What You Need to Know

Why 40/30/30?

By Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
ZonePerfect Nutritionist

December 2019

Looking for a flexible way of eating that allows for variety, just enough favorites, enough fuel to power your workout AND can lead to improved health? The ZonePerfect Pros weigh in on the benefits of eating 40/ 30/ 30 and offer advice on making it work for YOU.

What is 40/30/30 anyway?

why 403030

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A 40/30/30 plan is one in which 40% of your daily calories come for carbohydrate sources, 30% of your daily calories come from protein sources, and, you guessed it, 30% of your daily calories come from fat sources. This lifestyle approach works to eliminate poorer choices and excessive calories by making every choice count and do more than simply provide calories; each meal and snack offers a balance of nutrients so that you’re stocked with carbohydrate for energy, protein for strength and satiation, and fat for nourishment.

Who is 40/30/30 for?

Because most Americans consume close to 50% of calories from carbohydrate, 16% of calories from protein, and 25% of calories from fat ( reference https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400530/pdf/1516/Table_5_EIN_GEN_15.pdf), a 40 / 30/ 30 plan offers fewer sugars and carbs, more lean and mean protein, and slightly less fat. This plan is popular with strength and endurance athletes, high intensity cross fit athletes, and those of us simply looking for steady energy and feelings of fullness (thanks protein!) throughout the day. When you take a look at the sample plan you’ll find choices dense with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and familiar protein-rich foods to keep the body fuller, longer, and enough choiceful carbohydrate and nourishing fat to keep you from feeling deprived Perfect proportions of all three of these macronutrients create a plate that’s loaded with variety, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

why 403030 for

How to start 40/30/30

Following a 40 / 30 / 30 plan is fairly straightforward; our ZonePerfect Pros recommend simply aiming for 40% (slightly lower is fine, but don’t overdo the carb) of calories from carbs, 30% of calories from protein, and 30% of calories from fat. This is likely less carb and more protein than you typically consume but this blend is designed to get you towards your total body wellness goals and research suggests that this plan is relatively easy to follow for the long term compared with more restrcitive eating methods. Get ready for an extra dose of protein and fiber to help fight hunger, carbs for quick energy, and fat to protect and nourishes your body as you tone up and hit your goals.

OK, but how many grams should I have a day?

If you decide 40/ 30/ 30 is for you (good choice BTW!)
This means that you aim to have approximately 40% of the calories in your day from carbs, 30% from proteins, and the remainder - 30% - from fats

how many grams

Let’s do the math

Now, let's say you know you need 2000 calories/day – to keep the math simple.

  • 2000 calorie diet x 40% = 800 calories from carbohydrate / day
  • There are 4 calories per 1 gram of carbohydrate
  • 400 calories / 4 calories = 200 grams of carb / day
do the math

Foods that fit

With 40% of calories coming from carbohydrate, you’ve got a generous amount of carb grams to “spend” throughout the day. But let’s think about the foods on your plate and the source of more indulgent calories that may be holding you back from reaching your weight and wellness goals. Did desserts, heaping portions of mashed potatoes and pasta, and fluffy pastries come to mind?

Here are foods that always fit: non-starchy vegetables (i.e. not potatoes, corn, peas); protein from meat, vegetable sources, dairy, fish, poultry, eggs, and seafood; fats from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, butte. Foods that sometimes fit (i.e. higher in carb but still rich in nutrients) whole grains, fruit and other foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Foods to think twice about: refined grains, cany. High-calorie beverages, high-sugar and high-sodium choices (like dessert, crackers, chips, etc).

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