It seems like there’s a new diet out there every year. Some of the more popular ones suggest cutting out fat — but how much fat per day do you need to cut to lose weight?
If you eat an average of 2,500 calories a day, cutting 18 to 41g of fat from your diet should help you lose weight as this will decrease your overall calorie intake.
However, not all fats are harmful and it’s important to keep the fats that are vital to your health.
How much fat per day to lose weight?
The answer to how much fat per day to lose weight can vary greatly depending on how many calories a day you eat and how much weight you hope to lose.
On the average diet, fats need to constitute up to 35% of the daily diet. If you follow the daily caloric intake provided by the USDA of 2,500 calories, you should eat about 97g of fat daily. To lose weight, you need to decrease your calorie intake by 25 to 40% which will reduce your fat to 56 to 79g per day.
As a visual representation, a gram of fat is around the weight of an average-sized paperclip. In fatty cuts of meat, like a well-served hamburger or a steak, there is around 10g of fat.
To lose weight, you’ll need to reduce 18 to 41g of fat from your diet. This could be done by trimming excess fat off your meat or opting for low-fat options. But keep in mind that your body needs fat for optimal health.
Why are fats important for your health?
Fatty acids and glycerols are the basic building blocks of fats. These molecules are extremely important to the body since it can’t make its own fatty acids. The body needs fat to:
- Give your body energy
- Protect your organs and support cell growth
- Create membranes and barriers within the body
- Regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Absorb vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin E
However, some fats are unhealthy and it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats and reducing the fats that can be harmful to your health.
What are the different types of fats?
There are four main types of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats.
Saturated fats are more tightly packed and harder to break down than unsaturated fats. These fats are usually solid at room temperature.
Saturated fats can be found in:
- Meat (red meat, chicken, and pork)
- Coconut and palm kernel oil,
- Cheese, butter, and milk
- Processed meats such as sausages, cold meats, and bacon
- Processed foods such as takeaways foods, chips, cookies, and pastries
A diet that is high in saturated fat has been associated with high levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) that can potentially increase your risk of strokes or heart disease. Health associations, like the NHS, recommend that you keep your amount of saturated fat to 20 – 30g a day.
Monounsaturated fats are the healthiest fats. At room temperature, these fats are liquid and are more easily broken down in your body.
Monounsaturated fats include:
- Olive oil, canola oil, and rapeseed oil
- Almonds, peanuts, and brazil nuts
These fats not only help to protect your heart by maintaining the “good” cholesterol (HDL) but also help to reduce the levels of LDL.
Polyunsaturated fats — omega-3s and omega-6s
Polyunsaturated fats are more complex than monounsaturated fats but are also “healthy essential” fats. Your body can’t make polyunsaturated fats which is why need to consume them.
There are two types: omega-3s and omega-6s.
Omega-3 fats come from oily fish such as herring, trout, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and kippers. The body uses omega-3 fatty acids to create cell membranes, keep inflammation at bay, and many other vital functions. It’s recommended that we eat at least 2 servings of fish a week and one of them being the fatty fish listed above.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, corn, nuts, seeds, and soybeans. These fats also play an important role in keeping our bodies healthy and should be consumed in moderation.
Trans fats (and why to avoid them)
Trans fats are either naturally-derived or artificially manufactured fats that resemble a hybrid between unsaturated and saturated fats. Trans fats are defined as “partially hydrogenated oils” on food labels.
These fats are particularly harmful to your health because they lower the good cholesterol (HDL) and increase levels of the bad cholesterol (LDL) that are associated with heart disease and strokes. Trans fats might also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
In 2015, the FDA (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) determined that transfats (partially hydrogenated oils) are not recognized as safe for human consumption of GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).
Despite this, because these fats cost less and last a long time, trans fats are still used in many fast, processed, frozen, or unhealthy foods. It’s best to check the labels and avoid those that are marked with “partially hydrogenated oils.”
How many grams of fat do I have to eat a day?
About 35% of our total daily calories should come from fat and the majority of this should be from unsaturated fats. On a 2000-calorie diet, this amounts to approximately 77g of fat per day. According to the NHS, the total fat per day for male adults should be 90g (with 35g from saturated fats) and for adult females, 70g (with 20g from saturated fats).
Daily fat needs of individuals
The daily fat needs can vary from individual to individual. It’s always best to consult a health practitioner before starting a new diet.
If you are sedentary, have a heart condition, or have respiratory issues, then limiting your fat intake to 20% of your diet rather than 35% may help you to lose weight in a sustainable way. Once more, remember that your body does need fats, and including them in your diet can also help you to feel full for longer (which means you’ll eat less).
How much fat should I eat on a 1200-calorie diet?
When trying to stick to a 1200-calorie diet, only around 420 calories should come from fat. This means that a person should eat only around 46g of fat.
How much fat should I eat on a 1500-calorie diet?
On a 1500-calorie diet, only around 525 calories should come from fat. This means that a person should eat only around 58.3g of fat.
How to reduce your fat intake
A great starting point is to track what you are eating. It’s also the best way to monitor how much fat you consume daily. The most convenient way to track your food is to use an app. There are plenty of free food trackers available that make recording your intake easy.
If you prefer old-school pen and paper, then simply use the nutrition labels to record how much fat you’ve consumed in relation to their serving size or 100g. Most labels should give you a percentage of daily fat based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Once you have a baseline of how much fat you’re consuming and the types of fat, start by cutting out trans fats and reducing the amount of saturated fat you consume by opting for leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy options.
Weight loss tips that work
The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to build habits that you can sustain for life. While following a strict diet can help you lose weight quickly, in the long run, if you don’t build good habits, it will be easy to put all the fat (and more) back on. Here are a few tips to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index).
- Keep a food diary or track what you eat and drink daily.
- Aim for a calorie deficit of 500 – 1000 calories a day and keep your fat intake to around 35% of your daily calorie count.
- Eat three meals a day and don’t skip a meal.
- Avoid pre-packed meals — preparing your own meals will give you control over what’s in it.
- Keep your portions under control and use serving size recommendations on products.
- Drink 60 – 120 fl oz (3 – 6 pts) of water a day.
- Limit your alcohol intake or opt for low-cal versions.
- Burn more calories a day by starting an exercise program, like this quick-start basic walking program for beginners, or join a local gym or club. The key here is to choose a physical activity that you enjoy.
- Don’t cut out anything completely (unless you have an intolerance or allergy). Keep in mind that a doughnut is a treat for once in a while and not breakfast.
For more on weight loss plus how to reduce your calories, read how much of a calorie deficit is too much.
- For a 2,500-calorie diet, you need around 97g of fat daily. To lose weight, reduce it to 56 to 79g of fat.
- Keep saturated fats to 20g a day for women and 30g a day for men. Avoid trans-fats.
- Aim to eat a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet.
- Eat a portion of fatty fish every week to ensure enough omega-3s in your diet.
- Aim to build sustainable habits that will help you maintain a healthy weight.