Dietary Balances

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Energy Available in Foods

The energy liberated from each gram of carbohydrate as it is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water is 4.1 Calories (1 Calorie equals 1 kilocalorie), and that liberated from fat is 9.3 Calories.The energy liberated from metabolism of the average dietary protein as each gram is oxidized to carbon dioxide, water, and urea is 4.35 Calories. Also, these substances vary in the average percentages that are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract: about 98 per cent of carbohydrate, 95 per cent of fat, and 92 per cent of protein. Therefore, the average physiologically available energy in each gram of these three foodstuffs is as follows:


Carbohydrate 4

Fat 9

Protein 4

Average Americans receive about 15 per cent of their energy from protein, 40 per cent from fat, and 45 per cent from carbohydrate. In most non-Western countries, the quantity of energy derived from carbohydrates far exceeds that derived from both proteins and fats. Indeed, in some parts of the world where meat is scarce, the energy received from fats and proteins combined may be no greater than 15 to 20 per cent.

Table 71-1 gives the compositions of selected foods, demonstrating especially the high proportions of fat and protein in meat products and the high proportion of carbohydrate in most vegetable and grain products. Fat is deceptive in the diet because it usually exists as 100 per cent fat, whereas both proteins and carbohydrates are mixed in watery media so that each of these normally represents less than 25 per

Table 71-1

Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate Content of Different Foods


% Protein

% Fat


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