At this point you have probably heard of the term macronutrients. If not, macronutrients are the nutrients that provide calories in every food you eat. There are only three – protein, fat, and carbohydrates. These nutrients are the ones you eat in large gram amounts (hence macro). The opposite of macronutrients are micronutrients which are vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. You eat these in smaller amounts such as milligrams or micrograms.

When balancing blood sugar, insulin, insulin resistance, and weight loss creating a balance with these macronutrients is vitally important. Suffice it to say that you generally eat more carbohydrates than either protein or fat. Finding the balance with these can make or break your success. While it would be great to balance all three, balancing protein and carbohydrates is most important. Hence the protein-to-carb ratio is a quick, useful tool.

Protein-to-Carbohydrate Ratio

There is an easy way to quickly determine if an individual food is a good balance. I often describe protein as being the balance to carbs. You don’t have to eat them in the exact same amount, in fact it’s common to eat smart carbohydrates in a larger portion than protein. However, there’s a simple rule of thumb to evaluate your protein and carb balance. Here’s the protein-to-carbohydrate ratio secret:

When looking at a Nutrition Facts food label, the total carbohydrate grams should not be more than double the protein grams 

Here are a few examples:

  • If your nutrition facts read 20g carbohydrates, the protein should be at least 10g (good)
  • If the nutrition facts read 40g carbohydrates, the protein should be at least 20g (good)
  • If the nutrition facts read 40g carbohydrates and protein is 10g, then you are creating a higher blood sugar, thus insulin secretion which will perpetuate insulin resistance and elevated glucose control (not good)

Based on the food label to the right, the total carbohydrates are 10g, the protein is 22g. Since the protein grams are more than double the carbs (not the other way around), this is a good balance

The closer your carbohydrate and protein grams match the less of a blood sugar elevation (and insulin secretion) you will create.

Other examples:

  • carbohydrates 20g, protein 18g  (good)
  • carbohydrates 10g, protein 12g (still good)
  • carbohydrates 35g, protein 20g (still good)
  • carbohydrates 35g, protein 10g (not so good)

This protein-to-carb ratio is best used with foods that you will eat individually. It can be a useful tool for foods such as granola or granola bars, protein bars, yogurt, or smoothies.

This tool is a quick and easy way to take a look at a food label and determine if it is working in your favor.

What other foods will you find this useful for?