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Low-Fat Diets for Weight Loss

It's true that a diet high in fat can lead to weight gain. But it takes more than just eating low-fat foods to lose weight. You must also watch how many calories you eat.

Remember, your body stores extra calories as fat, even if they come from fat-free, trans fat-free, and low-fat foods. If you replace high-fat foods with high-calorie foods, like sweets, you’ll likely gain weight rather than lose weight.

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To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. You can do that by exercising more and by eating less fat and fewer calories.

How Much Fat Should I Eat?

Experts recommend that most adults get 20%-35% of their daily calories from fat. That's about 44 to 77 grams of fat a day if you eat 2,000 calories a day.

Read nutrition labels on food packages. Nutrition labels show the number of grams of fat per serving and calories per serving. Eat a variety of lower-fat foods to get all the nutrients you need.

Eat plenty of plant foods (such as whole-grain products, fruits, and vegetables) and a moderate amount of lean and low-fat, animal-based food (meat and dairy products) to help control your fat, cholesterol, carbs, and calories.

When you're shopping, choose lean meats, fish, and poultry. Limit these to 5-7 ounces per day.

Other good low-fat sources of protein include dried beans and peas, tofu, low-fat yogurt, low-fat or skim milk, low-fat cheese, and tuna packed in water.

Choose foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts for heart health. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish such as salmon twice weekly for the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

5 Tips for Low-Fat Cooking

  1. Trim all visible fat and remove the skin from poultry.
  2. Refrigerate soups, gravies, and stews, and remove the hardened fat on top before eating.
  3. Bake, broil, or grill meats on a rack that allows fat to drip from the meat. Don’t fry foods.
  4. Sprinkle lemon juice, herbs, and spices on cooked vegetables instead of using cheese, butter, or cream-based sauces.
  5. Try plain, nonfat or low-fat yogurt and chives on baked potatoes rather than sour cream. Reduced-fat sour cream still has fat, so limit the amount you use.

When You're Eating Out

Choose simply prepared foods such as broiled, roasted, or baked fish or chicken. Avoid fried or sautéed foods, casseroles, and foods with heavy sauces or gravies.

Ask that your food be cooked without added butter, margarine, gravy, or sauce.

If you're ordering salad, ask for low-fat dressing on the side.

Select fruit, angel food cake, nonfat frozen yogurt, sherbet, or sorbet for dessert instead of ice cream, cake, or pie.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 03, 2012

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