The Six Essential Nutrients

1. Carbohydrates. This nutrient is the preferred source of energy for the body (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 105). Remember that if you eat an amount greater than your body can use it will be converted into fatty acids and stored in your fat tissue (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 106). Currently Americans need to eat 45% to 65% of their total daily calories from carbohydrates (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 106)


2. Protein. This nutrient is the “building block” for the body’s muscles, skin, hair, connective tissue, nerve tissue, and blood (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 107). In addition, it helps maintain and repair these body structures. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for protein intake among adults is 10% to 35%. When protein intake exceeds the body’s needs, the unused amino acids are stored as fat (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 107). Therefore, an individual will need to know how much to consume in order to gain, lose, or maintain their weight.

3. Fat. This nutrient helps in many ways such as regulate body temperature, cell membrane structure, protection of vital organs, and vitamin absorption (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 107). Americans are recommended to consume 20% to 35% of total daily calories from fat, with less than 10% coming from saturated fatty acids and keeping trans fatty acids as low as possible (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 107).

4. Vitamins. These nutrients maintain all physiological processes such as vision, immune function, and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 108). It is recommended to consume a balanced amount of vitamins to function normally. Consuming too little or too much will result in multiple health risks.

5. Minerals. These nutrients help with fluid and acid-base balance, transmitting nerve impulses, and skeletal structure. These nutrients like vitamins are not a direct source of energy so consuming these alone will not maintain normal body functions.

6. Water. This nutrient is more than 70% of lean tissue and about 60% of the total body weight…it is involved in absorbing and transporting nutrients, digestion, and protecting vital organs (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 110). Most adults need to drink at least 8 to 10 ounces of water per day and increased amounts when exercising (Iserman & Walker, 2014, p. 111).


Iserman, M. L., & Walker, K. (2014). The Fitness Professional’s Manual (4 ed.). Minneapolis, MN: National Exercise Trainers Association.