Is there a minimum amount of dietary fat intake humans need?


Apr 10, 2017
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  1. Vegan newbie
I have this question because of the this:

I tried for more then once to start a HCLF Vegan diet which isn't hard for me at all because I already rarely eat Eggs, already don't eat any diary products, my only 'animal bases nutrition" was chicken. So for a couple of times I switched to a complete vegan diet, which also meant for me cutting out oils etc. The only fat I do get is from the traces in beans, rice, veggies, fruit, and occasionally some nuts. The last time I also supplemented my diet with 1-2 Table spoons of Flax seeds daily for the Omega-3 content, which is easily met this way, according to cronometer.

But here comes the problem, after about 1 week I start to feel really weird, light headed and jittery/anxious, like I can't relax any longer and the general feeling of that about something terrible is about to happen.

It has got to the point of leaving work early and calling in sick a couple of times, I didn't know where this was all coming from but because it correlates to the times I started my vegan diet I suspect I'm doing something wrong.

On top of all of this, yesterday I was again very lightheaded after a week of eating HCLF today I started to wonder if it maybe was caused by my low fat intake?

So today, I decided to up my dietary fat intake, and did that in a non vegan way.., I consumed salmon. (23 grams of fat). 1 hour afterwards until this moment, I feel so much better, I'm calm, my focus is coming back and my lightheadedness is gone..

So my question is, is there a minimum amount of fat we should eat? I suspect I was going to low.

(For further information, it isn't about the calories, because the first thing I do is starting eating, but that doesn't relieve any of this, but after eating fat, it does..)
Wouldn't that little experiment be worth repeating using a plant based fat (a whole food plant based fat) instead of the fish. Something like tahini, peanut butter or other nut butter.

I'm unaware of dietary recommendations for *just* fat, although I'm relatively sure that what one needs on a very general basis is going to differ from person to person. For instance, someone with a deficiency in one type of fat, or too much of one type (typically omega 6 from added isolate fats found in added oils). More dietary fat is actually needed if one is doing something harmful to oneself (such as eating or drinking something poisonous, such as alcohol). Beer guts don't magically develop in the absence of dietary fat, rather, they develop because whatever alcohol is not metabolized and eliminated (too little B vitamins and certain minerals) will be stored with the aid of dietary fat.
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I've done a little research on this.
the easy part: there is no minimum amount for saturated fats. If your body needs saturated fats, then it will make some. No ingestion is necessary. You also don't need any trans fat. Both of those should be avoided. but it is almost impossible to eliminate saturated fat.

Most of the "experts" recommend a diet that is about 20 - 35% fat. that is the percent of calories. Just remember that one gram of fat has 9 calories and one gram of protein or carbohydrate has 4. Then you just have to get out the calculator.
But if you are mathematically disadvantaged, here is a good chart Low.pdf

the LF diets actually go below the recommendation of 20%. I've seen some vegans go as low as 10%. That seems like it is ok except for people with low body fat composition. And the fact that we don't eat when we sleep.

when we sleep our brains are still pretty big fuel hogs. Most of us have to dig into some fat reserves to fuel the brains. Dr. Sears did a lot of research with the Stanford Swim Team. Of course, these are all super athletes with low body fat. but his conclusion was that a diet of 20% fat was ideal. He also came to the conclusion that a diet of 20% fat, 60% carbs, and 20% protein was not only ideal but also a good "Zone" for everybody. Whether you eat 1600 calories a day or 5000.

Your symptoms of lightheadedness could have resulted from your brain not getting the fuel it needs. Except for this: carbs are even better fuel than fat. If you are eating carbs all day long this should not be happening. I'd say its time for a checkup. Check up are good when changing diets because if nothing else they can give you a baseline. But there are lots of more likely reasons for the lightheadedness.

I sometimes get light-headed, too. Usually its a few hours after breakfast. If my breakfast contained just carbs (like a fruit smoothie), I think my body goes thru the sugars too fast and then its sort of like a sugar crash.
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Oh yeah. the flax seeds are a good way to get your omega-3s. but they only contain a few percentage points of your daily fat intake.
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I agree with Lou - 15-20% fat (not oil) from plant sources (avocado, nuts, seeds to name a few) is plenty and the real culprit is more likely to be too few calories. Check out Cronometer and be sure that you are getting enough calories, especially from starches, so that your body and brain has enough glucose to thrive.

Emma JC
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Try increasing on plant based fat not fish and see what happens. It also could be that you are lacking B12 which you can take in supplements.