A big reason that a lot of people begin the Keto diet is that they’re searching to lose weight. One of the reasons that Keto is so amazing for weight loss is its high fat content. However, not every fat is created equally. The following article will explain how healthy fats can help you reach your weight loss goals as well as which fats you should include in your Keto diet.
What are healthy fats?
Chowing down on bacon and cheese every day will not lead to weight loss. Neither will indulging in those processed Keto-friendly deserts that look so tantalizing on the shelves of your local grocery store. Instead, your focus on Keto should be to get 70-75% of your calories from healthy fats. But what are healthy fats and how do you know if your diet contains enough of them?
Which fats should you avoid?
The main fat that you should avoid at all costs is trans fat. Trans fat is found in a variety of processed and fried foods. Anytime you see hydrogenate vegetable oil” or “partially hydrogenate oil” on the label of your food you know that it contains trans fats, even if the label reads “trans-fat free”.
This type of fat is terrible for the health of your heart because it elevates your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. This impacts the health of your heart because high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to a thickening of the walls of your arteries. The fat basically builds up in your arteries, narrowing them which puts you at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. HDL cholesterol actually fights against this narrowing of the arteries. Trans fats pack a double whammy by decreasing the cholesterol that fights heart disease while increasing the cholesterol that contribute to heart disease.
Common sources of trans fats include margarine, fried food, vegetable shortening, processed snack foods such as crackers and popcorn as well as packaged bakery items such as pizza dough, bread, pastries, cakes and cookies. Thankfully, several of these items aren’t allowed on keto anyway because they’re too high in carbs but you should still watch out for any packaged items that are labelled “Keto” because trans fats can sneak into these foods.
Which fats should you include?
Healthy fats are predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats are high in essential nutrients and omega fatty acids. Unsaturated fats benefit to your heart health because they raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels while lowering your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. This prevents the risk of blood clots and strokes which improves your overall heart health.
Typically, you know your fat is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated if it’s a liquid at room temperature; however, this isn’t always the case. Healthy oils such as avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil are high in healthy fats. Foods such as nuts, olives, avocados and seeds are also high in healthy fats.
What about saturated fats?
Saturated fats are found in animal by-products such as butter, lard and cheese as well as in red meat. Although they’ve been thought of for years are being bad for your heart health, scientists are starting to reverse this belief.
There is no doubt that too many saturated fats can increase your risk of heart disease; however, it appears that eating animal products in moderation may actually contribute to your health. Organic, grass fed meat and dairy contains vitamins and mineral that the animals have eaten that man-made oils and fats lack. Including a moderate amount of saturated fat in your diet is defiantly allowed on Keto.
How do healthy fats help you lose weight on Keto?
So how exactly do healthy fats help you lose weight? Eating fat makes you fat, right? The short answer is, no, eating a diet high in dietary fat does not have to lead to weight gain. In fact, the opposite is true.
When you follow a Keto diet 70-75% of your calories will come from fat. This may seem shocking but it’s important to remember that fat is very calorie dense. A single gram of fat contains 9 calories while the same gram of protein or carbohydrates only contains 4 calories. Fat is over twice as calorie dense than the other two macronutrients. While you might have eaten an entire slice of bread to reach 100 calories on a high carb diet, the same 100 calories is quickly reached with a small handful of nuts. This basically means that you’re not going to have to drink cups of oil or whole bricks of cheese in order to meet your calorie goals on Keto.
The Keto diet works by changing the way that your body metabolises the food you eat for energy. When you’re following a high carb diet and your body is producing glucose it stores any glucose that it doesn’t need right away as body fat. This is a built in survival mechanism that helped our ancestors when food was scarce and there wasn’t enough carb rich foods to produce glucose.
The problem is, when you’re on a high carb diet there is usually always more carbs than your body needs and most of us never run out of food to feed our bodies. This leads to the accumulation of fat in your body as you continue to save your excess glucose for a rainy day that never comes. Because it’s your body’s back-up plan it’s very hard to burn away this stubborn fat.
The Keto diet changes that by reducing the number of carbs that you eat to the point where your body is forced to switch to its back-up source of energy and access those stores of fat it was holding onto. When your body doesn’t get enough glucose it begins ramping up ketone production in your liver. Ketones are created from fat cells. As your body produces more ketones it literally burns away your stored body fat as fuel which results in weight loss.
A word of caution:
Increasing your intake of healthy fats in order to lose weight only works if you’re reducing the number of carbs you eat at the same time. If you eat more than 20-25g of net carbs a day your body will slow down its production of ketones and begin using glucose again. This means that the extra fat you’re eating isn’t being used for fuel and it begins to build up again.
It’s also important to realise that weight loss only happens if the amount of calories you burn exceeds the amount of calories you take in. You can follow your Keto diet to the letter and still not see weight loss if you’re eating too many calories and remaining sedentary instead of exercising.
Best healthy fats for weight loss
If you’re looking to follow the Keto diet to lose weight than there are a variety of healthy fats that you can incorporate into your Keto meal plan. Adding any of the following fats into your diet will ensure that you get the best possible results from your Keto
- Avocados and avocado oil-Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats. A single tablespoon of avocado oil contains 14g of fat, 10 of which are monounsaturated. A single avocado contains 29g of fat, 20 of which are monounsaturated.
- MCT oil-medium-chain triglycerides are found in coconut oil and they’re fantastic for helping your body create fat-burning ketones. A tablespoon of MCT oil contains 14g of fat, all of which is saturated so moderation is key with this oil.
- Coconut oil-coconut oil, like all pure fats has 14g of fat in a tablespoon. Roughly 80% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated so it’s wise to consume this oil in moderation.
- Extra-virgin olive oil-EVO is a great source of monounsaturated fats. It also contains powerful antioxidants that make it a great addition to any diet.
- Lard-although lard is made from rendered pig fat, it’s not as high in saturated fats as coconut oil and MCT oil. 3 ounces of lard contains 85g of fat with 27g of saturated fat, 9g of polyunsaturated fat and a healthy 35g of monounsaturated fats.
- Butter-like lard, butter is an animal by-product and it’s a great addition to your Keto. Butter contains 3g of monounsaturated fat per tablespoon as well as vitamins A, D, K, E and B12.
- Nuts-all nuts are high in healthy fats however walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and macademias are they highest in healthy fats and nutrients.
- Seeds-seeds are another great source of fat while on Keto. Chia seeds contain 7g of polyunsaturated fat alongside calcium, iron and magnesium. Flaxseeds are also great with 2g of polyunsaturated fat per tablespoon.
- Whole eggs-Eggs are a great source of nutrients on Keto. They’re high in monounsaturated fat and protein while being low in calories. They also contain a host of essential nutrients including vitamin D, iron and calcium.
- Fatty fish-Salmon, sardines and mackerel are some of the healthiest fish you can eat on Keto. They’re high in healthy fats, omega 3’s and essential nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
As long as you eat the right types of fat and stick to your carb and calorie budget the Keto diet provides you with a great opportunity to lose weight. Add some of the above listed foods into your diet in order to get the unsaturated fats that your body needs in order to make ketones and release your stored body fat.