Fat in Urine: Possible Causes and What to Do

Fat in the urine is a sign that should not be overlooked. Normal urine should have no oily elements, but should be completely liquid.
Fat in Urine: Possible Causes and What to Do
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 27 February, 2023

The presence of fat in urine is often an indicator that something is wrong. Sometimes it’s the result of food that has been ingested, but it can also be a sign of disease.

Urine offers very important parameters to monitor a person’s state of health. Therefore, it’s advisable to pay attention to any change in its consistency, color, odor, or texture.

If fat appears in the urine or any other visible change, it’s advisable to consult a doctor. Beyond the appearance, a laboratory analysis is able to provide reliable data to make an accurate diagnosis.

How to detect fat in urine?

Usually, fat in urine is detectable with the naked eye. Sometimes what is seen is that the fluid looks somewhat cloudy. Other times it’s obvious that fat is present because it’s floating around giving an oily look to the urine.

At other times, especially when a person is on a weight loss diet, what you see is that the urine looks a little foamy. When that foam dissipates, small fragments of fat remain in the urine.

Either way, it’s important to have a lab test done to pinpoint the cause of the fat in the urine. It’s wise to watch for other signs such as color, odor, and frequency of urination.

Possible causes of fat in urine

There are many possible origins of fat in urine. Sometimes this is due to temporary conditions and sometimes they are the manifestation of a disease. The most common reasons are as follows.

1. Pregnancy

The nausea and vomiting that occur during some pregnancies contribute to higher levels of ketones in the urine. Other times, the mother has gestational diabetes. This leads to oily urine.

Fat in urine is common in pregnancy.
Pregnant women may have fat in their urine, especially when they have gestational diabetes.

2. Dehydration

Dehydration causes the urine to look more concentrated, dark in color, and with a strong odor. It isn’t uncommon to detect fat in the urine as well. This condition occurs when not drinking enough water or as an effect of some underlying disease.

Find out more here: The Consequences of Dehydration

3. Starvation and ketosis

Starvation occurs when the body doesn’t consume enough food. However, there are also conditions in which this occurs with a normal diet. This is due to digestive problems or a condition called hypermetabolism.

When it occurs, the body feeds on its own stored proteins. The waste from that process can show up as fat in the urine. It’s something known as ketosis and is when the body is no longer able to use carbohydrates for energy, so it takes from fats instead.

4. Ketones in the urine

Ketosis is the main cause of ketones in the urine. As just mentioned, it occurs in starvation or hypermetabolism. However, there are also other causative diseases. Among them, diabetes.

This also takes place when dieting for weight loss, after a strenuous exercise routine, if there is alcoholism, high levels of stress or diets with prolonged fasting.

5. Excessive vitamin intake

Excessive intake of vitamins and supplements sometimes results in fat in the urine. This occurs when there’s too much vitamin D. It’s also possible that the body isn’t absorbing the vitamins properly and this effect then occurs.

6. Chyluria

Chyluria occurs when there is leakage of lymph fluid from the intestines into the kidneys. One of the manifestations of this disease is fat in the urine.

It is also usual for the urine to be whitish in color and for there to be pain when urinating and increased frequency of urination. Traces of blood may also be present.

7. Nephrotic syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disease that results in the body eliminating too much protein through the urine. It may be a consequence of some secondary disease, such as lupus or diabetes.

Diseases associated with fat in the urine

There are some pathologies that are frequently associated with fat in urine. In particular, kidney problems such as cystitis or kidney stones. It is also common for diabetes to manifest itself through fatty urine. This is the effect of excess glucose and ketosis.

Although at first glance it may not seem to have any relation, the truth is that Parkinson’s disease also gives rise to fat in the urine at times. The same happens in strokes.

A urine sample.
Fat in urine can be noticed by a change of coloration in the liquid, which becomes darker, or by the noticeable droplets of lipids floating.

What to do when there is fat in the urine?

The presence of fat in urine is a reason to consult a doctor. The first thing to do is to diagnose the cause and implement the appropriate treatment. Most of the time, a change of habits is enough to correct the problem.

It’s very important to tell your doctor about the medicines and supplements you are taking, as this could be the cause. If the symptom comes from more serious problems, such as kidney infections or diabetes, addressing the underlying pathology will solve it.

As always, a healthy lifestyle helps to prevent this type of problem. A proper diet, as well as regular physical activity and avoiding stress are the basic measures.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.