When following a diet that is high in fat and very low in carbs, such as a ketogenic diet, it’s not only important to understand how much fat you should aim to consume but also which fats are acceptable and which ones aren’t, because while a food source may be considered “high fat” it’s not necessarily good for the keto way of living. In short, not all fats are equal.
When carbs are drastically cut in a keto diet, it’s important to find another source of fuel, which is where fats come into play. However, it must be noted that there are both good fats and bad ones, and to achieve your health goals, it’s important to focus on the good ones.
As well as giving you fuel throughout the day, eating good fats can help keep you satiated. The recommended amount of healthy fat to consume is 70-80% compared to 20-25% protein and 5-10% carbs. To learn more, check out this keto beginners guide.
Why is fat so important?
Often referred to as the cornerstone of a keto diet, healthy dietary fats help keep your body in a state of ketosis, as these fats produce ketones that are then burned for fuel. In short, depleting your body of carbs and stored carbs (glycogen) will allow your body to make the switch and create ketones for energy.
But what fats can be consumed on a ketogenic diet? Here are the best 7 fats for a keto diet.
Forget what you’ve ever learned about butter – it’s good for you, even more so if you’re following a keto diet. Containing approximately 80% fat and absolutely no carbs, butter, especially grass-fed butter, is ideal.
As well as being naturally high in good fat, butter is also extremely high in butyrate, which is a short-chain fat that helps promote brain and cognitive health.
One might ask, why grass-fed butter? There are two reasons. Firstly, it has been found to have a better composition than conventional non-organic butter, and secondly, it’s more delicious.
Butter can be used in many ways. It can be added to vegetables, steak, roast chicken, baking, and it’s also a key ingredient in bulletproof coffee.
Avocados, including avocado oil, are considered to be heart healthy. As well as being good for cardiovascular health, avocados are also high in essential vitamins and fiber, making them excellent sources of fat to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and promote anti-aging.
Avocados can be enjoyed in many ways from guacamole to salads to smoothies, or if you don’t really like them, you can always opt for avocado oil as a salad dressing.
3. Flax Seeds
A quarter of a cup of flax seeds contains an impressive 18 grams of fat. As well as being naturally high in good fat per quarter cup, they also contain high amounts of protein (7g) and fiber (11g) .
As well as having a healthy macronutrient profile, flax seeds also contain properties that can help ward off heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes.
Flax seeds add both flavor and texture to salads, yogurt and smoothies, and if ground, can complement other seeds in popular keto baking recipes, such as muffins and keto-friendly crackers.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Famous around the world, especially in the Mediterranean, extra virgin olive oil has long been used for medicinal purposes thanks to its complex makeup of macronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. In fact, just one tablespoon contains 14 grams of fat, vitamin K, vitamin E, and no zero carbs .
What’s more, extra virgin olive oil boasts numerous anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the amount of cell-destroying free radicals in the body and promotes cardiovascular health due to the high levels of HDL (good cholesterol) .
With a low smoke point, it isn’t ideal for high-heat cooking, however, it’s perfect for dressings and marinades; it also adds delicious fruity and buttery notes to food.
5. Unrefined Coconut Oil
A preferred cooking oil on a ketogenic diet because of its high smoke point is unrefined coconut oil.
Unrefined coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides that the body absorbs quickly and then converts into ketones, which helps with both achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis , therefore allowing the body to switch into fat burning mode much easier.
To learn more about how to incorporate coconut oil into the keto diet, check out this coconut oil guide.
6. Fatty Fish
Consuming a good amount of fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and anchovies, is another way of boosting your healthy fat consumption while following a keto diet.
Naturally high in heart-healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, these types of fish also offer an excellent source of natural protein. Eating fatty fish also improves cognitive and immune health .
Another great thing about fatty fish is that it’s so flexible. Bake it, grill it, or add your favorite canned fish to a salad.
Eggs are another versatile, not to mention easy, food that’s packed with healthy fats. One egg contains 5 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. They’re also incredibly low in calories with a single egg containing only 80 .
Unlike other restrictive diets that claim the yolk is bad, it’s the best part of an egg for anyone following a keto diet, as it’s rich in vitamin B and a number of powerful antioxidants, such as zeaxanthin and lutein .
Eggs can be eaten as main meals, as a side dish or as a snack, and because they’re so quick and easy, incorporating them into your everyday diet isn’t hard.
Other sources of healthy fats
The above foods are some of the most popular ways of increasing fat levels with ease while following a ketogenic diet, but they’re certainly not limited to these. Other sources of healthy fats that you could incorporate into meals or snack include:
- Cacao nibs
- Macadamia nuts
- Chia seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Sesame seeds
- Almond butter
- Sunflower butter
- Full fat yogurt
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Fats to Limit
As previously mentioned, not all fats are created equal and some can even be detrimental to your diet and health.
Avoiding artificial trans fats, no matter which diet or health plan you follow, is key to good health, as these “bad” fats are linked to a higher risk of heart disease. These fats are typically found in refined oils and processed foods and snacks.
However, care must be taken, as trans fats also come under the guise of different names/labels, such as shortening or partially hydrogenated oil. Also, according to the FDA, when a food contains 0.5 grams or less of trans fats per serve, it’s automatically marked as containing zero grams of trans fats.
Processed meats also need to be limited despite often being promoted as keto-friendly foods. Such foods include sausages, salami, deli meats, and cured meats. Technically they can and do fit into a keto plan thanks to their naturally high-fat content, however, a number of studies that have been carried out in the last few decades have found that there’s a higher risk of developing some cancers when eating them .
It is important to bear in mind that it’s also helpful to track your fat, protein and carb intake to ensure you remain on target, especially when transitioning to the keto diet for the first time. There are a number of ways you can do this online with tracking calculators, such as MyFitnessPal.
To Sum Up
In conclusion, there are numerous ways in which you can increase your healthy fat levels, and the abovementioned are just a few food sources that you can tap into to help you hit your 70-80% daily fat intake. It’s important to remember that there are good fats and bad fats, so the word “fat” itself shouldn’t automatically be viewed as a negative.
When looking to support your fat intake while on the keto diet, seek out whole foods that contain nutritious healthy fats and nutrients.
About the author
An author and health enthusiast Alex Reed, started Bodyketosis.com with a mission to help you to take charge of your weight and health using the ketogenic lifestyle. Through personal experience and extensive research, he offers insightful tips for everything keto.