Can reducing only the fat content in my food help me in losing weight?

Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics
If a large percentage of your daily calories come from fat or fatty foods, that can be a first good step. But the fact remains that we all need some fat in our diet to stay healthy. Schedule a visit with a Registered Dietitian to develop a meal plan that meets your specific needs.
The only scientifically proven method for losing weight involves burning more calories than are taken in. Too many calories -- whether they come from carbohydrate, protein, or fat -- get stored as body fat.

Of the three macronutrients, fat has the most calories per gram at 9; carbohydrate and protein each contain 4 calories per gram. That’s why 1 tablespoon of table sugar (all carbohydrate) that weighs 12 grams has about 45 calories, and 1 tablespoon of corn oil (all fat) that weighs 14 grams has about 125 calories.

Most health organizations in the United States recommend limiting total fat intake to less than 35% of total calories, with no more than 10% of fat coming from saturated fats. The majority of fat intake should be derived from monounsaturated sources such as olive and canola oils, olives, avocados, nuts, and nut products, as well as fish that are sources of omega-3 fats.
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

It all comes down to how many calories you are consuming compared to how many calories you are burning. If you reduce only the fat content in your diet you may still be over consuming calories from carbohydrates and protein, which will not result in weight loss. Eating a well-balanced diet in the appropriate calorie range will help you to achieve your weight loss goals. A Registered Dietitian can help you figure out what an appropriate calorie range would be.

Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics

Eating less of any food will cause you to lose weight. However, eating fewer foods with fat will spend up the process. Fat has 9 calories a gram verses protein and carbohydrates, which have 4 calories a gram or alcohol with 7 calories a gram. An easy way to cut out a lot of calories would be to eat carrot sticks instead of French fries. Another way to cut out fat calories would be to switch from drinking whole milk to fat-free milk with a savings of 80 calories a cup. If you drink two cups of milk a day, that's a savings of 160 calories a day. If you eat 150 calories less a day for a year, you can lose 15 pounds! That's a simple and painless way to lose weight.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Reducing fat intake can provide a lower calorie diet for weight loss. Some fat in your diet is essential for body health and function and provides a feeling of fullness to prevent overeating. Healthy mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids, such as vegetables oils, nuts and avocados are good fats to make up healthy cells and prevent disease. I recommend reducing intake of processed junk foods with few nutrients, added sugar and saturated fat, as well as the higher fat cuts of red meat. Saturated fat is listed in grams on a food label of processed foods due to the fact that it causes build-up of plaque in arteries, which may cause heart disease.  

Kelly Shaughnessy
Nutrition & Dietetics
Yes, reducing only the fat content in your diet, without changing any other aspects of your diet, will help you to lose weight. Fat has more calories per gram (9 calories per gram) than protein and carbohydrates (both have 4 calories per gram), therefore, by reducing fat, you are reducing more calories than you would by eliminating protein or carbs. A reduction in calories, whether it be from fat, protein or carbs, will result in weight loss (as long as you are not exercising any less). Your body needs fat; be sure you are getting sufficient fat in your diet. For example, a person following a 1800 calorie diet should consume 40-70 grams of fat per day (about 20-35% of calories should come from fat).
Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics

As a food and nutrition expert, I have learned to eat everything in moderation (especially when weight loss is the goal). During my dietetic and nutrition education, I learned 30% of total kcalories should come from fat. The 2005 & 2010 Dietary Guidelines changed this amount to 20%-35%. Know that you need fat in your daily diet to perform specific functions that protein nor carbohydrate can do.

Often times when we decide to lose weight, the strategy(ies) used may be to the extreme or too restrictive. Usually, when clients look at his or her 3-day dietary intake, they realize the intake of carbohydrate, fat and protein is far greater than what they thought. It may take a while, but as soon as their eating pattern mimics the guidelines considered "normal" (which is a reduction in fat content, as well as carbohydrate and protein), weight loss occurs.

There are four types of fat. Based on current dietary guidelines, I recommend the following intake.

  • Saturated, which includes animal products, coconut and palm oil (7-10%).
  • Polyunsaturated, which includes pumpkin seeds, fatty fish like mackerel / salmon, corn, soybean and walnuts (12.5%).
  • Monounsaturated, which includes almonds, avocado, cashews, olives, peanuts and sesame seeds (12.5%).
  • Transfat, which is found in many processed foods where the ingredient label lists the words "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" (<1%).


Losing weight is based on numbers not just fat.  Remember you have to burn more than you eat if you want to lose weight.  Just cutting fat out of your diet doesn't mean your going to lose weight. Maintain a low intake of fat is a good start with a healthy portion of carbs and proteins to help you lose weight. 

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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.