How can I reduce the fat in my diet?

Here are some easy ways to reduce fat in your diet:

  • Stay away from foods high in saturated fats (no more than 10 percent of your total calories per day).
  • Choose your fats wisely. No more than 10 percent of your calories should come from polyunsaturated fat. Ten to 15 percent of your calories should come from monounsaturated fat (this is the "good" fat found in olive oil).
  • Invest in a pocket sized fat gram counter, and use it to look up the fat content of foods you regularly eat. Zero in on the highest fat foods and make some changes you can live with.
  • Make subtle changes each week. Switching to skim milk instead of whole milk and eating skinless baked chicken instead of fried chicken could result in a reduction of calories--enough to lose 10 pounds in one year!
  • Choose fish, skinned poultry, and lean red meat. Be sure to trim all visible fat from meat and poultry before cooking. When selecting cuts of meat, choose the "skinniest" cuts such as top round, tip round, sirloin and chuck.
  • Buy ground beef that is at least 90 percent lean or choose ground round or ground sirloin.
  • Exchange ground turkey or chicken for ½ or even all the beef in a recipe for spaghetti, chili, meat loaf or burgers. (Read the labels and buy ground white turkey or chicken, which has half the fat of dark meat).
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Reducing unhealthy fat and cholesterol in your diet to improve your heart health does not have to be complicated. Foods that contain saturated fat usually have trans fat and/or cholesterol. Swap the following food items that are high in these fats out of your diet in favor of more heart-healthy choices when possible. Also remember that not all fat sources are bad if they are consumed in moderation). In fact, olive, peanut, and canola oils can help boost your “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Try these easy ways to limit unhealthy fat and cholesterol:
  • Limit solid fats such as meat fat, vegetable shortening, butter and stick margarines. Tub margarines or spray margarines are less solid and are better choices since they generally have less saturated fat and trans fat.
  • Limit high-fat cuts of meat, such as prime rib, brisket and ground beef.
  • Limit processed meats (such as sausage, pepperoni, and lunch meat) to no more than 2 servings per week. 
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat, such as tenderloin (filet mignon), sirloin and pork loin. Or choose white-meat chicken and turkey.
  • Trim visible fat from meat whenever possible.
  • Switch from high-fat dairy products to nonfat or low fat (1 percent).
  • Limit egg yolks; switch to egg whites or egg substitutes.
  • Limit fast food, especially fried foods and convenience foods.
  • Limit commercially prepared baked goods like cakes, pies, cookies, etc.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Love of fat is not a genetically inherited taste. It's a taste we acquire. If you switch from whole milk to skim milk, in about eight weeks the whole milk won't taste very good, and the skim milk will taste great. Similarly, switching from unhealthy fat to healthy fat will take about eight weeks to train your palate. Yes, the first time you have Baked Lay's potato chips, they will taste like cardboard if you're used to full-fat Fritos. However, if you keep eating the baked version, in eight weeks you'll love them, and the full-fat Fritos will taste greasy. Learn how to (we'll teach you) convert a high saturated fat diet like Atkins into a healthy fat diet.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.