# The spa trainer advised that my fat intake should average 20 to 30 grams per day.

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I just read some of the diet and exercise advice you give over the Internet and thought maybe you could help me with my question. I’ve been making a concerted effort to better my eating habits and lose weight. My diet generally averages no more or less than 20 fat grams a day. I try to be reasonable with my caloric intake per day because I know that the calories my body needs depend on my level of activity. I have always read that I need to watch my fat intake per day for successful weight loss and fitness. Last week I joined a neighborhood health spa and the trainer advised me that my fat intake should average 20 – 30 fat grams per day, but what I really need to watch is my intake of carbohydrates.

I have always read that if a person wants to lose weight and tone up he/she should eat plenty of carbohydrates. I am confused now because I don’t know what or how to eat properly in order to achieve the fitness goals I desire. Did I misread the information in the fitness books?

Is there any balanced counsel you can give me on this? The information I’ve been reading and the advice I got from my trainer seems contradictory at this point. Thank you for your attention.

Seems like you and your trainer agree on fat intake, but I wonder if 20 grams is too low. If you eat 20 grams of fat per day times 9 calories per gram, you eat 180 fat calories. Fat should comprise about 25 -30% of total calories. Therefore, 20 fat grams would be appropriate for only 720 calories per day, which is unhealthy. If you eat twice that much (1440 calories per day) then you are only eating half the fat you need (12.5%).

If you want to lose weight, calories do count no matter what nutrient (fat, carbohydrate, protein, and alcohol) source. Take the calories you eat per day and multiply by 25%, then divide by 9 to get your fat gram percent. For instance, if you eat 1500 calories per day, multiply by 25% to get 375 fat calories, then divide by 9 to get 42 fat grams.

Carbohydrates should be 55 – 60% of total calories. Do the same math, but carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram. Take 1500 calories, multiply by 60% to get 900 carbohydrate calories, then divide by 4 to get 225-carbohydrate grams.

If you want some good software to put it all together for you, take a look at a diet and exercise program that is easy to use. It should calculate the activity calories you need per day and have over 200 exercises that you can add to your daily routine. The software should report your calorie intake against exercise expenditure and daily body weight.

Does your trainer have a degree in nutrition? If not, ask if the spa employs a dietitian who has the education and experience to provide expert nutritional advice on exercise and weight loss.

Joanne Larsen is a licensed, registered dietitian with extensive clinical experience in nutrition therapy in hospitals, clinics, mental health and long term care. She has a bachelor's degree in dietetics with a minor in chemistry and a master's degree in nutrition with a minor in counseling. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association).