What type of protein, fat, and carbohydrates should I have in my diet?

Alexandria Hardy
Nutrition & Dietetics


  • Lean proteins like fish, white meat skinless poultry, game meat, beans, legumes, eggs, and certain types of pork and red meat are your best bets. When selecting pork or a red meat, choose items with "loin" in the name or look for roasts.
  • You can also introduce vegetarian options like seitan, tofu, and tempeh for added variety, texture, and nutrition.


  • Opt for complex carbohydrates which are typically higher in fiber and nutrients than simple carbs. Healthy and delicious complex carbs can be low fat dairy products; fruit; some veggies (winter squash, beans, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn); and whole grain or whole wheat breads/tortillas/cereal/crackers/pasta. There is endless variety when it comes to complex carbs in the diet!

Unsaturated Fats:

  • Monounsaturated fats like fish, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils (olive, canola, soy), and avocados are heart healthy and a great way to flavor your food.
  • Another healthy fat is polyunsaturated fat, which can be found in salmon, trout, herring, and certain seeds and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats help to lower cholesterol, but be mindful of portion sizes as all fats are high in calories.

Structure your plate following the "My Plate" guidelines from the USDA. Make roughly half of your plate grains and protein (preferably whole grains and lean protein) and half your plate produce. Pair a serving of low fat dairy on the side and enjoy your meal!

When planning a healthy diet it is important to include a balance of high quality proteins, carbohydrates and fats. For each of these macro-nutrients, choosing foods closest to their natural state will get you headed in the right direction.

Protein: Lean proteins, low in saturated fat are an excellent way to provide your body with the proper building blocks for tissue regeneration and growth.

Excellent protein sources include chicken breast, turkey breast, eggs, egg whites, lean cuts of beef and pork, fresh fish, seafood, tofu, beans and protein powders.

Carbohydrates: Whole grains, fruits and vegetables will keep your fueled throughout the day.

Excellent carbohydrate sources include whole grain pasta, whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, brown rice, potatoes, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, oats, fruits and vegetables.

Fats: Healthy, unsaturated, unprocessed (steer clear of Trans Fats) are essential to body and brain functioning.

Excellent sources of healthy fats include canola oil, olive oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds.

Please note that many foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain protein, carbs and fats.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Good protein sources are lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, nuts, beans, legumes and high protein grains such as quinoa. Healthy fats include mono and poly unsaturated plant fats such as olive oil, flaxseed, and avocados. Carbohydrates should include nutrient dense, high fiber starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, whole grains and fruits.

Sasson E. Moulavi, MD
General Practice

You should include complex carbs like vegetables and unprocessed grains like whole oats. Avoid simple carbs like sugar and high fructose corn syrup, If you are trying to lose weight, avoids fruits as well until you reach your goal weight. Healthy monounsaturated fats  such as almonds, canola, fish and olive oil. Avoid unhealthy animal fat and of course all trans fats. Protein should be as much non animal as possible (Tofu, Soy and my favorite Kale, a vegetable, has as much protein calorie per calorie as meat) but in general all lean proteins are good. Animal protein often comes attached to animal fat which you should avoid. Fish protein is a great source as are egg whites. 

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
Not only do we have to eat the right nutrients during the day, we also need to consume the right types of these nutrients. Carbohydrates, is the main source of energy for our body. The best types of carbohydrates should be Complex Carbohydrates. This includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Simple Carbohydrates like white breads, white pastas, cookies, cakes and high sugary foods offer us little to no nutritional value and can potentially lead to weight gain along with further problems. Proteins are needed in almost every cell of our body. It has many functions including immune system support, oxygen circulation and energy. The best sources of protein include low fat chicken, dairy, beef, fish, turkey and beans.
Anything that comes from an animal will have more protein than plant sources. Healthy fats are needed to support heart health, lower cholesterol and for energy. Eating the right types of fat is extremely important. Avoiding fats like Saturated Fats and Trans Fat is always best since these types of fats can cause harm to our heart and overall body.
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

For protein, I would suggest LEAN protein sources such as lean chicken, turkey, fish, soy and other grains such as quinoa. They will provide your muscles with energy, but without the saturated fat and cholesterol that can harm your heart.

For fat, I would suggest heart healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and avocado... these promote heart health and provide additional vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

For carbohydrates, I would suggest 100% whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy products

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics
Dietary guidelines recommend opting for lean protein foods. Foods with protein include lean meats like chicken and turkey. Some other protein foods include beans, tofu, eggs, and low-fat dairy like cottage cheese. For the average adult, strive to eat fish at least twice per week. Fish and seafood are higher in fat, but they contain the heart-healthy omega-3 fats. For foods with fat, oils like canola or olive, and low-fat cheese can be added to a meal for flavor. Plant sources of fats include walnuts and flaxseed, which contain omega-3s as well. Foods that contain carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. For a balanced diet, try to have at least food from each of the food groups.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.