All three are useful for determining the amount of fat (and total calories) you're eating, but if you want to use just one method then tracking fat grams is probably the easiest.
Dietary guidelines suggest that healthy adults generally limit dietary fat to no more than 20 to 35 percent of total daily calories.
To figure out how many fat grams or calories that means for you, start with the number of calories you normally eat or want to eat a day. Multiply that number by the recommended percentages to get the range of fat calories you can eat each day.
Here's an example based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
- Multiply 2,000 by 0.20 (20 percent) to get 400 calories
- Multiply 2,000 by 0.35 (35 percent) to get 700 calories
How many fat grams is that? There are 9 calories in a gram of fat, so you divide the number of calories by 9.
- Divide 400 calories by 9 (calories a gram) to get about 44 grams of fat
- Divide 700 calories by 9 (calories a gram) to get about 78 grams of fat
So if you're on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, 400 to 700 calories can come from dietary fat, which translates to between 44 and 78 fat grams a day.
Use the Nutrition Facts label to find out how much fat is in the foods you eat. The Nutrition Facts label shows the amount of total fat, saturated fat and trans fat in one serving. The label also shows how many calories come from fat.
To monitor the fat in your diet, simply add up the fat grams from all the food you ate during the day and compare the total to your target range. Knowing how much fat is in the foods you eat can help you control the fat and calories in your diet, which can help you meet your health and nutrition goals.
Feb. 26, 2013
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- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Oct. 16, 2012.
- How to understand and use the nutrition facts label. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/NFLPM/ucm274593.htm. Accessed Oct. 18, 2012.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 18, 2012.