Fats are an essential part of the ketogenic diet since they constitute approximately 70 percent of your dietary calories. However, the type of fat you eat on the ketogenic diet is also important and there may be some confusion regarding good fats and bad fats. The following article discusses exactly what fats you need to include and what fats you must avoid while on the keto diet.
Good Fats on the Ketogenic Diet
The type of “good” fats included while on the ketogenic diet are divided into four groups: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), and naturally-occurring trans fats. All fats can be classified into more than one group, however, we classify them according to the most dominant of these mixtures. It’s essential to be able to recognize what type of fat you are eating on the ketogenic diet. Below, we will describe each group of good fat so you can properly implement them into your own food choices.
For many years, saturated fats were considered to be detrimental for heart health and we were advised to limit their consumption as much as possible. However, recent research studies have demonstrated no substantial connection between saturated fats and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. As a matter of fact, including healthy saturated fats into your diet can have many benefits.
One type of saturated fat contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be largely found in coconut oil, or in small quantities in butter and palm oil, and it may be digested quite easily by the human body. Medium-chain triglycerides pass through the liver for immediate use as energy when consumed. MCTs are beneficial towards promoting weight loss and
Health benefits of saturated fats on the keto diet can include:
- Improved HDL and LDL cholesterol levels
- Maintenance of bone density
- Boosting of immune system health
- Support in creation of important hormones like cortisol and testosterone
- Raising of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood to prevent buildup of LDL in the arteries
- Improved HDL to LDL ratio
Recommended types of saturated fats while on the ketogenic diet include:
- Red meat
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Cocoa butter
Unlike saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, also referred to as monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs, have been approved as a healthy source of fat for several years. A variety of research studies have connected them to numerous health benefits associated with improved levels of “good” cholesterol and better insulin resistance, among other health benefits, as described below.
Health benefits of MUFAs on the keto diet can include:
- Increased HDL cholesterol
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered risk for heart disease
- Reduced belly fat
- Reduced insulin resistance
Recommended types of MUFAs while on the ketogenic diet include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- Goose fat
- Lard and bacon fat
Healthy Polyunsaturated Fats
The most important point to keep in mind about eating polyunsaturated fats, also referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs, on the ketogenic diet is that the specific type you consume actually matters. When heated, some polyunsaturated fats may produce substances that can cause inflammation in the human body, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Many PUFAs must be consumed cold and they should never be utilized for cooking. PUFAs can be found both in very processed oils and in very healthy sources. The right types can additionally provide many health benefits on the ketogenic diet, particularly because several of these include omega 3s and omega 6s, both of which are essential nutrients in a healthy and balanced diet.
Health benefits of PUFAs on the keto diet can include:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Lowered risk of autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory diseases
- Improved symptoms of depression
- Improved symptoms of ADHD
Recommended types of PUFAs while on the ketogenic diet include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
- Fatty fish and fish oil
- Sesame oil
- Chia seeds
- Nut oils
- Avocado oil
Naturally-Occurring Trans Fats
Many people might be confused to see trans fats classified as “good” fats. While most trans fats are considered to be extremely unhealthy and even harmful, one type of trans fat, known as vaccenic acid, can be found naturally in various kinds of food, such as in grass-fed animal products and dairy fats. These naturally-occurring trans fats also provide several health benefits on the keto diet.
Health benefits of naturally-occurring trans fats on the keto diet include:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of diabetes and obesity
- Possible protection against cancer risk
Recommended types of naturally-occurring trans fats while on the ketogenic diet include:
- Grass-fed animal products
- Dairy fats like butter and yogurt
When following a ketogenic diet, or any other low carb diet, eating the right type of fat is essential, especially since these make up about 70 percent of your daily caloric intake. The type of fat you eat is classified into various groups depending on the dominant amount found in the mixture. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for example, is approximately 73 percent monounsaturated fat, therefore, it is considered a monounsaturated fat. Butter is about 65 percent saturated fat and thus, is a saturated fat. It’s essential to be able to recognize what type of fat you are eating on the ketogenic diet in order to enjoy its health benefits.Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
Bad Fats on the Ketogenic Diet
One of the greatest advantages of the ketogenic diet is the capacity to eat lots of satisfying dietary fats such as those mentioned previously. However, we have to also cover the kinds of fats that you should reduce or eliminate from your diet in order to prevent damaging your well-being. On the keto diet, the quality of food you eat is especially important to achieve ketosis.
Unhealthy Polyunsaturated Fats and Processed Trans Fats
Processed trans fats are the group of fat which most people as the “bad” fats and the truth is, they can actually be quite damaging to your overall health and wellness. Artificial trans fats are made during food production via the processing of polyunsaturated fats. That is the reason why it’s very important to choose PUFAs which are unprocessed and not overheated or modified. The consumption of unhealthy PUFAs can create harmful free radicals where processed trans fats often contain genetically modified seeds.
Health risks of unhealthy polyunsaturated fats and processed trans fats include:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of cancer
- Reduced HDL cholesterol and increased LDL cholesterol
- Bad for the health of your gut
Examples of unhealthy polyunsaturated fats and processed trans fats to avoid include:
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils found in processed products like cookies, crackers, margarine, and fast food
- Processed vegetable oils like cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and canola oils
In conclusion, it’s essential to recognize what type of fat you are eating while on the ketogenic diet. In the end, the function of the ketogenic diet will always be to enhance your health, which includes eating the appropriate amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrate ratio as well as picking food resources which promote health and wellness. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal health issues. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topic Discussion: Acute Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most prevalent causes of disability and missed days at work worldwide. Back pain attributes to the second most common reason for doctor office visits, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Approximately 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at least once throughout their life. The spine is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, among other soft tissues. Injuries and/or aggravated conditions, such as herniated discs, can eventually lead to symptoms of back pain. Sports injuries or automobile accident injuries are often the most frequent cause of back pain, however, sometimes the simplest of movements can have painful results. Fortunately, alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, can help ease back pain through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, ultimately improving pain relief.
The information herein on "What Fats to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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