First, you need to know how many calories you should eat each day. Once you know this, you can determine how many grams of fat and saturated fat you can eat without exceeding your limits for fat. These limits are 25% to 35% of calories from fat and less than 7% of calories from saturated fat.
Here are some general guidelines for the number of calories that may be right for you if you don't need to lose weight:
- Less-active women and older adults: 1,600 calories
- Most children, teen girls, active women, and less-active men: 2,200 calories
- Teen boys, active men, and very active women: 2,800 calories
If you need to lose weight, you may need fewer calories. Your doctor or dietician can set an appropriate calorie level for you.
After you know how many calories you should have each day, you can use the chart below to determine how much total fat and saturated fat you can eat each day. Remember, these are average figures. This means if you have a day when you eat foods that are high in fat, you can balance it by eating fewer high-fat foods the next day. This idea is sometimes called fat budgeting. Also, these figures are for healthy adults. If you have heart disease, your doctor may want you to reduce your fat intake even further.
Here's how to use the chart. Look down the left-hand column until you find the total number of calories you should eat each day. When you find the right amount, look across to see:
- how many of your calories you can get from fat
- how many grams of fat this equals
- how many of your calories you can get from saturated fat
- how many grams of saturated fat this equals
|How Much Fat Can I Eat?|
|Your Total Daily Calories||Recommended Maximum Calories From Fat||Recommended Maximum Grams of Fat*||Recommended Maximum Calories From Saturated Fat**||Recommended Maximum Grams of Saturated Fat|
|1,600||400 to 560||44 to 62||112 or less||12 or less|
|1,800||450 to 630||50 to 70||126 or less||14 or less|
|2,000||500 to 700||56 to 78||140 or less||16 or less|
|2,200||550 to 770||61 to 86||154 or less||17 or less|
|2,400||600 to 840||67 to 93||168 or less||19 or less|
|2,600||650 to 910||72 to 101||182 or less||20 or less|
|2,800||700 to 980||78 to 109||196 or less|
22 or less
*By following this, you will get the recommended 25% to 35% or less of your calories from fat.
**By following this, you will get the recommended less than 7% of your calories from saturated fat.
After you know your limits, try this experiment:
- Write down your limits.
- During the day, read your food labels to see how many grams of fat and saturated fat you are getting. Remember, food labels tell how many grams are in one serving as defined on the food label. If you eat a smaller or larger serving, then you're eating fewer or more grams of fat. Write down the amounts of fat and saturated fat from each of your meals and snacks.
- At the end of the day, add up the amounts to get a total for fat and a total for saturated fat. Repeat this experiment for several days, then look at your totals. Are you at or below your limits on most days? If so, you're doing well. If not, you need to try to cut some fat and saturated fat from your diet. You don't need to add up your actual fat intake every day of your life. But it's a good idea to do this when you begin making diet changes so you know where you are at the outset. This will also help you become more aware of serving sizes. Then do it again every few months as you make changes to see whether your eating habits are really improving.
More on Fat
- 7 Myths About Fats
- How can I cut the fat in my diet?