Everyone knows that they need to eat certain foods to be healthy, however, many people are unaware of the types of foods they should be eating and the way those foods fit into a healthy diet.

You know all those fat-burning foods you hear about? Those low-carb diets and fat loss tips that promise to help you lose weight and keep it off? Well, if it’s true that the keto diet is the ultimate low-carb diet, it stands to reason that it is the ultimate fat loss diet. Keto is a high fat, low carb diet. The name comes from “ketosis,” a metabolic process that occurs in the body when you consume a lot of fat and very few carbs. When you eat a lot of fat, the body uses those fats for energy, instead of carbs. When you don’t eat carbs, the body will burn fat as its primary fuel source, instead

In a keto diet or low-carb diet, fat is the main source of energy. Therefore, it is important to choose healthy types of fats and consume them in the right amounts. In this guide, we explain all about fats and help you make the best choice.

Nutrition plans designed to get results

With our personalized meal plans, we plan everything for you. All you have to do is focus on preparing, eating and enjoying healthy and delicious food.

  1. What is fat and what role does it play in the body?
  2. How is fat absorbed by the body?
  3. What is cholesterol?
  4. What types of fats should I eat?
  5. What types of fats should I avoid?
  6. How much fat should I eat?

Nutrition plans designed to get results

With our personalized meal plans, we plan everything for you. All you have to do is focus on preparing, eating and enjoying healthy and delicious food.

What is fat and what role does it play in the body?

Dietary fats occur in both animals and plants. Although it primarily provides energy to the body, it also plays a number of other important roles, including:

  • Promotes the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Regulation of inflammation and immunity
  • Maintain the health of your cells, including skin and hair.
  • It adds a satiated feeling to your diet, making you feel full and fulfilled.

The fats in the diet are in the form of triglycerides. Each triglyceride contains a glycerol molecule attached to 3 fatty acid chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms.

example of an unsaturated fat triglyceride. Left: Glycerol; right side, top to bottom: Palmitic acid, oleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid.

Fatty acids are classified by the number of bonds they contain between the hydrocarbons in their chains and by the length of the chains.

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

    • Saturated fats do not have a double bond between the hydrocarbons in their chain. They are saturated with hydrogen and remain solid at room temperature. Healthy sources of saturated fat are butter, cream and clarified butter.

Saturated fatty acid Myristic acid

    • Monounsaturated fats have a double bond between the carbons in their chain. Healthy sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados and nuts.

Monounsaturated fats Oleic acid

    • Polyunsaturated fats have more than one double bond between the carbons in their chain. Healthy sources of polyunsaturated fats are fatty fish, meat, nuts and seeds.

Polyunsaturated fats Linoleic acid

There are two families of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs): Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are named for the location of the first double bond in their carbon chains.

Length of fatty acid chain

  • Short-chain fatty acids have 5 hydrocarbons or less. Short-chain fatty acids are found in small amounts in butter and cream.
  • Medium-chain fatty acids (also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs) contain 6 to 12 carbohydrates. Coconut oil and MCT oil are examples of products that contain medium chain fatty acids. Butter and cream also contain small amounts of MCT.
  • Long-chain fatty acids have 13 or more carbon atoms. Most fats in food are long-chain fatty acids. Foods that contain long-chain fatty acids are meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds, avocados and olives.

You can learn more about the fats you should be consuming here.

How is fat digested in the body?

After digestion of a fatty food, the triglycerides are broken down into individual fatty acids and glycerol.

Saturated fatty acids and long-chain unsaturated fatty acids are absorbed into the bloodstream, packaged together with cholesterol and protein, and transported through the body for use or storage as fat.

Short- and medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed differently. Instead of being transported through the body, they go directly to the liver, where they are converted to ketones and used as a quick source of energy. They are also less likely to be deposited as fat than long-chain fatty acids.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found only in animal products. Unlike fatty acids, it does not provide energy. However, your body needs it for the production of steroid hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help digest fat.

All your cells produce cholesterol. In fact, most of the cholesterol in your blood comes from your body, not from the food you eat. Dietary cholesterol generally raises blood cholesterol levels very little, if at all, and therefore is unlikely to increase the risk of heart disease.

What types of fats should be consumed?

We recommend consuming fats that occur naturally in foods and have undergone minimal processing.

The American Heart Association and other health organizations have been advising people to limit their intake of saturated fat for decades. Unfortunately, this recommendation is largely based on low-quality observational studies.

However, most systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials – considered the strongest type of evidence – have found no link between saturated fat and heart disease. This is why the role of natural saturated fats in a healthy diet is now being reconsidered.

In general, saturated fats are neutral to health. For more information, see our guide on saturated fats.

Saturated fats are present in many healthy foods that can – and probably should – be eaten as part of a balanced keto or low-carb diet.

Moreover, no product contains 100% saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. For example, red meat contains about as much monounsaturated as saturated fat and small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.

However, some foods are generally dominated by one type of fat. For example, butter is considered a good source of saturated fat and olive oil is considered a good source of monounsaturated fat.

Below are some helpful resources for each type of fat.

Saturated fats

  • Oil and ghee (clarified butter)
  • Cream, whipped cream and coconut cream
  • Coconut oil
  • Cheese
  • Lard and tallow

Monounsaturated fats

  • Olives and olive oil
  • Avocado and avocado oil
  • Macadamia and macadamia oil
  • Almonds, pecans, peanuts and other nuts
  • Lard and tallow

Polyunsaturated fats

Omega-3
  • Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies)
  • Grass fed animals
  • Dairy products from grass fed animals
  • Pasture eggs
  • Algae
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Hempseed
  • Grenoble walnuts
Omega-6
  • Found in almost all foods, including meat, nuts and seeds.
  • Vegetable and seed oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils – as well as processed foods containing these oils – are often a major source of omega-6 PUFAs in the modern Western diet. We recommend keeping consumption of these oils to a minimum, as they are highly processed. However, the scientific evidence of health risks or benefits is inconclusive. Find out more in our guide to vegetable oils.

Aim for a low omega-6/omega-3 PUFA ratio

Omega-6 linoleic acid (PUFA) and omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (PUFA) are considered essential fatty acids because your body needs them but can’t make them itself. So you have to take them out of the food.

Alpha-linolenic acid is mainly found in the seeds. However, the most important omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA, which are found in oily fish and grass-fed meat. These long-chain fats are important for brain health and controlling inflammation. They may also reduce risk factors for heart disease, although results from high-quality studies are mixed.

Your body can convert alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA, but for most people this conversion is not very efficient.

It can also be important to find a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

It is assumed that our evolutionary diet contained approximately equal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. However, due to the high consumption of processed foods, many western diets now contain more than 15 times more omega-6 than omega-3.

Since it’s not yet clear how these dietary changes will affect our health, we think it’s best to stick mainly to the foods our ancestors ate for thousands of years.

Eating oily fish at least twice a week, choosing meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals when possible and eating less processed foods can help improve the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

The healthiest fats for cooking

Saturated fats like butter, clarified butter, coconut oil and lard are the best options for baking and turning. These fats are heat stable and do not oxidize when exposed to high temperatures, as the less stable polyunsaturated fats in vegetable and seed oils do.

Some monounsaturated fats, such as. B. Olive oil is also a good choice for high temperature cooking because it remains relatively stable when heated.

When cooking at very high temperatures, it is best to avoid using vegetable oils rich in PUFAs. When heated, these fats are more susceptible to oxidation or damage.

Virgin avocado oil (unrefined), which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, also oxidizes easily when exposed to high temperatures.

There is now evidence that vegetable oils are likely to be suitable for cooking at low temperatures for short periods of time. However, to minimize risk, we recommend cooking in butter, lard or other heat-resistant fats and using avocado oil for salad dressings, mayonnaise or other sauces that do not require heating.

More information

To learn more about fats and sauces in a low-carb diet, read our complete visual guide :

What types of fat should be avoided or minimized?

We recommend avoiding trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oils) altogether because of their negative impact on heart disease risk factors.

Fortunately, that has become easy, as they are banned in Europe and will be eliminated from the food supply in the United States by 2022.

The scientific evidence on the effects of processed vegetable and seed oils on human health is less clear. These oils are highly processed and rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which most of us already take in more than we need.

High-oil oils from safflower, sunflower and other oils contain at least 70% monounsaturated fatty acids and very few omega-6 PUFAs. This makes them more stable and less susceptible to heat damage. On the other hand, they are always highly edited.

Although there is currently no conclusive evidence that vegetable or seed oils are harmful to health, we recommend consuming natural fats such as butter, olive oil and coconut oil and minimizing the use of most highly processed vegetable oils.

How much fat should I eat?

With a low-carb or keto diet, most people don’t need to count calories or grams of fat. By keeping carbohydrates and protein low, in the fairly wide moderate range of 1.2-2.0 g/kg body weight per day, most people can eat as much fat as they need to feel satisfied after a meal. This often allows the body weight to remain within or near the desired range.

If you do want to calculate fat in grams, follow these general guidelines:

The amount of fat you should eat during a keto or low-carb diet depends on a number of factors, including your protein and carbohydrate intake, your current weight, and your weight goals. Are you trying to lose, maintain or gain weight?

Determine your protein and carbohydrate needs first, and then supplement the rest of your energy needs with fat.

You may have heard that with the keto diet, the more fat you eat, the more fat you lose. That’s not true. Eating more fat than you need to stay full can slow or stop weight loss, even if you eat few carbs.

This includes the medium-chain fats in coconut oil and MCT oil, which are normally burned rather than deposited. Your body is less able to burn its own fat when it ingests excess dietary fat of any kind.

But while adding less fat to your diet can help you burn more of your own fat, you shouldn’t make the mistake of following a low-carb, low-fat diet. It’s a strategy that will leave you wanting more by the end. Eat enough fat to feel full and satisfied after meals, but not full.

Once you reach your target weight, adding more fat to your meals while maintaining the same amount of carbs and protein can help you maintain your weight in the long run. This usually happens automatically if you pay attention to hunger signals.

/ Franziska Spritzler, MD

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the healthy fats on a keto diet?

The healthy fats on a keto diet are saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. What are the best sources of saturated fats on a keto diet? The best sources of saturated fats on a keto diet are animal products like butter, ghee, and lard. What are the best sources of monounsaturated fats on a keto diet? The best sources of monounsaturated fats on a keto diet are avocados, olive oil, and macadamia nuts. What are the best sources of polyunsaturated fats on a keto diet? The best sources of polyunsaturated fats on a keto diet are fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

What happens if you don’t eat enough fat on keto?

If you don’t eat enough fat on keto, your body will start to break down muscle tissue for energy. This is called “ketosis,” and it’s a natural process that happens when you’re not eating enough carbs. What happens if you eat too much fat on keto? If you eat too much fat on keto, your body will start to break down muscle tissue for energy. What happens if you eat too much protein on keto? If you eat too much protein on keto, your body will start to break down muscle tissue for energy.

Do I count total fat or saturated fat on keto?

You should count total fat on keto.

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