Although dietary fat is an essential nutrient that your body requires to stay healthy, too much fat – especially unhealthy fat – can lead to overweight, obesity and an increased risk for heart disease. Your individualized dietary fat requirements depend on your total caloric needs, but the percentage of your daily calories that should come from fat remains fairly constant.
The acceptable macronutrient distribution range for dietary fat is 20 to 35 percent, which means that 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat, according to the Institute of Medicine. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, aim for 44 to 78 grams of fat daily when eating 2,000 calories per day and 56 to 97 grams of fat per day when following a 2,500-calorie meal plan.
Athletes who have high caloric needs and who require greater amounts of protein and carbohydrates -- and individuals who are overweight or obese -- may benefit from staying in the lower range of the AMDR. Athletes should aim to get at least 20 – but no more than 30 – percent of their calories from dietary fat, which is 44 to 67 grams of fat daily when eating 2,000 calories a day, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Harvard Health Publications suggests that overweight individuals should aim to get 20 to 25 percent of their calories from fat, which is 44 to 56 grams of fat daily for a 2,000-calorie diet.
Saturated and Trans Fats
To help reduce your risk for developing high blood cholesterol and heart disease, limit your intake of trans fat as much as possible, and consume less than 10 percent of your total calories from saturated fat, suggests the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Eat fewer than 22 grams of saturated fat per day when eating 2,000 calories a day, and fewer than 27 grams of saturated fat daily when following a 2,500-calorie meal plan.
Fat in Foods
Choose heart-healthy, unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats and trans fats, whenever possible. Healthy fats are found in plant-based oils, nut butters, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and purified fish oils. For example, 1 teaspoon of olive oil contains about 4.5 grams of fat, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Limit or avoid trans fats in margarine, shortenings, fried foods and commercial baked goods – and saturated fats in high-fat meats, butter and full-fat dairy foods -- such as cheese, whole milk and ice cream.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrient
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Sports Nutrition
- Harvard Health Publications: Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report: 04053, Oil, Olive, Salad or Cooking