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What is a low-fat diet? 

Low-fat diets restrict fat consumption while still including adequate amounts of essential fatty acids. Low-fat diets may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and some cancers. 

How much fat is in a low-fat diet? 

A low-fat diet restricts fat intake to 30% or less of total calories from fat. This would mean consuming 66 grams of fat or less on a 2,000 calorie diet. 

In general, low-fat diets result in lower consumption of saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids. These types of fats can increase risk of developing certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

When consuming fat on the low-fat diet, fat sources should be from healthy food choices such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and plant-based oils. 

What should I eat on a low-fat diet? 

Foods that are low in fat include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood, low-fat dairy, and poultry. An example of a diet naturally low in fat is a vegetarian style diet, as this focuses on vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes as the main source of food. 

It is important to still consume some foods that have moderate to high amounts of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and plant-based oils. Healthy fats contain more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids compared to saturated and trans fatty acids. They also contain essential fatty acids that we need to consume from food, such as omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. 

What foods do I avoid on a low-fat diet?

When on a low-fat diet, it is best to be strategic about which high-fat foods to avoid. Limit foods high in saturated and trans fatty acids. Foods high in saturated fats include marbled meats, poultry skin, bacon, sausage, whole milk, cream, and butter. Foods high in trans fats include fried foods, baked desserts, pastries, and packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils. Another caution is to avoid packaged foods labeled “low-fat” as they may contain higher amounts of added sugar to replace fat.

Learn more about Low-Fat Diet:

Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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