Keeping track of the amount and type of fats you consume is a solid way to protect your health. In fact, it’s the only way to be sure your body gets the essential unsaturated fats it needs, while also avoiding overconsumption that leads to weight gain. Since the nutrition label reports fat content in grams, but the recommended daily intake is stated as a portion of calories, the only way to stay on top of fat intake is to translates fat calories into grams of fat.
No matter what type of fat you consume, every gram contains 9 calories. To convert fat calories into grams of fat, just divide the calories by nine. For example, a tablespoon of olive oil has 119 calories, all of which come from fat. Divide 119 by nine and you'll find that 119 fat calories equals 13 grams of fat.
If you have the grams of fat from the nutrition label, multiply by the grams by nine to determine the amount of fat calories you'll consume from that amount of fat.
The Institute of Medicine recommends getting 20 percent to 35 percent of your total daily calories from fats.
To determine whether the fat calories in your diet fall within this range, take the number of calories you consume daily and multiply it by the high and low percentages to get the range of calories for fats.
Based on consuming 2,000 calories daily, the math looks like this: 2,000 calories times 20 percent, or 0.2, equals 400 calories and 2,000 times 35 percent, or 0.35, equals 700 calories. This means daily fats should range from 400 to 700 calories.
Now you can divide the calories -- 400 and 700 -- by nine to learn that a person consuming 2,000 calories daily should get 44 grams to 78 grams of fats.
Some saturated fats raise cholesterol, while others don’t have any impact on cholesterol levels, according to a January 2014 report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, many foods contain both types of saturated fats, so the best approach is to limit your total intake.
The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 7 percent of your total calories from saturated fats. To calculate your maximum calories from saturated fat, multiply your daily calories by 7 percent, or 0.07.
Using 2,000 calories a day as an example: 2,000 calories times 0.07 equals 140 calories from saturated fats.
Take one more step and divide 140 calories by 9 grams to get 16 grams as the maximum amount of saturated fat.
Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, are just downright bad for your health. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that they increase bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and raise the risk for coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Try to eliminate all trans fats or keep your intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. To calculate what that means for your diet, multiply your daily calorie intake by 1 percent, or 0.01, to get the maximum calories from trans fats.
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- MayoClinic.org: To Monitor How Much Fat I Eat Each Day, Which Should I Focus On -- Fat Grams, Calories or Percentages?
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Fatty Acids for Healthy Adults