Dieting Question: Adding Fat Calories

My partner and I are trying to eat better, get more exercise, the whole “healthful” thing.

According to the literature I’ve read, the best way to cut fat out of the diet is to not eat foods whose calories from fat are 1/3 or more of the total calories for the food.

Okay, that’s easy enough. Now, the question; suppose I’m eating some good ole hot grits (very low in fat), but I add some cheese to them (say 1/4 or 1/2 a cup of cheddar). Cheese is a food that’s high in fat. How do I figure out how many fat calories I’m eating and if it’s within the “1/3 of the total” limit I’m suppose to be following.

Any help here?

Actually, what you should be trying to do is eat less than a third of your total calorie intake as fat. This is different from what you’re stating. For instance, I just looked at the nutrition panel of the margarine in my fridge. Calories per serving: 90. Calories from fat per serving: 90. In other words, 100% of the calories in that margarine comes from fat. Does this mean that someone who’s watching fat intake can’t eat this? No, it just means that this person needs to be aware of how much margarine to use.

As for your real question, go to a doctor or dietician, and ask for a diabetic guideline. Or just pick up a nutrition booklet, they’re all around. Incidentally, the fats that you want to reduce are of animal origin, and tropical oils. MOST vegetable oils are good for you. Olive oil is particularly good for you. Tropical oils (palm, coconut, etc.) are not as good for you.

Also, beware of what I call the “Snackwell delusion”. While Snackwells are not the only culprits, many lowfat foods will loudly proclaim that they’re lowfat…while not mentioning that they’re very high in sugar. In some cases, the “lowfat” variety of foods is just as high in calories as the regular version, you’re just getting your calories in sugar rather than in fat.

Why are you trying to reduce your fat intake? To lose weight? Or to lower your total cholesterol levels? If it’s the former, you’d do better just to count calories than to worry about fat content (and traps like Lynn’s Snackwell Syndrome).

Maybe I didn’t state the question well:

You have two different foods (say grits and cheese). A serviing of grits is 150 calories, of which 10 of those calories come from fat. Since 10 is less than 1/3 of 150, this is a low-fat food.

Now, suppose I put one serving of cheese on those grits. Total calories for that serving of cheese: 90. Fat calories: 45. Since 45 is more than 1/3 of 90, this is a high fat food.

If I combine the one serving of grits with the one serving of cheese, how many fat calories am I eating? Is it 1/3 or less of the total calories consumed?

Can I simply add the figures from one serving? Total calories: 240. Total fat calories: 55. Since 55 is less than 1/3 of 240, this is a combination that’s low fat and good to eat.

Now, is my logic correct or have I miscalculated?

Your logic is correct. In your example, 55/240 is less than 1/3, so it meets your goal. That is the correct way to compute your total fat intake percentage for a meal. Ideally, you’d average your total daily fat intake this way, or even weekly average.

As others have pointed out, though, this may not help much in losing weight, even if it is healthy.


Your logic is fine, as stated.

Remember that proteins and carbohydrates contain 4 Cal/g, fat contains 9 Cal/g and alcohol 7 Cal/g. Losing weight would require a reduction in total calories; lots of people reduce their fat levels but not their intake. Depends on your goals.