Very Low Fat Diet

HEART UK’s Low Fat Eating Plan

This section is for you if you have a medical condition which means you need to limit the amount of fat in your diet.

Sometimes a doctor or a dietitian may advise following a low fat diet. This may be because your body can't process fats very well or they make you feel ill. For example, if you have one of the following conditions or treatments:

Find information on healthy eating and the foods which help to lower cholesterol.

What is a low fat diet?

Most people in the UK get about half of their food calories (energy) from carbohydrates (sugars and starchy foods such as bread and pasta), a third of their calories from fat, with the rest coming from protein foods. This mixture is a good basis for a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals.  It's the best way of eating for most people.  

A low-fat diet is where less than a third (30%) of our energy (calories) comes from fat. Some people need to eat even less fat, so as little as one fifth (20%) or even one tenth (10%) of the energy they need comes from fat.

Whilst the quality of fat in the diet still is important, the most important thing is the total amount of fat in the diet.

How much fat can I have?  

How much you limit the amount of fat you eat depends on:

  • your diagnosis
  • the symptoms and severity of your condition
  • any treatment you are having
  • how much energy you need.

Your doctor and dietitian should advise you on the best fat limit for you. You can use the table below as a general rule of thumb to help work out how much fat you should be eating:

  • Most adult women will need around 2000 kcalories per day
  • Most adult men will need around 2500 kcalories per day

If you are older or if you are not physically active, you might need less energy than this. 

If you have found this information useful, please consider making a donation so we can help others

Donate now

The amount of fat you can eat per day, according to how many calories you need and how much you need to limit fat
Energy Needs kcalories (kjoules) Normal diet (35% Energy) Low fat (30% Energy) Very low fat (20% Energy) Extremely low fat (10% Energy) Minimal fat (5% Energy)
1,500 (6,300) 58g 50g 33g 17g 8.5g
2,000 (8,400) 78g 67g 44g 22g 11g
2,500 (10,500) 97g 83g 56g 28g 14g
3,000 (12,600) 117g 100g 67g 33g 17g
Are there any problems with following a low fat diet?

Fat is found in many foods, so the more you cut down, the more restrictive your diet can be. If you are on an extremely low or minimal fat intake you may need to take a regular supplement to provide you with fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and D. These vitamins are essential and are needed for healthy eyes, bones and teeth.

There are also essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha linolenic acids) that our bodies can't make, and which need to be provided in small amounts either in our diet or as a supplement.    

Fat is a concentrated form of energy – you only need a small amount of fat take on a lots of calories. Carbohydrates and proteins provide fewer calories, so a low fat diet is often more bulky and higher in fibre.

It might take a little while for your body to adjust to this new way of eating. All fibre passes through into the large intestine undigested. This is where bacteria can feed on the fibre-producing gas, which can cause bloating and discomfort.

 
How can I make my food taste good?

Fats are known for providing flavour to your food. To make up for this, use spices, herbs and low fat flavourings in your cooking wherever possible. We talk you through the foods you can eat and how to make your diet tasty in the following pages. You can also check out our low fat recipes.