What Is The Recommended Daily Intake of Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates for College-age Students?
When students go off to college, they begin making their own decisions regarding their nutrition. This is both exciting and intimidating. The recommended daily intake of protein, fat, and carbohydrates can be hard to determine, especially for those who are just starting out eating away from home. The recommended daily intake (RDI) or recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is the recommended number of grams of a specific nutrient someone should take in on a daily basis to stay healthy. These numbers vary based on age, sex, height, weight, and activity level since no two people’s bodies are exactly the same. Regardless, you can still get a general idea of how much of these three supplements you need daily.
Protein intake is recommended at around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for college students, or 56 grams for a 130-pound female and 71 grams for a 180-pound male. For those involved in less active lifestyles, the recommended daily intake is between 0.6 to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which would be 44 to 56 grams daily for the same female and 57 to 71 grams daily for the same male. Carbs make up 45 percent of the total recommended daily energy intake (RDI), which comes out to about 300–350 grams a day. Protein accounts for 20 percent of RDI, while fat makes up 30 percent.
As far as fats go, many people fear what is called the “freshman fifteen.” While it is not uncommon for college students to put on some pounds, this is largely due to the high-calorie intake of students combined with the lack of physical activity of today’s culture. While 15 pounds may seem like a lot, it is recommended that people consume extra fat (especially unsaturated fats) as part of a healthy diet. Students should refer to their physician if they have any concerns about their weight during their first year of college.
The recommended daily intake of carbohydrates should account for 45 percent of total RDI. Carbohydrates play an important role in muscle recovery after intense exercise sessions or other strenuous activities. It is recommended that athletes consume between 6 and 10 grams per kilogram, which would be 36 to 70 grams daily for someone weighing 130 pounds—and 42 to 80 grams for someone weighing 180 pounds. Eating foods like pasta and bread is an easy way of meeting these needs.
Since most dining halls don’t provide the healthiest options and most students don’t have a lot of money, meeting these dietary needs may serve as a challenge for some. So how can you meet them in a cost-efficient manner? You can keep track of the foods you eat every day and their prices by writing them down in a physical journal or on a notepad app on your phone or laptop. Also, keep track of any snacks you consume throughout the day. This will help you find out if you are meeting your recommended daily intake of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Once a week, go back over your journal or notepad to see if there are areas where you can reduce or cut out certain foods that aren’t as nutritious. You can do it!