Fat is the star macro of the ketogenic diet.
Dietary fat is satisfying, delicious and helps induce ketosis. But when it comes to fat — quality matters.
Below, we’ll discuss the different types of fats:
This will give you a better guide to consuming fats on the ketogenic diet. Let’s start with the good stuff: the healthy fats.
Before you get into it, click here to get a FREE healthy fats recipe book to keep the good fats coming.
The science behind which fats are good for your health has been updated a lot in recent years, so the fats you used to fear are no longer scary.
Good fats that make up a healthy ketogenic diet can be roughly divided into two categories: saturated and unsaturated.
Most fats contain a combination of both, but we can divide them based on the majority of fat type that they contain.
There used to be a prevailing assumption that saturated fats caused high cholesterol, clogged arteries, heart disease and a host of other health problems.
But most people are catching on by now that saturated fats aren’t the demons we once thought they were.
What we do know is that there’s no conclusive link between saturated fats and heart disease — nor are there links to many other fears that have been engrained in our minds. Saturated fats are healthy fats on keto.
What is Saturated Fat?
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature due to their chemical structure being saturated with hydrogens and having no double bonds.
Most fats that come from animals, like steak, chicken and eggs are saturated fats.
Where to Find Saturated Fat
Speaking of coconut products, ever wonder why they have become so popular over the past few years?
It’s because they contain lauric acid, a type of medium-chain triglyceride, or MCT.
MCTs are saturated fats that the body quickly breaks down into ketones, meaning they can be used almost immediately for energy.
This makes MCTs popular with athletes and for those pursuing fat loss. (This is why we use MCT in our grass-fed keto collagen.)
High-Quality Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats can be divided into two categories: monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Within these categories, there are certain fats that are healthier than others.
What Are Monounsaturated Fatty Acids?
Monounsaturated fatty acids contain one double bond, which makes them liquid at room temperature.
MUFAs make up a big part of the Mediterranean-type diets.
Where to Find MUFAs
What Are Polyunsaturated Fats?
Polyunsaturated means the fat has several double bonds in its chemical structure, meaning it’s more unsaturated than MUFAs.
Like MUFAs, PUFAs are liquid at room temperature and contain essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which have healthy benefits when consumed in the proper balance of around 1:1.
Most people in the Western world are eating a diet that’s more around 30:1, omega-6 to omega-3 — not good!
The right balance can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases related to inflammation while also aiding in brain health.
Where to Find PUFAs
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, chia seeds, fish and fish oil contain omega-3s. So, focus on consuming these most often and use the others in moderation to keep that 1:1 omega ratio healthy.
There are three types of omega-3s:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Plant-based sources contain ALA, which must be converted into EPA and DHA by the body. This is less efficient, which is why it’s good to get omega-3s from animal-based sources like fish and fish oil as well.
The more unsaturated a fat is, the more vulnerable it is to oxidation (going bad or spoiling), which can create free radicals that increase oxidative stress and can lead to poor cell function and disease.
Cells may function poorly or die and resulting oxidative stress is associated with more than 200 diseases.
High temperature can cause oxidation, which is why PUFAs should be consumed cold and not heated like more stable oils.
This brings us to our next section on bad quality fats to avoid on keto.
The fats below aren’t just “no-nos” for a ketogenic diet — they should be avoided by everyone due to the harmful effect they have on your health.
Trans fats are some of the worst offenders.
Partially hydrogenated oils and hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats, were created in the early 1900s as a way to make unsaturated fats shelf-stable and solid at room temperature.
The vegetable shortening, Crisco, was the first manufactured trans fat.
Trans fats are very damaging to health because they promote inflammation and increase the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Trans fats also reduce good (HDL) cholesterol while increasing bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Basically, avoid them at all costs.
Foods to Avoid with Trans Fats
What’s great about eating a ketogenic diet is that you avoid these foods altogether by eating low-carb and focus on consuming wholesome, fresh foods that are packed with nutrients and healthy fats.
Note: there are some trans fats that exist naturally. These can be found in grass-fed meats and natural dairy products, but they are not the same nor harmful like the trans fats mentioned here.
Processed and Heated Oils
Not all unsaturated fats are created equal.
Many extracted oils are PUFAs that are high in omega-6s, which promotes chronic inflammation. These include:
- Corn oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- Grape seed oil
- Soybean oil
Plus, these are often made from GMO seeds.
PUFA oils are also unstable when heated, meaning they can create free radicals that are very bad for us.
When cooking with oil, only use ones that are stable at high temperatures — such as coconut oil.
Stop Eating Harmful Fats When You’re On the Ketogenic Diet
Stick to the good fats like saturated fat, MUFAs and PUFAs when you’re choosing what keto foods to eat.
Enjoy lots of fats on the ketogenic diet, but make sure they’re the right ones and of good quality. This means eating and cooking at home as much as possible.
Eat high-quality saturated fats from animal sources and unsaturated fats that aren’t processed, with an extra focus on good sources of omega-3s.
Avoid all man-made trans fats, don’t use low-quality oils and don’t cook with polyunsaturated oils that are unstable at high temperatures.
It can be difficult to find recipes full of healthy fats. Click here to get a FREE healthy fats recipe book to stay in ketosis and reap all the benefits of healthy fats.