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Low Fat Eating Tips




  1. What do I look for when trying to count fat grams? Answer
  2. I've heard avocados are fatty. Just what would be a sensible, regular use of avocados in my diet? Answer
  3. I eat a balanced diet except I concentrate on the fat content which is typically between 5% and 10%. Is my fat intake too low? Answer
  4. My daughter contends that white meat chicken has a higher fat content and I say that dark meat has the greater amount. In fact is there any difference? Answer
  5. I am trying to pay attention to what I eat especially the amount and type of fat in my diet. Is there some way that I can measure how much fat I am eating? Answer
  6. My wife and I are trying to lose weight. What is the recommended amount of fat that should be consumed in a day? Answer
  7. I joined a health spa and the trainer advised me that my fat intake should average 20 - 30 grams per day. Fitness books say to eat plenty of carbohydrates. Answer
  8. Please clarify the percent fat content on food nutriiton labels. Answer
  9. What is your opinin of Dean Ornish's diet for reversing coronary heart disease? Is it possible to get too little fat in your diet? Answer


  10. I have been consuming 1200 calories a day. The foods I have chosen just don't add up to more than 10 to 12 fat grams eah day. What do you advise regarding my fat intake? Answer
  11. Do you think 1300 caloreis is appropriate and if so, how should I break it down as far as carbohydrates, protein and fat? Answer
  12. I was told prior to discharge from the hospital to go on a low fat diet. I would like to know what amount of fat i need to include in my diet. Answer


My question is. I have been told to have between 50 and 60 fat grams each day, but when I read nutrition facts on food labels I see total fat and also fat calories. What do I look for when trying to count fat grams? Your response is greatly appreciated.

If you want to count fat grams, look on food labels for the total fat in grams. Ignore the percent and the fat calories.

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to fat. It doesn't make sense that a 135 pound woman and a 185 pound man need the same number of grams of fat when they both should be aiming for 30% of calories from fat. 50 grams of fat has 450 calories and would fit a 1500 calorie diet. 60 grams of fat has 540 calories and fits an 1800 calorie diet. Depending on your gender, height and weight, this may be too much or too little fat.

Have you tried my Healthy Body Calculator? It will assess how many fat grams you should eat based on your weight and calorie goals.


I have an avocado tree. I've heard avocados are fatty, so limit myself to a half one per day. Recently I read they are a good source of protein, so I would eat more if it made sense. Considering the pros and cons, just what would be a sensible, regular use of avocados in my diet?

I am 76, bicycle and work out at gym three days a week and run five miles three other days a week. Occasionally day-hike and sometimes backpack. Six feet, one inch tall, 185 pounds with 14% body fat. Is this enough info? Thanks for help.

One Avocado has 4 grams of protein, 15 gms carbohydrate and 31 grams of fat. So avocados are mostly fat. However, it is a good fat because avocados contain monounsaturated fat (19 gms in 1 avocado) like olive oil and peanut oil.

So choose avocados like you would any other fat source. If you choose to eat 1/2 avocado per day, you are eating 3 fat servings (diabetic exchanges) which should fit in a healthy eating plan. Or you could compare avocados to the Food Guide Pyramid where 1 medium avocado is a serving of fruit. Hope this isn't confusing, but depending on how you keep track of your food intake (diabetic exchanges or the food guide pyramid), avocados are one of those foods that could be in either group. I would choose the fat group since fat is the predominant nutrient.

Congrats on a great exercise plan. You're a role model for what aging can be about.

Have you tried out the Healthy Body Calculator. If you put in your physical data, you can see for yourself how much fat you should eat in a day. You can adjust the fat percentage the calculator uses to fit your fat goal. Given your statistics above, you need at least 60 grams of fat per day at 30% fat from your total calories for your basal energy needs. This amount of fat doesn't include the fat you would need for exercise.

So if you ate 1/2 avocado per day, that would provide 25% of your fat needs at this basal energy level. Depending on what else you eat and how much you exercise on a daily basis, this could be too little or just right.


I eat a balanced diet except I concentrate on the fat content. If it's available in non-fat such as milk or cheese, that's what I buy and eat. My fat intake is typically between 5 and 10% of my calories. I do weight train and do cardio workouts three times a week. Is my fat intake too low?

Possibly. Consider these facts about your body's need for fat.

It is recommended that people consume 30% of total daily calories from fat, 55% from carbohydrates and 15% from protein. So, you are not consuming nearly enough fat in your diet according to these guidelines.

Fats perform many vital roles to aid in the body's functions. Triglycerides, the main form of fat in the body and in foods, constitute most of the stored energy in the body. Triglycerides yield over twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrates and protein (fats provide 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per gram). The free fatty acids, released from triglycerides are the major source for fuel for the body at rest and during light activity.

Triglycerides and other lipids (fat) in foods also carry fat-soluble vitamin A ,D, E and K to the small intestine. In doing so, lipids aid in absorption of these nutrients. Without fat you are at risk for developing deficiencies of these vitamins.

Food fat causes the stomach to empty more slowly than either carbohydrates or protein and it imparts satiety - the satisfied feeling you have after eating. If you reduce your fat intake below 20% of total energy intake, you will get hungry quicker.

The essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, are substances that need to come from the diet. They are necessary building materials for molecules and compounds that perform such vital functions in your body as regulation of blood pressure, blood clotting, immune response and childbirth. Excellent sources of these essential fatty acids are salad dressings containing Canola or soybean oil, salmon, tuna and sardines.

Another thing to be aware of is when fat is removed from a product, something else must be added, usually carbohydrates in order to maintain a desirable taste and texture. For this reason, many fat-reduced and fat-free products are still very energy dense - containing a high amount of calories. Remember that calories count too, no matter if they come from fat, carbohydrates or protein so be sure to moderate your portions if you consume a lot of fat reduced products. Consider the increase in the number of low fat foods while the American public's average weight has gone up. Low fat and fat free foods are not the magic solution for weight loss.

Have you tried the Healthy Body Calculator? If you put your physical data and activities in, it will calculate a healthy amount of calories and fat based on your nutrition goals.


My daughter and I have been having a discussion on fat content in chicken. Specifically as to which has the higher fat content. My daughter contends that white meat has a higher fat content and I of course say that dark meat has the greater amount. In fact is there any difference?

Dark poultry (chicken or turkey) has a slightly higher fat content, but also a slightly higher thiamin (vitamin B1) content. Good trade off. Even so, poultry is still lower in fat than red meats. A healthy diet should contain lean or low fat meats.


I've always been active and in good shape, but now that I'm getting older (42 yr.-old male), it's tougher to keep the weight off. Therefore, I am trying to pay closer attention to what I eat, especially the amounts and types of fat in my diet, but it's still very hard to tell how much I'm eating over the course of the day. Is there some way that I can measure how much fat I am eating?

There are several ways that you can measure how much fat you are eating. First though, you have to write down everything you eat or drink before you start. Remember to write down the name of foods, how they are prepared and approximately how much you ate including the quantity and measure i.e. 1 1/2 cups of boiled white rice.

First option, you can keep track of fat grams on food labels, but the problem is that some basic foods like fruits, vegetables and meats as well as deli items and restaurant foods don't have food labels.

Second option, you can send your food records to Registered Dietitian who will analyze your food records for you. A dietitian's report would show you how much and what kind of fat you eat. They can analyze the amounts of individual fatty acids! If you've heard the good news about olive oil, a dietitian can show you the amounts and ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids along with saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Armed with their analyses, you can keep track of the fat in the foods you eat and make healthier food choices.

Third option, you can buy nutrition analysis software and do the analysis yourself.


My wife and I are trying to loose weight. We are concerned about the amount of fat in our diet. What is the recommended amount of fat that should be consumed in a day? We are eating different amounts and would appreciate any information that you can provide. We are in the mid to late forties and obese.

The current recommended fat content is 30% of total calories per day. The new Food Facts label provides this as 65 grams for persons on a 2,000-calorie diet. The total fat listed on the new label will show the grams of fat per serving of the food and the percent Daily Value. In other words, what percent of the 65 grams recommended is supplied by one serving of the food in the package.

This recommendation covers weight loss, heart disease and cancer. Some energetic persons have sought to lower this. Research has found when fat content of the diet goes below 25% of total calories that binge eating is more likely and satiety (satisfaction after eating) decreases. More is not always better.


I just read some of the diet and exercise advice you give over the Internet and thought maybe you could help me with my question. I've been making a concerted effort to better my eating habits and lose weight. My diet generally averages no more or less than 20 fat grams a day. I try to be reasonable with my caloric intake per day because I know that the calories my body needs depends on my level activity. I have always read that I need to watch my fat intake per day for successful weight loss and fitness. Last week I joined a neighborhood health spa and the trainer advised me that my fat intake should average 20 - 30 fat grams per day, but what I really need to watch is my intake of carbohydrates.

I have always read that if a person wants to lose weight and tone up he/she should eat plenty of carbohydrates. I am confused now because I don't know what or how to eat properly in order to achieve the fitness goals I desire. Did I misread the information in the fitness books?

Is there any balanced counsel you can give me on this? The information I've been reading and the advice I got from my trainer seems contradictory at this point. Thank you for your attention.

Seems like you and your trainer agree on fat intake, but I wonder if 20 grams is too low. If you eat 20 grams of fat per day times 9 calories per gram, you eat 180 fat calories. Fat should comprise about 25 -30% of total calories. Therefore, 20 fat grams would be appropriate for only 720 calories per day, which is unhealthy. If you eat twice that much (1440 calories per day) then you are only eating half the fat you need (12.5%).

If you want to lose weight, calories do count no matter what nutrient (fat, carbohydrate, protein and alcohol) source. Take the calories you eat per day and multiply by 25%, then divide by 9 to get your fat gram percent. For instance, if you eat 1500 calories per day, multiply by 25% to get 375 fat calories, then divide by 9 to get 42 fat grams.

Carbohydrates should be 55 - 60% of total calories. Do the same math, but carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram. Take 1500 calories, multiply by 60% to get 900 carbohydrate calories, then divide by 4 to get 225-carbohydrate grams.

If you want some good software to put it all together for you, take a look at a diet and exercise program that is easy to use. It should calculate the activity calories you need per day and have over 200 exercises that you can add to your daily routine. The software should report your calorie intake against exercise expenditure and daily body weight.

Does you trainer have a degree in nutrition? If not, ask if the spa employs a dietitian who has the education and experience to provide expert nutritional advice on exercise and weight loss.


1) My wife and I have recently switched from 1% to skim milk. What is the recommended type of milk for our two children, ages 8 and 9?

2) Please clarify the % fat content on food nutrition labels. I understand that a general guideline for gauging fat intake is no more than 30% of your daily calorie intake. What do the % fat content labels indicate? Should your total from the labels be 30% for a day's consumption orare they already accounting for the 30% recommendation, allowing the total from label information to be 100%?

1) There is varying milk recommendations for children under the age of 10. Generally speaking 2%, 1% or skim milk is acceptable and which milk depends on the energy needs of the child. Is the child underweight, then offer whole milk, if normal weight offer 2% or 1%, if overweight offer skim milk.

The 1995 USDA Dietary Guidelines are available on the Net and recommend less than 30% calories from fat for children over the age of 5. Fat content in children's diet can be gradually reduced between the ages of 2 and 5 to reach the goal of 30% calories from fat. The biggest concern is that children consume enough calories so that their bodies and brains grow at a normal rate. I am disturbed by childcare givers who put children (less than 10 years of age) on low fat, calorie restricted diets.

2) Unfortunately, the percent fat content on the new food label is based on 2,000 calories with 65 grams of fat for everyone. So the percent fat is based on what percent of the 65 grams (100%) does this food contribute per serving. If you need 2,000 calories, you could add up the fat percents and stop eating foods containing fat when you reach 100% assuming you need 2,000 calories a day.

Use the grams of fat instead to calculate your daily fat intake. Take the total calories you need, multiply by 30% and divide by 9 to get your fat gram goal. For example, if you need 1500 calories per day, multiply by 30% to get 450 fat calories, divide by 9 to get 50 grams of fat. This would be your individual daily fat goal.


What is your opinion of Dr Dean Ornish's diet for reversing coronary heart disease? Is it possible to get too little fat in your diet? If so, what are the symptoms?

First talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise.

Dr Dean Ornish's diet incorporates whole plant based foods (vegetarian) rather than processed foods (veggie burgers or crumbles) while limiting total fat to 10%. The very low fat aspect eliminates all fats including butter, margarine, oil including olive, mayonnaise, nuts, avocados, olives, coconut and seeds. The fat you do get is from grains, legumes, soy and dried beans. Fat free dairy products and egg whites are allowed. Calories are not limited. Exercise, support and stress management are also included in this program. Ornish's scans showing before and after views of blocked blood vessels shows impressive results where blood vessels have reduced blockage. Since the Ornish diet results in weight loss as well as a decrease in cholesterol levels, I am not sure how much of the unblocked blood vessels is due to the Ornish diet and how much to weight loss by any diet. The diet is very strict and some people may find it difficult to follow long term. However the threat of a heart bypass operation to replace blocked arteries or a stent to open blocked arteries is a great motivator to stick to the Ornish diet.

If your diet has less than 1 teaspoon of soybean oil (linoleic and linolenic fatty acids) per day you could develop a fatty acid deficiency. This can come from full fat soy foods like tofu or soy milk. Symptoms are red, irritated skin , infections and dehydration. Also, the liver processes food fat and may develop abnormalities if fatty acids are deficient.

Your body uses fat to synthesize hormones and regulate blood pressure as well. Dietary fat also carries fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K which could also become deficient if fat is too restricted.

Diets of less than 25% fat tend to reduce feeling satisfied after a meal. Bulimics tend to binge on carbohydrates when fat falls below 20%. The current recommendations are 25 to 30% calories from fat.


I would appreciate your advice on the following matter. Since I began my weight loss program five weeks ago, I have been consuming 1200 calories a day. I exercise for about 10 minute daily on a cardio-glide machine. My problem is my fat intake. I think I'm taking in too few fat grams.

The foods I have chosen (which I am very happy with) just don't add up to more than 10 to 12 fat grams each day. Basically, my daily diet consists of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich and fruit for lunch, a Lean Cuisine dinner and rice cakes and ice pops for an evening snack. I occasionally have another piece of fruit around 5:00 p.m.

I am following this diet under the supervision of my doctor to reduce my risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, which run in my family. I am female, 57 years old, in good health (low blood pressure, normal EKG, blood sugar of 125) and have no other physical ailments or complaints other than my need to lose weight.

In five weeks I have lost 13 pounds and I have another 25 to 30 pounds to lose. I have been taking Paxil (10 mg. per day) for the past year and began taking Phentermine (18.5 mg per day) five weeks ago. I feel fine and have had no adverse side effects.

What do you advise regarding my fat intake?

If I increase the fat, I would also increase my caloric intake. What foods could I add to raise the fat grams while not greatly increasing calories?

What could I expect if I keep my fat intake to the current 10 to 12 grams per day? Thanks for your assistance.

Your diet and exercise program sound great and your weight loss about 3 pounds more that would be expected (5 weeks at 2 pounds per week = 10 pounds). I am unfamiliar with Paxil, but Phentermine is an appetite suppressant (trade name Fastin) which can affect your blood sugar, especially in diabetics.

Your fat intake at 10 - 12 grams per day (90 - 108 fat calories) on a 1200-calorie diet provides only 7.5 - 9% fat, which is too low. You could increase your fat grams to 27 - 40 grams of fat per day within your 1200 calorie eating plan, but you would have to decrease either the protein or carbohydrate grams so as not to go over the 1200 calorie limit you have set. Ideally, a diet should be 25 - 30% fat, 10 - 15% protein and 55 - 60% carbohydrates. Fat contributes 9 calories per gram, protein and carbohydrate 4 calories per gram. (Alcohol contributes 7 calories per gram.) Santé nutritional analysis software could do it all for you and analyze your recipes.

Food that would add fat, but not a lot of calories are poultry and fish and non-fat dairy products like skim milk, low fat cheeses and low fat yogurt. These food suggestions may only mean different menu choices within your eating plan, which may already include meat and milk. Of course, you could add fat in the form of margarine or salad dressings, but would get little else besides the fat. Mostly, you should avoid fried and high fat foods which are also concentrated sources of sugar (empty calorie meaning doesn't contribute much nutritionally) and calories.

What you could expect if you keep your fat grams at 10 - 12 per day is continued weight loss if you also continue to limit calorie intake to less than you need. Fat provides flavor and satiety (a feeling of satisfactions after a meal) as well as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). It would be difficult for you to eat a balanced diet (meet your RDA) on 1200 calories per day without a multivitamin supplement which I would recommend.

When you do get to your weight goal, you will need to increase calories, increase fat and make other adjustments in your diet. You may want to see a Registered Dietitian for assistance in making that transition to weight maintenance after all the efforts you made to lose the weight.


First off, CFF is an abbreviation for "calories from fat" (I think that I picked that up from the fat free news group!).

The doctor has never given me any specifics regarding diet since my kidney removal, but his nurse suggested watching my protein intake. I'm afraid that I have no idea of how my calories should break down! I am open to any recommendations you might make. As you can see, my main concern has been cutting the fat out. Do you think that 1300 calories is appropriate and if so, how should I break it down as far as carbohydrate, protein and fat? At this point eating healthy is a large concern to me as is continuing to lose weight.

BTW, I normally do 45 minutes 5 days a week on the treadmill. Once again, thank you for allowing me to bend your "ear" and I truly do appreciate your taking the time to respond.

Thanks for your explanation of CFF. (See the Iron topic for first question.)

Someone who has access to your medical chart should determine the calorie, protein and fat content as well as carbohydrate. I am really concerned when a patient is told to watch some aspect of their diet. (Usually patients watch their food then eat it.) You need to talk to nutrition professional. Call the clinic where your doctor is and ask to talk to a Registered Dietitian.

Keep up the healthy lifestyle of cutting fat and exercise. You are on the right track. You can look at the Overweight topic for some general weight loss tips, but I would suggest you get a professional to plan an individualized meal plan that takes all your health concerns into account.




I was told, prior to discharge from the hospital, to go on a "low-fat" diet. However, I don't have an appointment with either my cardiologist or my internist for about another 6 weeks. I would like to know what amount of fat I need to include in my diet. I'm about 40# over- weight, also, so I'd like to get the combined benefit of weight loss. I have been cutting my fat intake rather severely I believe and I'm not sure that's a good idea. By severely, I mean I'm trying to stay at less than 20 gm of fat per day.

Unfortunately, your experience is becoming more commonplace with short hospital stays. A low fat diet usually has 30% of calories from fat. Some low fat diets may be limited to 30 or 50 grams per day, which would equal 23% to 38% of a 1200-calorie diet.

Less than 20 grams of fat per day is probably too low. While your weight and cholesterol would go down on such a diet, fat does add flavor and a feeling of fullness after eating. An eating plan with 1200 calories and 25 - 30% of calories from fat (40 grams of fat) would be a good place to start. If you ate 3 meals per day, you could include about 13 grams of fat per meal. The new Nutrition Facts food label does provide the grams of fat per serving. However, basic foods like meat, fruits and vegetables aren't necessarily required to be labeled. Why don't you call a dietitian for an appointment to get your individual diet prescription filled.






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