What is the AMDR in nutrition?

The AMDR stands for Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range. It refers to the recommended range of intake for each macronutrient – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The AMDR provides a flexible approach to planning nutrient-dense and balanced diets for healthy individuals based on their gender, age and activity level.

What are the macronutrients?

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. There are three macronutrients:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fat

These macronutrients are essential for optimal health and functioning of the body. They provide 4 calories per gram and differ in their primary functions and food sources.


Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. They are found in grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy products, and sweets. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram. The main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the central nervous system and working muscles. Carbs play a key role in digestive and brain health.


Protein provides 4 calories per gram. It is required for building, repairing and maintaining body tissues and creating enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Protein is found in foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds. Consuming adequate protein is important for muscle mass retention, satiety and optimal function of organs.


Fat provides 9 calories per gram, making it the most energy-dense macronutrient. Fats are found in oils, butter, nuts seeds, meats, fish and some dairy foods. Fat helps in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It supports cell membrane function, hormone production and provides cushion for organs. Fat intake should focus on heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

What is the AMDR?

The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) is a nutrition recommendation set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). It provides recommended intake ranges for each macronutrient as percentages of total calorie intake.

The AMDR aim to provide a flexible, balanced approach to eating based on individual needs. Consuming carbohydrates, proteins and fats within the AMDR ranges can promote health and reduce disease risk.

The AMDR percentages are:

  • Carbohydrates: 45-65% of total calories
  • Protein: 10-35% of total calories
  • Fat: 20-35% of total calories

These ranges allow for personalized eating plans based on gender, age, activity levels, health status and individual preferences. Staying within the AMDR can help maintain body weight, meet nutrient needs and reduce disease risks.

How are the AMDR percentages determined?

The AMDR percentages are set based on large reviews of research on diet and health outcomes. The ranges aim to provide minimum amounts of each macronutrient to prevent deficiencies, while limiting upper amounts associated with increased disease risk.

Here are some of the determinants of the AMDR ranges:

  • Carbs: The minimum of 45% meets needs for glucose to fuel the brain and muscles. The upper limit considers increased weight gain and diabetes risks with high-carb diets.
  • Protein: The 10% minimum prevents deficiency. The 35% upper limit considers increased risks of kidney disease and colorectal cancer above this level.
  • Fat: The minimum of 20% meets needs for fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. The 35% upper limit is set to avoid increased weight gain and disease risks linked to high intakes.

The ranges account for basic nutritional needs for healthy individuals while allowing flexibility based on preferences and health goals.

How do I stay within my AMDR?

Here are some tips to help stay within your Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range:

  • Use the AMDR percentages as a guide when meal planning. Aim for balanced meals with carbs, proteins and healthy fats.
  • Eat a variety of foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and healthy oils and fats.
  • Measure portion sizes to avoid overeating. Use measuring cups and food scales for accuracy.
  • Keep a food journal to track your intake. Online apps and trackers can calculate your macro ratios.
  • Consult a registered dietitian if you need help balancing your macros. They can provide personalized plans.
  • Focus on diet quality – choose fresh, minimally processed options within each macronutrient group.

Staying within your AMDR allows room for all foods in moderation. It promotes balanced eating without severely restricting any macronutrient.

How do the AMDR percentages vary by individual needs?

While the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges provide general recommendations, your specific percentages can vary based on factors like:

  • Age: Children and teens may need more carbs and protein for growth and development.
  • Gender: Men often need more calories and protein than women.
  • Activity level: Active individuals may benefit from more carbs for energy and protein for muscle repair.
  • Health status: Those with diabetes or kidney disease may require individualized macronutrient needs.
  • Weight goals: Adjusting carbs, protein and fat can help with weight loss or gain.
  • Dietary preferences: Vegetarians and low-carb diet followers may shift ratios based on food choices.

It’s best to meet with a registered dietitian to help determine your optimal AMDR percentages based on your individual health and lifestyle factors.

Sample AMDR breakdowns

Here are some sample AMDR breakdowns for different genders and activity levels:

Sedentary 30-year old woman

  • Total calories: 2000
  • Carbs: 45-65% of calories = 225-325g = 900-1300 calories
  • Protein: 10-35% of calories = 50-175g = 200-700 calories
  • Fat: 20-35% of calories = 45-78g = 400-700 calories

Active 25-year old man

  • Total calories: 2500
  • Carbs: 45-65% of calories = 281-406g = 1125-1625 calories
  • Protein: 10-35% of calories = 63-219g = 250-875 calories
  • Fat: 20-35% of calories = 56-97g = 500-875 calories

These examples demonstrate how AMDR ranges can be translated into macronutrient goals tailored to calorie needs for gender, age and activity level.

Benefits of staying within the AMDR

Eating within your Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges offers many benefits including:

  • Improved energy levels and athletic performance
  • Enhanced muscle building and fat loss
  • Better appetite control and weight management
  • Reduced risks of nutrient deficiencies
  • Lower disease risks like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers
  • Overall improved health, wellbeing and life expectancy

The AMDR provides a dietary pattern that supports optimal health while allowing for flexible macronutrient ratios tailored to individual needs.

Risks of straying outside the AMDR

Eating too far outside your recommended Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges can increase certain health risks including:

  • Excess carbohydrates: Increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease
  • Excess fat: Increased body fat, obesity, cardiovascular disease
  • Excess protein: Risks of kidney disease, kidney stones, calcium loss from bones
  • Very low carbohydrate: Fatigue, dizziness, constipation
  • Very low fat: Insufficient fat-soluble vitamin absorption
  • Very low protein: Loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, weakness

Severely unbalanced diets also increase risks of certain nutrient deficiencies. Staying within or close to the AMDR helps reduce overall health risks.

AMDR adaptations for special dietary needs

While the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges provide general recommendations, some individuals may require specialized ratios based on health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes: Increased protein and fat, decreased carbs
  • Ketogenic diet: Very high fat, low carbs and protein
  • Dialysis patients: Increased protein, adjusted minerals
  • Underweight people: More calorie-dense carbs and fat
  • Food allergies or intolerances: Substitutions or restrictions of trigger foods

It’s important to work with a registered dietitian or doctor for medical nutrition therapy and specialized AMDR macronutrient ratios based on individual health conditions.

Should I track macros or calories?

To effectively meet your Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges, it can be helpful to track both macros (protein, carbs, fat grams) and total calories. Here’s how they complement each other:

  • Calorie tracking ensures you stay within your energy needs for weight goals.
  • Macro tracking helps you meet AMDR percentages for balanced nutrition.

While they have different purposes, tracking both macros and calories provides an optimal dietary approach. Apps and online tools make it easier to monitor both.

Common questions about AMDR

How accurate are the AMDR percentages?

The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges aim to capture recommendations for the majority of healthy people based on research. However, individual variability exists. It’s best to adjust ratios based on your unique health and lifestyle needs.

Can I go outside my AMDR?

Occasional fluctuations above or below your AMDR percentages are generally not a major concern. But consistently exceeding or inadequate intakes for one or more macronutrients may increase health risks and affect energy levels, weight goals and nutrient status.

What if I eat a very low-carb or low-fat diet?

Diets that severely restrict carbs or fat can still aim to stay within AMDR protein ranges. However, work with a dietitian to ensure nutritional adequacy. You may need supplements to prevent deficiencies.

Do athletes have higher AMDR needs?

Yes, athletes generally require higher overall calorie intakes and higher carbohydrate and protein ratios within the AMDR to meet the increased demands of training.


The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range provides flexible, evidence-based target intake ranges for carbs, protein and fat tailored to individual calorie needs. Eating within your personalized AMDR percentages can promote better health and body composition while reducing disease risk. Work with a knowledgeable dietitian if you need help determining your optimal macronutrient ratio within the AMDR.

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