I have been eating 1200 calories a day with 10 to 12 fat grams each day.

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I would appreciate your advice on the following matter. Since I began my weight loss program five weeks ago, I have been consuming 1200 calories a day. I exercise for about 10 minutes daily on a cardio-glide machine. My problem is my fat intake. I think I’m taking in too few fat grams.

The foods I have chosen (which I am very happy with) just don’t add up to more than 10 to 12 fat grams each day. Basically, my daily diet consists of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich and fruit for lunch, a Lean Cuisine dinner and rice cakes and ice pops for an evening snack. I occasionally have another piece of fruit around 5:00 P.M.

I am following this diet under the supervision of my doctor to reduce my risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which run in my family. I am female, 57 years old, in good health (low blood pressure, normal EKG, a blood sugar of 125) and have no other physical ailments or complaints other than my need to lose weight.

In five weeks I have lost 13 pounds and I have another 25 to 30 pounds to lose. I have been taking Paxil (10 mg. per day) for the past year and began taking Phentermine (18.5 mg per day) five weeks ago. I feel fine and have had no adverse side effects.

What do you advise regarding my fat intake?

If I increase the fat, I would also increase my caloric intake. What foods could I add to raise the fat grams while not greatly increasing calories?

What could I expect if I keep my fat intake to the current 10 to 12 grams per day? Thanks for your assistance.

Your diet and exercise program sounds great and your weight loss about 3 pounds more than would be expected (5 weeks at 2 pounds per week = 10 pounds). I am unfamiliar with Paxil, but Phentermine is an appetite suppressant (trade name Fastin) which can affect your blood sugar, especially in diabetics.

Your fat intake at 10 – 12 grams per day (90 – 108 fat calories) on a 1200-calorie diet provides only 7.5 – 9% fat, which is too low. You could increase your fat grams to 27 – 40 grams of fat per day within your 1200 calorie eating plan, but you would have to decrease either the protein or carbohydrate grams so as not to go over the 1200 calorie limit you have set. Ideally, a diet should be 25 – 30% fat, 10 – 15% protein and 55 – 60% carbohydrates. Fat contributes 9 calories per gram, protein, and carbohydrate 4 calories per gram. (Alcohol contributes 7 calories per gram.) Sante nutritional analysis software could do it all for you and analyze your recipes.

Food that would add fat, but not a lot of calories are poultry and fish and non-fat dairy products like skim milk, low-fat cheeses, and low-fat yogurt. These food suggestions may only mean different menu choices within your eating plan, which may already include meat and milk. Of course, you could add fat in the form of margarine or salad dressings but would get little else besides the fat. Mostly, you should avoid fried and high-fat foods which are also concentrated sources of sugar (empty calorie meaning doesn’t contribute much nutritionally) and calories.

What you could expect if you keep your fat grams at 10 – 12 per day is continued weight loss if you also continue to limit calorie intake to less than you need. Fat provides flavor and satiety (a feeling of satisfaction after a meal) as well as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). It would be difficult for you to eat a balanced diet (meet your RDA) on 1200 calories per day without a multivitamin supplement which I would recommend.

When you do get to your weight goal, you will need to increase calories, increase fat and make other adjustments in your diet. You may want to see a Registered Dietitian for assistance in making that transition to weight maintenance after all the efforts you made to lose the weight.