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What Is a Fat-Restricted Diet?

A fat-restricted diet limits the amount of fat you can eat each day.

Why Should I Follow a Fat-Restricted Diet?

This diet may be prescribed for people with medical conditions that make it difficult to digest fat. Examples include chronic pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. A fat-restricted diet will minimize the unpleasant side effects of fat malabsorption, such as diarrhea , gas, and cramping.

Fat-Restricted Diet Basics

A fat-restricted diet typically limits fat intake to 50 grams per day. Fat contains nine calories per gram. So, if you need 2,000 calories per day, this means only about 22% of those calories can be from fat. The rest should be from carbohydrates and proteins.

For most people, it is possible to meet all nutrient requirements on this diet. However, a supplement may be recommended if fat is very limited or you are on the diet for a long time. Vitamins A , D , E , and K need fat to be absorbed. Your doctor or a dietitian may recommend supplements for these vitamins.

Eating Guide for a Fat-Restricted Diet

The following guide is broken down into categories based on the Choose My Plate website recommendations for healthy eating. It is recommended that you work with a dietitian to determine how many servings of each category you should eat. Here are some general recommendations:

  • The base of your diet should be composed of grains, vegetables, and fruit. Strive to eat foods from these three categories at each meal. Fruits and vegetables should cover half of your plate at each meal. When eating grains, choose foods made with whole grains instead of refined grains.
  • Limit your intake of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs to 6 ounces per day.
  • Consume no more than 3 teaspoons of fat per day.
  • Enjoy low-fat or fat-free sweets or snack foods in moderation.
  • If you enjoy healthy fats (eg, nuts, olives, and avocados), ask your doctor or dietitian about how you can add these foods into your diet. Since these foods have a lot of fat, they need to be added to your day's intake of fat.
Food Category Foods Recommended Foods to Avoid

Grains

  • Whole grain breads
  • Low-fat whole grain cereals
  • Rice
  • Pasta or noodles
  • Homemade pancakes or French toast made with minimal fat
  • Low-fat crackers
  • Baked chips
  • Pretzels
  • Unbuttered popcorn
  • Fried rice
  • Granola
  • Biscuits
  • Sweet rolls
  • Muffins, scones, coffee bread, doughnuts
  • Most pancakes and waffles
  • Cheese bread

Vegetables

  • Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables
  • Vegetables prepared with butter, oil, or sauce
  • Fried vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes made with butter, margarine, or cream
  • French fries

Fruit

  • Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits
  • Avocados, coconuts, and olives
  • Fruit prepared with butter, cream, or sauce

Milk

  • Fat-free like nonfat, skim milk
  • Low-fat or nonfat cheeses
  • Fat-free yogurt or kefir
  • Fat-free buttermilk
  • Reduced fat (2%) or whole milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Cream like whipped, heavy, or sour
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Regular cheese

Proteins

  • Lean meats
  • Chicken or turkey without the skin
  • Lean fish
  • Beans and legumes
  • Egg whites; limit whole eggs to 3 per week
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Duck or goose
  • Bacon
  • Sausage or hot dogs
  • Cold cuts
  • Fish canned in oil
  • Nuts and peanut butter

Fats and Sweets in moderation

  • Honey
  • Jam
  • Hard candies
  • Jelly beans
  • Marshmallows
  • Low-fat or fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Sherbets or fruit ice
  • Jell-O
  • Angel food cake
  • Butter, margarine, lard, shortening in excess of allowed amount
  • Snack chips
  • Ice cream
  • Pastries, pie, cake, and cookies
  • Chocolate
  • Most candy

Beverages

  • Coffee, tea
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Juice
  • Water
  • Coffee drinks made with fat-free milk
  • Cocoa made with fat-free milk
  • Frappes, milk shakes
  • Eggnog

Other

  • Soups made from a fat-free milk or broth base
  • Herbs and spices
  • Salt in moderation
  • Cream soups
  • Non-dairy creamer

Suggestions on Eating a Fat-Restricted Diet

  • Look for the following key phrases on food labels: low-fat, nonfat, and fat-free.
  • Choose foods that contain less than 3 grams of fat per serving. Be sure to eat only one serving.
  • Avoid fried and sautéed foods. Use low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, roasting, broiling, poaching, grilling, boiling, or steaming.
  • Select lean cuts of meat, such as loin and round. Trim visible fat before cooking.
  • Eat small frequent meals, rather than two or three large meals. This will make it easier for your body to digest any fat that you consume.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to come up with an individualized diet plan.
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    http://www.eatright.org

  • Choose My Plate

    http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

    http://www2.niddk.nih.gov

  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

    http://www.cag-acg.org

  • Dietitians of Canada

    http://www.dietitians.ca

  • Daily Food Plans & Worksheets. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/daily-food-plans.html . Accessed February 18, 2013.

  • Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what . Updated February 11, 2013. Accessed February 18, 2013.

  • Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf . Accessed February 18, 2013.