The Amount of Calories in a Gram of Fat

The Densest Macronutrient for Calories

Goose fat, clarified butter, hydrogenated palm oil, duck fat, lard, and margarine
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How many calories are there in a gram of fat? Each gram of fat contains 9 calories. Compare this to protein or carbohydrates, which each contain 4 calories per gram, and you can see why a diet high in fat can lead to weight gain.

Calorie Density

Sources of calories for the body are divided into those from fat, carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol. They each have a different density:

  • Fat: 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol: 7 calories per gram
  • Protein: 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram

As fat and alcohol have more calories by weight than proteins and carbohydrates, you get more calories by eating less food when you consume them in those forms. If you want to eat a full plate of food, you will consume fewer calories if you are eating foods higher in protein and carbohydrate and less in fat.

What Is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy. When used in reference to food, calories are actually kilocalories or 1000 calories. It is the amount of energy that would raise a kilogram of water by one degree centigrade.

It doesn't matter whether a calorie came from fat, protein, carbohydrates, or alcohol, it still provides the same amount of energy to your body. However, when you eat more calories than your body can use at one time, it will store the excess calories as fat.

Fats in a Healthy Diet

Do remember, however, that fat is still an essential part of a healthy diet.

Try to choose healthy fats like those found in nuts, olive oil, canola oil, and avocados. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial when eating them as part of a healthy diet. Try not to include too many animal fats (saturated fats), such as those found in meat and dairy products.

Too many of these fats are believed to lead to health problems.

The American Heart Association recommends that the calories from fat should be no more than 25 percent to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake. If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, you should eat no more than 65 grams of fat per day. Saturated fat should be no more than 5 percent to 6 percent of total calories.

Trans fat is artificially-produced fat that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, often known as partially-hydrogenated oils. They are often used to deep-fry foods. Because they have a negative effect on cholesterol and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke, it is best to eliminate them from your diet.

Reading the Label

Products may be labeled to promote themselves as lower in fat. When you see fat-free listed, it means that there are less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. Low-fat items have 3 grams or less of fat per serving. Reduced fat means that, compared to the typical similar product, this product has at least 25 percent less fat per serving. Items labeled as light or lite in regard to fat have their fat content reduced by 50 percent compared to the typical product of that type.