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How Much Fat Can You Consume on a 1,200-calorie Diet?

Fat is a key source of energy that is also responsible for storing and transporting many of the vitamins you consume through food. Fat can play both a positive and negative role in your diet, depending on the type and how much you eat. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine provides acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges for different types of fat. Because fat should account for a certain percentage of your total calories, it's easy to calculate your fat needs based on a 1,200-calorie diet.

Total Fat

According to the IOM, fat should account for 20 to 35 percent of your total caloric intake. If you follow a 1,200 calorie diet, you would then need about 240 to 420 calories each day from fat. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram that is equivalent to about 27 grams to 47 grams of total fat per day.

Unsaturated Fats

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The majority of your fat calories should come from unsaturated sources. Unsaturated fats can reduce your blood cholesterol and reduce your cardiovascular risk. Polyunsaturated fats have a positive impact on blood glucose levels and may reduce the risk of diabetes. The IOM provides specific recommendations for specific polyunsaturated fats -- omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids should account for about 0.6 to 1.2 percent of your total caloric intake, while omega-6 fatty acids should comprise 5 to 10 percent. If you consume a 1,200-calorie diet, about 7 to 14 calories should come from omega-3 fatty acids and 60 to 120 calories should come from omega-6.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats have the opposite effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing blood cholesterol levels and raising your risk of cardiovascular disease. You should generally limit your saturated fat intake as much as possible and the IOM does not provide acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges for this fat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, advises limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. If you follow a 1,200-calorie diet, avoid consuming more than 120 calories from saturated fat, or 13 grams, each day.


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Cholesterol is a waxy substance with a similar structure as fat. While the body needs a small amount of cholesterol, excess intake of this substance can increase blood cholesterol levels and have an adverse effect on the cardiovascular system. The IOM does not provide acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges for cholesterol intake. The USDA, however, advises adults to limit cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg a day, regardless of caloric intake, and 200 mg if you have a history of cardiovascular problems.