- Understanding a High-Fat Ketogenic Diet—and is it Right for You?
- 1. Buy Full Fat Products only
- 2. Choose fatty cuts of meat
- 3. Bulletproof your coffee
- 4. Fry, Bake, and grill with fats
- 5. Lather your veg in fat
- 6. Eat the Yolk
- 7. Nuts and seeds are your friend
- 8. Eat Dairy Sparingly and Selectively
- How Much Fat?
- Good Fat Sources
- Summing it Up
- What Are the Best and Worst Fats to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet?
- The 5 Best Fats to Eat Plenty of on the Ketogenic Diet
- The 4 Fats You Should Limit on the Keto Diet
- The Worst Fat You Could Eat on the Keto Diet
- How To Start The Keto Diet
- How To Approach Keto For Weight Loss
- WHAT CAN I EAT ON THE KETOGENIC DIET?
- WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FAT THAT I CAN EAT?
- Keto Flu symptoms and how to get rid of it
- Different Types Of Keto Diets
- Science Behind the Ketogenic Diet
- Weight Loss On Keto
- Good Luck!
- Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet
- What You Need to Know About Keto
- The Importance of Fat on the Keto Diet
- What to Eat on a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet
- What to Avoid Eating on Keto
- A Sample One-Day Keto Diet Menu
- Track Your Ketones and Fat Intake to Ensure You’re in Ketosis
- How to Build Your Keto Diet Meal Plan
Understanding a High-Fat Ketogenic Diet—and is it Right for You?
What are the guidelines to a ketogenic diet?
The safest way to try a ketogenic diet is to discuss it first with your (trusted, collaborative, and evidence-based) doctor or other clinician. I urge my patients, readers, and coaching clients to start with a keto calculator (such as Maria Emmerich’s or Martin Ankerl’s). These calculators give you guidelines for macronutrients, i.e., the number of carbs, proteins, and fats to eat to get into ketosis—and adjust the recommendations based on age, activity level, and goals (such as weight loss or maintenance).
This is a diet that requires a fair amount of attention to macronutrient quantities in order to work. Unlike the Atkins diet, which only restricts carbs, the ketogenic diet also restricts protein based on your activity level, so that extra protein doesn’t get converted into glucose. When people first go on nutritional ketosis, they sometimes focus on getting their carbs super low (i.e., less than 20 grams per day), and that can cause hormone and mood problems, especially in women. They make up the difference with too much protein, which then converts into sugar. So if you over-restrict carbs and eat too much protein, ketosis may not work. It’s not just a certain amount of carbs you want to target, but the right combination of fat, carbs, and protein for YOU.
1. Reduce carbs. How much? The short answer is to eat 20 to 25 grams each day for weight loss, and 25 to 30 for weight maintenance. (You must use a nutrition calculator for macronutrients to get it right because thinking in terms of grams is not intuitive, and nutritional ketosis is less likely to be successful if you try to “eyeball” the amounts.) The long answer is: it depends. I encourage people to limit carbs until they are in ketosis, as confirmed with a blood ketone meter (see below), and then try increasing the amount of carbs by 5 grams to see if they stay in ketosis.
Here are a few recommendations:
Eat one or more pounds of vegetables per day, half raw and half cooked. Let vegetables be your primary source of carbohydrates. Steam, roast, or sauté over medium heat in coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. Make soups.
Initially, avoid fruit. You can eat low-glycemic fruit like berries when you are keto-adapted (consistently in ketosis and burning fat instead of carbohydrates as your primary fuel source).
Avoid flour, grains, and sugar: no bread, hamburger buns, pasta, tortillas, alcohol. Replace noodles with spiralized vegetables. Learn to love cauliflower rice.
A quick meal: One cup of kale contains about 6 grams of carbs. Two cups of Romaine lettuce contain 3 grams of carbs. One cup of cucumber contains 4 grams of carbs. Top with your favorite protein (suggestions below), olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Note that women with thyroid or adrenal dysregulation require more healthy carbs. In general, the optimal carbohydrate level for you can vary over the years, such as when you’re more active physically or breastfeeding or stressed. Chronically eating low carb may increase your risk of mood disorders, so I urge caution and that you work with your healthcare professional. To be safe, eat the most carbs that you can tolerate while staying in ketosis.
2. Choose the amount of protein based on your activity level. For instance, I weigh about 130 pounds and exercise (spin, hike, yoga, weight training) about six or more hours per week. Applying the keto calculator, if I want to lose weight, I should eat 20 grams of carbs, 67 grams of protein, and the rest in fat (about 119 grams). Here are my typical proteins in a day. (If you exercise more than me, you’ll need more.)
Breakfast (select one):
2 eggs contain 12 grams of protein
1 serving of protein powder, such as pea-protein-based, which provides high amounts of the branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that preserve muscle mass as you age
Lunch or dinner (select one for each meal):
4 ounces of pastured chicken thigh meat (about the size of my palm) is 27 grams of protein
4 ounces of sockeye salmon contains 29 grams of protein
1 cup of crab meat has 21 grams of protein
4 ounces of grass-fed hamburger has 22 grams of protein
In general, you want to eat the minimum amount of protein to preserve lean body mass and not overtax your kidneys. If you eat too much protein, the excess converts to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. You don’t want that to occur in ketosis. Instead, eat anti-inflammatory protein—at the minimum amount to preserve or build lean body mass. My favorite sources are wild-caught fish, grass-fed and -finished beef and wild meats (elk, bison, etc.), pasture-raised poultry, nuts, and seeds. Make sure fish has more selenium (which helps protect the brain) than mercury, to mitigate heavy metal toxicity. Good sources that have a safe selenium/mercury ratio include: tuna, opah, wahoo, spearfish, swordfish.
3. Eat the rest in fat, so that fat makes up 60 to 80 percent of your total calories in a day.
Favor plant-based whole foods, like avocados, olives, and macadamia nuts. One avocado contains 21 grams of fat. Ten macadamia nuts contain about 21 grams of fat.
Again, eat anti-inflammatory protein with higher fat content, like grass-fed filet mignon, and pastured chicken thighs, dark turkey meat.
If you make the salad I mention above with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (28 grams of fat) and 4 ounces of salmon (15 grams of fat), you’ll get about 45 grams of fat, which is a good target for a meal.
Avoid processed meats (like bacon), which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as a carcinogen, based on 800 studies showing an association between processed meats and cancer. Many keto advocates recommend bacon at every meal—I don’t see the nutritional benefit of that.
Limit red meat to two to three times per week. I believe it’s better to vary your protein sources, and there’s some data to suggest that limiting saturated fat can help preserve cognitive function.
Are you new to Keto and aren’t sure how to include healthy fats into your meals? You’ve come to the right place! Below are 15 different ways to help you add more Keto fats to your diet!
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If you are new to the Ketogenic Diet, you might be wondering, how you are going to consume so much fat! Let me start by clarifying, fat is not a macro that you must hit, it’s used as a lever to keep you satiated between meals. Simply put, you eat as much fat as you need to, in order to keep from being hungry until your next meal.
You will find that the longer you are on Keto, the less fat you will need to consume, however you still want to make sure you include a fair amount in your diet. Otherwise, you are only consuming protein and very low carbs, which is not healthy and can kick you out of Ketosis.
The fats that you want to consume on Keto, are healthy fats, which includes avocado, grass-fed butter, ghee, lard, mayonnaise, cocoa butter, coconut butter, Coconut Oil and MCT Oil.
Here are some tips that can help you add more healthy fats to your Keto diet:
1- Add Homemade Cheese Sauce to Your Veggies
I have a recipe for a velvety and delicious Easy Cheesy Sauce for Veggies that has a whopping 27 grams of fat per serving, with only 6 grams of protein and 2 net carbs! This makes the perfect addition to any meal where you have a protein and a veggie, but not enough fat. Add the cheese sauce and problem solved!
2- Make Some Fat Bombs
I have several recipes for Keto fat bombs that are are also sweet, so they can satisfy any craving, as well as help you increase your healthy fats. There are also hundreds available on the internet. To see my Fat Bomb recipes, click here. You can make them in large batches and freeze most of them, keeping some in the fridge. When you need more, simply transfer another batch from the freezer to the fridge and you are good to go!
3-Choose High Fat Proteins
Choose protein with a higher fat content, like pork, 80/20 ground beef, fish, chicken legs and thighs, duck, chicken with the skin on, turkey legs and thighs and sausage are some examples.
4- Whip up Heavy Cream Sweet Treats
If you are craving something sweet and don’t have any fat bombs on hand, take some heavy whipping cream, mascarpone cheese and a few drops of liquid stevia and whip it up. Add some fresh berries to a bowl and dollop the whip cream over the top.
5- Indulge in Mascarpone/Cream Cheese Sweet Treats
Similarly, you can easily whip up a quick healthy fat treat using cream cheese or mascarpone cheese. Whip up either or a combination of both, add a few drops of liquid stevia and whip it up. Blend in some fresh or frozen berries, or unsweetened cocoa powder and you have mousse-like healthy fat treat!
6-Use Grass-Fed Butter/Ghee
Add grass-fed butter or ghee anywhere you can! Cook your eggs in it, veggies and even add it on top of a freshly grilled steak or fish, yum!! You can get creative and add fresh herbs to your butter, which will give anything you add it to, a wonderful boost of flavor.
7-Eat Your Avocados
Avocados are so healthy, it’s well worth the effort to make them a regular part of your diet. You can read more about the amazing health benefits of avocado here. If you are like me, I love avocado and can eat them plain, or with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. If you are not crazy about avocado, you can easily disguise the flavor by using them in desserts. I have a recipes for Silky Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Keto Avocado Brownies , use avocado that has just ripened, you will not even taste them!
8-Drink Bulletproof Coffee
If you are a coffee drinker, add healthy fats to your coffee, a.k.a. Bulletproof Coffee “BPC”. Adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil, MCT oil, or heavy cream to your coffee is a great way to get in that extra fat. Typically you would do a combination of two fats, i.e. half coconut oil and half butter.
9-Drizzle Some Olive Oil
Use your olive oil. Get a good quality olive oil and drizzle over cooked veggies, meats, avocado and more. It will add a boost of flavor and increase your fat.
10-Make Your Own Dressings and Dips
Make your own creamy salad dressings and dips, using mayonnaise, sour cream, heavy cream, etc. Adding a couple of tablespoons to any salad is a great way to increase your fat. Check out my recipe for Homemade Ranch Dressing and Dip. Make extra to have on hand for the week! You can also use it as a dip for pork rinds, raw veggies or make your own crackers. I have a great recipe for Keto “Everything” Crackers!
11- Save Your Bacon Grease
When you make your next batch of bacon, store the remaining grease in an airtight container or jar in the fridge and use it in your cooking. Cook your eggs with it, use it to cook veggies, and you can even use it in a salad dressing!
12-Cook With Grease From High Fat Meats
Similarly, you can also use the grease from other meats that you cook. Grease from chorizo, Italian sausage and duck can add tremendous flavor to veggies that are just screaming for help!
13- Try Coconut Butter
Eat a tablespoon of homemade toasted coconut butter. It’s incredibly easy to make and has fantastic flavor. I love to eat it all by itself sometimes, it’s quick and great if you are pressed for time. See how to make your own toasted coconut butter here. It’s much easier than you think!
14- Buy Full Fat Ingredients
When you buy cream, cream cheese, butter, cheese, coconut milk, etc. make sure you are buying the full fat version, not “light” or “low fat”. For example, Philadelphia Cream Cheese has a “1/3 less fat” version that contains 5 grams of fat per 2 tablespoons serving. Their original cream cheese contains 7 grams of fat. A 2 gram different might seem trivial, but every bit helps, particularly when you are finding it difficult to include enough fat for your macros.
15- Eat High Fat Nuts and Seeds
Snack on or include high fat nuts in your meals, such as pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts. Some nuts are also high in protein and carbs, so eat them in moderation. Chia, sunflower and sesame seeds are also very high in fat, but not as high in protein, so they make great healthy fat alternatives. You can sprinkle them on salads or blend in shakes.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you do, please leave a comment and share your experience!
Note: It’s best to consult with your Doctor, Nutritionist or Licensed Professional before making any dramatic changes to your diet. I am not a Doctor, Nutritionist or Licensed Professional, so the tips offered in this article are for your consideration and does not take the place of professional medical advice.
It always seems funny to me to that for years (pre-Keto) we had been striving to reduce fat in our diets. But how things change. The ketogenic diet’s popularity has exploded in the last few years because it gets results. Keto is a life-giving and life-sustaining diet that has changed the lives of millions of people. Keto is also popular in CrossFit. So you want to start or you’re already in “keto“ but you’re concerned about how to get more fat in your diet. Here’s how you can eat a high-fat diet every day without having to think about it too much. Increase your fat intake on the ketogenic diet with these simple rules.
Table of Contents
1. Buy Full Fat Products only
The supermarkets are full of low-fat products that are little more than sugar bombs with all the flavour and texture taken out. Avoid these products as if your life depended on it! In fact, your life does depend on it. Full fat or high fat products (excluding the processed junk) are often cheaper than the low-fat versions because they have not had an expensive processing treatment to remove the lovely, tasty fats.
Full-fat milk is definitely healthier for everyone. So are full-fat yoghurts. Many cereals, salad dressings, and nut butters marketed as low fat are devoid of nutrients and packed with chemicals and sugar. Look for the fattiest nut butters, the most natural salad dressings, and well, just avoid cereal. Unless it’s keto cereal.
2. Choose fatty cuts of meat
Over the years, the nutritional advice handed down from the food authorities has deeply influenced our behaviour. We’ve been trained to choose meat cuts with less obvious fat. It’s no coincidence that cuts like sirloin steak and lean pork chops, as well as super lean chicken breasts, are the most popular. But these meats are taste and calorie poor. With the fewest calories from important, healthy fats, it’s no wonder the so-called healthy cuts were given to poor people and lower ranking tribes members for millennia.
Kings and top hunters knew that offal and the parts of the animal with the most marbling were the most nutritious.
Choose marbled meats and look for the “prime” label which generally means “well-fed”. Avoid the “select” label!
There’s nothing wrong with saturated fat. The myth (perpetuated over the last 50 years) that saturated fat clogs arteries has seen the decline in sales of nutritious cuts of meat like liver, pork belly, rib-eye, baby-back ribs, chicken thighs, and beef chuck.
Choose marbled meats and look for the “prime” label which generally means “well-fed”. Avoid the “select” label!
So why do some of us insist on eating lean meat? It’s not that good for you and it’s expensive. Ignore all that advice about eating steaks that are 97% lean. This is a marketing tactic to get you to buy the expensive cuts.
Just remember to eat grass-fed beef and free-range pork and poultry. Otherwise, you’re making yourself sick and missing out on quality omega fatty acids.
Fatty fish like Salmon and sardines are better than tuna, haddock, and crab. Try to eat more high fat, low protein foods. And instead of eating meat all the time, try something a little less protein-heavy. High-protein diets are not keto kosher.
- Lean fish like haddock, whiting, and plaice
- Sirloin steak
- Chicken breasts
- Pork tenderloin
- Chicken (especially legs, wings, and thighs) with the skin on
- Bone marrow
- Canned sardines
- Pork belly / bacon
- Beef hearts
3. Bulletproof your coffee
Adding fat to your morning coffee might seem like a step too far but it’s a popular habit among ketogenic diet followers. Particularly common among the intermittent fasting community, coffee with fat staves off the morning hunger without adding carbs to your diet. It also helps you consume a little more fat after an overnight fast.
Dave Asprey popularised the butter and MCT oil craze with the launch of his product Bulletproof coffee. The term has, in many circles, come to be a catch-all phrase for any kind of coffee with added fats.
This is how I make my coffee every morning.
Keto-proof coffee recipe
- Grind whole Colombian roast coffee beans to a rough grade. Not too fine as the grains can then slip through and irritate the lining of the stomach.
- Pop the ground coffee in an Aeropress – the absolute best and cheapest way to brew barista-style coffee at home. I can’t live without this. It’s also incredibly light so makes for a great travel press.
- Pour in the water and allow to brew for a few minutes.
- Add one teaspoon of grass-fed butter.
- Add one teaspoon of coconut oil.
- Add a few drops of high-quality MCT oil.
- Finish with full-fat or heavy cream to taste.
- Stir vigorously.
4. Fry, Bake, and grill with fats
You know that sunflower oil spray product you bought when you were trying to keep the pounds off? Throw it away. Nobody should consume sunflower oil, anyway. And cooking with oils is one of the best ways of not only getting more fat into your diet, but also for adding flavour to your food.
Some excellent choices for fats to cook with include:
- Olive oil (avoid extra virgin for cooking)
- Grass-fed butter (not suitable for high-temperature cooking)
- Coconut oil
- Goose fat
- Avocado oil
5. Lather your veg in fat
You know what turns broccoli into a delicious snack? Butter. What’s one way of making celery taste of anything at all? Add duck fat. Turn kale into a tasty side dish with some coconut oil dressing.
The carnivore diet works for some people, but skipping vegetables is not something I’d ever do. Vegetables can be a delicious addition to any meal with just a little bit of help. Turn Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and turnip into power packs of vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy fat with the addition of some oil or butter.
Try quick steaming and then frying vegetables in avocado oil or sesame oil to mix up the flavours and textures a little. It doesn’t have to be boring.
6. Eat the Yolk
Egg yolks are nutritious and delicious. Ever had a pure egg yolk omelette?
Now that cholesterol is okay again eggs are an excellent keto fat source. But only the yolk. The white is pure protein so you don’t want to consume too much of that.
I hate to use the phrase “good fat” because it makes me think of the old days when we shunned saturated fat and the fat on meat was trimmed and discarded. The bad old days.
But egg yolk is good. Why? Because it’s unprocessed. It comes straight from the eggshell and hasn’t been chemically altered, turned into a trans fat, or highly refined oil.
So eat away to your heart’s content.
Egg yolks contains roughly 1.6 grams of saturated fat, in case you were wondering.
7. Nuts and seeds are your friend
Some nuts are high in carbohydrates so it’s worth checking which ones will work for your when taken with your other foods.
My favourites are Brazil nuts (high in selenium), macadamias, walnuts, and pistachios.
Peanuts (which are not actually nuts) are high in carbohydrates and also contain lectins and a few other things that can cause problems for some people. High fat seeds like sesame and sunflower seeds pack nutritious vitamins, minerals, and fibre in a small package. Flax seeds are great for increasing your Omega-3 fatty acid intake.
8. Eat Dairy Sparingly and Selectively
Dairy is a double-edged sword for many people. Lactose-intolerant people can’t stomach milk or cheese. But full fat dairy products are great for increasing fat intake.
If dairy gives you gas, dry consuming heavy cream, Brie and Camembert cheese, (avoid Swiss cheese), full-fat probiotic Greek yoghurt.
Easy on the fat bombs, please. People new to keto tend to go a bit crazy once they realise just how tasty a fat bomb can be. Yes, they can help you get a lot of fat in your body quickly and easily but you know, there’s sometimes too much of a good thing. I love fat as much as the next person (who doesn’t?) but stuffing yourself with several days of fat calories will leave you sluggish and put a strain on your digestive system.
Try small snacks of cacao balls (coconut oil, cacao, nuts, butter, and erythritol).
There’s enough fat in small portions of both snacks to push even the hungriest of ketogenic dieters over the edge.
What happens if you don’t eat enough fat on keto?
The answer to this question depends on your calorie requirements. The important thing is to keep the ratios of fat to protein to carbohydrate in check (as a general rule 5:20:75).
If you reduce your fat intake but maintain the same calorific intake, you’re either eating too much protein or too many carbs. For people used to cutting carbs, the problem is often with protein.
Eating a high protein diet will derail your keto diet plans. You can’t be in ketosis if you’re body is turning protein into excess glucose through gluconeogenesis.
How to eat fat on keto
Follow these simple rules I’ve laid out above and you will have no problems reaching your fat intake goals. Many people consume a high-fat diet but other factors like carb and protein intake or lifestyle factors derail their ketosis plans. There’s only one way to be sure. Make sure you use a ketone monitor to check if you are actually in ketosis.
CrossFit fan. Ex-personal trainer, triathlete, and cross-country mountain biker. Masters Competitive CrossFit athlete. Writer and blogger.
Way too many explanations of Paleo and keto diets are jam-packed with:
- Complicated technical terms (Omega-6 PUFA! Stearic acid! Adipose tissue!).
- Multiple confusing acronyms that refer back to the complicated technical terms – good luck keeping track of EPA, DHA, O3, O6, SFA, MUFA, PUFA, and CLA all in one article if these are all new terms to you!
- Math (“0.75 grams per kilogram of body weight,” 4:1 ratio)
If all that makes your eyes glaze over, you’re not alone. If you’re starting a new diet, this is way too much info to take in all at once! It’s also not actually necessary to get your feet on the ground and get going.
Instead of diving into the information overload right up front, what about starting with a description of the foods you’ll actually eat (aka what your dinner plate looks like, which is something anyone can wrap their mind around in one setting) and filling in the nutritional details later, with enough time to actually digest each concept before moving on to the next.
In that spirit, here’s a very beginner-friendly approach to that endless question, “how much fat should I eat?” Everything is explained in terms of foods and meals, not just grams and ratios. The numbers are here, but they’re optional reading – the goal is to offer simple guidelines for humans who eat foods at mealtimes.
How Much Fat?
It’s important to get enough fat – that’s especially true on keto, but even if you’re doing regular, non-keto Paleo, getting enough fat is key to keeping your energy levels up, maintaining healthy sex hormone levels, good mental health, and so many other things. We still live in a world where fat is often demonized, so it bears repeating: fat isn’t bad, it doesn’t make you fat, and it’s nothing to be cared of.
On the other hand, Paleo isn’t about eating a ton of fat just for the sake of eating fat. Even on keto, there’s no point scarfing down tons of fat for the sake of getting more fat. The magic of keto is in the low total carb count, not in drinking gallons of coconut oil.
For both Paleo and keto, getting the diet right means two things: getting the right kinds of fat and getting the right amount of fat.
Good Fat Sources
Most people are pretty fuzzy on what kinds of fat are in which foods, and on which foods have “bad fat.” For example, ask anyone what kind of fat is in red meat and ten to one they’ll say “saturated.” But most red meat has as much monounsaturated fat (the same kind as in olive oil and avocados) as saturated. Most people also carry around a vague idea that saturated fat is “bad” because it causes heart disease, but research shows that it actually doesn’t and from a Paleo perspective it’s a perfectly fine thing to eat. The point here is: don’t necessarily trust your pre-Paleo instincts on “good” fat sources.
For a Paleo or keto diet, a good fat source is:
- Almost any fat that naturally comes attached to an animal or plant*. For example: the fat on the edge of a pork chop, salmon skin, egg yolks, almonds, or avocados.
- Butter, ghee, and other full-fat dairy products, if you tolerate dairy (not everyone does)
- Olive oil, coconut milk/oil/butter, or other healthy plant oils.
*Unless the plant is soy or peanut. Soy and peanuts aren’t Paleo so they aren’t good sources of Paleo fat.
Fats to avoid include:
- Anything made of soy or peanuts
- Canola oil, peanut oil, “vegetable oil,” linseed oil, and other industrially processed fats. Basically, if you aren’t sure that an oil is OK, it’s probably safer to skip it, or at least Google first.
- Fat eaten as part of a highly processed food, especially if the food is high in both fat and sugar. For example: cookies, ice cream, deep-fried funnel cake, potato chips, pizza.
For science nerds, Paleo emphasizes monounsaturated fat (olive oil, avocados), whole-food sources of saturated fat (eggs, beef, butter), and Omega-3 fats (fish and seafood) and discourages processed industrial oils (canola oil, soybean oil, “vegetable oil,” etc.). For further reading, see here.
Whole eggs fried in butter: yes. Tofu fried in peanut oil: no.
Food-based fat guidelines
Just like people’s gut instincts about good fat sources can be wrong, their instincts about which foods are high in fat can also be way off. For example, many people think of potato chips as a really carb-y food (“potato” is right there in the name!) – but 1.5 ounces of potato chips have more fat than a tablespoon of oil. Most foods are a mix of protein, carbs, and fat and it’s to snap-judge what’s high in fat and what isn’t. So here’s a guide to choosing foods that will get you an appropriate fat intake on Paleo or keto.
For non-keto Paleo: eat whole foods rich in fat at every meal – foods like egg yolks, avocados, and dark meat. Use cooking oil to taste – don’t avoid it, but don’t make any special effort to drown your food in olive oil. Just use whatever you need to cook with. Don’t use weird 0-calorie fat-free cooking sprays, powdered nut butter, reduced-fat processed foods, or other tricks to reduce the fat content of your meals.
For keto: make a special effort to eat fat-rich foods and make sure you have at least 2 good fat sources at every meal (a “fat source” is a serving of fatty meat, cooking oil, or another fatty food). If you’re hungry after meals, add more fat. If your meals feel greasy and disgusting, substitute cheese, avocado, or nuts for oils and fatty meats.
For example, a keto meal might be:
- 1 cup of asparagus, cooked in 1 tbsp. of coconut oil (that’s one good fat source)
- 1 piece of pan-fried salmon, with the skin, cooked in 1 tbsp. of butter, drizzled with an additional tbsp. of butter plus some lemon juice. (another good fat source)
- Half an avocado at the side (a third good fat source)
For the macro counters, that all adds up to:
- Protein: 26.2 grams
- Net carbs: 3.7 grams
- Fat: 54.1 grams
This would be a pretty high-protein meal for keto – if you’re really doing low-protein, super high-fat keto, maybe have a bit less salmon and throw in the whole avocado instead of just the half.
Summing it Up
Nerding out about grams of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat is fun for a few of us, but most people who just want to eat a healthy Paleo or keto diet don’t need to worry all that much about it, especially at first. Guidelines for foods and meals are easier to wrap your head around and follow:
- Eat fat from whole foods (meat, eggs, coconut, etc.) and some healthy oils (olive/avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.)
- For Paleo, enjoy lots of whole foods rich in fat and don’t make any effort to limit fat.
- For keto, make an effort to include at least 2 fat sources in every meal (e.g. pulled pork AND broccoli roasted in olive oil) but there’s no need to go completely overboard eating fat for the sake of fat.
What are your favorite fat-rich Paleo or keto meals? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
What Are the Best and Worst Fats to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet?
The keto diet is all about the fat. And in an eating plan where up to 80 percent of the calories come from fat — which shifts your body into ketosis, or a state in which you burn fat for your main source of energy (instead of carbohydrates) — it’s going to be the nutrient you focus most on. But some picks are healthier than others.
“Many people boil it down too simply and think they just need to eat a lot of fat and avoid carbs, but you can quickly eat an excessive amount of unhealthy fat on the keto diet,” says Kendra Whitmire, a nutritionist and dietitian in Laguna Beach, California, who practices functional and therapeutic nutrition.
RELATED: Risks and Benefits of the Keto Diet Everyone Should Know
Keto’s leap onto the scene as a trendy diet is unique. “There’s never been a push for a high-fat diet before,” says Scott Keatley, RDN, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York City. Meaning: Research on choosing fats in the context of a high-fat diet is scarce.
What’s clear is that sources of unsaturated fat are still recommended over saturated fats, says Keatley, even though both are considered keto-friendly. These unsaturated fats have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy.
You can eat higher-fat protein foods, like bacon and sausage, but you’re better off adding fat into foods, says Keatley, as it’s easier to control it this way. And bacon and sausages have a lot of calories, protein, and saturated fat. If you go off keto and continue eating these while adding carbs back in, it’s likely you’ll regain the weight.
Also know that while pure sources of fat, such as olive oil or coconut oil, contain zero carbs, other sources, like nut butter or avocado, may be primarily fat, but also have carbohydrates that need to be counted in your total.
RELATED: What to Eat and Avoid on the Keto Diet
A final guideline: Even if you’re keto, portions of fat still matter, says Jill Keene, RDN, in White Plains, New York. “How much you specifically eat depends on your calorie needs and goals, but overconsuming fat can cause weight gain,” she says. Also, considering fat is your body’s main fuel source on a keto diet, she advises spreading out your fats evenly throughout the day.
Many people on a keto diet count “net carbs,” which are total carbs minus fiber (since fiber goes through your system undigested). We take both into account here.
Consider this your guide to cutting through the fat.
The 5 Best Fats to Eat Plenty of on the Ketogenic Diet
Though technically a fruit, avocados offer a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). They’re also packed with fiber to bolster digestive health. One-half of an avocado contains 161 calories, 2 grams (g) of protein, 15 g of fat, 9 g of total carbs, and 7 g of fiber (bringing it to 2 g of net carbs), notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
2. Olive Oil
“We know that when we have fats in our diet like MUFAs, they not only fill us up but keep cholesterol levels lower,” says Keatley. Olive oil is great for light sauteing, using in dressings, or drizzling over cooked meats or vegetables as a finishing oil. One tablespoon (tbsp) offers 119 calories and 13.5 g of fat, only 2 g of which are saturated fat, according to the USDA.
3. Avocado Oil
Like olive oil, avocado oil is rich in anti-inflammatory MUFAs, but the benefit to using avocado oil is that it stands up to high-heat cooking. For instance, the popular brand Chosen Foods says its avocado oil has a smoke point of 500 degrees F. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp of avocado oil has 124 calories, 14 g of fat, and 0 g of carbohydrates.
RELATED: 8 Steps Beginners Should Take Before Trying the Keto Diet
4. Nuts and Nut Butter
Nuts may offer unsaturated fats, but they also contain carbs, so look at the label to calculate exactly what you’re getting, says Whitmire. As an example, 1 tbsp of almond butter has 98 calories, 3 g of protein, 9 g of fat, 3 g of total carbs, and about 1.5 g of fiber (equaling about 1.5 g of net carbs), per the USDA. And, the USDA also notes, a 1-ounce (oz) serving of almonds (23 almonds) has 164 calories, 6 g of protein, 14 g of fat, 6 g of carbohydrates, and 3.5 g of fiber (totaling about 2.5 g net carbs).
5. Chia Seeds and Flaxseed
Whitmire recommends these because they offer omega-3 fatty acids. “Getting more of these fats will improve the ratio of omega-6s to 3s you consume, which some research suggests optimizes health,” she says. For example, an article published in September 2016 in the journal Open Heart cited research that linked consuming more omega-3s and fewer omega-6s (which are high in Western diets) to a lower risk of insulin resistance — the hallmark of type 2 diabetes — and obesity, among other protective health benefits. The USDA says 1 oz of chia seeds has 138 calories, 5 g of protein, 9 g of fat, 12 g of carbs, and a whopping 10 g of fiber (so only 2 net carbs). And also according to the USDA, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed has 37 calories, 1 g of protein, 3 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 2 g of fiber (basically 0 net carbs). Just be sure to buy ground flaxseed so your body can absorb their omega-3s.
RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Keto and Atkins?
The 4 Fats You Should Limit on the Keto Diet
A slice of cheese contains 115 calories, 7 g of protein, 9 g of fat (5 g of saturated fat), about ½ g of carbohydrate, and no fiber, per the USDA. The saturated fat qualifies it as a food you ought to limit, but some research suggests the food has health benefits as well. A meta-analysis published in December 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition found that cheese eating was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke, particularly for those consuming about 1.5 oz (or a slice and a half) per day.
Adding heavy cream or half-and-half to your coffee is one way to get an additional source of fat into your day, says Keatley. Just realize that it is a source of saturated fat — and, given the small serving size, it’s easy to go overboard. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp has 51 calories, 5 g of fat (3.5 g saturated fat), and is just shy of ½ g of carbohydrate.
3. Coconut Oil
Given that coconut oil is trendy, it’s been credited as a panacea for health ills — and given the general go-ahead to consume as much as you want. That’s not exactly the case. “There’s a controversy with coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fats, which are the ones that clog arteries,” says Keene. But the argument some make is that coconut oil is different. Part of its fat is made up of medium-chain triglycerides, fatty acids that the body metabolizes quicker and are less likely to get stored by the body as fat, she says. That said, the USDA indicates that 1 tbsp has 121 calories, 13 g of fat (11 g are saturated fat), and 0 carbohydrates. Eat healthier unsaturated sources of fat first, and moderate amounts of these saturated sources, says Keene.
“Eating a significant amount of butter has some of the worst effects on your health compared with other fats,” says Keatley. It’s okay to use butter in your fat rotation, but best not to make it your go-to fat; instead opt for more unsaturated sources. Per the USDA, 1 tbsp of butter has 102 calories, 12 g of fat (7 g of which are saturated fat), and 0 carbohydrates.
RELATED: 10 Quick and Easy Keto Snacks Probably Already in Your Kitchen
The Worst Fat You Could Eat on the Keto Diet
Everyone — not just those on a keto diet — should stay away from consuming added trans fats. While these are naturally found in some meat and milk (though you’re probably avoiding milk on keto because of its higher carb count), according to the USDA, they’re often added to processed foods. “If you’re eating a lot of packaged products, you’re probably getting more trans fats than you think you are,” says Keatley.
This is the complete beginners guide to the keto diet that contains everything you need before you get started.
If you are looking to start the ketogenic diet, chances are you have a few questions you’d like to know more about before you jump in.
This post is very detailed, so I’ve included a table of contents so you can quickly jump to the section that suits you below:
How To Start The Keto Diet
You’ve probably heard about the ketogenic diet, but if you haven’t, I’m going to explain it in very simple terms.
The basic idea of the ketogenic diet is focused on enabling your own body to turn to fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, or protein.
The main concept of ketogenic weight loss is to help you be in a state of caloric restriction without being hungry. Your body just burns its own fat as it needs to.
Excess carbohydrates turn to fat in the body anyway, so doesn’t it make sense to train your body to burn fat if you want to lose fat?
HOW TO START THE KETOGENIC DIET FOR BEGINNERS
“What advice would you give to a beginner?”
As a beginner, it’s helpful to gain information from other people who have already started the ketogenic diet. Whilst I’m here to guide you, I’ve also solicited the help of others by putting together the various advice I’ve received throughout my own journey.
I’ve compiled these responses into a list, then ordered the topics by popularity. The result is the best advice from people just like you, who have already started the ketogenic diet:
- Simplicity – Keep it simple!
- Electrolytes – salt, magnesium and potassium
- Nutrition – real food doesn’t have ingredients, it is ingredients
- Persistence – just get through that first week
- Science – have a brief understanding on how the ketogenic diet works.
WATCH THE VIDEO LINK HERE FOR A COMPLETE EXPLANATION OF THESE POINTS:
By now, you should have a simple grasp on how to start the ketogenic diet, but for a more in-depth explanation on how to start the ketogenic diet the right way the first time, read on!
How To Approach Keto For Weight Loss
WHY SHOULD YOU GO KETO?
So why would we want to reduce the amount of sugar we consume and switch our bodies over to burn fat instead?
- Metabolically, fat is a superior fuel for the body
- Consuming fats enhances your brain function and gives mental stability
- Greater health and longevity that comes from controlling your blood sugar levels naturally.
Ketones (produced by burning fat) are the preferred fuel source for vital organs such as the muscles, heart, liver, and brain. Let’s look at some of the other benefits to nutritional ketosis:
- Natural hunger control
- Lowered inflammation levels
- Normalised metabolic function
- Lowered blood pressure
- Mental clarity
- Effortless weight loss
- Reduced triglycerides
- Lowered levels of LDL particles (bad cholesterol)
- Increased levels of HDL particles (good cholesterol)
- Increased sex drive
- Better fertility
- Eliminated heartburn
- Improved immune system
- Slowing the aging process
- Reduced acne breakouts
- Faster recovery from exercise
- Decreased anxiety and mood swings
- ……we could go on and on!
Not only does nutritional ketosis benefit the body, weight issues also respond extremely well to the approach.
A study by Harvard School of Public Health analysed 53 studies involving 67,000 dieters and found that those who cut back on carbs were two and a half pounds lighter after a year than those who embraced a “low fat” approach.
For decades, there has been debate over the merits of a low-fat diet, which was endorsed as the best route to weight loss in the 1970s. Now, major research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, back a low carbohydrate approach as a more effective diet.
The main building blocks of food are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are called macronutrients. Just remember, macro means big, and micro means small. Every piece of food is made up of a ratio of these building blocks. For example, chicken breast is high in protein, and pasta is high in carbohydrates.
Currently, most people eat a standard diet containing around 20% fats, 30% protein and 50% carbohydrates. It can be hard to venture outside of these well-known macro ratios.
The ketogenic diet simply changes the ratio of these macronutrients. By limiting carbohydrates, moderating protein and increasing your total healthy fat intake, you put your body into a state of “ketosis.” Instead of burning sugar and glucose for energy, your body starts to burn “ketones,” which is an energy source that your body creates from fat.
Your body prefers burning fat for energy and it is the preferred source in your brain and muscles. It also has some remarkably positive results for many common chronic illnesses today. Unfortunately, the general public haven’t necessarily been exposed to the truth about nutritional ketosis, and therefore don’t believe that it’s a healthy state to be in.
Just as cholesterol was falsely labelled as a culprit for heart disease, ketones have been labelled as some kind of strange substance that you should avoid at all costs. This is simply not the case. Your body will become what is called “fat adapted” whilst you re-teach it to use the stored fat as energy, all without feeling any starvation or typical diet hunger issues.
You can check out the Macro Calculator Here.
WHAT CAN I EAT ON THE KETOGENIC DIET?
Ketogenic diets can be different for everyone. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, fatty red meats, chicken with the skin left on, fish, offal (organ meat), eggs, seeds & nuts, full-fat dairy, or anything else rich in nutrition, fat, protein and fibre.
Carbs are a limit. Protein is a target. Fat is to be consumed to remove hunger and meet macros requirements.
For a full list of keto foods and flavour pairings, please visit my Keto Foods List Guide.
Try to stick with organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat where possible. Most meats don’t have added sugar in them, so they can be consumed in moderate quantity. Remember that too much protein on a ketogenic diet is not a good thing.
Most dairy is fine apart from milk. Make sure to buy full-fat dairy items. Harder cheeses typically have fewer carbs.
Fresh is preferred, but frozen works too. Stick with above ground vegetables, leaning toward leafy/green options.
NUTS & SEEDS
In moderation, nuts and seeds can be used to create some fantastic textures. Try to use fattier nuts like macadamias and almonds.
FATS & OILS
Try to get your fat from natural sources like meat and nuts. Supplement with saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
Stay simple and stick to mostly water. You can flavor it if needed with stevia-based flavorings or lemon/lime juice.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FAT THAT I CAN EAT?
Recommended fats to eat are olive oil, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil.
There are actually four main types of fats. These are:
SATURATED FATS (EAT MEAT, DAIRY)
Saturated fats are usually a solid at room temperature and oxidize slowly. They have a stable composition, which is why they are solid. This type of fat is most often found in animal foods including:
- Dairy products.
MONOUNSATURATED FAT (EAT AVOCADOS, OLIVE OIL, CASHEWS)
Monounsaturated fats are usually a liquid at room temperature. They have a weak composition which is why they convert to liquid easily. Monounsaturated fats are most often found in:
- Almonds and cashews
- Olive oil and sesame oil.
POLYUNSATURATED FAT (Omega 3, Omega 6)
Polyunsaturated fats can be tricky. This type of fat is mostly found in the following foods:
- Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Pine nuts and walnuts.
There is also a specific type of polyunsaturated fat called Omega 3 Fats, studied due to their significant effect on heart health and ability to lower triglyceride levels and increase high-density lipoproteins. This type of fat is best balanced with omega 6 fats at a ratio of 1:1, but you won’t have to worry about that as long as you are eating whole foods. These particular fats can be found in the following:
- Fatty fish – including salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna
- Certain seeds – including flax seeds and chia seeds
TRANS FATS (Avoid)
The most important fat to AVOID is Trans Fats. These types of fats have been chemically altered and industrially produced to improve their physical appearance and taste. This method, however, has been shown to significantly increase LDL cholesterol in humans (the bad one) by about 10% and has no impact on the protective HDL cholesterol.
Trans fat is a variant of unsaturated fat. 50 years ago, saturated fats were thought to be the enemy, as they were incorrectly linked with certain diseases. When trans fats were first introduced to food production, they were considered miraculous because they allowed a liquid oil to be converted to a solid spread without the “adverse effects” of saturated fat on blood cholesterol.
By 1990, research by Mensink and Katan showed trans fats elevated the harmful LDL cholesterol by about a tenth more than regular unsaturated fat. Compared with other fats, trans fats didn’t have the benefit of elevating the protective HDL cholesterol. Mensink and Katan concluded that trans fats were the worst type of food that contributed to heart disease.
This was shown convincingly by Walter Willett in his 1993 study of US nurses. Those who reported eating a large number of trans fats (more than 5.7 grams a day) were around two-thirds more likely to have a heart attack than nurses eating less than 2.4 grams a day.
Trans fats from dairy and beef fat (“natural” trans) were not linked to heart disease risk.
DO I HAVE TO EAT COCONUT OIL / MCT OIL?
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) is a special type of saturated fat converted straight into energy by your liver and cannot be stored as fat.
The energy boosts you get from MCT oil is similar to carbs and is important to help you switch over to fat burning as easily as possible.
Coconut contains just over 60% MCT, so it’s a beneficial way to get energy from a high-fat diet. MCT oil in particular has made a huge difference for me, especially when I tried the high-intensity cardio exercise on a keto diet, but mostly to keep my energy levels at an optimum level.
According to Dr. Laurie Cullen at the Women’s Institute, when MCTs are absorbed into the bloodstream, they bypass the digestion process that longer chain fats go through.
MCT’s provide quick energy for the body and are thus less likely to be stored in the fat cells. Further, Dr. Cullen says when a meal includes medium chain triglycerides, there is a significant increase in the amount of calories burned (thermogenic effect). When more calories are used, fewer are stored as fat, which helps reduce body fat levels.
Many keto diets and MCT oil spokespeople say MCT’s energy sustaining powers can be explained as follows: when MCT oil is metabolized in the body, it behaves more like a carbohydrate energy source than a fat.
Remember, your current fuel preference for the body is carbohydrate (until you become fat adapted). Unlike other fats, MCT oil does not go through the lymphatic system. Instead, it is transported directly to the liver where it is metabolized so it releases energy like a carbohydrate and creates significant ketones (which can be used for fuel) in the process.
Keto Flu symptoms and how to get rid of it
Have you ever experienced any of the following when starting to reduce your carbs?
- brain fog
- poor focus
- muscle soreness
- headaches or low energy
You might have experienced symptoms known as “the keto flu”. Don’t worry, it’s temporary!
You need electrolytes, and here is a quick recipe to reduce your symptoms:
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 drops stevia (optional)
Mix together in a glass with plenty of water and drink every day.
You can read more about electrolytes in my complete guide here
Different Types Of Keto Diets
HOW MANY CARBOHYDRATES CAN YOU EAT ON THE KETOGENIC DIET?
Strictly speaking, the simple rule that most people follow is under 20 carbohydrates per day. What does that look like?
Your body will always attempt to use carbohydrates as a source of energy because they are so easily broken down into sugar in your body. This doesn’t mean, however, that your body runs well on this fuel.
If you pull into a gas station, there is always a couple of different types of fuel you can choose to fill up with.
Carbohydrates are like the cheapest, dirtiest fuel, whilst fats are similar to the premium fuel. The cheap fuel will still get you to your destination, but it’s filling your car with issues that you will have to pay for in the future.
Your body prefers running on healthy fats because they cause less inflammation, are longer lasting, and you can store the fuel easily on your body. Carbohydrates have to be turned into fat to be stored and will only be used when there is a lack of carbohydrates available.
LAZY KETO IS SIMPLY LIMITING THE NUMBER OF CARBOHYDRATES YOU EAT.
A keto diet is just a low carb diet coupled with higher fat intake. The amount of carbs depends on each person, but it usually below 50 grams of net carbs per day. If you eat 10 grams of carbs, but that contains 5 grams of fibre, you will have consumed 5 grams of net carbs.
This limited amount of carbohydrate intake will switch your body over to burning ketones as your primary source of fuel. Alternatively, you can look at your body switching from being a sugar burning steam train with all the dirty black soot covering the engine, to a clean burning Tesla that runs on fat and ultimately does less damage to your body.
Keto diets are low in carbohydrates. This means you should avoid the following foods:
*Unless you are refuelling from exercise – still limit these.
What most people don’t understand is that this is a normal metabolic state. When babies are born, they will go into a state of nutritional ketosis, relying on their mother’s breast milk, which provides 25% energy from ketones. If you have ever skipped breakfast, you would most certainly have been in a state of Ketosis.
WON’T I BECOME TIRED IF I CUT OUT THE CARBS?
Carbs do equal energy, but like sugar, they only last for a limited amount of time. There is a by-product of fat consumption which is called Ketones.
In a state of carbohydrate depletion, ketones are used in your body as energy, particularly in the brain. Put simply, burning fat whilst being in a low carb state, also equals energy! And much more of it.
The Keto Diet can make you feel much more alert because your brain is getting much more energy from ketones than it ever did from carbohydrates.
Science Behind the Ketogenic Diet
HISTORY OF THE KETOGENIC DIET
One of the most misunderstood concepts in history is this one – fat makes you fat. Does this logic apply to, for instance, going green after eating too many cucumbers? Of course not! Fat will make you fat only when it is paired with excess carbohydrates.
All the studies that say fat causes heart disease link back to one study, and it’s the reason why we think saturated fat causes heart disease. It was developed in the early 1950s by Ancel Benjamin Keys.
In his lab, Keys ran experiments looking for early indications of disease. What you must remember is that in the 1950’s, no health issue seemed more urgent than heart disease.
Keys’ most famous findings were contained in the Seven Countries Study, which showed that the risk and rates of heart attack and stroke cardiovascular risk, both at the population level and the individual level, were directly correlated to the level of total serum cholesterol.
It demonstrated that the association between blood cholesterol level and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk from 5 to 40 years’ follow-up is found consistently across different cultures.
Even before the study had begun, its methods had been criticised. Jacob Yerushalmy and Herman E. Hilleboe pointed out that, for an earlier study demonstrating this association, Keys had selected six countries out of 21 for which data were available.
Analysis of the full dataset made the analysis of fat intake and heart disease unclear. Because of this, the association between the percentage of fat calories and mortality from heart disease was not valid.
It wasn’t until 2014 when Nina Teicholz (author of “The Big Fat Surprise”) reviewed the study, and in doing so found that one country, Crete, whose results formed the majority of the evidence from the study, was conducted during Lent, thereby causing Keys to dramatically undercount the amount of saturated fat eaten.
WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS WILL A KETO DIET HELP?
There is a great amount of science-based evidence showing that the following conditions can be reversed or greatly improved on a keto diet.
A keto diet has been used for many years to treat epilepsy. By stabilizing energy production and increasing blood ketone levels, the body is able to control seizures.
Blood ketone levels are also showing strong signs in the treatments of certain disorders such as Autism, ALS, Parkinson’s disease and MS.
We know that aging is a result of the destruction of the human body, but you might not be aware that inflammation can accelerate aging. A keto diet can reduce inflammation significantly, therefore preventing the aging process.
Endurance athletes may be surprised to know that a keto diet can help with mitochondrial support, as it increases oxygen uptake and increases the efficiency of the mitochondrial biomechanics. This, in turn, can help in diseases such as Glucose Transporter Type 1 Deficiency, McArdle’s Disease, and Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex Deficiency.
DIABETES AND INGESTING FAT
Type 2 Diabetes is one of the most avoidable diseases in the western world, and it has
become an epidemic. Most of our population just don’t understand what causes this disease.
People with diabetes are not affected most by large amounts of fat or protein. Insulin resistance is the key cause, and guess what causes insulin resistance; taking a ride on the carbohydrate roller coaster every 3-4 hours which eventually leads to insulin resistance, along with other factors.When a person with diabetes eats a burger and fries, it’s the carbohydrate one that sends their blood glucose spiraling out of control, not the meat and cheese. Fat is not to blame at all, it just happens to take the fall.
WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE?
Before we talk about insulin resistance, let’s talk about insulin. Insulin is made by your pancreas and allows your body to use glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates in your diet.
This particular molecule helps keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
A good way to remember this is that HYPER comes from too much sugar, and HYPO comes from not enough.
Your body regulates the amount of blood sugar in the blood by insulin. When the body has too much excess insulin, it can become insulin resistant. This has the ability to cause a multitude of other chronic health risks, including PCOS (For women) and Fatty Liver Disease.
CHOLESTEROL AND THE KETO DIET
Cholesterol plays an important role in our survival. The liver is careful to ensure the body always has enough, creating around 1000 – 1400 milligrams of it each day. The liver also has important feedback mechanisms that regulate how much it needs to produce from how much we get from our diet.
Cholesterol’s main job is to insulate parts of our cells, build and maintain cell membranes, help digest fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D (sun), E (skin), A (eyesight) and K (blood clotting) whilst also kick-starting many of the body’s own pathways to producing hormones, including sex hormones!
Cardiac risk factors improve when blood sugar and insulin levels are lowered via dietary changes. HDL cholesterol goes up on a low carb, high-fat diet and triglycerides fall dramatically.
EATING A HIGH CHOLESTEROL DIET DOES NOT INCREASE HEART DISEASE
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition undertook a study proving that eating a high-cholesterol diet does not increase the risk of heart disease.
The study followed 1,032 initially healthy men aged 42 to 60. The men consumed an average of about 2,800 milligrams of cholesterol a week; more than a quarter of it from eating an average of four eggs weekly. (An egg contains about 180 milligrams of cholesterol.)
After controlling for age, education, smoking, B.M.I., diabetes, hypertension, and other characteristics, the researchers found no association between cardiovascular disease and total cholesterol or egg consumption. The researchers also examined carotid artery thickness, a measure of atherosclerosis. They found no association between cholesterol consumption and artery thickness, either.
In Europe, The Countries That Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease
Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.
The Obesity Epidemic in The USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time The Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published
Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.
The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced with Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats
Source: Dr. Stephan Guyenet. The American Diet. 2012.
KETO DIET RISKS – HOW YOU CAN AVOID THEM
For those who are unfamiliar with the keto diet, it’s relatively simple. The keto diet is basically a low carb, high fat diet which consists of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein and a very strict limit on carbohydrates.
What is becoming more prominent recently as the lifestyle has become more mainstream makes me frustrated.
Specifically, when micronutrition gets thrown out in favour of the low carb, high-fat macros.
It basically looks like this. When someone starts a ketogenic lifestyle, the hardest part is cutting out the sugar in your diet. Sometimes, people do both sugar and carbohydrates in one go. Kudos to those people! Sugar is extremely addictive, and carbohydrates have been deemed necessary for energy ever since the low-fat brigade made their way to the top.
However, what begins to happen is this. That person begins to eat an incredibly high amount of processed foods, just because the macronutrients fit the ratios required. They discard nutritious foods just because the macro nutrition of vegetables doesn’t fit the strict food rules that the keto diet implies.
It often gets to the point where instead of eating living plants, natural foods, and drinking water, they substitute everything they can with a low carb alternative that is either filled with preservatives, artificially sweetened with aspartame, or has lived in a can for the past four years.
How many carbs does a cigarette have? – Is it good for your health? NO.
Hypothetically, eating a diet solely consisting of cheese will help you lose weight. This might work for the first weight loss goal because you’ve effectively cut out all the insulin-raising foods that prevented you from losing weight in the first place. But if you want to look after your health, then you really need to learn to understand what you’re actually eating, regardless of the carbohydrate and fat content.
The biggest keto diet risks come from ignoring your body and nutrition.
So many people are deficient in many of the vital micronutrients because all they eat is salami and artificial cheese sticks. Some of these include magnesium, zinc and vitamins A, B, C and D.
You need to teach your body to re-learn what it actually needs, instead of switching from coke to diet coke, or bakery goods to an entire box of low carb sugar-free cookies. The physical food needs to change, but so does your mindset about eating food.
My aim throughout this website is to teach you which items/mindsets are important to change for lifelong success.
Don’t jump off a cliff with everyone else. Make sure you are eating healthy fats, nutritious sources of protein and a low carbohydrate content. Don’t blindly follow everything you read.
Most of all, where ever possible, make those food choices organic, ethically sourced or free from known carcinogens listed here.
Weight Loss On Keto
I’M NOT LOSING WEIGHT. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?
Many people decide to start a ketogenic lifestyle initially to lose weight. Remember, you’re not doing anything wrong if you are not losing weight. At first, the weight seems to slide off due to the water loss by restricting carbohydrates, however, after a while you might not be seeing the results that you loved during the start of the lifestyle.
This is because by eating less sugar and carbohydrates, you begin to increase your insulin sensitivity, which enables your body to build muscle.
To avoid disappointment, make sure you take body measurements when the number on the scales isn’t going down. Progress pictures can give a visual representation of where you are in your ketogenic journey, but it is useful to track your waist, butt, and arm measurements.
During plateaus, you will still be shedding inches, but the scale might not necessarily move as quickly. Just keep going for the sake of whom you want to become.
Just remember, Keep Calm and Keto On!
BUT THE LABEL SAYS SUGAR-FREE!
Just because the food wrapper says it is sugar-free, it does not mean it has no carbs. Or just because it is beef jerky, it does not mean it has no sugar. I’ve fallen into this trap a few times, turning around the packet to realize that its full of sugar!
Honestly, there are not that many keto-friendly foods on the shelves at the supermarket. Keep to the outer edges of the supermarket and avoid the isles where all the packaged food is positioned. Every time you go, write down new foods that are keto-friendly. In a couple of months, you will have a full list of foods that you can eat at your store.
I LIKE “INSERT FAVOURITE JUNK FOOD”. CAN I EAT LOW CARB REPLACEMENTS?
One of the first things I did, when switching to keto is finding replacements for my favourite junk foods. Pizza, chips, pastries, cookies, fast foods. The problem I have with low carb replacements is I would still overeat and not hit my macros.
I had to go back, change my lifestyle, and stick to veggies, meats, and healthy fats. Once I thought of it as a lifestyle change and not a diet, it became much easier for me.
To make it really easy:
- Eat a palm-sized piece of protein with every meal
- Use vegetables as fat delivery systems (think butter with broccoli)
- Limit carbs.
Once you have been in Ketosis for a while (a few months), you can enter Ketosis again very easily, generally within two days.
However, if you are just starting out, make sure you stick with it for a while to see the real benefits before falling off the bandwagon. The results will speak for themselves!
JUST ONE WON’T HURT, RIGHT?
Let’s admit it; most people have cheat days in their diet. You are not going to die if you eat a doughnut. For me, it becomes a slippery slope, where a cheat day becomes a cheat week.
Practice self-control. The trick that I learned is not to trust my first instinct. If you are in a cafeteria and you tell yourself that you want a doughnut, tell yourself that your first instinct is incorrect when it comes to food.
Some people have pictures on their phone to remind them where they were on the journey a couple of months ago to help them not cheat.
However, if you must cheat every now and again, don’t think that you’ve ruined everything, just make sure you get back on track. Meal plans and meal preparation are key processes that make your life easier as you begin a ketogenic lifestyle.
Pros and Cons of the Ketogenic Diet
What You Need to Know About Keto
Though it may seem new to your newsfeed, the ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s. The low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet gained a foothold when proven to reduce seizures in pediatric patients with epilepsy. While still prescribed for that purpose today, the diet is now touted as a weight loss tool.
Breaking Down the Keto Diet
The keto diet is all about cutting carbs and eating more fat. Here’s what the daily breakdown of carbs, protein and fat looks like:
- 5 percent of calories from carbohydrates, including low-carb, non-starchy vegetables and small amounts of leafy greens. The keto diet excludes carb-rich foods like grains, beans, fruits and starchy vegetables.
- 20 percent of calories from protein, such as meat, eggs and cheese.
- 75 percent of calories from fat, such as oils, unprocessed nuts, butter and avocado.
According to Dietitian Richelle Gomez, MS, RDN, LDN, Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital, the ketogenic diet is designed to burn fat by cutting carbs. “Your body turns carbohydrates into glucose for energy,” she explains. “When you cut carbs from your diet, you switch to burning fatty acids, or ketones.”
Breaking down fats for energy is called ketosis. It takes about three weeks of carbohydrate elimination for your body to transition into ketosis.
Here are the pros and cons of the keto diet.
“There has been anecdotal evidence of people losing weight on the ketogenic diet,” says Melinda R. Ring, MD, director of Northwestern Medicine Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. “People also report feeling less hungry than on other types of restricted diets.”
Gomez says people feel less hungry because fatty foods take a longer time to break down in the body. Weight loss not only comes from ketosis, but also from reducing calorie intake by eliminating food groups.
No More Low-Fat
On paper, burning fats by eating more of them is enticing, which is why the diet has become popular. The keto diet allows many people to eat the types of high-fat foods that they enjoy, such as red meats, fatty fish, nuts, cheese and butter, while still losing weight.
Health Benefits for Specific People
The keto diet helps reduce seizures in pediatric patients with epilepsy. Endurance athletes and body builders also use it to scrap fat in short timeframes. The keto diet is being studied for mitigating symptoms for patients with progressive neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, but scientific research has not confirmed benefits for these populations.
Difficult to Sustain
Because of the stringent food restrictions, many find the keto diet hard to stick to.
“The ketogenic diet can be effective for weight loss when used in a short time period followed by the adoption of healthier eating habits,” says Cardiologist Kameswari Maganti, MD,Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “Unfortunately, it lends itself to yo-yo dieting, which increases mortality.”
Ketosis is difficult to achieve because it’s like a light switch: either on or off. Individuals who consistently track food intake are more likely to remain in ketosis. But the only way to tell if your body is in ketosis is a blood test.
Calorie Depletion and Nutrient Deficiency
“Because the keto diet is so restricted, you’re not receiving the nutrients — vitamins, minerals, fibers — that you get from fresh fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains,” says Dr. Ring.
Due to these deficiencies, people also report feeling foggy and tired. These symptoms have been dubbed “the keto flu.” Constipation is also common on the keto diet due to the lack of fiber.
Bad Fats in Practice
The high-fat nature of the diet could also have negative impacts on heart health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 5 to 6 percent. “In practice, many people eat high amounts of saturated fats, which could increase cardiovascular disease risk,” says Dr. Maganti. “We see an increase in lipids, or fats, in the blood of patients on the keto diet within six to eight weeks.”
“Patients with kidney disease have an increased risk of requiring dialysis on the keto diet due to the additional ketones that their renal system has to process,” says Dr. Maganti.
Some people also experience dehydration on the keto diet because they’re eradicating glycogen, which holds water, from their bloodstream.
“When you micromanage your food intake by tracking how much you eat, it disconnects you from what your body is asking for,” says Gomez. “You start using outside numbers to determine what to eat instead of listening to your body.”
Monitoring food so closely can lead to psychological distress, such as shame, and binge eating. Restriction can lead to bingeing, which often leads to guilt, which then leads back to restriction in a continuous cycle.
Both Dr. Ring and Dr. Maganti recommend balanced approaches, like the Mediterranean diet, for long-term weight loss.
“You can still receive the benefits of ketosis while eating a varied and balanced diet through intermittent fasting,” says Dr. Ring.
Gomez advocates making small changes based on your health goals. “All foods fit into a healthy diet,” she says. “It’s a matter of moderation and finding ways to eat the foods you love without overindulging.”
Consult your physician or a dietitian if you’re looking to change your diet.
As people learn about the health benefits of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, the once popular low-fat diet fads are losing popularity. And yet, many of those following a keto diet menu underestimate how much fat they need to enter a ketogenic state.
So, just how much fat should you eat on a keto diet?
This article will cover why fat intake matters on the ketogenic diet, how to calculate your individual macro goals, and how to build your own keto diet menu. With plenty of delicious keto recipes in store, you’re sure to hit your weight loss and other health goals in no time.
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The Importance of Fat on the Keto Diet
Dietary fat is the cornerstone of the ketogenic diet. The goal of the keto diet is to restrict your carb intake while loading up on healthy fats, thereby allowing your body to enter a fat-burning state called ketosis.
Here’s how the keto diet works: When given the choice, your body will always choose to burn glucose (from carbs and sugar) for energy. However, when you follow a low-carb diet like keto, you deplete your body of stored glucose (glycogen).
Once your glycogen stores are used up, your body starts burning body fat instead. Your fat stores are transformed into ketone bodies in the liver, thereby raising your blood ketone levels and putting you in a ketogenic state.
How Much Fat Is Enough on a High-Fat Diet?
Studies show that eating a high-fat, low-carb diet like keto can help reduce your risk of heart disease, jumpstart weight loss, and reduce inflammation. But just how much fat is “enough” on keto?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting the keto diet is not getting enough fat. The keto diet is different than other low-carb diets (like Atkins or the Mediterranean diet, for example) in that keto is not a high-protein diet. It is, however, extremely high in fats, and you need fat to get enough calories to avoid any metabolic or thyroid problems that are associated with low-calorie intake.
On keto here’s what your macronutrients will look like: Roughly 5-10% of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, 20-25% of your calories should come from protein, and the remaining calories — 70-80% of your daily intake — should come from fat.
Customizing Your Personal Macro Goals on Keto
Although these percentages offer a good guideline, they really don’t do much good until you know how they fit into your specific needs. By using the Perfect Keto macro calculator, you can adjust your macro guidelines to account for your age, body weight, BMI, and physical activity level.
You’ll need to find out how many grams of fat this comes out to for you by using an online calculator (such as MyFitnessPal) to calculate your daily caloric intake. Then, you can input these percentages to find out the amount of carb, protein, and fat grams you need. You’ll get a baseline amount of fat grams per day.
For example, for someone who consumes 2,000 calories a day, a fat intake of 70-80% would be around 144-177 grams of fat each day. If your caloric needs are greater, you might need more than that. You will probably consume between 30-50 grams of carbs per day.
What to Eat on a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet
On a keto meal plan, you’ll build your plate with whole foods, including plenty of healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and low-carb vegetables. Consider adding these keto-friendly foods to your keto meal plan:
- Eggs and egg yolks (preferably pasture-raised)
- Healthy fats and oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil
- Rapidly available fat from MCT oil
- Nuts and seeds including macadamia nuts, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, almond butter, and Perfect Keto Nut Butter (far preferable to peanut butter)
- Fatty fish including salmon, scallops, lobster, oysters, clams, and other seafood
- Low-sugar fruits including avocados and fresh raspberries, blueberries, and other berries
- Animal fats including lard, bacon fat, butter, and ghee
- Full-fat, organic (and preferably grass-fed) dairy including blue cheese, cheddar cheese, heavy cream, yogurt, kefir, and cream cheese
- Grass-fed meat including pork chops, ground beef, goat, chicken, turkey, bacon, steak, organ meats, and lamb
- Green, leafy veggies including kale, arugula, bok choy, alfalfa sprouts, and spinach
- Other low-carb vegetables including bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts
What to Avoid Eating on Keto
When following keto, you’ll want to eliminate starchy vegetables, processed foods, and high-carb or high-sugar products. With that in mind, strike the following items from your shopping list:
- Starchy vegetables including white potatoes, carrots, corn, and sweet potatoes
- All grains (even whole grains) including rice, wheat, cereals, bread, and tortillas
- Legumes, black beans, lentils, and soybeans
- Condiments with added sugar such as ketchup, salad dressings, mayonnaise, and BBQ sauce (try this recipe for keto-friendly ketchup)
- Desserts containing sugar and sweeteners (here are a 35 low-carb sweets to replace your favorite desserts)
- Vegetable oils including canola oil, corn oil, and soybean oil
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
A Sample One-Day Keto Diet Menu
Looking to build your own keto diet plan? No worries. Once you start browsing through recipes, you’re sure to find alternatives to some of your favorite meals (with fewer carbs, of course). For starters, try these recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
- Breakfast: Denver omelet with ham, green peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese
- Lunch: Zesty chili lime keto tuna salad
- Dinner: Simple keto meatballs and creamed spinach
- Dessert: Easiest keto lava cake
- Snack: Keto “roll-ups” made with cream cheese and salami
Track Your Ketones and Fat Intake to Ensure You’re in Ketosis
To ensure you’re in ketosis, you should track your fat, protein, and carb intake daily. However, there’s a more accurate way to know whether your body has transitioned to a fat-burning state: testing your ketone levels.
You can test your ketone levels on your breath, in your urine, or in your blood. The best indicator of ketosis is the amount of ketones in your blood.
With that said, urine testing is an easy, affordable testing method you can use at home (although not as reliable as blood ketone testing). Use Perfect Keto ketone testing strips to test ketone levels in your urine.
How to Build Your Keto Diet Meal Plan
The goal of keto is to transition your body into the fat-burning metabolic state known as ketosis. To do this, you’ll eat plenty of healthy, whole, high-fat foods while keeping your carb intake to an absolute minimum.
On a keto meal plan, your food groups will include low-carb vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and meat and seafood with a higher fat content, plus plenty of other sources of healthy fats (such as avocado and coconut oil). You’ll limit your intake of sugar, starchy vegetables, and processed foods.
If you’re looking for a complete meal plan and keto diet menu ideas, there are plenty for you to use on this site. This includes a 7-day keto meal plan for weight loss and a 3-day keto plan to help you enter ketosis. You can also use this keto meal prep guide to make cooking, shopping, and meal planning on keto a breeze.