Published on March 6th, 2013 | by George Conte0
How to use Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) and Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) in your diet
When people start to research about how to lose weight or eat healthier, one of the first problems they need to solve is “what amounts of foods should I eat?”
Lately, there are many people from different demographic groups (age, sex etc.) that ask me similar questions so I decided to write an article to cover all these categories of people that have the same difficulty.
The best data we currently have on what amounts of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) our body needs come from the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) developed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The RDA became later part of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) developed by the USDA.
How to access the RDA and DRI tables
You can download the DRI table for carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids and protein here in PDF format.
You can download the DRI tables for recommended dietary allowances (RDA) and adequate intakes (AI) of vitamins and elements, including the 2010 updated recommendations for calcium and vitamin D here in PDF format.
How to use the RDA and DRI for macronutrients
Let’s say you are a 30 years old woman and want to find out how much protein, carbs, fats and fiber you need per day. After downloading the macronutrients table you should go at the top left and see the carbohydrates table, at the right you can see the age and sex categories so you can notice that females 19-30 years old need 130 grams of carbohydrates per day:
If you go below you will see a category for Fiber (you need 25 grams per day). After that there is fat (30 grams per day) as a total and subcategories of fat like polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids (12gr per day) and omega-3 fatty acids (1.1 per day). There are no data for saturated and trans-fatty acids but you should minimize such unhealthy fat intake. Finally there is protein with RDA at 46 grams per day.
Remember the all these values represent the minimum intake you should have in order to not develop any health problems from malnutrition. Off course your daily intakes should be higher but whatever diet plan you decide to follow you should NEVER AND FOR NO REASON drop bellow these values. Now you know exactly why these idiotic “chemical diets” or “lets only eat pineapples for 100 days” diets are so dangerous since they fall way under the RDA and DRI values for multiple nutrient categories.
How to use the RDA and DRI for micronutrients
Let’s say now that you are a 25 year old man that wants to find out what vitamin and mineral intake you need daily in order to follow an a appropriate diet plan to lose weight. After downloading the micronutrients PDF you can notice there are two tables. The first one is all about vitamins and the second is about minerals.
If you want to find out what amount of vitamin C you need daily, find out the group of men 19-30 years old at the left and then the Vitamin C needs at the right:
As you can see your DRI for vitamin C is 90 milligrams (mg) per day. Follow the same way to find out all about your needs for every vitamin and mineral there is.
Each person could have a different goal in his life at a specific point of time. Some may need to lose 10 pounds by consuming 500 less calories per day, some may want to maintain their weight level while eating healthier and some may want to add weight as muscle mass. It doesn’t matter in category you fall into; the DRI and RDA are useful tools that can help you make the right decisions that will help you achieve your goal.