Conventional wisdom, along with countless diet books and armchair dieticians, will tell you that eating fatty foods will cause you to gain weight. At first glance, this seems to make sense. Fat. It’s right there in the name, right?
As is often the case, the truth is actually a little bit more complicated than just “eating fat makes you fat” especially when looked at in the context of the ketogenic diet.
For those who are just starting out trying to pivot toward a keto-friendly lifestyle, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how much fat to eat on keto. Not to mention the kinds of fats you should be eating.
There is a lot to learn. As with any diet, if it is not followed correctly, the ketogenic diet can end up doing more harm than good. That said, when followed as intended, the benefits of a ketogenic diet are numerous and truly impressive.
This post aims to help you to learn when, why, and how to consume fat, in order for it to have a positive impact on your general well being, as well as your waistline. A diet that encourages you to eat fat? Sounds too good to be true! Read on to find out how to get the best results out of your ketogenic diet.
Why You Eat Fat on Keto
The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high-fat way of eating. It was actually originally developed by doctors as a treatment for severe cases of epilepsy in children. Today, it has been adopted by many adults as an effective tool for weight loss.
Eating fat to lose weight might sound counterintuitive. Here’s a breakdown of why it works.
The keto diet is so-called because of a process that takes place as a result of limiting your intake of carbohydrates: ketosis. This is a metabolic state that the body enters into once a person’s blood sugar levels are below a certain threshold. When the body is in this state, the liver can no longer produce glucose for energy, so it begins to produce ketones, an alternative energy source, instead.
When the body is running on ketones, it is using fat, rather than carbohydrates, as its fuel source. Because of this, your body is constantly burning fat when you are in ketosis. Hence why the keto diet is commonly used for weight loss purposes.
When a person’s body becomes accustomed to using fat as its primary fuel source they are said to be fat adapted. This is the state that those hoping to use keto for weight loss are aiming for.
Ingesting either too many carbohydrates or too much protein can cause the liver to begin producing glucose once again, thus preventing a person from reaching a state of ketosis and, consequently, fat adaptation. This is why on the ketogenic diet, most of a person’s calories must come from fat.
How Much Fat to Eat on Keto
There are differing opinions on exactly how much fat a person following a ketogenic diet should be eating. These largely depend on why a person has decided to try keto in the first place.
For example, if a person is on keto for medical purposes, the guidelines and recommended intake amounts will naturally be much more strict than for someone who is using the keto diet to stimulate weight loss or heightened brain function.
Recommended macro ratios could also differ depending on their age, weight, gender, and just how many pounds they are hoping to lose.
A person’s required keto nutritional profile is a deeply individualized thing. What works for one person might not necessarily work for another. Because of this, it is recommended that those starting out on a ketogenic diet use a keto calculator.
Also known as a macro calculator, a keto calculator is a tool which takes into account a person’s activity and fitness levels as well as their age, gender, and body fat levels, and uses this information to create as accurate a nutritional profile as possible.
Although those following a keto diet for weight loss normally aim to consume no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, there is no such hard and fast number relating to how much or how little fat a person should have.
It is more helpful to look at the amounts as a percentage of a person’s daily calorie intake. The general consensus is that for keto, daily calorie intakes should be broken down into between 5% and 10% carbohydrates, 10% to 20% protein, and between 70% and 80% fat.
If constantly doing lots of maths in your head isn’t your idea of a great time, don’t worry. A simple internet search will return a number of free and easy to use food calorie calculators, which will make it simple for you to track not only your calorie intake but also the percentage each macro comprises of said intake.
What Types of Fat to Eat on Keto
Due to the “high fat” portion of keto’s “high fat, low carb” nature, there is a common misconception that people who are following ketogenic diets do nothing but stuff their faces with butter and cream cheese all day. This is a complete misunderstanding of the keto diet, as well as its goals and benefits. As with any diet, it’s possible to do it well or abuse the system.
Oils and fats are allowed and encouraged as part of the keto diet, this does not mean that someone following keto can expect to eat nothing but ice cream and still see results. With keto, you really get out what you put in. So, on that note, let’s talk about what exactly you should be putting in.
Not All Fats are Created Equal
By now you’re hopefully aware that not all fats are bad, and that eating fat does not necessarily equal gaining fat. There are certainly some types of fats that are worse than others, and of course, there are those that are commonly referred to as “healthy fats”. So which is which? And what’s the difference?
What’s Fabulous About Fat
We so often hear about the evils of fat that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, actually, fat is a necessary component of a healthy diet. In fact, it performs a lot of very important and positive functions in the human body. As we’ve already covered, it’s a great source of energy. It also helps with the absorption of various minerals, the production of hormones, and the growth of cells.
Fat as a Foe
Of course, it’s not all good. Certain types of fat, when consumed in high quantities, can have seriously negative consequences on a person’s health. Weight gain is the obvious one. Overconsumption of fat can also lead to high levels of cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, increased risk of inflammation, the list goes on and on.
The Different Types of Fat: Explained
There are four main types of fat. Trans fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. The difference between these four fats has to do with their molecular makeup. Each one is very different and has its own unique set of effects on the human body, so it is counterproductive to group all fats together, and important to recognize the differences between them.
Trans fats are generally accepted to be one of the “bad” types of fat that both doctors and scientists recommend avoiding completely. Trans fats have no known health benefits but have been linked to increases in harmful cholesterol as well as instances of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
Trans fats are found in butter, some vegetable oils, various types of animal fat, and fried foods. The negative effects of trans fats are deemed to be so great that in 2015, artificial trans fats were banned in the US, along with many other countries.
There has been much debate surrounding saturated fats. Some parties believe they are harmful, but hard evidence to support this thinking is lacking. In fact, a meta-analysis of studies on the subject found no link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease.
Although it is recommended that at the very least, saturated fats be consumed in moderation, many sources of saturated fat are staples of the keto diet. Saturated fat can be found in red meats, dairy products, coconut oil, dark chocolate, and eggs.
Monounsaturated fats are generally acknowledged to fall into the category of the “good” fats we hear so much about. Unlike their more nefarious neighbors, this type of fat has actually been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease and improve blood cholesterol levels.
Monounsaturated fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. They can be found in avocados, nuts such as pecans and cashews, olive oil, and peanut butter.
Like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats are also known as a “good” type of fat. They have been found to have roughly the same health benefits as monounsaturated fats. One particular kind of polyunsaturated fat, however, is thought to be particularly effective in preventing things such as heart disease and strokes.
Chances are you’ve heard of them: They’re known as omega-3 fatty acids and are found in certain types of fish, for example, salmon and sardines, as well as in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and some nuts such as walnuts.
Incorporating Keto-Friendly Fats Into Your Diet
Now we’ve separated the good fats from the bad and seen where they can be found, let’s discuss some easy ways to incorporate them into your diet. It might come as a shock to hear that something many people struggle with when first beginning keto is getting enough fats each day.
Most people, before starting keto, will not have been used to having fats account for up to 80% of their daily diet. Without proper knowledge and planning, it can be easy to fall back on consuming less than healthy but readily available fats to fill your quota for the day.
Below are some tricks that seasoned members of the keto community use to keep their fat intake high – and healthy.
MCT (or medium-chain triglyceride) oil is popular among the keto community for one very important reason: it increases ketone production. This means it can help newcomers to the keto lifestyle get into ketosis faster, but it also has many impressive health benefits. A favorite among dieters is that it promotes feelings of satiety, meaning it keeps you feeling full for longer.
The great thing about MCT oil is that it’s tasteless and odorless so that it can be easily added to any drink, hot or cold. It is also easy to toss into salad dressings, sauces, cereal, soups, stews, and just about anything else you eat or drink throughout the day.
Fish Oil Capsules
Remember those Omega-3 fatty acids? They’re one of the best types of fats out there, but they can be tough to consume in large enough quantities. Most experts recommend a minimum of 250–500 mg per day. If you’re not a big fan of fish, or you just can’t seem to hit that recommended daily intake, fish oil capsules are a great and easy way to get more healthy fats. Just popping one little capsule each morning is enough to give you your full recommended intake of Omega 3!
If you’re looking into the world of keto, then you’ve no doubt heard of something called bulletproof coffee. It’s an unusual but pretty smart way of incorporating fat into your diet that’s a favorite among keto dieters. The concoction has three main components: of course, coffee, unsalted butter, and MCT oil. The mixture is blended together and becomes rich and creamy. It might sound strange but many followers of the keto diet swear by it. It is said to increase alertness, promote satiety (there’s that MCT oil) and it’s a handy way to increase your fat intake if you’re brave enough to try!
Making it all Make Sense
This is a lot of information to take in all at once, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. The keto diet has the ability to produce amazing results, but nothing worth having comes easy. It does demand a considerable amount of work and commitment, particularly initially, in order to see these positive effects.
Getting to grips with things like the best types of food or how much fat to eat on keto can seem tricky at first, but if you stick with it long enough, eventually it will seem like second nature. Until then, if you’ve got any queries, concerns, or comments, please check out the rest of our blog for the answer to all of your burning keto questions.