Healthy Fats for Keto: A Guide to the Best Low-Carb Fats
If you're following a ketogenic lifestyle, you probably already know that fat is a cornerstone of this low-carb, high-fat way of eating. But not all fats are good for you, and choosing the right types can significantly affect your health and how you feel.
In this guide to the best keto fats for a low-carb diet, we'll talk about why fat is so important on a ketogenic diet and which types of fat to choose for maximum health benefits. Plus, I'll share some of my favorite tips and tricks to make sure you incorporate enough fats into your meals in delicious and satisfying ways.
Whether you're a keto newbie or a seasoned pro, this guide is packed with helpful information to help you make the most of your fat intake and take your nutrition to the next level.
First Things First: What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
At its core, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that has gained popularity in recent years for its potential health and weight loss benefits.
The goal of the keto diet is to encourage the body into a state of ketosis, in which it burns fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel. This metabolic state means that instead of burning glucose (sugar) for energy, your body burns ketones, molecules produced by the liver from stored body fat.
Adjusting your macronutrients by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing those calories with healthy fats and moderate amounts of protein is how the body transitions to this fat-burning mode.
The benefits of ketosis are numerous, from weight loss to mental clarity. Many people also find that a ketogenic diet helps them feel more satiated and less hungry throughout the day, making it easier to stick to a keto lifestyle.
However, the ketogenic diet is not for everyone. It can be challenging to follow, particularly in the beginning when transitioning from a diet high in carbohydrates. Additionally, those with certain health conditions may not be good candidates for a ketogenic diet.
If you're considering a ketogenic diet, it's always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider first to ensure it's safe and appropriate for your needs. Consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist for personalized guidance to ensure you meet your recommended macros.
Why Is Dietary Fat So Important?
Many people think of dietary fat as something to avoid or minimize, but in reality, it's a crucial component of a healthy diet. Eating adequate amounts of dietary fat is essential for maintaining good health and supporting overall wellness.
When it comes to fried foods, it's essential to consider the type of oil used. This is because some types of fats, like trans fats, can lead to health issues. On the other hand, good fats like polyunsaturated fats can benefit our health.
Vegetable oils, commonly used for frying, can produce harmful compounds when heated to high temperatures. That's why it's best to choose more stable options like air-frying or use coconut oil, which has a high smoke point, meaning it can handle high temperatures without breaking down and producing harmful compounds.
Supports Energy Levels
Unlike carbohydrates, which are quickly metabolized and burned off, dietary fats can provide a sustained energy source that can last several hours. When you consume foods that contain healthy fats, your body breaks them down into fatty acids. The body then uses these fatty acids as a source of energy.
Additionally, the brain is made up of nearly 60 percent fat, so healthy fats can help support proper brain function. Some research also suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish like salmon can support cognitive function and energy levels.
When you consume a high-carbohydrate meal, your blood sugar levels can spike and then quickly drop, leading to feelings of fatigue and sluggishness. Including healthy fats in your meals can help to prevent energy dips and crashes and promote sustained energy throughout the day.
Promotes Nutrient Absorption
Healthy dietary fats are vital in promoting nutrient absorption in the body because many essential vitamins and nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they require dietary fat to be adequately absorbed and utilized by the body. These fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.
When you consume foods that contain these essential vitamins alongside healthy fats, the fat can help to transport the vitamins and nutrients through your digestive system and into your bloodstream. This process ensures that your body can efficiently absorb and utilize these nutrients.
Supports Balanced Hormones
Cholesterol, which is in dietary fat, produces hormones in the body. Consuming adequate amounts of healthy fats can help ensure that the body has good cholesterol levels. The fat-soluble vitamins mentioned aboveare also necessary for the proper functioning of the endocrine system, which is responsible for building and regulating hormones.
In addition to providing the raw materials needed to produce hormones, dietary fats can also help regulate hormone function by soothing irritation. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help address irritation and support balanced hormone levels.
Insulin is a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels. Healthy fats can help slow the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars, which can help support balanced insulin and blood sugar levels, supporting healthy hormone function. I
ngesting too much sugar or refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance, disrupting the delicate balance of hormones in the body.
How Much Fat Should You Eat?
One of the main principles of the ketogenic diet is consuming a high-fat diet. However, it's important to remember that not all fats are created equal, and the quality and quantity of dietary fat you consume can affect your health and weight loss goals.
The amount of fat you should consume on a ketogenic diet depends on lifestyle factors such as your activity level, body composition, and weight loss goals. A general rule is to aim to get at least 70 percent of your daily calories from healthy fats.
Which Fats Are Keto-Friendly?
In general, keto-friendly whole-food fat sources are low in carbohydrates and full of other micronutrients. Here are some excellent keto-friendly fats to include in your diet:
Avocados are high-fat foods that are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins C, K, B6, and potassium. The fiber in avocados can also help support digestion and promote feelings of fullness, which may aid in weight management.
Add sliced avocado to salads, smoothies, or omelets for a delicious source of fat.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts and nut butters are convenient and tasty sources of healthy fats, fiber, and protein and are generally low in carbohydrates. Some of the best options include almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, and almond or peanut butter.
Keep in mind that nuts still contain some carbohydrates and should be consumed in moderation. To avoid exceeding daily calorie needs, make sure to carefully measure portions of nuts.
Seeds contain healthy fats, fiber, and minerals like magnesium, zinc, and selenium, which can support overall wellness.
Incorporating a variety of seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds is a great way to boost your nutrient intake. They can be eaten on their own as a snack or added to meals like salads and yogurt.
Seeds are also a great source of dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion and help you feel full and satisfied after meals. Adding seeds to your diet can be as simple as sprinkling them on your dishes or mixing them into your favorite recipes.
Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the liver can easily convert into ketones, and provides a quick energy source.
Substituting butter with coconut oil in baked goods makes for an excellent dairy-free option. Unlike dairy products, coconut oil does not contain lactose or casein, common allergens that can cause digestive issues in some individuals. Additionally, coconut oil has a mild, sweet flavor that enhances the taste of baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and cakes.
MCT oil is a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). It has a neutral taste that can work for various recipes, prolong satiety, and support weight loss efforts.
You can add MCT oil to coffee and smoothies or use it for cooking to increase your daily intake of healthy fats. Start with small amounts of MCT oil to avoid digestive discomfort.
Greek yogurt is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate source of healthy fats. It is also a good source of probiotics, which can help to support gut health. Try adding it to smoothies, using it as a base for dips, or eating it as a snack with nuts and berries for a yummy treat.
Greek yogurt is also a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes. For example, you can use it to replace sour cream or mayonnaise in recipes to reduce the dish's overall calorie and fat content while providing a creamy and flavorful texture.
When buying Greek yogurt, choose plain, unsweetened varieties to avoid added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins, and minerals like selenium. They are also a good source of protein and healthy fats. Try grilling, baking, or poaching fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines for a tasty and nutritious meal.
If you don’t like eating fish, you can also take an omega-3 supplement. Omega-3s are important sources of fat that can support heart health and provide antioxidant support, so it’s important to make sure you’re meeting your recommended daily intake.
Cheese is delicious and provides various essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. In addition to their nutrient content, some cheeses are low-carbohydrate foods, making them an ideal snack or addition to a ketogenic diet.
Some good low-carb cheese options to include in your diet are cheddar, feta, and parmesan, as they can provide a good source of protein and healthy fats.
Butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals such as calcium and selenium. It also contains short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids, which the body metabolizes to provide a quick energy source.
Butter can be used in various ways, including cooking and baking, adding to coffee or tea, and as a flavoring for vegetables or meats. It is also a delicious addition to keto-friendly sauces and dressings. Choose high-quality, grass-fed butter whenever possible, as it contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids.
Use butter or ghee (clarified butter) for cooking scrambled eggs or sautéed vegetables, melt it over a grilled steak or chicken breast, or spread it on keto-friendly bread or crackers. You can also replace vegetable oils in recipes with melted ghee when making mayonnaise or salad dressings.
How Can You Eat More Fat?
Dr. Kellyann's keto-friendly bone broths, powders, and drinks make for delicious and nutritious ways to increase your protein and healthy fat intake. Made with high-quality ingredients and various flavors, you can add these products to your favorite recipes for a quick way to support your health while you’re on the go.
Here are more ways you can increase your daily fat intake:
- Use healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, lard, butter, or ghee for cooking and baking.
- Nuts and seeds are great snacks, especially if you turn them into a tasty keto granola. Use butter and coconut oil with a keto-friendly sweetener and add more flavor and nutrients to your granola with these delicious collagen powders.
- Choose fattier cuts of meat like beef, lamb, and pork to increase your fat intake.
- Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are great as a main dish or added to salads. Season fish filets with flavored bone broth powders for a unique and delectable flavor.
- Use full-fat dairy products instead of low-fat or fat-free versions. Make a milkshake with Greek yogurt, heavy cream, plenty of ice, and your favorite collagen shake or smoothie flavor.
For more recipe inspiration, you can check out these keto-friendly recipes and meal plans that feature healthy fats.
The Bottom Line
Eating more fat doesn't have to be complex or intimidating. With a bit of creativity and some inspiration, you can easily incorporate healthy fats into your favorite recipes and snacks. So, go ahead and embrace the delicious, satisfying world of healthy fats — your body will thank you for it!
Possible Nonneurological Health Benefits of Ketogenic Diet: Review of Scientific Reports over the Past Decade | PubMed
Dietary Fat and Sports Nutrition: A Primer | PubMed
Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Brain Functions: A Systematic Review | PubMed
Fat-soluble Micronutrients and Metabolic Syndrome | PubMed
Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Tolerance Are Altered by Maintenance on a Ketogenic Diet