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Fat-Restricted Diet

What Is a Fat-Restricted Diet?

A fat-restricted diet limits the amount of fat you can eat each day.

Why Should I Follow a Fat-Restricted Diet?

This diet may be prescribed for people with medical conditions that make it difficult to digest fat. Examples include chronic pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. A fat-restricted diet will minimize the unpleasant side effects of fat malabsorption, such as diarrhea , gas, and cramping.

Fat-Restricted Diet Basics

A fat-restricted diet typically limits fat intake to 50 grams per day. Fat contains 9 calories per gram. So, if you need 2,000 calories per day, this means only about 22% of those calories can be from fat. The rest should be from carbohydrates and proteins.

For most people, it is possible to meet all nutrient requirements on this diet. However, a supplement may be recommended if fat is very limited or you are on the diet for a long time. Vitamins A , D , E , and K need fat to be absorbed. Your doctor or a dietitian may recommend supplements for these vitamins.

Eating Guide for a Fat-Restricted Diet

The following guide is broken down into categories based on the Choose My Plate website recommendations for healthy eating. It is recommended that you work with a dietitian to determine how many servings of each category you should eat. Here are some general recommendations:

  • The base of your diet should be composed of grains, vegetables, and fruit. Strive to eat foods from these 3 categories at each meal. Fruits and vegetables should cover half of your plate at each meal. When eating grains, choose foods made with whole grains instead of refined grains.
  • Limit your intake of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs to 6 ounces per day.
  • Consume no more than 3 teaspoons of fat per day.
  • Enjoy low-fat or fat-free sweets or snack foods in moderation.
  • If you enjoy healthy fats (nuts, olives, and avocados), ask your doctor or dietitian about how you can add these foods into your diet. Since these foods have a lot of fat, they need to be added to your day's intake of fat.
Food Category Foods Recommended Foods to Avoid


  • Whole grain breads
  • Low-fat whole grain cereals
  • Rice
  • Pasta or noodles
  • Homemade pancakes or French toast made with minimal fat
  • Low-fat crackers
  • Baked chips
  • Pretzels
  • Unbuttered popcorn
  • Fried rice
  • Granola
  • Biscuits
  • Sweet rolls
  • Muffins, scones, coffee bread, doughnuts
  • Most pancakes and waffles
  • Cheese bread


  • Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables
  • Vegetables prepared with butter, oil, or sauce
  • Fried vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes made with butter, margarine, or cream
  • French fries


  • Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits
  • Avocados, coconuts, and olives
  • Fruit prepared with butter, cream, or sauce


  • Fat-free like nonfat, skim milk
  • Low-fat or nonfat cheeses
  • Fat-free yogurt or kefir
  • Fat-free buttermilk
  • Reduced fat (2%) or whole milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Cream like whipped, heavy, or sour
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Regular cheese


  • Lean meats
  • Chicken or turkey without the skin
  • Lean fish
  • Beans and legumes
  • Egg whites; limit whole eggs to 3 per week
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Duck or goose
  • Bacon
  • Sausage or hot dogs
  • Cold cuts
  • Fish canned in oil
  • Nuts and peanut butter

Fats and Sweets in moderation

  • Honey
  • Jam
  • Hard candies
  • Jelly beans
  • Marshmallows
  • Low-fat or fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Sherbets or fruit ice
  • Jell-O
  • Angel food cake
  • Butter, margarine, lard, shortening in excess of allowed amount
  • Snack chips
  • Ice cream
  • Pastries, pie, cake, and cookies
  • Chocolate
  • Most candy


  • Coffee, tea
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Juice
  • Water
  • Coffee drinks made with fat-free milk
  • Cocoa made with fat-free milk
  • Frappes, milk shakes
  • Eggnog


  • Soups made from a fat-free milk or broth base
  • Herbs and spices
  • Salt in moderation
  • Cream soups
  • Non-dairy creamer

Suggestions on Eating a Fat-Restricted Diet

  • Look for the following key phrases on food labels: low-fat, nonfat, and fat-free.
  • Choose foods that contain less than 3 grams of fat per serving. Be sure to eat only one serving.
  • Avoid fried and sautéed foods. Use low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, roasting, broiling, poaching, grilling, boiling, or steaming.
  • Select lean cuts of meat, such as loin and round. Trim visible fat before cooking.
  • Eat small frequent meals, rather than two or three large meals. This will make it easier for your body to digest any fat that you consume.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to come up with an individualized diet plan.
  • Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

  • Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture

  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

  • Dietitians of Canada

  • Daily food plans & worksheets. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: Accessed November 17, 2014.

  • Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 8, 2014. Accessed November 17, 2014.

  • Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: Accessed November 17, 2014.