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How Much Do You Need to Eat to Lose Fat?

Whether or not you lose weight depends on your total daily calorie intake. However, fat contains nine calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein only provide four calories per gram. Limiting your intake of fat -- especially saturated fat -- can help you achieve your weight loss goals, while minimizing disease risks.

First, losing fat requires you to eat the correct amount of calories. You need a caloric deficit in your body when you want to shed fat. So the calories you should consume each day depends on your activity level.

If you are moderately active, multiply your current weight by 14. If you work out regularly, multiply your weight by 16. The total is known as your maintenance calories. To lose fat, subtract 500 from the total.

However, losing fat and gaining muscle is not all about calories. The types of food you eat are also important. To reach your goal, make some changes in your diet.

A high-protein diet is an essential part of shedding unwanted weight while building lean muscle. You should have a serving of a high-protein food with each meal. Some examples include lean meat, eggs, fish, and poultry. Protein shakes make excellent beverages and snacks.

Types of Fat

During your weight loss program, choose heart-healthy, unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats to help reduce your risk for heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of your total calorie intake. This means you should consume fewer than 11 grams of saturated fat when consuming a 1,000-calorie diet, and less than 18 grams of saturated fat when following a 1,600-calorie weight loss plan. Saturated fats are present in high-fat meats, whole milk, cream, lard, butter, cheese and ice cream. When possible, replace these foods with healthier vegetable oils, fish oil, flaxseed, avocados, hummus, nuts or seeds.

How Many Grams of Fat Per Day

The number of grams of fat you can eat depends on the total number of calories allotted for your diet plan each day. Fat has 9 calories per gram. So someone who eats 2,000 calories per day is shooting for 20 to 35 percent of those calories from fat -- which is between 44 and 78 grams of fat per day. Ideally, that amount of fat should consist of no more than 22 grams of saturated fat, between 11 and 22 grams of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and 1 to 3 grams of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. The remaining fat should come from monounsaturated fats.