As a lifestyle approach, ketosis is powerful and it doesn’t have to be difficult either.
After all, fats are flavorful and simply make everything taste that much nicer. At the same time, fat is filling.
This is powerful for weight loss and makes the lifestyle much easier to maintain over time.
Yet, despite these advantages, some people struggle to figure out healthy fats for ketosis.
Others know roughly which options to rely on but still find it challenging to get enough healthy fat in their diet. This post focuses on both of these areas, offering a guide for which fats you can rely on, along with ways to get enough of them into your diet.
High Fat Oils, Butters and Creams
Ketosis diets tend to heavily rely on various oils, butters and creams to ensure sufficient fat intake. This partly happens because a keto diet focuses on healthy whole foods.
As a result, you are cooking your meals using many high fat ingredients. So, let’s look at some of the best and most common choices on a keto diet.
Butter and Ghee
Butter is an obvious choice for fat and is a frequent option on a keto diet. It’s also an incredibly easy way to add fat into your meals, simply because butter tastes good on just about anything.
For the best health benefits, it’s best to stick to grass-fed butter and this is becoming fairly common in grocery stores.
In most cases, you would also want unsalted butter. Now, there is still debate about the implications of salt for health, especially as you do need some salt in your diet.
Regardless of this, unsalted butter is typically the best choice for keto, simply because you’re using butter in such a wide range of foods and salt won’t always complement your recipe.
An extension of this topic is ghee, like this brand here. Ghee is a type of clarified butter and it is sometimes used instead of regular butter. One reason for doing so is that ghee has a higher smoke point. This is also why ghee is used in some recipes rather than butter.
But, which you use mostly comes down to personal preference. Some people find that they love ghee, while others prefer the taste of butter in most contexts.
Either option is a good source of fat and you can always experiment with ghee to see if it works for you. Both butter and ghee offer various nutrients that can support health as well. Butyrate is one example, although there are many others too.
Coconut Oil and MCT Oil
Butter may be very common on a keto diet – but coconut oil is more strongly associated with it. One reason for this is the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that it contains.
Coconut oil is also associated with weight loss and can work well as a cooking ingredient.
MCT oil is essentially a more refined option and is sometimes called fractionated coconut oil.
- Unlike regular coconut oil, MCT oil tends to be liquid regardless of the temperature. It also has a higher concentration of MCTs.
- As a result, it can potentially be more effective in promoting ketosis.
- The health implications of MCT oil are mixed, as you have more MCTs but fewer other compounds that can promote health.
Regardless, both coconut oil and MCT oil are common additions when focusing on ketosis and they are both examples of healthy fats. These patterns do also mean that coconut itself makes a useful snack on a ketosis diet.
The health benefits of olive oil are well known, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that this is a healthy fat for the ketosis diet. Many of the health advantages are associated with phenols (4) and olive oil is thought to be particularly relevant for decreasing heart disease risk and lowering inflammation (5,6,7,8).
If you do plan to use olive oil, choosing the healthiest brands is a critical approach. You should also be looking for extra virgin olive oil and companies that are reliable. This list of the healthiest olive oil brands can help in that selection.
However, despite conventional views, olive oil isn’t necessarily healthier than some of the other options, like butter or coconut oil. Instead, the best option for health is always to get a wide range of nutrients. To do so, you need to vary up the types of healthy fats you consume, rather than just focusing on one or two.
In many ways, avocado oil is fairly similar to olive oil and both offer a range of advantages for health.
Of the two, avocado oil is typically viewed as being better for cooking, as it has a higher smoke point. Nevertheless, research does suggest that cooking with olive oil is still healthy, despite its relatively low smoke point (9).
The oils do also vary in their flavor, so you may find that the best choice is different depending on what you are cooking.
Macadamia Nut Oil
A less common option again is macadamia nut oil. This is an interesting choice and does impart a slight flavor to food. However, that flavor is barely noticeable, which can be a welcome change from coconut oil and olive oil.
One easy approach is to replace coconut oil with macadamia nut oil in some recipes, especially options like fat bombs, where cooking is not required. However, there are fewer recipes out there for macadamia nut oil compared to other options.
As a result, you may have to do some digging around to find good recipes. It might also be necessary to play around with recipes yourself until you work out good practices for substituting in macadamia nut oil.
Macadamia nut does also have a relatively high smoke point (although not as high as avocado oil), so you can easily cook with it.
Another ingredient that you often find on the keto diet is heavy cream. The argument here is much the same as for butter and you are getting healthy fat.
Additionally, heavy cream is extremely easy to get into your diet, as you can just add it to coffee.
Heavy cream is also a great addition to creamy sauces, which is another way to consume it regularly.
On a side note, you can also use half and half, which may be preferable in terms of calories for people who drink a large amount of coffee. But, needless to say, heavy cream is higher in fat, so it is the best choice if you’re trying to increase your fat intake.
High Fat Food Sources
In addition to the fats, oils and creams, there are also many foods that you can rely on for your fat. The selection here is far from complete and there are many other healthy high fat foods that haven’t made it onto the list.
Nevertheless, the information here should be more than enough to get you started and these are all great foods to incorporate into a keto diet.
Avocados are almost a poster child when it comes to fats – and for good reason. This fruit is a powerful way to get healthy fats into your diet and many people absolutely love the taste.
There are also many fun ways to use avocado as part of a ketosis diet. For example, the site The Skinny Fork has a good recipe for Baked Egg and Avocado Bowls, which makes a simple option for breakfast.
And, of course, avocados are extremely popular, so you can find many different recipes online.
Eggs are another powerful source of healthy fats. At the same time, they are appealing simply because they are extremely nutritious (particularly the yolks).
These are key reasons why you will see so many keto recipes relying on eggs as an ingredient – particularly when it comes to breakfast. Indeed, it’s fairly common to see keto dieters rely on a couple of eggs as part of their breakfast every day.
While eggs do contain protein, they are considered to have a ‘perfect balance’ of protein to fat for ketosis. At the same time, you can regularly eat eggs without putting your health at risk and there are even many health benefits from eggs.
Besides, like butter, eggs simply taste amazing.
Bacon is another common source of fat on a keto diet and it’s not hard to see why. For that matter, these first three foods are often used in the same recipe, such as in the video below.
The inclusion of bacon is often enough to get people excited about the keto diet. And, why not? As you can already see, staying in ketosis involves focusing on many delicious foods, including ones that are traditionally vilified as being unhealthy.
Most nuts are a good choice for keto, especially as they do act as a good source of healthy fats. At the same time, there are many health benefits of nuts and this is reason enough to consider them in your diet.
Nevertheless, nuts are a little tricky, so you have to pay close attention to them.
One issue is that they are relatively high in protein.
- Protein has many health benefits but most ketosis diets try to keep protein intake at low or moderate levels.
- In fact, some authors (like Perfect Keto) feel that too much protein is bad for ketosis.
- The protein in nuts doesn’t mean that you should avoid them entirely.
- But, it suggests you should pay close attention to your portion sizes.
A second issue is that carb content varies between nuts, making some options a better choice than others.
- The Diet Doctor has a great post that shows precisely how many carbs are in a portion of nuts – with Brazil nuts and pecans being the best choices (while cashews and pistachios are a no-go).
- The carb content is another reason to be careful with portion sizes for nuts.
- You can stay in ketosis while eating nuts but only if you make good choices about your intake.
You can also use nut butter as a source of healthy fats when on a keto diet. But, the same considerations apply here as with whole nuts.
Red Meat (and other types of meat)
A keto diet doesn’t have to be heavy in meat but it can be if you want that. Red meat is a fantastic source of fat and can be very satisfying at the same time.
However, you do want to be somewhat selective in what meat you choose. In particular, the ideal is to source fatty cuts of meat, rather than lean ones.
This general rule extends to other types of meat too.
You can basically eat any type of meat on a ketosis diet and the fatty cuts will always be the best. The main exception is processed meats, as some of these may have additional sugars or other ingredients that contain carbs.
As with other foods, you do still have to be a little careful because of protein intake. In particular, you don’t want to be consuming too much protein and meat is often fairly high in protein.
This is actually one reason why bacon is so popular for a keto diet, as it is relatively low in protein.
You can find more information about the protein content of various cuts of meat over at Ruled.me, which offers a comprehensive Ketogenic Diet Food List.
Sour cream is less common than most of the other high fat foods but it can be a good choice, as long as you can tolerate dairy. As with the other foods, the taste here is simply amazing.
Plus, sour cream is a great ingredient in many recipes, helping to make them creamy and luxurious.
Full Fat Cheese
Speaking of dairy, full fat cheese is another good option – which is great news for all of the cheese lovers out there. Needless to say, I’m talking about actual cheese here, not the highly processed cheese-like products that are everywhere these days.
Cheese is particularly powerful because of its versatility. I mean, you can sprinkle cheese on almost any recipe out there and it will taste good. Plus, a slice of cheese or two is an easy way to add more fat to a snack or to a meal.
Cream cheese also falls under the same general rules. However, with sour cream and cream cheese, it’s important to pay attention to labels.
You want to be buying a version that has few additives and you need to pay close attention to the carb count. After all, companies do have a habit of adding in unwanted ingredients when you least expect it.
This is another option that can work, as long as you are careful about your selection. And, dark chocolate is worth trying anyway, simply for the various health benefits that it offers.
With dark chocolate, the challenge is finding brands that contain relatively few carbs. Doing so is achievable but takes some searching, especially as sugar is typically used to make chocolate taste less bitter.
One good general rule is to look for higher cocoa percentages. The higher that number, the more cocoa you are getting, which also means fewer other ingredients. You can even go up to 99% Cocoa with the Lindt brand and some types of baking chocolate, like Ghirardelli, go up to 100% Cocoa.
However, many people choose to step it down a little bit and go with 70% or 80% cocoa, simply because this is easier to eat.
For that matter, dark chocolate is often a good choice simply because it is sweeter than most other options on the keto diet. While it isn’t an ideal treat, it is certainly a good option and there are some great brands out there.
You can also buy dark chocolate chips, which are a fast and easy keto treat.
As a result, dark chocolate can be a good part of a keto diet and a source of healthy fats. While the higher percentages offer more health benefits, it is important to find a product that works for your own needs and taste preferences.
Ways to Increase Your Fat Intake
Even will all these healthy fats, increasing fat intake can sometimes seem difficult – especially for people who are new to a keto diet. One reason for this is that some people start to feel sick or sleepy when they consume significant amounts of fat too quickly. This is particularly true if they were previously on a high-carb diet.
Thankfully, there are many approaches for increasing fat in your diet. These different methods are all very achievable and you can pick and choose what you follow based on your own needs and macros.
1. Keto Fat Bombs
Fat bombs are a particularly common type of dessert for anybody on ketosis. They are often used as a way to boost fat intake, while also helping to satisfy cravings.
In most cases, a fat bomb is a sweet treat, with some authors specifically trying to mimic conventional snacks. In other cases, authors may try their own variations, such as these Keto Cinnamon Fat Bombs.
Although they are less common, there are also savory fat bomb recipes out there – and my current favorite is these Jalapeno Popper Fat Bombs from Ruled.me. That site is also a powerful resource for anybody interested in the keto diet.
Beyond the recipes I just linked, there are countless other fat bomb recipes online, with many food bloggers featuring them regularly.
The idea is an effective one. Fat bombs basically act like sweet treats and they’re a good snack for keeping hunger at bay. They are also a powerful source of healthy fats, with recipe creators relying on many of the ingredients mentioned earlier in this post. As a result, fat bombs are one of the most reliable ways to get enough healthy fats in your diet.
If you’re interested in trying fat bombs, this cookbook is a valuable resource to consider. It offers 100 different recipes all in one place. Plus, the information would be more than enough to help you develop your own fat bomb recipes.
2. Bulletproof Coffee
For many people, bulletproof coffee is another way to get extra fat into their diet. Officially, this type of coffee is made using the following components.
- Bulletproof Beans (or Bulletproof Ground Coffee)
- Brain Octane Oil
- Grass-fed Unsalted Butter (or Grass-fed Ghee)
The basic idea is that you make the coffee using a French Press and then mix that with the other ingredients in a blender. You can read more about the official approach over at the Bulletproof Blog.
Of course, not everybody follows this idea. Instead, many people use regular coffee and MCT oil instead (coconut oil is another option). Doing so tends to offer the same general benefits but is often less expensive. Indeed, the site Ruled.me offers directions for what it calls Ketoproof Coffee, which is basically Bulletproof Coffee with substitutions.
The MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) in Brain Octane oil, coconut oil or MCT oil are also directly relevant to ketosis – and can help you to reach ketosis faster.
Bulletproof coffee can be a good way to increase your fat intake. However, this does depend on how you consume it.
In particular, the Bulletproof Diet focuses on having a cup of bulletproof coffee in the morning, instead of breakfast. Doing so has benefits but you do lose out on any fat you would have had during breakfast.
Some people also drink the coffee during the day, although this pattern isn’t as common.
Realistically, bulletproof coffee does work well for some people but not for everybody. As a result, you need to evaluate the drink against your own diet and lifestyle, while also considering how you feel when consuming it.
3. Find New Recipes and Inspiration
One trap with ketosis (as with any diet) is that you can easily end up making the same meals time and time again – simply because they work. This is even more common with ketosis because you have to avoid many common types of food.
But, getting inspiration about meals to prepare and food to eat can make this whole process much easier. And thankfully, there is no shortage of options.
One approach is to look for ketosis cookbooks, like this one.
This type of cookbook offers many different keto recipes, most of which will be relatively high in fat. At the same time, this particular example includes significant information about following a keto diet and how to be successful on it.
The same author also has other keto cookbooks. One of these is Keto Comfort Foods and another is The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse.
Of course, you can also find a range of recipes online too. There are countless food blogs out there and many of these exclusively focus on keto cooking.
For that matter, following this type of blog on social media works well. By doing so, you get to see many of the meals they cook, along with tips and techniques that they recommend. This can be incredibly inspirational and help you learn new recipes for eating healthy fats.
You can also check out my list of 24 Amazing Keto Dessert Recipes, along with my Pinterest collection of Keto Food and Techniques.
4. Cook with Fat
As I mentioned before, a ketosis diet heavily relies on whole foods and cooking your own meals. As a result, one of the best ways to increase fat intake is to rely on high fat ingredients. All of the options in the previous lists are examples of this and there are many others out there, including full fat milk.
One good general rule is to focus on ingredients that are full fat, avoiding anything that is marketed as ‘low fat’, ‘light’, ‘lite’ or ‘fat free’.
In most cases, products with those labels will be higher in carbs – but even if they’re not, you’re trying to increase your fat intake and a low fat product won’t help with that.
Cooking with fat is another good approach.
This includes using butter when you are cooking, along with coconut oil and many of the other options. Not only is this good for your macros but doing so makes your food taste amazing as well.
5. Garnish with Fat
Another key approach is to use fat as a garnish. Earlier on I mentioned doing this with cheese but there are also many other options.
You could drizzle on oil, melt butter, use a dollop of sour cream… the list goes on.
Realistically, there are so many high fat options that would work great as a way to add fat. For that matter, you could even look at recipes for keto dressings, dips and sauces, like this list from Healthful Pursuit.
Healthy Fats for Ketosis – How to Find Success
The ketosis diet sounds complicated at first but people find that it does get easier as they go along. More than anything, this is because they become familiar with what to expect and with the approaches that work for them.
This article has focused on a range of healthy fats and ways to get them into your diet. Doing so can make a ketosis diet that much easier – and helps make sure you are getting healthy ingredients and meeting your macros.
However, it’s important to remember that fats are only part of the equation and not the most critical aspect. Instead, the key goal is to get your carb intake low enough so that you get in ketosis and stay there. There are various signs of being in ketosis that can help you track your process and figure out which level of carb intake is right for your needs.
In contrast, the reason for getting enough fat is to ensure you have the energy that you need. Doing so is also good for reducing hunger, which helps to make the diet sustainable in the long-term.
It’s also worth remembering that calories from fat are still calories – even on a keto diet.
Now, most keto dieters don’t count calories and you won’t typically need to. After all, fat is more filling than carbs and it is fairly difficult to overeat on a keto diet.
That being said – some people fail to lose weight on keto and others even gain weight. In some cases, this happens because they are kicked out of ketosis, without even realizing it. But, it’s also easy to overconsume some foods, especially as fat is fairly high in calories.
The site KetoDiet Blog has a great article on this topic, including ways to make sure you do lose weight while on keto. And, as the site points out, calories do count – even on keto.
Sure, different sources of calories can vary in their impact on the body. But too many calories, regardless of their source, will lead to weight gain.
More than anything else, being successful is simply about giving the diet a try and figuring out how to make it work for you. The information on this site and on others can help to guide you in the best approaches and which foods you can rely on.
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