Utilizing Dietary Nutrient Ratios in Nutritional Research: Expanding the Concept of Nutrient Ratios to Macronutrients

Nutrients. 2019 Jan 28;11(2):282. doi: 10.3390/nu11020282.


We recently showed that using micronutrient ratios in nutritional research might provide more insights into how diet affects metabolism and health outcomes, based on the notion that nutrients, unlike drugs, are not consumed one at a time and do not target a single metabolic pathway. In this paper, we present a concept of macronutrient ratios, including intra- and inter-macronutrient ratios. Macronutrient intakes from food only, from the What We Eat in America website (summarized National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data) were transposed into Microsoft Excel to generate ratios. Overall, the dietary ratios of macronutrients may be more revealing and useful in epidemiology and in basic nutritional research than focusing on individual protein, fat, and carbohydrate intakes. While macronutrient ratios may be applied to all types of nutritional research, nutritional epidemiology, and, ultimately, dietary guidelines, the methodology required has not been established yet. In the meantime, intra- and inter-macronutrient ratios may serve as a measure of individual and total macronutrient quality.

Keywords: carbohydrate; daily values; dietary guidelines; dietary patterns; dietary reference intakes; fat; macronutrients; nutrient ratios; protein.

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients
  • Nutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutrients / chemistry
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Nutritional Status
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances


  • Micronutrients