MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Weight Control

The Skinny on Fat

By Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
Nutrition and Health Education Specialist
Barton County University of Missouri Extension


In the past few years, many people have restricted carbohydrates to lose weight. The main thing to remember for weight control is that calories are what really count.


Saturated fat contributes to higher cholesterol levels which puts us at risk for cardiovascular disease.

It takes 3,500 unused calories to add up to one pound of weight gain. Protein and carbohydrates provide four calories per gram of food but fat provides nine calories per gram of food. Fat calories can add up fast!

Fat should make up 30% or less of our total calories. The Daily Value for fat, based on a 2,000 calorie diet is 65 grams per day. People needing more or less calories can adjust accordingly. Saturated fat should make up 10% or less of fat calories. A person consuming 65 grams of fat per day should consume 6.5 or less grams of saturated fat.

Saturated fat is most restricted because it contributes to higher cholesterol levels which puts us at risk for cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat is hard at room temperature. Examples of saturated fat include the fat you can see in meat, butter, palm oil and coconut oil. The food label must list the amount of saturated fat per serving making it easy to track for yourself.

Polyunsaturated fat is considered the “neutral” fat. While saturated fat increases cholesterol levels, polyunsaturated fat decreases cholesterol levels. It helps decrease both the HDL or “good” cholesterol as well as the LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Some examples of polyunsaturated fats include soy, safflower and corn oils.

Monounsaturated fats are the most healthy choice in the fat category. They help lower the bad cholesterol but do not lower the good cholesterol. Some examples of monounsaturated fats include olive, canola and peanut oils.

Sixty five grams of fat can add up fast. One tablespoon of canola oil has 14 grams of fat, one tablespoon of peanut butter has 17 grams of fat, one tablespoon of butter has 11 grams of fat, a three ounce hamburger patty has 18 grams of fat.

Balance, variety and moderation is the bottom line for healthful eating! Choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day; choose lowfat meat and dairy products; choose monounsaturated fat more often than the other types. All of these choices will contribute to a healthy lifestyle for you.




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri