How Many Grams of Fat Your Body Needs Daily

Dr Angela Marshall
12 Min Read

Dietary fat is needed to support healthy body functions, but sometimes too much fat can be unhealthy and lead to weight gain and other conditions. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or stay healthy, it is important to monitor how many grams of fat you eat daily.

This amount will differ from person to person depending on your body weight, sex, and amount of physical activity.

This article will discuss recommended daily fat intake for men, women, and children, recommendations for weight loss and weight gain, and different fats and food sources.

How Many Grams of Fat to Eat per Day

Your daily fat intake will vary based on how many calories you eat per day. Dietary guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) recommend a daily fat intake between 20% and 35% of your total daily calories.

For a 2,000-calorie diet, this equals 400–700 fat calories per day. Because each fat gram contains nine calories, you need to divide your daily fat calories by nine to determine your daily fat intake in grams. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this equals 44–78 grams (g) of fat per day.

Depending on your body weight and activity level, your daily calories may be higher or lower than 2,000, so you must adjust your fat intake accordingly.

A minimum of 20% calories from fat is needed to ensure that you get enough essential fatty acids supporting important body functions. You also need enough fat in your diet so that your body can absorb fat-soluble vitamins, which are vitamins that can be absorbed only in the presence of fat.

Takeaway

While 20% to 35% is the recommended range, there is no strict upper limit to how much fat you can eat within your daily calorie amount since there are no negative side effects associated with a higher fat intake, as long as the fat is from healthy fat sources like unsaturated fats.

Read Next: How to Count Macros With a Set Health Goal

Women

Men and women generally follow the same dietary guidelines. Because women, on average, have a lower need for calories each day, women’s fat intake will also typically be lower than that of men.

For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, a higher daily calorie amount is needed to support fetal development and milk production. While the calorie increase can come from any source, increasing fat intake can help meet increased calorie goals since fat has more calories than carbohydrates or proteins.

The following are recommended calorie increases for pregnant and breastfeeding women:

Stage of Pregnancy or BreastfeedingEstimated Increase in Daily Calories
Pregnancy: 1st Trimester0
Pregnancy: 2nd Trimester340
Pregnancy: 3rd Trimester452
Breastfeeding: Months 1–6330
Breastfeeding: Months 7–12400

Children

Daily fat recommendations for children are similar to those for adults and are based on daily calorie amounts. Fat intake for children 12 months and younger should not be limited.

For children ages 1–3, recommendations for daily fat intake are 30% to 40% of daily calories. For children ages 4–18, recommendations for daily fat intake are 25% to 35% of daily calories.

The American Heart Association recommends the following calorie and fat intake guidelines for children:

Child’s AgeTotal caloriesFat intakeFat grams
1 year90030–40%, 270–360 calories30-40
2–3 years1,00030–40%, 300–400 calories33-44
4–8 years1,200 for females, 1,400 for males25–35%, 300–420 calories for females, 350–490 calories for males33–47 for females, 39–54 for males
9–13 years1,600 for females, 1,800 for males25–35%, 400–560 calories for females, 450-630 calories for males44–62 for females, 50–70 for males
14–18 years1,800 for females, 2,200 for males25–35%, 400–560 calories for females, 450–630 calories for males50–70 for females, 61–86 for males

Daily Fat Intake for Different Weight Goals

Your daily fat intake will differ with different weight goals. Generally, you will consume less fat when trying to lose weight and consume more fat when trying to gain weight.

Weight Loss

You will likely want to keep your fat intake on the lower side for weight loss since grams of fat have more calories than grams of carbohydrates or protein. Consuming less fat and less carbohydrates makes it easier to keep your total calories low.

Weight loss is achieved when your daily calorie goal is lower than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), a calorie calculation derived from estimating your physical activity and basal metabolic rate (BMR), the amount of calories you burn at rest. This can be achieved through diet, exercise, or both.

Once you calculate your TDEE based on your weight and weight loss goals, you will multiply it by 20% to figure out your minimum daily amount of fat calories and then divide that number by nine to determine your minimum daily amount of fat grams.

For a 2,000-calorie diet, the minimum amount of fat you need is 44 g, but you can adjust this number depending on your individual goals and preferences. You can lose weight with a higher fat intake, but this is the minimum amount needed.

Weight Gain

Gaining weight typically requires a calorie surplus, or consuming more calories than your body needs to complete everyday functions. Calculations for gaining weight typically start with adding 100–200 calories per day to your TDEE, but this number can be highly variable depending on how much weight you intend to gain.

Weight gain can be accomplished through eating a variety of different foods, as long as your overall calories for each day exceeds what your body needs. Usually, this is accomplished either through increasing your fat or carbohydrate intake to consume more calories.

If you are looking to gain muscle mass, you also need a higher calorie intake each day. However, you also need to focus on your protein intake and how much exercise you get. A higher calorie intake without stimulating your muscles through exercise, like lifting weights, doesn’t send signals to your body to build more muscle.

Consuming more calories from protein can help you gain muscle mass rather than body fat, so your fat intake doesn’t necessarily have to change when trying to gain muscle.

Comparing Types of Fats

Not all fat is created equal. Some fats are healthy and even essential for a healthy diet, while other types of fat are inflammatory and should be consumed in moderation or not at all. The main types of fat are unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats.

Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fats are heart-healthy fats. Unsaturated fats are divided into two different types: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. It is recommended that most of your daily fat intake come from unsaturated fat sources. Unsaturated fats can be found in fatty and oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, peanut butter, and oils.

Related: Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats

Saturated Fat

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products like red meat and dairy, but are also found in coconuts and coconut products. Because saturated fats can be inflammatory in high amounts and increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions, WHO recommends keeping saturated fat intake to less than 10% of your daily calories.

Trans Fat

Trans fats are fats that are created from the partial hydrogenation (a chemical reaction caused by molecular hydrogen and another compound) of saturated fats that occurs with industrial food processing. These fats create a lot of inflammation in the body and are bad for your health. Trans fats are found within fried foods, processed baked goods, and partially hydrogenated oils used to make many processed foods.

WHO recommends keeping trans fat intake to less than 1% of your daily calories, or ideally, avoided altogether.

Amount of Fats in Specific Diet Types

Special diets, including the following, often manipulate daily fat intake to help with weight loss or health goals.

Keto

The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. It is recommended for weight loss and overall health, and may be beneficial for conditions like diabetes and epilepsy.

The standard keto diet follows a recommendation of 70% of calories coming from fat, and 10% or less coming from carbohydrates, with the remaining 20% or more coming from protein. This comes out to 50 g or less of carbohydrates per day, with a highly variable amount of grams of fat, depending on your daily calories.

Low Fat

Because fat is high in calories, a low-fat diet may also be recommended for weight loss. Low-fat diets will typically require at least 20% of your daily calories from fat to meet essential functions.

Summary

Dietary fat is essential for maintaining proper health, but too much fat may lead to weight gain and other conditions. For most people, it is recommended that 20% to 35% of your daily calories come from fat, but not all fat is created equal. Most of your fat intake should come from unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fat should be consumed in moderation, and trans fats should be consumed rarely. You can adjust your daily fat intake depending on weight-loss or weight-gain goals or individual preferences, but your fat intake should never be less than 20% of your daily calories.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.

Share This Article
Dr. Angela Marshall is a Gold Medalist Physiotherapist from the Heidelberg University of Health Sciences in Germany.