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Fruits and vegetables should be the basis of a low-fat diet.
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Fats contain more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, the other macronutrients. Because of this, diets that are high in fat are typically higher in calories, which, over time, can lead to weight gain. The current dietary guidelines recommend consuming between 20 and 35 percent of your calories from fat. Low-fat diets generally restrict fat intake to no more than 20 percent of calories, according to "Nutrition and You" by Joan Salge Blake.
Whole grains, vegetables and fruit provide the foundation of a low-fat diet, according to New York University Langone Medical Center, although you should also include lean protein to satisfy your macronutrient requirements. Fruits and vegetables should cover about half of your plate at each meal. Limit your total intake of meat, fish, poultry and whole eggs to 6 ounces per day. Fat intake should be limited to about 40 to 50 grams per day, depending on your caloric needs.
Low-Fat Food Items
Restricting your fat intake doesn't mean you have to follow a dull, boring diet. There are several low-fat items you can eat while staying within your fat goals. You can choose low-fat dairy items, like low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese. Replace ice cream with sorbet or low-fat frozen yogurt. Good protein choices include egg whites, skinless chicken or turkey breast, extra lean ground beef, light canned tuna and white fish. Other low-fat food items include oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat English muffins and pretzels.
If you're going to follow a long-term low-fat diet, it's important that you learn how to make the right food choices for yourself. Choosing fresh, whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a surefire way to keep your fat intake low, but choosing packaged foods can be a little trickier. Look for foods that contain no more than 30 percent of calories from fat or 3 grams of fat for every 100 calories. Don't rely on words вЂњlight.вЂќ While light foods contain less than their regular counterparts, they may still be fairly high in fat or sugar, which can also lead to weight gain.
A Note on Fat Reduction
Although lowering your total fat intake may help with weight loss, when it comes to heart disease, HealthyHeartWomen.org recommends paying more attention to the types of fat you eat, rather than the total amount. The Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, which took 50,000 women and put half of them on a low-fat diet, found that while reducing total fat intake helped lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, it did not significantly lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. The study findings show that the overall quality of your diet -- including healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil -- is more important than limiting a specific nutrient, like fat.