Strength and Fitness - The Impartial Guide to strength, fitness, endurance and nutrition

Recommended Fat Intake For Weight Loss

It is recommended that the daily upper limits for fat consumption are 90g for men and 75g for women. When dieting this may be significantly reduced to as little as 30-60g fat/day. Whilst reducing daily fat intake can be beneficial for both health and weight loss, it is important that the reduced fat consumption is not at the expense of the healthy essential fatty acids.  The essential fatty acids are known to have many health benefits and they may even help to increase the rate of fat metabolism, as well as decreasing the storage of additional body fat.

Essential fatty acids should not be eliminated when dieting

There are two types of essential fatty acid, omega-3 and omega-6 that have a number of health benefits and should be included in your diet even when dieting. Both omega-3 and 6 have a number of positive effects on our health including: 1) may help to improve glucose tolerance and insulin homeostasis, 2) may help to and normalise hormone levels, 3) appears to improve brain function, 4) lower or normalise blood pressure in people with slightly raised blood pressure, 5) lower cholesterol levels and therefore reduce the rate of arteriosclerosis (furring of the arteries).

Some research suggests that there may be an increased risk of raised cholesterol levels - particulalrly the bad LDL-cholesterol -  when on a high protein diet. Threfore ensuring an adequate dietary intake of essential fatty acids may help to protect against some of the potential negative effects associated with high protein diets. Good dietary sources of essential fatty acids include: 1) many nuts and seeds such as almonds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are high in the Omega-6 essential fatty acid; 2) whilst oily fish - especifically herring, mackerel, and sardines - and walnuts are particulalry good sources of essential fatty acid omega-3; 3) many oils, specifically, sesame oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and borage oil are particularly high in essential fatty acids – you should always look to include unprocessed oils as they contain more essential fatty acids.

Dietary fatty acid intake can be increased through the intake of omega-3 and 6 supplements.

Omega-3 supplements include: fish oil supplements (cod liver oil, concentrated fish oils, salmon oil), krill oil supplements, flax seed oil supplements.

Omega-6 supplements include: evening primrose oil and borage/starflower oil.

Fat intake and weight loss summary:

  • The maximum recommended daily intake of fat is around 90g/day for men and 75g/day for women.
  • When dieting the fat intake may be decreased to as little as 30-60g/day.
  • It's important to ensure that the daily intake of essential fatty acids is maintained as these have numerous health benefits
  • Try to Include some oily fish such as mackerel, herring etc in your weekly diet. Try to include 1-2 portions per week. 
  • Try to use unprocessed vegetable oils (olive oil, cornflower oil etc) rather than processed vegetable oils.  
  • Include small amounts of nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds, hazlenuts) and seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sesame, sunflower).
  • Including Omega-3 and 6 dietary supplements may help to ensure you have an adequate daily intake of essential fatty acids.