Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published on 1 Nov 2011

Low fat diet < 20g day

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Adult Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.


To provide a very low-fat diet with no more than 20g total fat per day.


Very low in total fat but not necessarily low in saturated fat.

Suggested fat distribution by meal:

  • Breakfast: 5g
  • Morning tea: 0g
  • Lunch: 7.5g
  • Afternoon tea: 0g
  • Dinner: 7.5g
  • Supper: 0g


Diseases of the biliary tract and pancreas where there is fat intolerance, eg cholelithiasis; pancreatitis and chyle leaks (e.g. chylothorax).

Nutritional adequacy

This diet may not provide adequate energy, and intake of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids may be compromised and should be assessed by a dietitian. Nutritional supplements (eg Resource® Fruit or Fortijuce®) may be required to meet energy and nutrient needs.


Should not be used long term without dietetic advice. Not to be combined with high protein / energy diets, or renal diets.


Suitable for use in paediatrics when combined with an age-appropriate diet.

Specific menu planning guidelines

Allowed Not allowed
Hot main dishes

Main dishes ≤5g fat per serve

Small serves lean meat, skinless chicken and fish

Soy products, e.g. textured vegetable protein (TVP)


Note: If no suitable choices are available on the menu, grilled fish and steamed chicken are appropriate to offer

Fatty meats (e.g. bacon, sausages), offal

Deep-fried foods

Foods cooked with white sauces or coconut milk

Sauces, gravies

Low-fat sauces and gravies (≤1g fat per serve)

Tomato sauce

Cream-based or milk-based sauces
Starchy vegetables / pasta / rice

All raw, steamed or boiled (≤2g fat per serve)

Potato mashed with water, not milk

Fried or roasted vegetables with fat, such as butter, cooking margarine or oil
VegetablesAll raw, steamed or boiled without added fat (≤2g fat per serve)

Fried or roasted vegetables with fat, such as butter, cooking margarine or oil

Vegetables served with cream-based or cheese-based sauces

SoupsClear broths onlyAll others
Salads, dressings

Salads ≤5g fat per serve

30g lean meat or 60g lean chicken or fish

Cottage cheese

Side salad vegetables

Low-joule dressing or lemon wedge

Processed meats

Bean or potato salad

Other cheeses

Olives, avocado

Full-fat dressings, mayonnaise

Breads, cereals

All breads and rice cakes

Other breakfast cereals (including rolled oats made with water


Rolled oats made with milk

Cereals with coconut or chocolate

SpreadsJam, honey, Vegemite™ Butter, margarine, peanut butter
Hot breakfast choices

Spaghetti, baked beans

All others

Fresh, canned and dried fruits


YoghurtFat-free (skim milk) yoghurtsOther yoghurts

Desserts with ≤2g fat per serve

Canned and fresh fruit


All others

Milk and cheese

Skim milk, Shape™

Low-fat soy milk

Cottage and ricotta cheese

Full-cream milk, 2% fat milk

Cream, sour cream

All other cheeses

BeveragesWater, tea, coffee, cordial, juices, soft drinks Milk drinks
BiscuitsFat-free biscuits only (e.g. Gemfreez, rice crackers) All others

Herbs and spices


Low-fat nutritional supplements

Nuts and seeds



  1. American Dietetic Association. Nutrition care manual. Chicago: ADA; 2009, [accessed 17 March 2010].
  2. Mahon LK, Escott-Stump S. Krause’s food and nutrition therapy. 12th ed. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier; 2008.
  3. Smoke A, DeLegge MH. Chyle leaks: consensus on management? Nutr Clin Pract 2008;23:529-32.
  4. Shea, JC, Hoppner IK, Blanco PG, Freedman SD. Advances in nutritional management of chronic pancreatitis. Curr Gastroenterol Rep 2000;2:323-6.
  5. Madden A. The role of low fat diets in the management of gall-bladder disease. J Hum Nutr Diet 1992;5:267-73.
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