What Is a Fat-Restricted Diet?

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

Why Should I Follow a Fat-Restricted Diet?

This diet may be prescribed for certain conditions that make it difficult for the body to digest fat, such as chronic ]]>pancreatitis]]> and gallbladder disease. Following 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 nine 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 carbohydrate or protein.

For most people, it is possible to meet all nutrient requirements on this diet. But, depending on how long you follow it and how much fat you can digest, a supplement may be recommended. Vitamins ]]>A]]> , ]]>D]]> , ]]>E]]> , and ]]>K]]> are fat soluble, which means they need fat to be absorbed. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian about supplementing with vitamins.

Eating Guide for a Fat-Restricted Diet

The following guide is broken down into categories based on the ]]>MyPyramid]]> recommendations for healthy eating. It is recommended that you work with a registered 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 three categories at each meal.
  • Limit your intake of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs to 6 ounces per day.
  • Consume no more than 3 teaspoons of fat per day (eg, vegetable oils, butter, and margarine).
  • Enjoy low-fat or fat-free sweets or snack foods in moderation.
  • If you enjoy healthy fats (eg, 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 CategoryFoods RecommendedFoods 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 (ie, 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 (whipped, heavy, sour, etc)
  • Whole milk yogurt
  • Regular cheese

Meat and Beans

  • 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


  • Fat-free salad dressings
  • Fat-free mayonnaise
  • Nonstick cooking sprays
  • Vegetable oils in excess of allowed amount
  • Regular salad dressing

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.