How Much Fat Should You Eat?
A heavily debated topic and I part trails with a number of experts. I maintain that you need to find the balance that works for your body as long as it really does work for your body – not just because you like it, or it’s convenient. But because you’ve struck a healthy fats balance that is healthful on all levels; allows you to maintain an optimum weight and energy level; and keeps you feeling satisfied.
Fats have 9 calories per gram, compared to proteins and carbohydrates which have about 4 per gram, so they take 2 hours longer to burn off. This means that they keep you from getting hungry soon after you eat.
The Low Fat Trap
Have you ever opted for the healthy salad with veggies, lean chicken or beans, decided to skip the dressing to save the fat and calories, and filled up on bread instead? Get hungry within 2-3 hours? Did you blame it on the salad, and snack on something sugary or salty?
Doesn’t matter which really, that snack turned was processed as a simple sugar (as was the bread) in your body. It worked against your ultra low calorie, low fat meal and your weight loss efforts. Congrats – you and Snackwells made a love connection. I just threw up in my mouth a little.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s called eating a little of a good thing – good fats.
- some avocado
- a little olive oil in your dressing
- salmon or another fatty fish
- nuts or seeds on your salad
- or the right combination of all of them –
You would have kept your hunger at bay for an additional 2 hours – at least – and avoided food cravings and bad snacks. As a result, most people will lose weight, increase their energy and fiber intake, and improve their health from a number of aspects.
Suggested Ranges for How Much Fat You Should Eat
This answer depends on the kinds of calories (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) consumed, your activity level, metabolism, and the overall landscape of foods you eat. Most experts recommend that approximately 20-30% of your diet come from healthy fats.
20% of a 1,200 Calorie Diet: 240 Calories, 26 g fat/day
30% of a 1,200 Calorie Diet: 360 Calories, 40 g fat/day
20% of a 1,500 Calorie Diet: 300 Calories, 33 g fat/day
30% of a 1,500 Calorie Diet: 450 Calories, 50g fat/day
20% of a 2,000 Calorie Diet: 400 Calories, 44 g fat/day
30% of a 2,000 Calorie Diet: 600 Calories, 66g fat/day
20% of a 2,500 Calorie Diet: 500 Calories, 55 g fat/day
30% of a 2,500 Calorie Diet: 750 Calories, 83g fat/day
You can see the difference between eating 20% to 30% of your calories from good fats. 30% shouldn’t be a problem IF those fats are healthy fats. Healthy fats BURN fat. Unfortunately, many people eat that 30% each day from bad fats combined with high amounts of sugar. Bad fats STORE fat.
Children ages 2 to 3: 30 to 40% of daily calories (33 to 44 grams for 1,000 daily calories)
Girls ages 4-8: 25 to 35% of daily calories (33 to 47 grams for 1,200 daily calories)
Boys ages 4-8: 5 to 35% of daily calories (39 to 54 grams for 1,400 daily calories)
Girls ages 9-13: 25 to 35% of daily calories (44 to 62 grams for 1,600 daily calories)
Boys ages 9-13: 25 to 35% of daily calories (50 to 70 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Girls ages 14-18: 25 to 35% of daily calories (50 to 70 grams for 1,800 daily calories)
Boys ages 14-18: 5 to 35% of daily calories (61 to 86 grams for 2,200 daily calories)
How Much Body Fat Should You Have?
Most organizations classify a healthy body fat percentage as:
- 20% to 25% for women
- 8% to 15% percent for men
- women who have more than 30% body fat are generally classified as obese
- men with more than 25% are generally classified as obese
There can be some variations that are still considered healthy. Athletes will tend to have less body fat, for example; however, below a certain point, low body fat can be as dangerous as high body fat.
Best Sources of Healthy Fats:
Nuts and seeds: especially almonds, walnuts, peanuts, flax: Just a handful a day.
Grind the flax seed before eating, otherwise, they are so small you probably won’t digest them well and may not benefit from the nutrition of them. If you pre-grind them, they will oxidize and lose their nutritive power as well.
Oils: Olive, flax*, coconut -yes, professional have been wrong about coconut oil, and are now finding it’s a good fat, high in protein and good for you in the right amounts.
Canola oil – If you need to use canola for high heat cooking you can or mix it with olive oil or coconut.
*Flax oil cannot be heated. It is meant to top salads or vegetables. It should be stored in the refrigerator in an opaque container, as should any oil that you do not use quickly to keep it from going rancid.
Omega 3 Fish: Salmon, black cod, sardines, albacore tuna, herring (1-2 servings a week should be safe with mercury levels, but check with your doctor and understand your health. You can also make yourself familiar with what fish are most safe to eat. Pregnant women should talk with their doctor.)
Limit or avoid saturated and trans fats (found in meat and full fat dairy foods)