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The keto diet is all about fat. And in a diet where 80% of the calories come from fat – which turns your body into ketosis or into a state in which you burn fat for your main source of energy (instead of carbohydrates) – this will be the nutrient you focus the most on. But some choices are healthier than others.
"Many people simply summarize and think that they just need to eat a lot of fat and avoid carbohydrates, but you can quickly eat an excessive amount of unhealthy fat in your keto diet," says Kendra Whitmire, nutritionist and dietitian in Laguna Beach, California, who practices functional and therapeutic nutrition.
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The Keto jump on the scene as a fad diet is unique. "We had never before bet on a high-fat diet," says Scott Keatley, RDN, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy in New York. Meaning: Research on choosing fats in the context of a high-fat diet is rare.
What is clear is that sources of unsaturated fats are still recommended compared to saturated fats, says Keatley, even though both are considered keto-friendly. It has been shown that these unsaturated fats are anti-inflammatory and healthy for the heart.
You can eat protein-rich foods like bacon and sausages, but you'd better add fat to foods, says Keatley, because it's easier to control them that way. And bacon and sausages contain lots of calories, protein and saturated fat. If you no longer consume keto and continue to eat it while adding carbohydrates, it is likely that you will gain weight again.
You should also know that although sources of pure fat, such as olive or coconut oil, do not contain carbohydrates, other sources, such as nut butter or avocado, may be mainly fat, but also carbohydrates that must be accounted for in your total.
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Final guideline: Even if you're a keto, portions of fat still matter, says Jill Keene, RDN, in White Plains, NY. "The amount of food you eat depends on your calorie needs and goals, but excessive fat intake can lead to weight gain," she says. In addition, since fat is the main source of fuel for your body in a keto diet, it recommends spreading your fat evenly throughout the day.
Many people on a keto diet count "net carbohydrates", which are the total of carbohydrates minus fiber (since the fiber goes into your system without being digested). We take both into account here.
Consider this as your guide to cutting through the fat.
The 5 best fats to eat on the ketogenic diet
Although technically a fruit, avocados provide a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MFAs). They are also high in fiber to improve digestive health. Half of a avocado contains 161 calories, 2 grams (g) of protein, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of total carbohydrates and 7 grams of fiber (which brings them to 2 grams of net carbs), note the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
2. olive oil
"We know that when the fats in our diet contain essential fatty acids, not only do they fill us up, but they lower cholesterol levels," says Keatley. Olive oil is ideal for light stir-fries, as a vinaigrette or to sprinkle with meat or vegetables cooked as a finishing oil. A tablespoon (tbsp) contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat, of which only 2 grams of saturated fat, according to the USDA.
3. avocado oil
Like olive oil, avocado oil is rich in anti-inflammatory AGMI, but the advantage of using it is that it resists cooking at high temperatures. For example, the popular brand Chosen Foods indicates that its avocado oil has a smoke point of 500 degrees F. According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of avocado oil contains 124 calories, 14g of fat and 0g of carbohydrates.
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4. Walnuts and nut butter
Nuts can offer unsaturated fats, but they also contain carbohydrates, so look at the label to calculate exactly what you get, says Whitmire. For example, 1 tablespoon of almond butter contains 98 calories, 3 g of protein, 9 g of fat, 3 g of total carbohydrates and about 1.5 g of fiber (or about 1.5 g of net carbs), by USDA. The USDA also noted that one ounce serving of almonds (23 almonds) contained 164 calories, 6 g protein, 14 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate and 3.5 g fiber (about 2, 5 g total). net carbs).
5. Chia seeds and linseed
Whitmire recommends them because they offer omega-3 fatty acids. "Getting more of these fats will improve the ratio of omega-6s to the 3 that you consume, which some research suggests is optimizing health," she says. For example, an article published in September 2016 in the journal Open heart cited research that linked increased consumption of omega-3 and less omega-6 (which are high in Western diets) to a lower risk of insulin resistance – a hallmark of type 2 diabetes – and obesity, among other health benefits. According to the USDA, 1 oz of chia seeds contains 138 calories, 5 g of protein, 9 g of fat, 12 g of carbohydrates and 10 g of fiber (so only 2 net carbs). In addition, according to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 37 calories, 1 g of protein, 3 g of fat, 2 g of carbohydrates and 2 g of fiber (basically 0 net carbs). Just be sure to buy ground flaxseed so that your body can absorb their omega-3s.
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The 4 fats that you should limit on the Keto Diet
A slice of cheese contains 115 calories, 7 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 grams of saturated fat), about ½ grams of carbohydrates and no fiber, according to the USDA. Saturated fat qualifies it as a food limitation, but some research suggests that this food also has health benefits. A meta-analysis published in December 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition found that cheese consumption was associated with a risk of heart disease and stroke reduced by 10%, especially for people consuming about 1.5 oz (or one and a half) per day.
Keatley adds that adding thick cream or half in your coffee is a way to get an extra source of fat in the day. Just be aware that it is a source of saturated fat – and, given the small size of the serving, it's easy to go overboard. According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon contains 51 calories, 5 g of fat (3.5 g saturated fat) and contains only half a gram of carbohydrates.
3. coconut oil
Since coconut oil is fashionable, it is considered a panacea for health problems – and given the general desire to consume as much as you want. This is not exactly the case. "There is a controversy with coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fats, which are the ones that clog the arteries," says Keene. But the argument advanced by some is that coconut oil is different. Part of its fat is made up of medium chain triglycerides, which the body's fatty acids metabolize faster and are less likely to be stored by the body as fat, she says. That said, the USDA reports that one tablespoon contains 121 calories, 13 grams of fat (11 grams of saturated fat) and 0 carbohydrates. First, eat healthier unsaturated fat sources, then moderate amounts, says Keene.
"Eating a significant amount of butter has some of the worst effects on your health compared to other fats," says Keatley. You can use butter in your fat rotation, but avoid turning it into fat. opt for more unsaturated sources. According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of butter contains 102 calories, 12 grams of fat (including 7 grams of saturated fat) and 0 carbohydrates.
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The worst fat you could eat on the Keto Diet
Everyone – not just those on a keto diet – should avoid consuming added trans fats. Although these are found naturally in meat and milk (although you probably avoid milk in ketone because of its higher carbohydrate content), they are often added to processed foods, according to the USDA. "If you eat a lot of packaged goods, you're probably getting more trans fat than you think," says Keatley.