Menu for a Low-Fat Diet

Karen Frazier
Low-fat meal

Many people can benefit from eating a low-fat, healthy menu. While fat isn't all bad, too much of the wrong types of fat can be detrimental to your health. Choosing low-fat foods and snacks, however, can make a big difference in your health.

General Guidelines

MyPlate.gov recommends eating no more than 30 percent of your calories from fats and oils. The following recommendations for low-fat menus are based on the MyPlate suggested 2,000 calories per day.

  • A low-fat menu is one that has less than about 25 percent of your calories from fats. Based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, this is about 500 calories or less of fat per day.
  • Since fat has 9 calories per gram, 500 calories is about 55 grams of fat per day.
  • Divided among three meals and two snacks, low-fat meals should have about 12 to 15 grams of fat per meal with two snacks of about two to five grams of fat each.
  • If you eat fewer calories than 2,000, then you will want to adjust your fat intake accordingly. To calculate the percentage of fat, use the following formula:

% fat = 100 X [ (Grams of fat X 9) / Total calories)]

5 Day Low-Fat Diet Menu

Meals in the following menu have fewer than 25 percent of calories from fat. Choose one of each meal and two snacks every day.

If you need help downloading the printable menu plan, check out these helpful tips.

Breakfasts

Food (s) Cal. Fat (g) Fat (%) Protein (g) Carbs (g) Special Instructions
Breakfast 1
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 8 ounces orange juice
522 7 g 7 % 12 g 121 g
  • 1/2 cup of oats before cooking
  • Simmer oats in water with a little cinnamon.
  • Add Stevia if you desire sweetness
  • For vegetarian/vegan, replace skim milk with fat-free soy milk
Breakfast 2 Fruit and chia smoothie made from:
  • 1 cup skim milk (or 1/2 cup nonfat soy milk)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Stevia to taste
346 8.5 g 14.3 % 17 g 75 g
  • Soak chia seeds in milk for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour into a blender and add remaining ingredients.
    Process until smooth.
Breakfast 3 Green smoothie made from:
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fat-free yogurt or fat-free non dairy yogurt, plain
354 2 g 5 % 25 g 88 g Combine all ingredients in a blender, scraping down sides frequently. Blend until smooth.
Breakfast 4
  • 1/2 cup low-fat granola
  • 1 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 12 oz acai juice
512 5 g 9 % 16 g 104 g
Breakfast 5 Breakfast sandwich made with:
  • 1 turkey sausage breakfast patty
  • 1 whole wheat English muffin
  • 3 egg whites, scrambled
  • 1 slice tomato
  • 1 slice fat-free cheese
  • 1 pear
  • 8 ounces apple juice
487 6.5 12 % 30 g 85 g

Lunches

Food (s) Cal. Fat (g) Fat (%) Protein (g) Carbs (g) Special Instructions
Lunch 1 Southwest chopped chicken salad made with:
  • 3 ounces cubed skinless chicken breast
  • 1 whole tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped into small pieces (optional)
  • 1/4 small avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons prepared salsa and juice of 1/2 lime
1 ounce baked tortilla chips
420 11 g 23% 35 g 102 g For vegetarian, substitute 3 ounces chopped low-fat tofu for chicken and non-fat soy yogurt for non-fat yogurt.
Lunch 2 Spicy Asian turkey wrap made with:
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 3 ounces deli turkey breast
  • 1/2 jicama, peeled and julienned
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 3 scallions, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons fat free mayo mixed with 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha and 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup grapes
406 3.5 g 7.8 % 25.5 g 82 g
  1. Mix mayo dressing.
  2. Spread on a whole wheat tortilla. For vegan/vegetarian, replace with 2 ounces of tempeh.
  3. Place turkey on tortilla.
  4. Toss jicama, carrot, scallions, and ginger.
  5. Place over turkey and wrap tortilla.
Lunch 3 Quinoa black bean salad made with:
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans, drained and cooled
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup raw broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 orange
378 7 g 14 % 17 g 67 g
  1. Whisk together lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper and set aside.
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix dressing and salad together just before eating.
Lunch 4 Turkey club sandwich made with:
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free mayonnaise
  • 3 ounces deli turkey breast
  • 2 slices extra-lean turkey bacon
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1/4 cup arugula
10 baby carrots 10 baby carrots
2 tablespoons fat-free ranch dressing
400 4 g 9 % 29 g 49 g
Lunch 5 Fast food lunch:
  • Wendy's ultimate chicken grill sandwich
  • Apple slices
  • Bottled water
360 7 g 12 % 28 g 45 g There are healthy choices at restaurants. Stick with grilled sandwiches made from white meat poultry, pile on the veggies, leave off the mayo and cheese, and have fruit or a salad without dressing for a side.

Dinner

Food (s) Cal. Fat (g) Fat (%) Protein (g) Carbs (g) Special Instructions
Dinner 1 Pork tenderloin and apple slaw made with:
  • 3 ounces grilled pork tenderloin
  • 1 apple, peeled and julienned
  • 1 stalk fennel, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, chopped thinly
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 packet powdered Stevia
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup steamed brown rice
1 cup steamed broccoli
380 4 g 10 % 29 g 55 g
  1. Grill pork tenderloin and let rest for 20 minutes, tented with foil
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, Stevia, ginger, salt, and pepper
  3. Toss vegetables and fruit and top with dressing.
  4. Serve on top of sliced pork tenderloin.
Dinner 2 "Naked burrito" made with:
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 ounce shredded low-fat cheddar (optional for vegan or vegetarian)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons prepared salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 2 chopped scallions
  • 1/4 avocado, cubed
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
490 11 g 20 % 21 g 51 g Combine all ingredients in a bowl and squeeze lime juice over the top
Dinner 3 Hamburger made with:
  • 3 ounces 95 percent lean ground beef
  • 1 whole wheat bun
  • Spread made with 2 tablespoons fat free mayonnaise,
    1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire,
    1/2 teaspoon soy sauce,
    1/2 teaspoon brown sugar,
    and 1/4 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 slice onion
  • 1 slice tomato
  • Lettuce leaves
2 cups baby spinach dressed with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 apple, sliced
428 8 g 13 % 32 g 59 g
  • Broil or grill hamburger patty to minimize fat.
  • Toast bun and spread with spread.
  • Top with veggies and burger.
Dinner 4 Stuffed baked potato made with:
  • 1 medium potato, baked
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 green pepper and 3 chopped scallions sauteed in 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup prepared salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream (choose non-dairy alternative for vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons guacamole
8 spears steamed asparagus
376 6 g 14 % 15 g 71 g
Dinner 5 6 ounces grilled halibut
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 baked sweet potato
1 cup steamed sugar snap pea pods
382 6 g 15 % 64 g 30 g

Low-fat Snacks

Choose two to three low-fat snacks each day. The best snacks are raw fruits and veggies, but when you want something more, consider some of the following low-fat snacks.

  • One ounce hard pretzels - 110 calories, 1 g fat
  • One container fat-free yogurt - 100 calories, 0 g fat
  • 2 tablespoons prepared hummus with cut up veggies - 150 calories, 4 g fat
  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn - 93 calories, 1 g fat
  • Veggies in 2 tablespoons fat-free ranch - varies
  • Small baked potato with 1/4 cup fat-free cottage cheese - 200 calories, 1 g fat
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal with 2 tablespoons raisins - 120 calories, 1 g fat
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as Craisins - 130 calories, 0 g fat
  • 1/4 cup wasabi peas - 140 calories, 3 g fat

Tips for Meal Planning

The above meals are just a starting point for healthy, low-fat eating. When planning your own meals, consider the following.

  • Fat occurs naturally in many foods, including grains, fruits, and vegetables. Minimize added fats from oils and other fatty substances like butter.
  • If you eat dairy, choose fat-free varieties. Dairy products can be confusing to many. For example, two percent milk doesn't mean two percent of the calories come from fat. Instead, it indicates that the milk is two percent fat by volume. Instead, approximately 35 percent of calories in two percent milk come from fat.
  • If you eat meat, trim all visible fat before cooking to minimize fat content.
  • Remove skin from poultry and select white meat cuts, which are lower in fat.
  • Game meats like venison are excellent low-fat alternatives to beef.
  • Nuts and seeds can be part of a healthy, low-fat diet. However, because of the high fat content of nuts and seeds, limit them to an ounce or less per day.
  • Many low-fat processed foods use chemicals to replace fat. Instead of snacking on processed foods that are labeled "low-fat" or "fat-free," stick with whole natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains.
  • Choose dry heat cooking methods for meats, and allow the fat to drip away from the meats. For example, when broiling, place the meat on a rack over a pan so fat drips into the pan. Other dry heat cooking methods that minimize fat content include grilling and roasting.
  • Avoid high-fat cooking methods such as deep frying or pan frying.

Tips for Eating Out

Everyone wants to go to a restaurant now and then. How do you stay low-fat when you eat out? Consider the following:

  • Ask the server about low-fat options.
  • Ask for sauces on the side, and then use them very sparingly.
  • Choose grilled, broiled or roasted lean meats.
  • Ask for your food to be prepared without butter or oil.
  • Choose fish, which is typically lower in fat.
  • Ask for salad dressings on the side.
  • When ordering salad, leave off high-fat items like bacon, cheese, and eggs.
  • Ask for a "to go" box when your meal comes. Apportion half of your entree.
  • If you order a meat-based entree, save half for later and then stick with vegetable sides. Ask for them to be prepared without butter or oil and with sauces on the side.
  • Choose a baked potato instead of mashed potatoes and leave off toppings.
  • Ask about fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Skip fried foods.
  • Consider ordering a low-fat appetizer and a salad instead of an entree.
  • Leave mayonnaise, which is high in fat, off sandwiches.
  • Skip the cheese.

Low-Fat for Life

Choosing a low-fat lifestyle is an excellent way to care for your health. By making smart choices and planning meals and snacks, you'll be well on your way to low-fat living.

Menu for a Low-Fat Diet