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Carb Type vs. Protein Type

By Natalie Stein

A healthy diet goes beyond meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements and getting the right ratio of calories. Different types of carbohydrates and proteins have varying effects on your nutrient intake and health status, and the types you choose affect your health. A dietitian or nutritionist can help you develop a nutritious eating plan with healthy types of carbohydrates and proteins.


Most carbohydrates and proteins each provide about four calories per gram, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Protein is an essential nutrient from the diet. Carbohydrates are not essential in your diet because your body can make them, but they are the most significant source of energy for most healthy adults. Carbo Type and Protein Type diets can help you control your weight because they include limiting your calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Background on Metabolic Typing

Metabolic typing diets are based on the premise that a person should eat according to his own dietary needs, which may be different than those of another individual. According to William Wolcott and Trish Fahey in "The Metabolic Typing Diet: Customize Your Diet to Free Yourself from Food," Carbo Type individuals tend to eat small amounts of food throughout the day. They tend to be busy, energetic people. Protein Types have big appetites and cravings for salty, fatty foods.

Diets for Carbo Types and Protein Types

Carbo Types risk gaining weight because of overconsumption of sugary foods, according to Wolcott and Fahey. Metabolic diet proponents recommend that these individuals choose lean proteins instead of fatty meats. In addition, you should eat a variety of carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Protein Types can eat a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet; a moderate-protein, moderate-carbohydrate diet; or a lower-protein, higher-carbohydrate diet. Foods in your diet are supposed to be a mixture of high-protein, high-fat foods; high-protein, low-fat foods; and healthy carbohydrates.


About 10 to 35 percent of the daily calories in your diet should come from protein, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Recommendations are that a healthy adult get 45 to 65 percent of her total calories from carbohydrates. These ranges are known as acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges. Scientific evidence suggests that an individual who stays within the AMDR is more likely to maintain a healthy weight and have a lower risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

Types of Proteins

Amino acids are the units that make up proteins. You need to get essential amino acids from your diet because your body cannot synthesize them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonessential amino acids are the amino acids that your body can make from essential amino acids. High-quality, or complete, proteins provide each of the essential amino acids. Soy and all animal-derived proteins, such as meat, poultry, milk and eggs, are complete. Incomplete, or low-quality, proteins are missing at least one of the essential amino acids. Sources of incomplete proteins include vegetables, most grains, beans and nuts.

Types of Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates include sugars, such as sucrose, or table sugar; fructose, a natural sugar in fruit; and lactose, or natural sugar in milk, according to Sareen Gropper and Jack Smith in “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism.” Complex carbohydrates include starch, such as in potatoes, pasta and rice; and oligosaccharides, which are derived from beans. Dietary fiber describes carbohydrates from the parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Fiber is a not a source of calories. Soluble fiber, such as in beans, fruit and oatmeal, may lower your cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease. Insoluble fiber, which is in vegetables and wheat bran, helps treat constipation and reduces your risk of diverticular disease, according to a report from Harvard School of Public Health.

Nutrition and Health Considerations

Fatty beef and pork, poultry with the skin and full-fat dairy products provide high-quality protein, but they can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Saturated fat and cholesterol raise levels of low-density lipoprotein, the LDL or "bad" cholesterol, in your blood, a risk factor for heart disease. Nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates include fat-free dairy products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Dietary fiber helps prevent constipation, reduces your risk for Type 2 diabetes and reduces your cholesterol levels, according to the Pauling Institute.

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