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How Many Fat Grams Should You Have on a 1,200-Calorie Diet?

author image Pha Lo
Pha Lo has received fellowships from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the California Women's Foundation. Her work has been published in the "San Francisco Chronicle," "Sacramento Bee," "Pacific News Service" and "Audrey Magazine." She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Lo is a nutrition educator and a certified food safety manager.
How Many Fat Grams Should You Have on a 1,200-Calorie Diet?
Fish is a source of heart-healthy fat. Photo Credit James And James/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines on fat, adults should consume between 20 to 35 percent of daily calories from fat with limited intake of saturated and trans fats. For a 1,200-calorie diet, this means between 26 to 46 g of fat.


In a 1,200-calorie diet, fat should account for 240 to 420 calories. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, this amounts to 33 to 46 g. This same calculation can be used to determine the fat consumption for any calorie-restricted diet.


Monitoring fat consumption in the diet is critical because high-fat diets can lead to cardiovascular disease. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consumed a low-fat diet had lower levels of LDL cholesterol, the "bad" type of cholesterol linked to plaque build-up in the arteries.


The fat content of most foods is clearly stated on nutrition labels. Nutrition labels list the grams of total fat, the percent daily value, which is based on a 2,000-calorie diet, and the amount of all four types of fat -- saturated, trans, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Most fat should come from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

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Children under 2 years old should not limit fat intake because fat is vital for their growth and development. Children between 2 and 3 years old should consume between 30 to 35 percent of calories from fat. Keep fat intake to 25 to 35 percent of calories for children and adolescents 4 to 18 years of age.


Consuming fewer than 20 percent of daily calories from fat can prevent the body from adequately absorbing certain vitamins. If you're on a 1,200-calorie diet, you should not consume fewer than 26 g of fat.

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