Why Is Too Much Total Fat & Saturated Fat Bad for You?

by Lori Newell

About Lori Newell

I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.


While some types of fat are healthier than others, it is still important to restrict your intake of total fat as well as saturated fat. The body does need some fat to survive, but if you accumulate too much fat, your risk for various diseases is greater. If you are concerned about your fat intake, speak with your physician who can recommend a safe amount based on your medical history.

Saturated and Trans Fats

Saturated fats are found in animal sources of food such as meats, some fish and dairy products. Saturated fats can also be found in some types of cooking oils. Trans fats are created when foods are processed; this type of fat is mainly found in baked goods, snacks and fried foods, although it occurs naturally in foods that come from animals. Too much saturated and trans fats in your diet is linked to a higher risk of heart disease especially coronary heart disease, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Total Fats

Total fats include saturated and trans fats as well as other types. Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are healthier for you when eaten in moderation. These healthy fats are found in some types of fish, plants and in vegetable cooking oils. Unsaturated fats are considered healthier because they can help to improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease when they are used as part of an overall healthy diet, says MayoClinic.com.

Total Fat Intake

When it comes to lowering your risk of heart disease it is not about the total amount of fat you eat, but rather the type, according the Harvard School of Medicine. While a general goal is to limit your intake of total fat, it is better to make sure that most of your fat consumption comes from unsaturated fats. Since unsaturated fats can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, limiting your total fat intake too much may not allow you to get enough healthy essential fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which the body requires. However, even healthy fats can lead to weight gain if eaten in excess. a

Daily Guidelines

A general goal is to limit your intake of total fat to no more than 25 to 35 percent of your total daily caloric intake. Trans fats should be eliminated or reduced to no more then 1 percent of your total caloric intake. Saturated fats should make up no more than 7 percent of your total caloric consumption; 10 to 25 percent of your total fat intake should be from monounsaturated fats; while 8 to 10 percent should come from polyunsaturated fats. To meet these guidelines, the American Dietetic Association recommends a diet high in fruits and vegetables; whole grains; legumes; nuts and seeds; lean protein; low-fat dairy; fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids and use of nonhydrogenated margarines and oils, such as olive oil and sesame oil.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.