There are many reasons why people follow a keto diet. Some try it to help them lose weight or maintain their weight, while others might try a keto diet to help them with health problems such as type II diabetes. The ketogenic diet is built on being low in carbs and high in fats, with the principle of replacing carbs with fats. But what happens if you don't get enough fat when you're on keto?
Previously, we believed that carbohydrates were the only food that could be used as a fuel source to give us energy. However, as people discovered the Keto diet to be effective, It become clear fat could also act as this fuel source. This is why it is essential to get enough fat in your diet.
But what exactly happens if you don't eat enough fat when you're on keto?
The Essential Elements of a Keto Diet
The basic principle of a ketogenic diet is that it's low in carbohydrates and high in fats. Having a low amount of carbs in your diet works to put your body in a ketogenic state - this is when it starts to break down stored fat. This breakdown ensures your body gets the energy that it needs and helps you to lose weight too. It can be a big lifestyle change, so it is smart to check with your doctor before starting to change your lifestyle. Especially if you have diabetes or another medical condition.
Both carbs and fat can still be part of your diet, but you need to eat carbs in small amounts and increase the fat content in your diet. About 70% to 80% of your daily calories should be coming from fats when you are on the keto diet.
Fats Are Needed for Energy
If you're on a low-carb diet, you need to replace the calories you were previously getting from carbs with fat-rich food. With the keto diet, these calories should come from fat. If you're not getting enough fat from your diet and you're not eating many carbs, then, you're not getting enough calories. Even if you're trying to lose weight, your body needs enough calories and energy to function. If you're not eating enough, your metabolism could slow down because your body doesn't have the necessary energy to maintain it.
Eating Healthy Fats Delivers Multiple Benefits
Not getting enough fats when you're on the keto diet means that you miss out on the benefits of eating healthy fats. Some of the best types of fats to include in your keto diet are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These healthy fats are available in many different foods, so you can enjoy a varied diet and get the fat that you need.
Some of the best sources of healthy fats include:
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Nuts and seeds (and nut and seed butters)
- Olives and olive oil
- Coconuts and unrefined coconut oil
- Oily fish - e.g. tuna and anchovies
- Cacao nibs
Other high-fat foods that you might include in your keto diet could be full-fat Greek yogurt, cheese, butter, and whole eggs.
Getting these fats into your diet will help to lower your low-density lipoprotein level, which is the bad cholesterol in your body. It also helps your body to develop and maintain your cells.
What Fats Should You Avoid?
There are some fats that are worth avoiding on a keto diet. These include artificial trans fats, processed meats, and fried foods. Avoid some frozen foods like sausages, hotdog, hamburger patties etc. because they tend to be rich in trans fat and other additives that may not be optimal for health. It could lead to other health problems too. You should only have a very small amount of calories from foods containing these fats each day.
If you want to make sure you're eating the right types of fats, check the nutritional information on foods before you buy. If there's no information available on the packaging, you can look online or even find useful apps that help you to analyze the foods you're eating.
Consequences of Not Eating Enough Fats on Keto
So, eating plenty of fats while you're on the keto diet is important. Increase the fat in your diet if you want to lose weight. When you drastically reduce the number of carbs in your diet, make sure your body produces enough energy. If you want to make sure you're satiated, fats are an important part of your diet. They can help you to feel full so that you can regulate what you eat more easily. However, although it's important to make sure you get enough fat on keto, you also have to make sure you eat the right fats and avoid having too much fat.
When you don't eat enough fat on keto, you will feel hungrier.
When you're hungry, you're more likely to eat any available food. The more you snack, the more calories you will eat, and you could end up eating more than you really need. Also, if you're eating the wrong foods, you'll miss out on the benefits of healthy fats from the right foods.
How to Get Enough Fats on Keto
To balance your keto diet, you need to make sure you're getting enough fat. Depending on your source, you might be recommended to get around 60% of your daily calories from fats but it could be up to 80%. In contrast, about 5-10% should come from carbs and about 10-20% from protein. This means the bulk of your calories should be coming from foods with healthy fats in them. If you're having 2000 calories per day, that translates to around 165 grams of fat at the higher end.
The foods suggested above are a good start if you want to get the right food into your diet. There are also various techniques that you might use to increase your fat intake.
Use High-fat Toppings and Garnishes
An easy way to get more fat into your diet is to top your meals with high-fat garnishes. You can use things like nuts and seeds, cheese, avocado, and cured meats to add more fat to your food. It also has the added bonus of giving more flavour to whatever you're eating. Try things like grated parmesan or cheddar, pancetta, black olives, macadamia nuts, or guacamole.
Of course, as well as solid foods, you can add more fat to your meal by adding oil or a dressing or even just melted butter. It's another great way to add flavour and get more fat into your meal, whether it's a salad or a sandwich.
Add Fat to Drinks
As well as adding fat to your food, it's easy to add to drinks too, particularly hot drinks. You can put creamer, whipped cream, whole milk, and other ingredients into your coffee or tea. You can even put butter into your coffee, which is a popular option for people following the keto diet. It's been popular in several Asian countries for a long time, but it's grown in popularity in Western countries over recent years too.
Pick Whole-Fat Foods
It can become a habit to reach for the low-fat options when you're shopping if you're trying to have a healthy diet and perhaps lose weight. However, when you're on the keto diet, you should consider going full-fat instead. Whether you're getting cheese, milk, yogurt, or anything else that might have a low-fat or light option, get the product that has all of those useful fats instead. They will give you the energy that you need. Look for other fatty ingredients too, from fish to fatty fruits and vegetables.
Eat Fatty Fish
Fish can be a great option for your high-fat meals. Fish meat is a good choice. There are several options that have plenty of monounsaturated fats. Tuna and salmon are two excellent options that are delicious and keto-friendly.
Use Fat to Cook
Have you slowly cut out extra fat from your cooking process? Maybe you've been using a low-calorie spray for frying and other tasks. There's no need to do this if you want to get as many healthy fats into your diet as possible. You can use fat to cook your meals as a great way to get lots of calories from fat. Olive oil, butter, and other types of oil or fat are not only great for adding fat to your meals but they will also make your food taste amazing. You can try everything from peanut oil to duck fat. You can even reuse the grease from your bacon, which adds some amazing flavour to the other things that you cook.
Eat the Right Snacks
Snacking too much isn't ideal, but sometimes you get peckish and can't wait until your next meal. If you have to snack, there are some options that will likely serve you better. You can have "real food" snacks that are high in fat and low in carbs, instead of picking processed, junk food snacks. Try things like nuts, meats and cheeses, and hard-boiled eggs. Another way to get snacks right is to go for "fat bombs" - snacks that are low in carbs and high in fat. But make sure it's safe to add these to your diet.
Explore New Recipes
Starting a new diet often means that all of your favourite and regular meals go out the window. You might try to find low-carb versions of these meals, but they can often turn out to be disappointing. As an alternative, why not look for delicious new recipes to try instead? There are plenty of recipes available that are designed to be low in carbs and higher in fat, making them perfect for anyone who is on the keto diet. It's a great excuse to try out new things and to get excited about your new diet, instead of feeling like it's something that you have to suffer through. Keto makes it possible to enjoy your food, so look for meals that you love.
Choose Fat Bombs for Dessert
If you're going to go for a dessert, choose an option that helps you to get more fat into your diet. Fat bombs are good for this too, giving you plenty of fat but avoiding too many carbs. Of course, desserts shouldn't make up a big portion of your daily or even weekly calories. But if you do decide to treat yourself, there are some great keto-friendly desserts that you can enjoy. Another easy way to make yourself a high-fat dessert is to add some whipped cream to some berries or other fruit.
Have Fun with Avocados
Avocados are high in fat, tasty and healthy too. Introducing them into your diet, if you're not already a big fan, is a good way to get the fat that you need. They're great in salads, to make guacamole, top with different flavourings, or even just eat on their own. Even if you don't like the taste of avocado, you can use it in recipes that cover up the flavour, such as avocado chocolate mousse or brownies.
Keep Up Your Fat Intake on Keto
The majority of your calories should come from fat when you're eating keto. When you first start the diet, slowly transitioning to eating more fat can be helpful. Some high-fat foods can taste rich if you're not used to it. If you're losing weight, it's important to get a good balance between having enough fat and having too much.