How to Track Dietary Fat Intake (A Step-by-Step Guide)
This step-by-step guide, part of our series on nutrition tracking, will teach you how to track dietary fat intake.
Dietary fats are praised in some circles and vilified in others.
And while arguments continue on the _amount _of fats you should eat, and _which _fatty acids are best, they dietary fats are nevertheless an important part of your diet.
The USDA Guidelines recommend that you should eat 20 - 35% of your calories from fats.
But how do you track fat intake? Especially for home-cooked meals? And how do you track dietary fat intake over time?
This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of dietary fat tracking. It essentially comes down to two primary questions: What is the quantity of fat in the food you ate, and how much of that food did you eat?
Step 1: Identify the individual food items in your meal.
If the food is pre-packaged, with a nutrition label, skip this step. But, if you prepared your meal from a recipe (like the ingredients below from a delicious recipe for Ikarian soufico), make note of each food item in the meal. Either on paper, or using a spreadsheet like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, list each item in the first column under the heading title like, _Ingredients _or Food Item.
How to track fat intake – step 1 - Identify all food items in your meal.
Identify all food items in your meal - or - Skip this Step with Intake
Step 2: Calculate the quantity of each serving of foods with nutrition labels.
If the food is pre-packaged, look at the nutrition label. You will see “serving size,” and “servings per container.” First, convert units from the recipe to the same as the serving size units if they are different. Then, take how much (quantity) of each ingredient is present in the recipe and divide that by the serving size. Save that answer as the number of servings per recipe. You will multiply the amount of fat by this answer to determine how much of it is in the recipe. The following image demonstrates how you would calculate this value for each pre-packaged item.
How to track fat intake – step 2 - Calculate serving sizes using nutrition labels.
Calculate serving sizes using nutrition labels - or - Skip this Step with Intake
Step 3: Navigate to the USDA Food Search tool for fresh food item.
For fresh foods without a nutrition label, navigate to the USDA Food Search tool at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list.
How to track fat intake – step 3 - Navigate to USDA Food Database Tool.
Navigate to USDA Food Database Tool - or - Skip this Step with Intake
Step 4: Search for each food item.
Edit Select Source for Standard Reference, and enter the name of a food item into Enter one or more terms**_._**.
Find the food item description that best fits your food. For fresh fruits and vegetables, often the term includes “, raw.” Click on that food item.
How to track fat intake – step 4 - Search for each food item.
Search for each food item - or - Skip this Step with Intake
Step 5: Search for and modify the quantity of the item to match your recipe.
Scroll horizontally in the table to find the quantity that best matches your recipe. To modify the column, enter a value into the serving size box and hit Enter.
How to track fat intake – step 5 - Search and modify food item quantity.
Search and modify food item quantity - or - Skip this Step with Intake
Step 6: Identify and record the quantity of fat.
Match the value in the column for your desired quantity with the row for total __lipids (fats).
How to track fat intake – step 6 - Identify fat content.
Identify fat content - or - Skip this Step with Intake
Step 7: Record this value for each food item in the recipe.
Record this value for each food item in the recipe, and repeat this cycle for each food item.