The Keto diet is known for being an ultra-low carb diet that’s rich in healthy fats with a moderate amount of protein. However, what if you don’t want to eat a high-fat diet? Can you still do Keto without eating fat? The short answer is, no, fat is essential to Keto. The following article will explain why fat is necessary, different types of fat and how to best increase your healthy fat consumption for a successful Keto.
Can you do Keto without eating fat?
No, you cannot do Keto without eating fat. This macronutrient is essential in various quantities on any diet, but it’s especially vital to your success on Keto.
If you’re looking to avoid fat on Keto, you should first examine your reasons for doing so. Are you looking to eliminate something that you feel is unhealthy? Well, contrary to the belief our diet-driven society has had for the last few decades, fat in and of itself is not bad. Eating fat will not make you fat. Fat is not the enemy to weight loss and eating is will not raise your cholesterol levels. That being said, there are specific kinds of fats that are healthy and specific kinds of fats which you should avoid.
If you’re looking to avoid fat on Keto because you can’t imagine 75% of your diet consisting of fats, you should reframe what you view as fats. You don’t have to (and you shouldn’t) get 75% of your calories from sausage and butter. The best way to incorporate fats into your diet is through liquid fats that are versatile, healthy and easy to add into your Keto meals.
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan and you can’t imagine getting enough fat on Keto without eating animal products, the good news is, there are plenty of healthy fats that are sourced from plants. Not eating meat and other animal products shouldn’t be an obstacle in getting enough fats on Keto.
Keto requires you to eat a diet with roughly 70-75% of your calories coming from fat, 15-20% coming from protein and only 5-10% sourced from carbohydrates. If you were to limit your carbohydrate intake to the recommended 20-25g of net carbs a day, and you didn’t fill in the remaining calories with fats then your diet would look more like 5-10% carbs and 90-95% protein.
At this point, you would no longer being doing Keto and your body wouldn’t be producing ketones. Instead, it would use the protein calories to create glucose, so you’d miss the goal of Keto completely and continue to run your body off glucose.
The role fat plays in Keto
Fat is vital to success on Keto because the Keto diet seeks to change the way that your body metabolises food for energy. Typical North American diets are high in carbohydrates which your body uses to create glucose. The goal of Keto is to switch your body’s primary energy source from glucose to ketones. If you’re interested in why it’s helpful to switch from glucose to ketones you can read all about it here.
In order to create enough ketones for your body to rely on it as fuel you need to eat a diet that’s high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates because ketones are made from fats. By reducing the number of carbohydrates you eat you prevent your body from getting the fuel it needs to create glucose and it switches to its backup energy source which is ketones.
Ketones can be sourced from body fat; however, in order to give your body the fuel it needs you also need to eat a diet that’s high in healthy fats to replace the fat that’s being burned in the creation of ketones.
What happens if you don’t eat enough fat on Keto?
When you don’t eat enough fat on Keto it prevents your body from creating ketones. Without ketones you’ll feel drained off all energy, your head will be in a fog and you’ll have trouble concentrating. You’ll also feel hungry because your body needs some sort of fuel to survive. If it isn’t getting that fuel from ketones then it will try to convince you to eat carbohydrates by sending cravings and hunger signals.
Not eating enough fat on Keto can have far reaching consequences as well. Without a proper energy source your body will attempt to survive by breaking down your muscle to turn it into fuel. This process is called catabolism, and it basically means that your body is eating itself to survive.
Beyond the effects for your Keto, a lack of fat in your diet can lead to hormonal imbalances. You need the nutrients that are inside of fat in order to grow healthy new cells and you also need fat in order to insulate your organs and keep them warm. Without fat you run the risk of lowering your immune system and causing your body to shut down.
Best types of fats to eat on Keto
Now that you understand the importance of fats on Keto and as a part of any healthy diet, it’s time to clarify that not all fats are created equal. The trans fats that are found in fried and processed foods are not foods that you should include in your diet. They end up raising your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
On the other hand, the healthy fats that are found in plant-based foods can lower your LDL levels while raising your HDL levels. A higher level of HDL cholesterol is a predictor of heart health. These plant-based fats can be found in a range of food including nuts, seeds, avocados and olives. Avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil offer the same healthy fat benefits as their solid counterparts.
The jury is still out when it comes to the saturated fats that are found in meat and other animal products. For a long time scientists believed that these were just as bad as trans-fats but recent studies are showing that this may not be the case. For the time being, it’s safe to include saturated fats in your diet in moderation while making sure that the majority of the fats you eat are sourced from plants.
Benefits of eating healthy fats on Keto
Eating healthy fats on Keto will provide your body with the fuel you require to get up and get moving every day. Ketones are an excellent source of energy for your body. They provide a steadier supply of energy because they’re a longer lasting fuel. This means that after the first month of Keto you’ll have more energy, improved concentration and even better sleeps.
Fats have health benefits beyond Keto. The omega 3’s that are in plant-based fats are great for the health of your heart, brain and immune system. Fats provide a stable source of energy for your brain and there’s signs that some of the compounds in healthy fats may reduce your risk of the mental decline that happens as you age as well as lifting your mood and battling depression.
The right types of fats can help increase your HDL cholesterol while lowering your LDL cholesterol levels leading to a healthier heart. Eating healthy fats on Keto can even contribute to weight loss.
How to increase your fat consumption on Keto
The easiest way to increase the amount of fats that you eat on Keto is to make use of the versatility of plant-based oils such as avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil. These oils are extremely easy to use and they don’t cause you to feel like you’re drowning in fats.
It’s easier to get the calories you need from fat than you may think because fat is naturally more calorie dense than other foods. For example, a small handful of nuts contains over 100 calories. You won’t have to eat as much on a high-fat diet in order to reach your calorie goals.
Making your own vinaigrette for a salad is a great way to increase your fat on Keto. It’s as simple as mixing some of your favorite spices, vinegar and oil together. This is an easy way to add a boost of healthy fats to your diet. If you sprinkle your salad with some nuts or seeds that’s another healthy serving of fats.
Marinades are another way to make use of healthy fats. Simply mix your favorite oil and spices together and let your desired food soak in the marinade for several hours. This will cause the food to soak up both the flavor and the nutrients leading to a tasty, fat rich finished product.
Adding a tablespoon of oil to a fry pan in order to pan fry your meat or veggies is another easy way to boost your daily fat content. Spritzing some oil on top of food you’re about to bake is a great way of making your food crisp while adding more fats. You could also add a tablespoon or two of oil or seeds to your morning smoothie or snack on some nuts and seeds throughout the day. Those calories will add up fast, and with a few simple switches you’ll be at your macro goals in no time!
It’s not possible to do the Keto diet without fat. Fat is a vital part of allowing your body to stay in ketosis. Eating more fat in your diet doesn’t have to be difficult as the majority of healthy fats are easy to add into meals that you probably already make.