Why do I have to limit the amount of fat in my diet?

Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Although fat is an essential nutrient and a carrier for other essential fat soluble vitamins, it is a dense source of calories and should be limited. The American Heart Association recommends that fat be limited to 25%-35% of your total daily calories (approximately 55-75 grams per day for a moderately active person). Limiting your total fat intake also allows you to consume a more balanced diet with calories from a variety of sources and thus a variety of nutrients. 

Lona Sandon
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Certain types of fat can increase your levels of LDL cholesterol and therefore increase your risk of heart disease. Too much fat can also pack on the calories leading to excess body weight. You should limit the amount of saturated and Trans fat you eat according to the American Heart Association guidelines and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods high in saturated fat include full-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, fatty meats, butter, and cream based foods. Trans fats are typically found in snack foods such as crackers, chips, snack cakes, and bakery goodies.

You should try to get most of your fat from plant based sources. These include vegetable oils, soft-tub margarines made with vegetables oils, avocados, nuts, natural nut butters, and seeds. Look for low-fat or skim versions of milk, yogurt and cheese and buy only lean meats to help keep fat in check.

Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

One reason to limit fat is because it contains more than twice the calories per gram as compared to protein and carbohydrate. It has 9 calories/gram whereas carbohydrates and protein both have 4 calories per gram. Saturated fats come from meats, dairy and eggs and high amounts can increase cholesterol and cause heart disease. There are also fats called "trans fats" which can raise your "bad cholesterol" and lower your "good cholesterol". Trans fats are found in commercial baked goods, shortening and some margarines as well as boxed crackers and snacks. The best fats are the monounsaturated fatty acids that are found in olive oil and canola oil. They help to lower "bad cholesterol" and increase "good cholesterol". Polyunsaturated fats are found in oils, fish, nuts and seeds. One of their roles is to help to lower your total cholesterol.

It is important to know the different kinds of fat and to limit your total intake of them due to the calories. Choosing the right fats can be an important part to your daily diet, but eat them in moderation.

Heart disease is the nation's number one killer, and too much fat in your diet—especially saturated fat and trans fat—raises your risk for cardiovascular disease. Keep total fat intake between 20% to 35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and certain vegetable oils. These types of fats have been shown to provide health benefits. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat, and keep trans fat consumption as low as possible.

With Weight Watchers you could already be on your way to having a healthier heart. Keeping your weight in check will help lower your risk of many chronic illnesses.

Weight Watchers offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss that can help you reach your goals.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends limiting fat to 20 to 30 percent of calories in your diet. Excess fat intake leads to elevated low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels which is a risk factor for development of plaque in your arteries, heart attacks and stroke. Per gram fat is higher in calories than protein and carbohydrate which may lead to excess calorie intake and obesity, increasing your risk of cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Continue Learning about Healthy Eating Guidelines

Hawaii Health Alert: Should You Be Worried About Mercury in Fish?
Hawaii Health Alert: Should You Be Worried About Mercury in Fish?
We’ve all heard the warnings—seafood favorites like ahi and ono may be a healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but they also contain a hi...
Read More
What is a healthy diet for people over the age of 60?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Follow these healthy diet principles after you turn 60: Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits and ...
More Answers
What are some foods to have on hand if cravings hit?
John La PumaJohn La Puma
Food cravings are "I want it," not "I am hungry." Usually you're feeling happy, glad, mad, sad, lone...
More Answers
How Walnuts Help Your Blood Sugar
How Walnuts Help Your Blood Sugar

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.