Good & Bad Fats for Keto
Keto is all about fat. What makes the diet special is ketosis: the state where your body burns fat instead of carbs.
But not all fats are created equal. Some fats are healthy for you. Others are not.
Some good fats include:
- avocado oil
- olive oil
And some bad fats include
- processed red meat
- trans fats
First, let’s take a look at why you need to eat fat on keto.
Why is fat important for keto?
Many people start keto because they want to lose fat. So why should keto encourage people to eat more fat?
Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. The truth is more complicated. Fat is actually an essential nutrient. We must consume fat to live.
People gain weight not by eating fat, but by expending less energy than they consume.
Under normal conditions, the body doesn’t burn fat. It burns carbs to make energy.
The point of keto is to induce a state called ketosis. This is when your body runs out of carbs, and switches to burning fat. The quickest way to do this is to simply cut out all the carbs.
On a keto diet, you need to eat lots of fat, because you aren’t getting calories from carbs anymore. You are getting them from fat instead.
If it can, your body will burn its fat reserves in addition to whatever you consume. But if you consume too much fat, or too much of the wrong kind, your body might not bother.
Good Fats for Keto
These fats contain low amounts of unsaturated fat. This means they won’t raise your cholesterol as much as other fats.
They are often oils that are liquid at room temperature, and most come from plants.
Avocados and avocado oil
Millennials are on to something. Avocado toast is an incredibly healthy snack, because avocados contain loads of fiber and essential minerals. But you might want to skip the toast if you are on keto.
Avocado oil is also an excellent option for cooking and for salads.
Half an avocado contains 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat, and only 9 grams of carbs.
Fish and fish oil
Fish are the healthiest proteins. Their oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost mood and immunity. They also contain Vitamin D. Many American adults are Vitamin D deficient, so consuming enough fatty fish during the winter can help stave off wintertime depression.
Olives and olive oil
The Mediterranean region boasts some of the highest life expectancies in the world. One key factor is the Mediterranean diet: mostly vegetables and olive oil, with wheat and some meat.
You can throw olives into food, drizzle a salad with olive oil or cook with it, or snack on olives raw.
Unless you have a nut allergy, nuts are really quite good for you. They vary in their chemical composition, but cashews, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are all very healthy. A high nut intake is associated with a lower risk of heart and respiratory disease.
Fats that are not good for you
Although your body needs fat, and needs more fat on keto, not all fats are good for you. In particular, watch out for processed red meats and trans fat.
Processed red meat
Fresh, lean meat is the way to go if you want to eat red meat. A little bit of fat here won’t hurt you, but if all you eat is bacon grease, you will quickly feel like garbage.
The worst red meat options are preserved, processed meats. Hot dogs and sausages are not good for you, and you should eat them sparingly, if at all.
Trans fats are rare in nature. They only occur in small amounts in the meat and milk of cattle and sheep.
However, they are produced artificially by homogenization. This is the same process that originally made margarine.
Trans fat raises cholesterol. It has been linked to:
- heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
And the recommended daily intake of trans fat is precisely zero.
In the United States, trans fat used to be added to processed foods as a low cost fat substitute. Today, many places have put up bans on trans fat, and it is less common.
Fat is good for you, and it is even more important on keto.
When cooking keto meals, think about what you are putting into your body. If it comes from a fish or a plant, it’s probably pretty healthy. If it comes from a mammal, it might not be that good for you. Sticking to olive oil, avocados, fish, and nuts is a great way to make sure you eat plenty of healthy fats.