calorie diet, they would need between 900 and 1300 calories from carbohydrates or 225 to 325 grams every day. Although the IOM has provided an AMDR for all populations, they have not established one for infants in their first year of life due to a lack of clinical data for this age group. (Whitney & Rolfes, 2015)
Added sugars are a specific type of carbohydrate that enters the bloodstream quickly and spike an individual’s blood glucose levels. They are sugars that are added to processed foods and drinks when they are being made. Foods that are high in added sugars include fortune cookies, baked beans, ketchup, lemonade, and many others. According to the American Heart Association, added sugars have the potential to induce weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. The IOM does not provide a specific AMDR for added sugars, but they advise eating less than twenty-five percent of your total calories from these kinds of carbohydrates to reduce the risk of any negative health problems. (American Heart Association, 2014)
Fiber is another form of carbohydrate that has many positive health functions. Dietary fiber can maintain normal blood glucose levels, promote digestive regularity, reduce blood cholesterol, and prevent intestinal blockage and has also been said to protect against colon cancer. Foods that are high in fiber include raspberries, guava, persimmon, mangoes, and many others. Just like added sugars, the IOM has not established a specific AMDR for fiber but does include an adequate intake value. Adult men should consume about 38 grams of fiber daily and adult women should consume 25 to 26 grams. (Harvard School of Public Health, 2013)
Proteins are another important macronutrient that plays a big role in the amount of energy and nutrients we receive. Our bodies use these nutrients as a backup source for energy after all the carbohydrates have been used up. If we continue to follow through with these guidelines, our bodies will maintain more efficient function and growth. According to the Average Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) 10-35 percent of the average adult’s daily kilocalorie intake should come from protein, which is approximately 50-175 grams per day. The average intake in the United States falls in between that range at about 80 grams per day. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults is based on a person’s body weight, so 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (.36 gram per pound) of body weight. When a woman becomes pregnant and partakes in breastfeeding post pregnancy her daily consumption of protein needs to increase from 46 grams per day to 71 grams per day. This is due to the fact that the female body is working overtime to develop the fetus. In regards to gender, males on average need to consume more protein than women, approximately 6 grams more per day. Protein in the body is not stored, but used and broken down immediately into amino acids, which are the building blocks for all cells in the body. Due to the amino acids that make up protein, proteins serve as the major structural component in cells and also function in enzymes, membranes and sometimes as hormones.
Deficiency and Overconsumption In developed countries, protein deficiency is rare seeing as there are many options for protein consumption, however, it does and can happen. When one does not consume enough protein kidney damage can occur, slowed growth and poor nutrient absorption in the body. A lack of protein also means a lack of amino acids, which are major components of cell production and body function. The elderly tend to be more at risk of protein deficiencies so it is recommended to them that they consume 25-35 grams of protein per meal to keep up their daily intake and reduce their likelihood of developing sarcopenia. In countries with ample amounts of protein, overconsumption is an issue and can have adverse effects including increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis as high levels of protein increase calcium exertion from the bones. Kidney disease can occur from overconsumption as well. This happens due to the fact that in high protein diets, the kidneys work harder and faster which has the possibility of leading to a faster rate of kidney deterioration.
Supplements to Dietary Intake
Many people, especially athletes, have taken or take a protein powder supplement in order to increase their protein consumption and increase muscle gain. This is not necessarily true and does not work as much as people expect it to. Unfortunately, a powder cannot provide the essential amino acid chains that dietary protein does so it does not increase performance by much. Whey protein, on the other hand, does aid in protein synthesis far better than normal protein powders and does increase performance, but nothing near what dietary protein does. Also, amino acid supplements can be dangerous to the body due to the large dosage of pure amino acids and can increase fatigue if used when working out due to the release of free-floating tryptophan.
The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) value for lipids states that 20-35% of our energy in kcalories should come from fat. There are 9 kcalories in one gram of fat, which is significantly higher than the other macronutrients simply because the extra energy is made to be stored and used another time. Many people think that fat is only bad for you, but do not know that the main function of fat in the body is to provide energy and act as an energy reserve. When performing a vigorous exercise, like long distance running, most of the energy you are using comes from fat. Lipids are also involved in various other functions in the body, including providing insulation and protection to the body, making up cell membranes, and being a part of cell signaling pathways. In fact, fat is even needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. (Whitney & Rolfes, 2015). The wide variety of roles that fat has in the body means that an individual needs to meet the AMDR to maintain energy and support a healthy body down to the cellular level. Following the guidelines set forth not only supply you with the energy that you need, but also prevent and reduce chronic disease. The AMDR for lipids for adults is a standard 20-35%. The only age groups that are recommended to consume more fat include children ages 4–18 who require 25-35%, and very young children ages 1–3 that need 30-40%. There are many different sources of food containing lipids, with some containing healthier fat than others (Dietary Reference Intakes” 2015). Foods like butter and animal fats are common saturated fats that should be reduced when possible. Other fats found in a variety of foods, like avocados and nuts, are healthy and support fat’s positive functions in the body. While it is okay to eat most of the different types of fat, it is very important to stay in the AMDR range to make sure that you do not adversely affect your health.
Lipids and Health
While getting enough fat in your diet is crucial, it’s very easy to eat too much of certain types and acquire serious health consequences. There are three main types of fat: saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. While the unsaturated fats have been linked to lowering blood cholesterol, saturated fat raises it and has overwhelmingly negative effects on health. That is why, although there is no AMDR for the specific types of fat, it is recommended that no more than ten percent of your daily calories come from saturated fat (“UPHS Nutrition Care Guide: Fat in Your Diet” 2015). When a person consumes more fat and energy than they expend, the excess is stored in adipose tissue around the body, and deposits plaque to build up in the coronary arteries. This combination along with many others can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease, and more (“What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?” 2015). Limiting bad fats and increasing good fats are important to ensure that you are in the proper range to maintain a healthy body weight and good cardiovascular health. (Whitney & Rolfes, 2015). By looking at all of the serious health problems that can result from consuming too much fat, it is clear why the AMDR for lipids is so important.
Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S. (2015). Understanding Nutrition (14th ed., p. 20). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
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