Dr. Scott Friedberg
Board Certified Family Physician
A Low-Fat diet – as the name implies – is a diet that consists of little fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol, which are thought to lead to increased blood cholesterol levels and heart disease. It is important to know that dietary fat is needed for good health, as fats supply energy and fatty acids, in addition to supplying fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Understanding the amount of Total Fat in the foods you eat is important so that you can make the change to a Low-Fat diet. Also keep in mind that unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats and trans fats. Limit your fat intake to 30 percent or less of daily calories, and to keep saturated fat to no more than one third of total fat, or 10 percent of calories consumed.
Eat Fewer Empty Calories:
A great way to help you manage your body weight is to eat fewer empty calories. Empty calories are calories from solid fats, added sugars, or both.
Many empty calories that Americans eat come from foods and beverages that provide calories but few nutrients--such as desserts, sodas, and candies. Added sugars and fats load these choices with extra calories you don't need.
Some foods and beverages provide essential nutrients, but may also contain some empty calories. For example, a cup of whole milk contains about 150 calories, with over 60 of them empty calories from fat. Fat-free milk has the same amount of calcium and other nutrients as whole milk, but with less than 90 calories and no fat or empty calories.
The USDA now uses the graphic below: MyPlate, which has replaced MyPyramid as the government's primary food group symbol. MyPlate is an easy-to-understand visual cue to help you adopt healthy eating habits by encouraging you to build a healthy plate.
Tips for Low-Fat Eating:
- Consume less than 300mg of cholesterol a day.
- Meat and poultry selections should be lean or low fat.
- Other suggested lean forms of protein should include seafood, poultry, eggs, beans and peas
- Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
- Replace whole milk and full-fat milk products with fat-free or low-fat choices to reduce solid fat intake.
Read the Nutritional Information:
Admittedly, this sounds like an obvious step when trying to cut fat. However, many people make assumptions without taking the time to compare nutritional information. For instance, a person might go with turkey instead of beef without checking to see if the fat percentage is any lower than the beef. Though it may be, it is important to make sure because all turkey is not automatically healthier than all beef. Also, check the calorie count and percentage of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids in digestion and helps to eliminate waste.
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.
By filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, which the guidelines suggest, and which is visually represented in the new food-guide symbol, MyPlate, the odds are that you will keep your fat intake within healthy limits. Reducing fat in your diet can be a difficult and frustrating change to make in your life, but there are many people who do it, and so can you!