Fats are complicated and essential for life. Unlike carbohydrates, you would die if you didn’t eat fats. They are typically broken down into good fats and bad fats. Keto fats are fats that provide energy and good health.
The healthiest fats for keto are the ones that don’t cause inflammation and oxidation. The best keto fat source includes plenty of mono-saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
Here are the four primary types of fats.
- Saturated Fats.
- Monounsaturated Fats.
- Polyunsaturated Fats.
- Trans Fats.
One ominous day in 1955 changed our dietary guidelines for the worse. President Eisenhower had a heart attack and it was blamed on saturated fat, even though he smoked four packs of cigarettes a day.
For the next approximately 65 years the American people were force-fed the false “fat is bad” dietary guidelines. Even though fat is perfectly healthy, we lowered our intake of fat and raised our intake of sugar. This has led to our current epidemic of type 2 diabetes.
Saturated fats were demonized and unfortunately, that misconception is still prevalent today. Because in low blood sugar and low inflammation environment, healthy fats for keto do not clog arteries or contribute to heart attacks.
“Excess sugar consumption, not fat, is the primary contributor to poor health in American today.”Tweet
I am not implying that saturated fat is the best keto fat source. However, saturated fat is still better than trans-fats and overconsumption of vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids such as safflower, sunflower, and corn oils.
Keto friendly fats for keto include more omega 3 fatty acids and less omega 6 fatty acids.
“Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.”British Journal of medicine
The best keto fat sources do not contribute to inflammation.
That same updated article from the British Journal of Medicine states that inflammatory processes contribute to cholesterol deposition. The article goes on to say that chronically elevated serum insulin is at the root of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Additionally, a review of people over 60 years concluded that LDL cholesterol is not associated with cardiovascular disease.
I talk about that quite extensible in my keto diet beginners guide. This is because I don’t want people to be scared of eating keto-friendly fatty foods. I also talk a lot about the different keto fat sources when I explain dirty keto.
“Paradoxically, MCE (study) participants who had greater reductions in serum cholesterol had a higher, rather than lower, risk of death.”Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis
When I came up with my top keto superfoods I considered omega 3 fatty acids. The more omega-3 fatty acids you can eat the better. The amazing health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are as follows: (source)
- Antiarrhythmic. (prevents atrial fibrillation)
- Antithrombotic action. (prevents blood clots)
- Stops atherogenesis. (prevents the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries)
- Anti-inflammatory effects.
- Improves endothelial function. (improves the function of the lining of blood vessels)
- Lowers blood pressure and triglycerides.
- Increases good cholesterol. (high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Best high fat foods for keto
- Fish and fish oil
- Health benefits of avocado
- Keto-friendly nuts
- Olives and olive oil
- Coconut and MCT oil
- Ground flaxseed meal
- Grass-fed butter
- Free-range eggs
- Grass-fed beef
The ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats is important: eat omega 3 and less omega 6 fats
“Very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids
The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in:
Too many bad fats cause free radicals and oxidative stress:
This study clearly shows an imbalance in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk of Obesity.
Also, a balance between free radicals and antioxidants is essential for optimal physiological function. The free radicals have to be regulated by antioxidants, if not, then you have oxidative stress that creates dangerous free radicals.
The standard American diet consists of about a 15:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. The recommended ratio is about 1:1. Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 9 fatty acids help fight free radicals by acting as antioxidants. Here is a list of the best antioxidants to combat inflammation.
Omega 9 fatty acids:
Omega 9 fatty acids can be found in red meat, whole milk products, nuts and high-fat fruits such as olives and avocados, olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, macadamia nuts and beef tallow.
This information from Wikipedia shows that foods containing monounsaturated fats reduce low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol (LDL), and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) good cholesterol.
Additionally, the HDL is needed to carry the LDL back to the liver and prevents cardiovascular disease. Eating good fats can raise your HDL. Avocados are one of the healthiest foods on the planet for good reason.
Healthy fats for keto include plenty of keto friendly nuts.
This study on PubMD titled Good Fats versus bad fats, concludes that Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable oils may contribute to obesity.
Also, oxidative stress caused by a dietary imbalance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has been shown to contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
If you’re interested in liver health I recommend: How to heal a fatty liver.
Olive and avocado oil are monounsaturated fatty acids. Research shows that they may benefit insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. In addition, omega-3 fats from fish and fish oil have been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Is saturated fat a healthy fat?
“Studies show that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.”Evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease
I highly recommend reading the article sourced above because this quote is really important:
“Within the nutrition community, one example of sub-optimal communication between scientists and the public is the continued demonization and general avoidance of dietary fat.”Evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease
What that means is that nutritional scientists understand that saturated fats aren’t an unhealthy fat. However, they haven’t communicated that effectively to the nutritional community (dietitians and nutritionists) and the public.
So, saturated fat is fine as long as it comes from a source that is contaminated free. I talk about this extensively when I cover eating eggs on an egg fast. Cows, pigs, chickens, etc. that are raised in over-crowded confinements, fed high sugar diets, and pumped full of antibiotics are not healthy.
These sources do not produce healthy fats. So if you do eat them, try to eat them in moderation. However, I understand most of the organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised fat sources are expensive and sometimes hard to find.
So, if you can find and afford the organic stuff, that’s the best source of saturated fat. But if you can’t then regular old beef or eggs are still better for you than simple starches and sugars.
Eating too many unhealthy fats and/or too much-saturated fats of poor quality is included in a dirty keto diet. Here is a complete explanation of dirty keto or also known as a lazy keto diet.
Fat-fast for weight loss
I wrote an entire article on intermittent fasting and the OMAD diet, but I didn’t include the fat fast. Technically a “fast” is defined as not eating anything with calories. So eating fats has calories and would not qualify as a true fast.
However, that doesn’t mean it (fat fast) doesn’t have merits and a place in the ketogenic diet.
Conducting a fat fast can help you get and stay fat adapted.
You can read about the fat-adaptation process here. It’s the key to success on the keto diet because you are training your body to use fat as energy. Eating nothing but fat literally forces your body to use it as energy and you quickly adapt.
When you conduct a fat fast you need to pick the best fat source you can find. I like to do a fat fast by taking 2 tablespoons of organic, virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of MCT oil, and two krill oil tablets.