Acceptable Fats on a Ketogenic Diet and with Intermittent Fasting
Eating lots of fat is one of the hallmarks of the ketogenic diet. But when it comes to fats, there is a lot of variety. So what are the acceptable high-fat foods for keto, and what are the ones to avoid?
It is important to make sure that your low-carb diet is filled with all the right nutrients, and that the fats you are putting into your body are doing you good rather than harm.
In this article, I will break down:
Are fats really good for you?
Historically, we have all been told that fat is bad for you. That it will clog your arteries and hurt your heart. However, this is just not true. It is a myth that fats are so bad for you.
Fat isn't what clogs your arteries. In fact, sugar is actually the culprit. So really, it is more important to limit your sugar intake and control blood sugar levels than it is to go fat-free in your eating. Learn more about this in my video.
The ketogenic diet with high fat intake is safe. It is safe for your heart and safe for your body if done in a healthy way.
You don't want to get too crazy with your fat intake on the keto diet, though. So getting just the right amount is key.
How much fat do you need to eat on keto?
Keto is a low-carb diet, with plenty of healthy fats and moderate amounts of protein.
The main idea of the ketogenic diet is to let your body begin to burn fat as fuel rather than glucose. To make this happen (and to reach ketosis) you need to keep carbohydrates out of your diet. This forces your body to burn fat instead of carbs for fuel. That's why keto is made up of high-fat meals, rather than high-carb meals.
The fat is needed to help tide you over between meals. But the goal is to have your body burn its own fat stores, not just the fat from your meals.
Some people seem to think that the more fat they eat, the better. But if you eat too much fat, your body will only burn that dietary fat that you ate, and it won't have to burn your body's own fat stores. This will prevent you from seeing the benefits of the ketogenic diet like weight loss.
Eating too much fat is one of the biggest mistakes people make on keto.
Remember, the principle of the keto diet is to eat higher amounts of fat, not excessive amounts of it. So how much fat do you need to actually eat every day?
On the keto diet, you should be eating about 20-40 grams of fat per meal.
If you are curious about how much fat is in different types of foods, then I've got just the resource for you. In this video, I explain how much of different types of foods you would need to eat in a meal to get to that 20-40 gram goal.
Types of fat
You've probably heard all sorts of terms related to fat. Saturated, trans, MUFA, etc. Which are the good, and which are bad? What types of foods are they found in? Let's break down the different types of fats.
"Good" types of fats
1. Unsaturated fats.
These are healthy fats that are liquid at room temperature. They are broken down into two categories, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).
MUFAs have a number of health benefits. They are found in foods like:
PUFAs are fatty acids that you must consume in your diet, including the omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The key with these is to get the right ratio between omega 3 and omega 6. Most Americans eat too many omega 6s and not enough omega 3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory healthy fats that are good for the brain, eye, heart, and more. They are found in:
Omega-6 fatty acids tend to be more inflammatory if you don't balance them with enough omega 3s. They are found in:
2. Saturated fats.
These are fats that are solid at room temperature. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats are actually quite good for your body and are needed in the diet. They make up your cell membranes, help keep your bones healthy, are building blocks for hormones, and support the immune system.
Learn more about their health benefits here.
Healthy sources of saturated fats include:
Organic, grass-fed dairy products
Organic, grass-fed meats
3. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT).
This particular type of fat is found in certain oils. MCTs are a good source of energy for the body and help you burn fat. They are also digested in a different way than other fats, helping take the strain off the liver and gallbladder. They are found in:
"Bad" sorts of fats
1. Trans fats.
Trans fats are not widely found in nature, but they are created and used in many processed foods. They are inflammatory in nature and are a very unhealthy type of fat. They are found in foods like:
2. Hydrogenated oils.
Food companies will often take a liquid unsaturated fat and process it so that it is turned into a solid fat. This process increases shelf life and can help cut costs. It is called hydrogenation. However, this process turns the oil into an unhealthy alternative, which should be avoided in your diet. Hydrogenated fats are found in:
Pre-made baked goods
9 healthy high-fat foods for keto
You want to feed your body the good, healthy types of fats rather than the unhealthy, harmful ones. The 9 fat sources below are great options to include as part of your ketogenic diet.
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These are the type of healthy fats that help you to make energy and burn fat. And they are also really easy on the liver and gallbladder.
MCTs found in coconut oil are also good for the immune system. And coconut oil has several other health benefits, so it is a great fat to cook with on this diet. Learn more about it here.
Who knew that butter was actually good for you and could help you lose weight? As long as you choose grass-fed butter, this is a great fat for the ketogenic diet program.
Enjoy the delicious taste of butter cooked into your dishes or spread as a topping.
Did you know that olives are over 80% fat? They are a good high-fiber, low-carb snack. Olives and olive oil contain great health-promoting fats.
I particularly love fermented Sicilian green olives. The phytonutrient levels in these olives are off the charts. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are such a healthy option for the ketogenic diet-eating plan.
Avocados have so much nutrition packed into them. They are really high in potassium, which is very healthy. There is a reason I refer to them as "The Amazing Avocado."
Nutrient-dense avocados make a great garnish, or you can blend them into many dishes as well. You can also use avocado oil for cooking.
5. Egg yolks
If you choose organic and pasture-raised eggs, then eggs are an excellent addition to the ketogenic diet. Most of the nutrition is in the yolk, which is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin D, and other vitamins.
I eat several eggs for breakfast. They make for a filling, hearty base of a meal.
6. Nuts and nut butters
Nuts are full of healthy oils. And nut butters are a nice thing to use to mix up your meals on the keto diet.
Just make sure you choose nut butters with no added sugars. It's great if you can choose a brand that just uses nuts and sea salt, if possible.
Seeds, seed butters, and oils are healthy options. I particularly like chia seeds and flax oil. You may have heard that flax is bad for estrogen levels, but it actually helps maintain a healthy estrogen balance (even in men).
Seeds like sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are also good sources of healthy nutrients and healthy fats. They can make a great garnish on salads.
8. Animal Fats
As long as you purchase high-quality, organic animal products, they are totally healthy choices. Grass-fed cheese, meats, dairy, etc. are all good choices. Just avoid grain-fed animal products.
Cook meats into recipes, use cheese as a garnish, or whatever you desire.
9. Fish and fish oil
High in healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a ketogenic diet superfood. Salmon is an excellent source but avoid farm-raised salmon.
Make sure you choose wild-caught fatty fish. And if you want to do fish oil as a supplement, go with the higher end brands. Many cheap fish oils out there are rancid. I personally like virgin cod liver oil. That is a very healthy and fresh choice.
Along with the healthy fats listed above, you can also include moderate amounts of safflower oil and sunflower oil in your diet. These should not be your go-to options, as they are high in omega 6s.
Unhealthy fats to avoid
These fats should be avoided:
Soy, corn, cottonseed, and canola oils. These are GMO oils and are high in omega-6 fatty acids. This makes them very inflammatory, so stay away from them.
Fried foods from restaurants. Restaurants almost all use soy or corn oil in their frying, and so these foods should be eliminated from the diet.
Margarine. It's trans fat and is hydrogenated, so avoid it as much as you can.
Learn more about the good fats and bad fats for the ketogenic diet in this video.
Tips for adding fat to your diet
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Adjusting to this new pattern of eating and shifting old habits can be challenging.
If you are having a hard time getting the right amount of fats into your diet to reach the recommended amount, consult the keto diet food list and here are a few tips:
Cook with healthy sources of fat.
Use things like coconut oil, avocado oil, or grass-fed butter in your pan and in your dressings and sauces.
Don't eat fat-free products.
For example, opt for full-fat dairy rather than low-fat dairy.
Garnish your dishes with foods high in fat.
Use avocados, seeds, or nuts as toppings.
Make keto-friendly low-carb recipes like fat bombs.
Remember, you don't need to overdo it with fat. Keep to those 20-40 grams per meal rule for best results.
Notes for starting out with keto and boosting your fat intake
When starting out, it is important to take into account the recommendations below. They will help you to stay healthy and transition as easily as possible.
You need to eat a lot of vegetables on the keto diet. Veggies will provide you will all the healthy nutrients your body needs. They will also prevent you from getting a fatty liver. This is something that can commonly happen when you eat a lot of fat but no vegetables. Learn more here.
You should build up your fat intake slowly. The ketogenic diet must be transitioned into. You must gradually shift your diet and build up your fat intake. Otherwise, you will have problems. Keto-adaptation takes time. Your cells will get used to this new way of using fuel, but they won't do so overnight.
You can try taking my gallbladder formula to help ease things while you transition.
Healthy sources of fat: the bottom line
Fats aren't the enemy, as you may have previously been told. In fact, they can be a very healthy addition to your diet if you choose the right ones.
Taking on the keto diet probably means you will be eating more fat than you are used to. So it is understandable if you aren't quite sure what kinds of fats to include in your low-carb meals.
As a review, these are some of the healthiest choices for high-fat foods on the keto diet:
Olives and olive oil
Nuts and nut butter
Grass-fed animal products
Fish and fish oil
Be creative, and use these high-fat foods alongside plenty of vegetables and some protein to create a well-balanced ketogenic diet.
Avoid the common keto fat ingredient vegetable oil that can stop your ketosis. And remember to stay away from oils like soy, corn, cottonseed, and canola.
What are your favorite ways to cook with the fat sources listed above? Do you have any favorite recipes? Share your experiences in the comments below.