- Though there is not one ideal amount of dietary fat for weight loss, eating 20-35% of your daily calories from fat is considered safe and effective.
- Poly- and monounsaturated fats should make up the majority of your fat intake, with limits on amounts of saturated and trans fats.
- Add more healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and natural nut butter, into your daily meals and snacks.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you may wonder how many grams of fat you should eat per day for optimal results and health. Experts recommend eating between 20 and 35% of your daily calories from fat, but the types of fat you choose also matter.
Focusing on unsaturated fats, like avocados and olive oil, while reducing saturated and trans fats can reduce the risk of heart disease and may improve metabolic health.
Continue reading to learn more about the types of dietary fat and how many grams of fat to eat daily for weight loss.
How Many Grams of Fat Should I Eat Per Day To Lose Weight?
In general, 20-35% of daily calories from fat are recommended for weight management and a healthy diet. For a 2000-calorie diet, this is equivalent to 44-78 grams of fat daily; for a 1500-calorie diet, 33-58 grams of daily fat.
Surveys have found that over 70% of Americans believe limiting dietary fat is necessary for weight loss. Though very low-fat diets were historically recommended for weight loss, the evidence has changed over the years. Experts agree that no ideal amount of dietary fat for weight loss works for everyone.
Studies show that weight loss results are similar between lower-fat and higher-fat diets when controlled for calories and that the overall calorie deficit is more important than macronutrient distribution.
There is no clear definition of low-fat diets, with recommendations ranging from less than 10% of total calories from fat to less than 30%. Studies on low-fat diets have not found superior weight loss results compared to other calorie-restricted eating plans.
Experts typically don’t recommend diets with less than 20% of calories from fat because this can make it hard to get adequate essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins from the diet. There is also evidence that very low-fat diets are higher in simple carbohydrates, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet includes a moderate amount of dietary fat, with 30-40% of daily calories coming from fat. This eating pattern has been proven effective for weight loss maintenance and can also reduce the risk of heart disease, improve brain health, and boost mood.
The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet has become popular in recent years. This eating pattern typically consists of 70-80% of calories from fat daily. Research has not found this diet to produce superior weight loss than other low-calorie diets. More studies are needed to determine its impact on LDL “bad” cholesterol and its long-term safety.
This information is not a replacement for medical advice. For more guidance on the best amount of fat for your diet, consider talking to a registered dietitian through Nourish.
Types of Dietary Fat Explained
Dietary fats can be divided into two categories: those beneficial for heart health, like poly- and monounsaturated fats, and those harmful to heart health, including saturated fats and trans fats.
The type of dietary fats you predominantly eat can not only affect heart disease risk but may also impact metabolism and weight. Research shows that diets high in saturated fat can cause gut health disruptions associated with obesity and inflammation.
Below, we explore the different types of dietary fats, their sources, and their effects on the body and health.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, like butter or lard. They typically come from animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy. The exception is tropical oils, which come from plants, but are saturated fats, like coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats are also found in processed foods such as ice cream, baked goods, and fried foods.
Too much saturated fat in your diet can increase your heart disease risk by contributing to elevated cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat consumption to less than five to six percent of your daily calories, which for a 2,000-calorie diet is equivalent to 13 grams of saturated fat daily.
Trans fat is a manufactured type of fat created to make vegetable oil solid at room temperature. They are primarily used in packaged and fast food, like doughnuts, frozen pizza, and stick margarine. You can identify it on the label by looking for grams of trans fat or noting “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient list.
Trans fats have been determined unsafe by the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake as much as possible. Eating foods containing trans fats can contribute to unfavorable cholesterol changes (increases in “bad” LDL cholesterol and decreases in “good” HDL cholesterol).
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and usually come from plant sources, like olive oil, avocados, and peanuts. Even though they contain the same amount of calories as saturated fat, they can impact your health differently.
Monounsaturated fats help lower cholesterol levels and are rich in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant. Experts recommend replacing saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated ones, like mono- and polyunsaturated fats, to reduce your risk of heart disease.
In addition to monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats are recommended to make up most of your fat intake. Many foods contain both types of unsaturated fats, like olive oil. Other food sources of polyunsaturated fats are soybean oil, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
Polyunsaturated fats can lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your heart disease risk. They also provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for humans to consume. Foods like soybeans, flaxseeds, and walnuts are sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based type of omega-3 fat.
How Many Calories Are in Fat?
All types of dietary fat contain nine calories per gram, making it the most calorie-dense macronutrient. Carbohydrates and protein each provide four calories per gram.
Total Daily Fat Recommendations
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend ideal ranges of macronutrients for a healthy diet called AMDRs, or acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges. The AMDR for dietary fat in adults is 20-35% of daily calorie intake. The AMDR is 45-65% for carbohydrates and 10-35% for protein.
These guidelines also recommend limiting saturated fats to less than 10% of your daily calories, which is slightly more liberal than the American Heart Association guideline. It’s important to talk to your doctor and consider your personal risk of heart disease when deciding which recommendation is best for you.
Tips for Eating Healthy Fats
It can be overwhelming to shift your diet to include more healthy fats. It can be helpful to consider the big picture: reduce your intake of ultra-processed and fast foods and eat more plant foods. This might involve cooking more meals at home and being intentional in your meal planning.
Think about adding healthy fats to your daily meals and snack staples. Some examples include:
- Add avocado to your sandwich at lunch.
- Include a small handful of nuts with a snack.
- Dip apple or banana slices in natural peanut butter (without hydrogenated oils).
- Include fish in your weekly meal plan.
- Use olive oil instead of butter when cooking.
There is not one optimal amount of daily dietary fat for weight loss, though most experts agree on a diet with 20-35% of total calories from fat. The types of fat you choose matter, with unsaturated fats being the healthiest. Include more healthy fats in your day, like avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
Managing Weight Loss with an RD
If you’re unsure of the best dietary fat and macronutrient levels to help you meet your weight loss goals, consider booking a consultation with a registered dietitian through Nourish. Our non-diet approach focuses on sustainable changes that emphasize health outcomes. Appointments are virtual and covered by insurance.
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