The Skinny on Low-Fat Diets and Diabetes

By American Diabetes Association

A low-fat eating pattern is another option for people with diabetes. This type of eating pattern includes vegetables, fruits, starches, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. The best protein options for a low-fat eating pattern are fish and poultry without skin. Limit your intake of excess fat, especially sources of saturated fat (such as butter, margarine, and other hard fats).

Following a low-fat eating pattern may improve heart health when overall calorie intake is also reduced and weight loss occurs. However, in studies, a low-fat diet didn’t always improve blood glucose levels or reduce heart disease risk factors. Talk to your dietitian or healthcare provider to determine if this eating pattern can help you achieve your diabetes goals.

According to the American Diabetes Association’s position statement “Nutrition Therapy Recommendations for the Management of Adults with Diabetes,” a low-fat eating pattern is defined as a total fat intake that is less than 30 percent of a person’s total calorie intake and a saturated fat intake that is less than 10 percent of total calorie intake. If you and your dietitian agree that a low-fat eating pattern is right for you, he or she can help you determine how many grams of fat to aim for each day and how to do that.