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MAC Schedule: August 7, 2022

Guide to Healthy Eating: How to Calculate Calories Derived from Fat

Fitness FactsReducing the amount of fat you eat is not quite the secret answer to weight, but make no mistake about it: paying no attention to how many of the calories from fat you consume in a day is a sure path to weight gain. Figuring out the sources of the fat you consume is easy enough to do, but healthy eating also means figuring out how much of that fat accounts for the total number of calories you consume.  For instance, did you know that less than 10% of the calories in the typical soft pretzel are derived from fat, whereas the very same amount of oil-popped white popcorn derives about half of its calories from fat? And that’s if you leave the popcorn unbuttered!

The real danger for dieters is the tendency to substitute foods with high fat content in their diet with other choices that may be lower in fat, but have higher percentages of the calories coming from fat.

We’ve all seen this: someone misguidedly thinks eating a salad is going to be the best option, even though they’re adding creamy or oil based salad dressing, which undoes a lot of the benefit from eating a salad in the first place! Even a fat-free salad will skyrocket in calories from fat when it’s drenched in dressing. A good thing to always keep foremost in mind is that if the flavoring agent you add to any healthy meal is creamy or even just liquefied, it is probably overflowing with hidden calories made up almost exclusively from fat.

Here’s a tip worth paying attention to if you want to reduce the hidden fat calories. Take a good look at the nutrition label of any food you eat. That list of ingredients is not arranged alphabetically, but according to volume. Meaning there will be more of the first ingredient than there will be of the last ingredient. If you recognize any significant source of fat listed among the first three or four ingredients on the label, you can bet that the percentage of calories derived from fat is going to be high. In some cases, the amount of overall fat contained in the food may not give an accurate indication of just large a percentage fat plays in the total caloric count.

But all is not bad news when it comes to figuring out how many unknown hidden calories are derived from fat. In fact, even those who are not terribly good at math can learn to easily make the computation. Simply replace the relevant numbers below with the real thing from a nutrition label.


Total Fat: 10 grams

Serving size: 10 oz.

Total Calories: 180

Total Number of Calories in a single gram of fat: 9

10 (total fat grams) x 9 (calories in single gram of fat) = 90

90/180(total calories) = .5

Then find the percentage

.5 x 100 = 50%

Therefore, half the calories in this particular item of food would be derived from fat.

Hopefully you can cut out those hidden calories with this simple approach. Substituting other options when you find hidden calories can help you make the small improvements to every meal that will snowball into a healthier lifestyle overall! Combined with a great exercise routine, you can reach your fitness goals and build healthy habits at the same time.

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