The fat intake calculator is a handy dandy tool that estimates your ideal dietary fat intake based on your gender, age, weight, height, and daily activity level. Fat is an essential component of a healthy, balanced diet, and we highly recommend using this tool to find your appropriate daily intake to help you reach your physique, performance, and health goals.
Keep reading to learn about the calculator and the importance of optimal individual fat intake.
Why Is Dietary Fat So Important?
Many people are or have been under the impression that eating fat will make you fat. Well, it’s not quite that simple. Eating more calories (including protein and carbs) than your body needs is what will cause fat gain, unless, of course, you’re able to burn off that extra energy through physical activity (1).
A negative energy balance is the most important component of a weight-loss diet, although you still want to eat the proper macro ratio for health, performance, and body composition.
So don’t see dietary fat (the healthy kinds) as a bad thing anymore if you’re trying to lose weight because you need fats in your diet.
What is fat?
Like protein and carbs, fat is a macronutrient (macro for short) which means the body needs it in larger amounts compared to other nutrients, for basic survival and health functions.
One gram of fat contains 9 kcals (calories), which is more than double that of protein and carbs at 4 kcals each. Therefore, it’s easy to see how eating too much fat in the diet can increase the risk of fat gain.
In the body, fat is used for energy, nutrient absorption, cell membrane integrity, it helps to produce and maintain the function of hormones, and also plays a role in cholesterol levels.
The body makes fats and we also get it from the foods we eat. Another word for fats is lipids which you’ve probably heard before, but fat is a more commonly used term. Fats are transported in the blood by lipoproteins also known as cholesterol, which is made by the liver.
Cholesterol is good in normal, healthy amounts but eating too much animal fats and some plant fats can increase levels in the blood which is not good for heart health. The general recommendation is to consume no more than 300mg of cholesterol daily.
That’s why it’s important to limit certain fats and eat more of the better quality fats which we’ll get into shortly.
Different types of dietary fat
There are different types of fat, some good, some bad, and some that you want to limit in your diet.
The types of fats in the foods we eat include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Trans fats (mostly artificial trans fats) are known as the bad fats that raise LDL (bad) and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known as the good fats that lower LDL and increase HDL cholesterol (2).
According to the American Heart Association, trans fats can lead to heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. Heart disease is the leading killer of adults which is why it’s important to severely limit or avoid this fat altogether.
Artificial trans fats have been banned by the FDA due to extreme health risk. However, it’s important to keep an eye out for products that have “partially hydrogenated oil” because these items were made before the ban and do contain some trans fat, although it’s likely a small amount, less than 1 gram.
Still, though, you want to be careful to consume too much because it can certainly add up.
Some trans fats are naturally occurring in some meats, dairy products, and other foods. But it’s unclear as to whether or not the natural trans fats are harmful.
Saturated fats, on the other hand, should be limited to less than 10% of calories. Foods that contain these fats include beef, chicken, lamb, egg yolks, and dairy products. The body makes all the saturated fats that we need and this is a fat that you need to be careful to not consume too much of through diet (3).
Omega-3 fatty acids consist of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), and docosahexaenoic (DHA). ALA is a plant omega 3 found in certain oils (e.g., flaxseed, canola) while EPA and DHA are found in fish and other seafood (salmon, krill, etc).
These fats are necessary for maintaining good health and supplements (e.g., fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, etc) are a good option for people who don’t get enough from their diet.
If you can get your Omega-3s from food, the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of seafood per week to reduce the risk of heart-related problems. Getting your Omega 3 fats is best from food sources but supplementation is a viable option too.
Focus on the healthy fats found in foods such as:
- Olive, peanut, canola oils, etc
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, etc)
- Nut butters
- Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame)
- Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, etc)
In smaller amounts
- Grass-fed meats
- Some dairy products
- Dark chocolate
These are just examples, but you can find many other foods that are good sources of fat as well. Also, some foods like meats and animal products should be consumed in smaller amounts due to containing more saturated fat.
OK, Well, How Much Fat Should I Eat Though?
It’d be nice if there was a one-size-fits-all formula for the ideal nutrient intake, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, when it comes to nutrition, there’s no such thing, at least when talking about quantity. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be perfect with your nutrient consumption.
With diet, aiming for a percentage range is a great way to ensure that you’re consuming an appropriate amount of macronutrients. Although, there are factors or instances that may require a more precise estimate.
For example, if you’re a bodybuilder preparing for a show, then you’ll want to be more exact with your protein, carbs, and fat intake.
That’s because being in an energy deficit (eating fewer calories than your body needs) is catabolic which means the body is going to be in fat-burning mode but it’ll also want to use protein or muscle tissue as energy too.
The goal is to preserve muscle mass and lose fat during a contest prep but you also have to be able to maintain energy to train. This means keeping protein high (also has a thermogenic fat-burning effect), and carbs high enough to maintain strength and energy for training sessions.
In addition, fats cannot be too low in the diet as this has shown to decrease circulatory testosterone.
According to research, the ideal macro ratio for bodybuilders is 55-60% carbs, 25-30% protein, and 15-20% fat whether in the off-season or pre-contest. But this can be tweaked for the individual’s needs (4).
Bodybuilders have to know how to manipulate their nutrient intake to ensure that they achieve the ideal, ripped look when on stage.
But athletes in general or anyone who is looking to achieve a specific goal will typically need to adjust their macro intake throughout the week for optimal results/performance.
Another example of this is the keto diet where fats takeover (in place of carbs) as the body’s main energy source. Therefore, you’d have to consume a higher percentage of dietary fat compared to the typical recommendation for the Western diet.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that 20-35% of daily calories come from fat, while carbs should make up 45-65%, and protein 10-35%.
This is a macronutrient guideline that can be modified to fit the needs of an individual.
Want to find your ideal macronutrient ratio for fat loss, weight maintenance, or bulking? Use our macronutrient calculator.
How Does The Fat Intake Calculator Work?
Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any math… but the fat intake calculator does use a formula to determine how much dietary fat you should be consuming. So it’s only fair to show you how it works.
Now, the calculator gives you the option to use the imperial (lbs and inches) or metric (kg and cm) system of measurement. Then it factors in standard variables such as your gender, age, weight, height, and activity level to provide a guideline for dietary fat intake based on your metabolic rate (metabolism) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
The calculator uses the Mifflin St. Jeor equation to determine basal metabolic rate (BMR) or amount of energy expended per day at rest, which we’ve provided below.
- Women: BMR = 10 x Weight [in kg] + 6.25 x Height [in cm] – 5 x Age [in years] + 5
- Men: BMR = 10 x Weight [in kg] + 6.25 x Height [in cm] – 5 x Age [in years] – 161
Example of how the fat intake calculator works
So, as an example of how our calculator works, you’ll first enter the required details, then you’ll hit calculate (pretty easy).
It’ll give you an estimate of the minimum, optimum, and maximum grams of fat that you should be eating every day. In addition, the calculator provides you with the energy content or number of calories from the grams of fat.
Ok, so let’s say you’re a 29-year-old female that weighs 120 pounds and is 5’5” tall, and you also engage in moderate exercise 3-5 days per week.
The calculator will determine your BMR and then it will give you various fat intakes based on a recommended percentage range.
The results for daily fat intake based on the example above would look like the following.
- Minimum: 43.8 grams/394 calories
- Optimum: 60.2 grams/542 calories
- Maximum: 76.6 grams/689 calories
How To Tell How Much Fat Is In Foods
Ok, so you want to tell how much fat is in a certain food? That’s easy because most food products have this information on the nutrition label.
Use our fat intake calculator to determine your ideal fat intake, then look at the food label to see how many grams or percentage of dietary fat is in a serving. You could also use our food database to find the nutritional value of over 200,000 different foods.
That way you can keep track to ensure that you meet your daily recommended fat intake.
There’s not much else to add because we’re positive that you now understand the implications (both good and bad) of including fats in your nutritional regime. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula either.
You have to find the ideal daily amount for you and the fat intake calculator can certainly help you to find it (no skills required).
Fat is essential for life, performance, and overall health but everyone has an ideal intake range to maximize all three.