Amid all the different diet trends and conflicting research, most of us are more confused than ever What and how much to eat, especially when it comes to protein, carbohydrates, and fat. That’s why I like the 60/20/20 diet when it comes to everyday food. While there isn’t a single magic combination or one-size-fits-all approach, eating healthy is pretty simple: it’s all about balance.
The 60/20/20 menu offers a balanced approach by properly portioning your carbohydrates, proteins and fats throughout the day. The idea behind this nutrition plan is to maximize your energy levels and muscle tone, promote cardiovascular function, and improve overall health.
The 60/20/20 diet was derived from that 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Recommending Eat in the Following Areas:
carbohydrates: 50-65% of the calories
Fat: 15-30% of the calories
protein: 15–30% of calories
If you focus on digesting roughly 60% of your total calories from carbohydrates, 20% from healthy fats, and 20% from lean protein, you can achieve sustainable weight loss, increase energy levels, and build lean muscles in the long run.
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Let’s sum it up.
Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for our muscles during exercise and the only source of energy for our brain and red blood cells. Fat is just as important and plays an important role in everything from brain function to cell structure. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to trade in a percentage of your carbohydrates and / or fat calories for a protein boost. Studies show that calories for calories, protein, has the most metabolic benefits for weight loss, in particular – it increases satiety (keeps you full longer), energy levels, and maintains muscles.
Try the percentage ranges a little to see what works best for you. Just remember, the quality of the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that you eat is just as important as the amount.
If you are considering trying the 60/20/20 diet, here are some things to keep in mind:
Types of carbohydrates make all the difference.
Carbohydrates get a bad rap, but according to Harvard Health:
Most importantly, the types of carbohydrates you eat, as some sources are much healthier than others. The amount of carbohydrates in your diet – high or low – matters far less than type.
Healthy sources of carbohydrates, such ass whole fruits, non-starchy vegetables (such as artichoke, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, and legumes such as Chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans) promote health by providing vitamins, minerals, fiber and a variety of important nutrients to our blood and central nervous system. Whole grains like Andean millet, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Steel cut oats, cereal, barley, or wheat bran are other good choices.
Unhealthy sources contain easily digestible carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain, lower energy levels, and promote diabetes and heart disease. This includes foods like white bread, corn flakes, rice crackers, white rice, and fruit juice.
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Use protein to strengthen your body and build lean muscles.
It’s important to consume enough protein every day to keep your body functioning properly and in sync. Protein is used to build and repair tissues (such as skeletal muscle, bones, hair, fingernails, cartilage, skin, and blood), and to make enzymes and hormones that regulate metabolism and growth.
Try this out Basic Guide to Protein Information on vegetable protein sources and lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish for a healthy diet before starting the 60/20/20 diet.
Load up omega-3 fats.
Fats have many benefits ranging from satiety to brain health – especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids. Read about the Essential Guide to Fat if you are looking for heart healthy options. Remember: fat is crucial – don’t be afraid of fat!
Start your 60/20/20 meal plan today with these delicious recipes:
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to get started on the 60/20/20 diet, you’ve come to the right place. Scroll on for some of our favorite recipes that feature healthy carbohydrates, fats, and lean sources of protein that will keep your body and brain balanced, healthy, and happy from sunrise to sunset.
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Sunday night avocado toast, Camille Styles
You can’t go wrong with a classic avocado toast, and Camille’s version does it even better with jammed eggs, popped tomatoes, and everyone’s favorite: Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning. It’s the ideal breakfast, but let’s face it, it’s perfect any time of the day or night.
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Sweet potato hash, paleo running momma
This hearty hash can be tossed together in a single pan, making it as easy and convenient as it is delicious. If you’re a hearty breakfast person, be sure to try this yummy sweet potato, sausage, and egg combo that will keep you full for hours.
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Apple pie baked oatmeal, Camille Styles
Dessert for breakfast? Count me. Apples, walnuts and oats, baked in cinnamon and sugar, are a surefire way to start the day full of warmth and comfort. You can even use gluten-free oats and vegan substitutions so everyone can work their way in regardless of dietary restrictions.
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Baked egg crepes, half-baked harvest
You’ll feel like you are in Paris the next time you make these baked egg crepes with spring herbs and avocado. All it takes are a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Impress your family or treat yourself to a very special brunch at home. You deserve it.
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Protein-wrapped blueberry pancakes, Camille Styles
Load your pancakes with protein like chia seeds and you will be shocked at how much energy you will have for the hours to come. This incredibly tasty recipe is perfect for the fussy eater in your family.
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Chicken and Cabbage Lo Mein, the defined dish
Satisfy Chinese cravings with this quick and easy meal. This filling and flavourful bowl is full of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and mushrooms and will give you the energy you need for the rest of the work day without feeling stuck or foggy.
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Spring Salmon and Veggie Grain Bowl, Camille Styles
It doesn’t get any more nutritious than this perfectly balanced bowl of salmon and vegetables. The salmon and avocado are the perfect complement to the cozy grains and the absolutely delightful turmeric dressing. This recipe is also a fabulous stepping stone for your own lunch creations – the possibilities of creating a grain bowl are endless.
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Pasta with Roasted Zucchini and Peppers, Lindsay Hunt
This simple pasta dish is served just as deliciously warm as it is cold for your next day’s lunch. The combination of veggies and soothing noodles will keep you full and focused for the day and prevent you from wandering to the cookie jar in the late afternoon. And how beautiful are these colors?
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Green Goddess Quinoa Bowl, What Gaby Cooking
This light and refreshing quinoa bowl is loaded with crispy radishes, sweet and juicy tomatoes, and a delicious dash of feta cheese that hits all the necessary 60/20/20 diet points. Make your own green goddess dressing or buy it in the store for a really delicious lunchtime feast.
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Hawaiian Poke Bowl, Camille Styles
It doesn’t get much better than a poke bowl, and this vegan version of the Hawaiian classic is a real lunch treat. The fresh flavors combine to create a truly portable meal that feels like you’re on a beach far away. Tofu replaces traditional tuna, but you won’t miss it.
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Stew taco noodles, the defined dish
The next time you’re in the mood for some Mexican food, stick yourself in these pot noodles. It has all of those familiar calming flavors, but with an unexpected twist. And best of all, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free so those with restricted diets can enjoy it too.
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Thai Chicken Soup, Camille Styles
Check out Camille’s spin on classic chicken soup for an extremely cozy, upscale meal that looks decadent while being healthy and simple. The rich Thai flavors are impressive, and you can even make it vegetarian by replacing the chicken with a vegetable of your choice.
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Leaf pan meatballs with crispy turmeric chickpeas, Smitten cuisine
Few things are more potent than wanting a good meatball, and those pan-frying meatballs might be the easiest way to appease the call. In combination with the crispy turmeric chickpeas and roasted onions, this recipe is not only healthy and filling, but also good for the soul. I can practically smell them through the screen.
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Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats, Camille Styles
These zucchini boats filled with enchilada are absolutely awesome. They’re loaded with vegetables and ground turkey for a balanced meal full of vitamins and minerals. It will be impossible not to ask for seconds.
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Warm Farro bowl with roasted cauliflower & kale
This healthy comfort meal is utterly elegant and full of beautiful colors and flavors. As with most cereal bowls, it works well for substitution depending on which vegetable is in season so you never get tired of making them.
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Slow Cooker Turkey & Chili with White Beans, Half-Baked Crop
A pot of chili is always in season, especially when it’s as healthy and tasty as this turkey and white bean recipe. It’s abundant, filling, and full of delicious smoke flavors. There’s nothing like the convenience of knowing that beans are simmering in the kitchen.
This post was originally published on March 7, 2019 and has been updated since then.