XENICAL For Professionals For Consumers Site Map
Larger Text
XENICAL.com -- Dietary Fats How much fat should I have?

It depends on your calorie needs -- a 500- to 1000-calorie reduction from usual daily intake is generally recommended to achieve weight loss in overweight and considerably overweight people. In addition to watching your calories, you will also need to watch the number of fat grams you consume. It doesn't take much to achieve the total number of fat grams you will need daily. For example, you will get up to half that total number if you pick the leanest choices from each food group and add no fat to your foods in preparation or at the table. The challenge comes in deciding how to use the additional fat in your daily diet. You may want to have foods from the major food groups that are higher in fat -- such as whole milk. Or you may want to use the fat in cooking or at the table in the form of spreads, dressings or toppings.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we limit fat in our diets to about 30% of our daily calories. This amounts to 40 grams of fat in a 1200-calorie diet, 47 grams in a 1400-calorie diet, 53 grams of fat in a 1600-calorie diet, 60 grams of fat in an 1800-calorie diet, and 67 grams of fat in a 2000-calorie diet.

In general, foods that come from animals -- milk and meat groups -- are naturally higher in fat than foods that come from plants except for avocados, olives and nuts. But there are many low-fat dairy and lean meat choices available, and high-fat foods can be prepared in many lower-fat ways, such as broiling or steaming.

Fruits, vegetables and grain products are naturally low in fat. But many popular items, such as French fries and croissants, are prepared with fat, making them higher-fat choices.

Are some fats worse than others?

Yes. Too much saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels in many people, increasing their risk for heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories, or about one third of total fat intake.

All fats in foods are mixtures of three types of fatty acids:

  • Saturated fats are found in largest amounts in fats from meats and dairy products, and in some vegetable fats, such as those found in coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.
  • Monounsaturated fats are found mainly in olive, peanut and canola oils.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils, and in some fish.
Choose fat from a variety of sources, but mostly from those foods that are higher in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.

How can I check my diet for fat?

If you want to be sure you have a low-fat diet, you can count the grams of fat in your daily food choices and compare them to the number of grams of fat suggested for your calorie level.

The following tables list commonly used foods for each food group and the amount of fat in each. Only a few of the thousands of foods we eat are listed. However, the tables will give you an idea of the foods from each food group that are higher and lower in fat.

A green circle that appears next to the food item means that food item is one of the lowest-fat choices you can make in that food group.

Grain, Starch, and Sugar Group
Protein and Fat Groups
Vegetable, Fruit, and Milk and Yogurt Groups

How can I reduce dietary fat?

Here are 10 tips to help you begin reducing the fat in your diet to around 30%.
  1. Read nutrition and ingredient labels on all foods that you buy. Check the kinds and amounts of fat they contain, making sure to use unsaturated vegetable oils and margarine that list a liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient on the label.
  2. Choose foods from the lower-fat food groups most often. Avoid prepackaged, processed and fast foods, which are usually high in fat -- especially saturated fats.
  3. Include more grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  4. Choose lean meat, poultry without skin, fish, and dry beans and peas.
  5. Limit your portions.
  6. Cook with less fat by using vegetable oil spray instead of butter or margarine.
  7. Prepare meats in low-fat ways:
    • Trim away all the fat you can see.
    • Broil, roast or boil instead of frying.
  8. Limit intake of butter, margarine, gravy, high-fat salad dressings and baked goods.
  9. When dining out, ask how foods are prepared and request that they be prepared with little or no added fat.
  10. Replace whole-milk dairy products with nonfat or reduced-fat items, such as 1% milk, nonfat yogurt, and low-fat ice cream and cheese.

Return to Weight-Loss Resources


XENICAL is a prescription medicine used with a low calorie diet to increase weight loss in people with obesity. XENICAL may help obese people lose weight and keep the weight off.

It is not known if XENICAL is safe and effective in children under 12 years old.

Important Safety Information

Do not take XENICAL if you:
  • are pregnant. A minimum weight gain, and no weight loss, is currently recommended for all pregnant women, including those who are already overweight or obese.
  • have food absorption problems (chronic malabsorption syndrome)
  • have gallbladder problems (cholestasis)
  • are allergic to orlistat or any of the ingredients in XENICAL
Before you take XENICAL, tell your doctor if you:
  • have liver problems
  • have kidney problems
  • have problems with your thyroid
  • have eating problems such as anorexia or bulimia
  • have diabetes
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if XENICAL passes into your breast milk. Talk to your doctor before you breastfeed and take XENICAL.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Especially tell your doctor if you are taking:
  • cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune, Restasis, Sangcya)
  • beta-carotene or vitamin E supplements
  • levothyroxine (Levo-T, Levolet, Levothyroid, Levothyroxine Sodium, Levoxyl, Novothyrox, Synthroid, Tirosint, Unithroid)
  • warfarin (Athrombin, Athrombin-K, Coumadin, Jantoven, Panwarfin, Warfarin Sodium)

XENICAL may cause serious side effects, including:
  • Lowered absorption of certain vitamins in your body. Take a multivitamin containing vitamins A, D, E, K, and beta-carotene one time each day. Take a multivitamin at least 2 hours before or after you take XENICAL, such as at bedtime.
  • Severe liver problems. Stop taking XENICAL and call your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms of liver problems:
    • loss of appetite
    • itchy skin
    • yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes
    • amber-colored urine
    • light-colored bowel movements (stools)
    • pain in the upper right portion of your stomach
  • Kidney problems. Your doctor may do certain tests to check your kidney function during treatment with XENICAL. Call your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms of kidney problems:
    • swelling, especially of the legs and feet
    • little or no urine output
    • frequent or painful urination
    • blood in the urine
    • loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
    • severe pain in the back, belly or groin
  • Gallbladder problems (gallstones). Call your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms of gallstones:
    • pain in the upper right portion of your stomach
    • nausea
    • vomiting

The most common side effects of XENICAL include:
  • oily* rectal discharge
  • passing gas with oily discharge*
  • urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • oily* or fatty stools
  • increased number of bowel movements
  • being unable to control your bowel movements
*Oily discharge may be clear or have an orange or brown color.

How should I take XENICAL?
  • Take XENICAL exactly as your doctor tells you to take it.
  • Your doctor will tell you how much XENICAL to take and when to take it.
  • Take XENICAL with your meals or up to one hour after your meal. If you miss a meal or have a meal without fat, you can skip your dose of XENICAL. If you take a cyclosporine medicine, take XENICAL and cyclosporine at least 3 hours apart. See "What should I tell my doctor before taking XENICAL?" for a complete list of cyclosporine medicines.
  • If you take a multivitamin, take it at least 2 hours before or after you take XENICAL. Bedtime is a good time to take your multivitamin.
  • If you take a levothyroxine medicine, take XENICAL and levothyroxine at least 4 hours apart. See "What should I tell my doctor before taking XENICAL?" for a complete list of levothyroxine medicines.
  • If you take a cyclosporine medicine, take it at least 3 hours after you take XENICAL. See "What should I tell my doctor before taking XENICAL?"
Take XENICAL with a nutritionally balanced, low calorie diet that has no more than about 30% of calories from fat. Taking XENICAL with any meal high in fat (more than 30% fat) may make the common side effects worse.

If you take too much XENICAL call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.

These are not all the possible side effects of XENICAL. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Click here for Important Patient Information.
Serving Sizes for
Food Categories
Food Servings