Calories from Fat…What does this mean?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading about how many xyz calories are supposed to come from protein, carbohydrates and fat.  I then was wondering “How do I know how many of my calories come from protein?”  Well, here is how it breaks down:

1 Gram of Fat has 9 calories in it.

1 Gram of Carbohydrate has 4 calories in it.

1 Gram of Protein also has 4 calories in it.

Now, this may sound like greek to you, I know it did to me, so I used something near and dear to me to figure this all out; a Snicker’s bar.


Calories Total Calories = 250
Fat (in Grams) 12 108 Calories from Fat (12g x 9cal/g)
Carbohydrates (in Grams) 33 132 Calories (33g x 4cal/g)
Protein (in Grams) 4 16 Calories (4g x 4cal/g)

But these number don’t add up to 250! You say.  Here’s an article from Scientific American (dated 2006) about how calories are calculated in manufactured food products.  Basically, it breaks down to the numbers being rounded.  There are not exactly 12 grams of fat in a single bar of Snickers.  It may be over, or under, by 0.01g and that little number will still ultimately matter.

Anyways, back to the percentages.  There’s this diet style called Macronutrients and apparently it deals with what percentage of your calories come from each source.  University of Ilinois has a nice breakdown of what each macronutrient does.  Now, the million dollar question.  What should my breakdown of Macronutrients be?

Well, according to Weight Watchers,

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges for Adults (as a percentage of Calories) are as follows:

  • Protein: 10-35%

  • Fat: 20-35%

  • Carbohydrate: 45-65%

Now, let’s go back and look at our Snicker’s bar.  The Protein portion of 250 is 1.6% (4/250) yikes!  Fat? 43% (108/250) and finally, Carbohydrates are 52% (132/250).  We are ending up at 96% of our total caloric value, and it’s high in fat, high in carb, and low in protein.  Some of the weight training systems call for about a 40% Protein, 30% fat and 30% carb ratio, the numbers vary quite a bit.  Another source states this amount works for losing fat and gaining muscle: Burn the Fat: 30% protein, 15-20% fat, 50-55% carbohydrates.  The number is entirely up to your circumstance at that time, it can change based on what you need the energy for.


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