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Best Keto Fats vs. the Ones to Avoid
By Rachel Link, RD, MS
January 20, 2022
Getting started on the keto diet can be somewhat intimidating, considering it typically requires some meal planning and careful carb counting to help you enter and then stay in ketosis. You’ll also need to be sure to include a good amount of keto-friendly fats in your diet in order to stay energized, which is something you may not have paid much attention to in the past.
Determining which are the best fats for keto and how much to include can be a challenge in and of itself. Wondering which foods should you be emphasizing on your keto diet menu and which should you avoid?
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the ingredients that should be a staple on the keto diet, specifically different types of fats. Of course, you should always seek the advice of your healthcare professional prior to starting any dietary or lifestyle regimen.
What are good fats for getting into ketosis? Based on their nutrient content and how they are made (many are not processed at all), here are some of the most healthy fats for keto:
Coconut oil tops the keto fats list thanks to its content of medium-chain fatty acids, which are typically easy to digest and able to supply the cells with a quick boost of energy.
Not only that, but this keto-focused fat and its components have also been shown to support healthy cognitive function, and may help keep hunger in check too.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil consumption has been linked to support for heart health, healthy blood pressure pressure levels, healthy cognitive function and other benefits.
Although butter has long been vilified as an unhealthy ingredient, today it’s thought that grass-fed butter, in particular, is loaded with conjugated linoleic acid, a compound that has been shown to help boost fat-burning and support a healthy weight.
Butter is also brimming with several micronutrients and beneficial fatty acids, including butyrate and arachidonic acid.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, packing around 21 grams of total fat into a single cup. However, their fat content is just one component to consider when it comes to their stellar nutrient profile.
In fact, this superstar ingredient also contains a good amount of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, folate and pantothenic acid as well.
Salmon and other fatty fish varieties (such as sardines, anchovies and tuna) are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a type of fat that has been associated with a long list of benefits, including supporting a healthy immune response and healthy cardiovascular function.
Specifically, getting enough omega-3s in your diet, including from foods and or supplements, is believed to play a role in promoting healthy, normal aging and supporting joint health, healthy cognitive function and smooth, healthy skin.
MCT oil is often referred to as the “ultimate ketogenic fat. “MCTs, or “medium-chain triglycerides,” are a type of fat that are often lacking in the modern diet. And while foods like coconut oil, palm oil and full-fat dairy can supply a hearty dose of these fatty acids, a more concentrated form of MCT oil is also available as a supplement.
By providing the body and brain with a quick boost of fats, MCT oil can support natural ketone production and healthy energy levels.
Ghee is a fat that is produced by heating butter to remove the milk solids and water, resulting in a final product with a nuttier flavor and higher smoke point.
In addition to being low in lactose and casein (which can be hard for some people to digest), ghee is high in many key fat-soluble vitamins as well as butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid involved in gut health.
Butyrate is thought to help support overall metabolic health.
Although there are plenty of keto good fats to choose from, not all fats are created equal. In fact, some types of fat can actually take a toll on how your metabolism, cardiovascular system, brain and immune systems function, essentially bringing little to the plate apart from extra calories.
Trans fats, in particular, are a form of hydrogenated fat that have been tied to a slew of adverse side effects, especially when it comes to heart health.
Trans-fats are most commonly found in processed foods, so steer clear of unhealthy, high-fat foods such as:
Pre-packaged cakes, cookies and pies
Dairy-free coffee creamers
Knowing which fats to eat on keto and how much you need to reach and stay in ketosis can be difficult. However, with a bit of knowledge about the keto diet food list and some proper planning under your belt, going keto can be a breeze.
Here are the answers to a few of the most common questions on keto-friendly fats:
How much fat should I eat on a keto diet?
On a traditional keto diet, about 75 percent of total calories should come from fat with approximately 5 percent from carbs and 20 percent from protein.
However, for most people, a modified keto diet can work well too and is more flexible and easier to follow. On a modified keto diet, about 40-60 percent of calories should come from fat with 20-30 percent from protein and 15-25 percent from carbs.
Can I eat too much fat on the keto diet?
While following a ketogenic diet does require you to ramp up your fat intake, it is definitely possible to overdo it. Fat contains more calories than protein or carbs, so eating more than you need can increase your risk of weight gain.
Not only that, but eating too much fat means you’ll likely be consuming less protein and fiber, which are two key nutrients that your body needs for everything from digestive health to normal tissue repair, immune system function and beyond.
What happens if you don’t eat enough fat on keto?
Not meeting your goals for fat intake from time to time is unlikely to have much of an effect on your diet or your body’s ability to stay in ketosis, as long as you’re still cutting carbs and getting enough protein each day.
However, consistently not getting enough healthy fats on keto can start to seriously slow your progress over time. This is because fat is very satiating and can help keep you feeling full to curb cravings and hunger.
Not eating enough fats can also decrease your total energy intake, making it more difficult to provide your body with the energy that it needs to function and thrive.
How do you get fat on keto?
Just as important as getting the right amount of fat in your diet is ensuring that it’s coming from nutrient-filled sources. Be sure to get your healthy fats for keto from minimally processed, whole food sources as part of a well-rounded, healthy diet.
Try drizzling oils and fats over roasted veggies or salads, adding healthy keto fats to your morning cup of coffee or incorporating high-fat foods into your main meals a few times every week.
Knowing which keto fats to eat and how much can be challenging, but it’s totally manageable with proper planning and preparation.
Ideally, aim for healthy keto diet fats to make up at least 40-60 percent of total calories (and ideally more like 75 percent of calories on a traditional keto diet), with protein and carbs comprising 20-30 percent and 15-25 percent, respectively.
Additionally, steer clear of trans fats from processed foods such as baked goods, convenience meals, fried foods and margarine.
Instead, include a few of the top good fats for keto diet, such coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, avocado, salmon, MCT oil and ghee.