Basics of the well-balanced anti-inflammatory diet: composition of protein, fat, carbohydrates and meal timing

well balanced meal

A serving of protein should fit on the palm of your hand and be of good quality and a low fat source. This translates into about 3 oz. of a low-fat protein source (this would contain about 20 grams of amino acids) for a typical female and approximately 4 oz. of low-fat protein  for a typical male. Furthermore the absolute intake of protein should be between 20–30 grams at every meal to turn on protein synthesis in the body (i.e build more protein), a process which actually burns more calories (this is called thermogenesis). The average female should be consuming about 80–90grams of low-fat protein per day and the average male about 100–110 grams of low-fat protein per day. This amount of protein would have to be equally spaced at each meal to provide the necessary levels of protein needed for the highest amount of satiety or (‘not hungry anymore”) hormones to be secreted from the intestine, controlling hunger and appetite (prevent from overeating)

The carbohydrate content should be able to maintain a stable level of insulin between meals. This can be achieved with about 40 grams of low glycemic load carbohydrates at each meal (please see articles on glycemic load for a full explanation of this term). Most of the carbohydrates should come from colourful non-starchy vegetables, moderate amounts of fruits, limited amounts of whole- grains, and a radical reduction of the dietary intake of refined carbohydrates.

Finally, there is the question of meal timing. The hormonal control benefits of any meal will last only about five hours (meaning the hormones that control appetite and hunger). To achieve this hormonal control of hunger requires three low-calorie meals and two even lower-calorie snacks spaced throughout the day so that five hours never pass before consuming another meal or snack.

So, our ideal anti-inflammatory diet would consist of about 1,500 calories per day (about 50grams of monounsaturated fat, 100grams of low-fat protein, and 150grams of low glycemic load carbohydrates per day). This would represent a 1:2:3 ratio of fat to protein to carbohydrate on a weight basis. On a calorie basis, that is about 30% of the calories as fat, 30% as protein, and 40% as carbohydrates.  Such recommendations have been made by the Joslin Diabetes Research Center at Harvard Medical School for the treatment of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes in 2005  and confirmed by their own pilot studies. Thus using the macronutrient balance described above, the typical female would require slightly more than 1300calories per day, whereas the typical male would require about 1600 calories per day to generate enough chemical energy for daily metabolic needs. Obviously, higher levels of physical activity in either the female or male would require higher protein intake to compensate for the breakdown of muscle protein during exercise with a corresponding increase in total calorie consumption.

Add ons to this basic diet would include supplemental omega-3 fatty acids at the level of 2- 3grams of EPA and DHA per day either by an increased consumption of fatty fish or supplementation with fish oil supplements rich in EPA. Finally, a diet rich in colourful, non- starchy vegetables also would contribute adequate amounts of polyphenols to help decrease inflammation and toxicity in the body.


Barry Sears and Camillo Ricordi. Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition as a Pharmacological Approach to Treat Obesity. Journal of Obesity

Volume 2011, Article ID 431985, 14 pages doi:10.1155/2011/431985

Dr Dani (49 Posts)

Dr Dani is a Canadian Family Medical Doctor & American Board Certified in Integrative Medicine. She sees patients and clients online via Medeo, a, new video conferencing tool. 10 minute visits are covered by the BC Care Card / MSP. Integrative Medicine is an emerging field of evidence-based medicine that combines the best of modern medical science with natural approaches to treat underlying causes of disease. She specializes in treating complex chronic conditions that do not respond well to conventional drug approaches including IBS/Digestive problems, Chronic sinusitis/Immune problems, insomnia, weight problems, stress/fatigue and hormone balancing.


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