Fats are the staple calorie source on a keto diet. But not all fats are good choices. Some are detrimental to your health, others are great in their raw form, but the hotter they get the worse they get.
Gone are the days when poly-unsaturated fats were the only fats considered to be healthy. Now ratios and carbon chains need to be taken into consideration too. In fact, research has shown that some saturated fats are healthier than some poly-unsaturated fats… This makes choosing the right fats for your keto diet a whole new ball game.
How Much Fat Should You Eat To Maintain Ketosis?
Fats make up the bulk macro of your keto diet. The general consensus is that between 75-80% of your daily calories should come from fats. Your daily calorie intake can range between 1500-2500 calories. This depends on your activity level, personal calorie needs and weight goals. Each gram of fat contains an average of 9 calories. That means that you should be consuming between 125 g (75% of a 1500 calorie diet) and 222 g (80% of a 2500 calorie diet – think athlete) of fats daily. This will keep you in ketosis.
But which fats are the healthy ones?!
Keto Friendly Fat Choice
|Fat||Saturated Fat||Monounsaturated Fat||Polyunsaturated Fat||Omega||Ratio|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||14.5 g||74.8 g||10.7 g||10.8 g||12.8:1|
|Coconut Oil||9.2 g||3.6 g||1.6 g||1.9 g||6|
|Macadamia Nut Oil||17.9 g||78.6 g||3.5 g||3.6 g||6.3:1|
|Fats||Saturated Fat||Monounsaturated Fat||Polyunsaturated Fat||Omega||Ratio|
|Red Palm Oil||–||–||–||–||–|
Fats to Avoid
|Fats||Saturated Fat||Monounsaturated Fat||Polyunsaturated Fat||Omega||Ratio|
|Cotton Seed Oil||27.1g||18.6g||54.3g||54g||25.8:1|
Handy Keto Fat Table
Here we’ve put together a handy table you can use to see which fats and oils are keto friendly and how keto friendly they are. Amounts are grams per 100 g of the fat/oil.
The Green Section: Completely keto friendly. These fats and oils are all heat stable and can be used for cooking as well as in their raw form.
The Yellow Section: These fats and oils are generally stable at higher temperatures, but they aren’t the best option for cooking.
The Orange Section: Due to the high polyunsaturated fat content these fats and oils will start oxidizing and producing trans fats at higher temperatures. However used raw some of them offer a good source of Omega’s in a desirable ratios.
The Red Section: Avoid as far as possible. Besides Soybean Oil all these offer much more Omega 6 than three, which is a leading cause of heart disease.
|Oil/Fat||Saturated Fat||Monounsaturated Fat||Polyunsaturated Fat||Omega’s (6-to-3 Ratio)|
|Coconut Oil||92.1||6.3||1.6||1.9 (all Omega 6)|
|Cocoa Butter||62.8||34.1||3.1||3 (28:1)|
|Macadamia Nut Oil||17.9||78.6||3.5||3.6 (6,3:1)|
|Tallow/ Beef Dripping||52.5||43.4||4.1||3.9 (5,1:1)|
|Palm Kernel Oil||51.5||38.5||10||9.6 (45.5:1)|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||14.5||74.8||10.7||10.8 (12.8:1)|
|Refined Olive Oil||15.5||74.8||10.7||11.6 (12.8:1)|
|Red Palm Oil||44.5||44.5||11.1||9.6 (45.5:1)|
|Goose Fat||28.9||59.5||11.6||10.8 (19.6:1)|
|Avocado Oil||11.9||73.9||14.2||14 (13.1:1)|
|Canola/Rapeseed Oil||7.2||64.5||28.3||28 (2:1)|
|Peanut Oil||18||48.4||33.6||33.8 (5230:1|
|Rice Bran Oil||21.3||41.7||37||37.3 (20.9:1)|
|Sunflower Oil||10.8||47.3||41.9||41.7 (199:1)|
|Sesame Oil||14.7||41.9||43.4||43.5 (137.7:1)|
|Cotton Seed Oil||27.1||18.6||54.3||54 (258:1)|
|Corn Oil||13.3||28.9||57.8||57.7 (46:1)|
|Soybean Oil||16.2||23.8||60||59.6 (7,4:1)|
|Grapeseed Oil||10.1||17||72.9||73 (696:1)|
|Safflower Oil||6.3||14.8||78.9||79,3 (all Omega-6)|
What Makes a Fat Keto Friendly?
Raw vs Heated
Some raw fats and oils are a great source of Omega’s, but exposing them to heat can cause oxidation, causing some of the “healthy” compounds to change into trans fats.
Omega Ratios in Raw Fats
When supplementing your diet with oils or fats “rich in Omega’s” you do need to pay special attention to the ratios. Too much Omega 6 can result in increased cholesterol levels and an inflamed heart, leading to heart disease. There is also an increased risk of cancer when you consume too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3.
The ideal ratio of Omega 6-to-3 is four parts Omega 6 to one part Omega three (4:1). So when adding fats to your keto diet, make sure you reach as close to this ratio as possible in your total fat consumption. Fatty fish is a GREAT source of Omega 3’s. But there’s a catch to consuming Omega’s.
They’re polyunsaturated fats.
That means that at high temperatures they oxidize to produce trans fats. So the key to getting enough healthy Omega 3, which boosts brain and cell function function, slows down aging and combats cancer, is to consume it in raw form.
Oxidative Stability vs. Smoking Point
The smoking point of a fat or oil is the temperature at which it starts smoking. The oxidative stability of a fat or oil is how susceptible it is to oxidation at high temperatures. This oxidation causes trans fats to form. Trans fats are very, very unhealthy and have been linked to an increase in heart disease and cancer in various studies. The higher the polyunsaturated fat percentage of a fat or oil is the less stable it is at high temperatures.
Contrary to what you may believe, the smoking point and oxidative stability of a fat or oil are not necessarily one and the same. Take butter for example. Because of the milk proteins and sugars in butter it has a relatively low smoking point. But, the fats in butter are mainly saturated, making it quite stable at high temperatures. Another example is sunflower oil. It has quite a high smoking point, but because of the high polyunsaturated fat percentage it starts producing trans fats long before it starts smoking.
You want to use polyunsaturated fats in their raw form, keeping an eye on the Omega 6-to-3 ratio. When cooking rather use fats that are predominantly saturated. They are the most stable at high temperatures.
Is Vegetable Shortening Keto Friendly?
NO… Vegetable Shortening is a highly processed fat, with lots of chemicals and byproducts. It’s high in polyunsaturated fats, about 50 g per 100 g, so very unstable at high temperatures and until recently was a great source of trans fats. It also isn’t a reliable source of Omega’s. All of this makes it a fat you’re better off steering clear of. Rather replace it with butter or ghee.
Is Margarine Keto Friendly?
VERY RARELY… Most margarine are “low fat”, with only 50% or less actual fat On a keto diet this is a big no-no, as you want the most fat possible. Besides this margarine has quite a high percentage of interesterified fats, which can cause elevated fasting insulin levels. If you’re trying to lose weight this is exactly what you DON’T want. That being said, some margarine have a very high Omega 3 content, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, so depending on your personal needs you may want to add a little bit of margarine to your diet. It is also more heat stable than most seed oils, but better cooking alternatives such as coconut oil or ghee are still preferred.
Are Seed Oils Keto Friendly?
SOME… Seed oils can be a great source of Omega 3, but in general they are best avoided. There are some which can be added to your diet in raw form as part of a dressing like a vinaigrette or mayonnaise, but be very careful to pick a seed oil with the right Omega 6-to-3 ratio. If you’re going to be consuming a raw fat you may as well be getting the most Omega 3’s. Here are each of the seed oils:
Is Safflower Oil Keto Friendly?
NO… It has been called the most terrible oil in the world. Despite being cheap, safflower oil offers very little other benefits. It has a very high polyunsaturated fat count, 78,9g per 100g, with virtually no saturated fats. This makes it extremely unstable at high temperatures. Of the polyunsaturated fats virtually all are Omega 6, which means that this oil has the potential to spike your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. Watch out for Safflower Oil in commercial foods. Because of its cheap price a lot of commercially produced products use safflower oil.
Which Other Seed OIls Aren’t Keto Friendly?
From worst to slightly better, these are the seed oils you want to avoid on a keto diet (and how much you’ll have to eat to get 1 g of Omega 3):
Grape seed Oil – Despite its recent popularity grape seed oil is the second worst oil you can use on a keto diet. With only 10.1 g saturated fats and 17 g monounsaturated fats it’s very volatile at high temperatures. The remaining 72.9 g polyunsaturated fats are virtually all Omega 6. You’ll have to eat just over two pounds of grape seed oil to get 1 g of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Corn Oil – Only slightly better than grape seed oil, corn oil has 13.3 g saturated fats, 28.9 g monounsaturated fats and 57.8 g polyunsaturated fat per 100 g. It’s Omega 6-to-3 ratio is much better than grape seed oil, with every 100 g you will get just over 1 g of Omega 3’s, but there are still seed oils that have better Omega ratios. Needless to say, because of the relatively high polyunsaturated content this oil is unstable at high temperatures and can produce trans fats when heated.
Cotton Seed Oil – This oil is better than corn oil in some respects, but worse in others. It has 3.5 g less polyunsaturated fats, with 27.1 g saturated fat and 18.6 g monounsaturated fat per 100 g, making it only slightly more heat stable than corn oil. But its Omega 6-to-3 ratio is much worse than corn oil. You will have to eat 477.8 g (just over 1 pound) of cotton seed oil to get 1 g of Omega 3’s.
Sesame Oil – Compared to other seed oils sesame oil is on the healthier side of the scale. But compared to all other oils it still falls short, by a long shot. It has 14.7 g saturated fats, 41.9 g monounsaturated fats and 43.4 g polyunsaturated fats per 100 g. So it’s more heat stable, but it’s Omega 6-to-3 ratio means that you’ll have to eat 316.6 g of sesame oil to get 1 g of Omega 3’s.
Sunflower Oil – The best of the worst, sunflower oil offers 10. 8 g saturated fat, 47. 3 g monounsaturated fat and 41.9 g polyunsaturated fats. Of the bad seed oils, it is the most stable at high temperatures, but there are still better options available for cooking. Despite being relatively cheap and easy to come by, sunflower oil in its raw for may be a good source of vitamins, but its Omega 6-to-3 ratio means that, like cotton seed oil, you will have to eat just over one pound (477.2 g) of sunflower oil to get 1 g of Omega 3’s.
Is Rice Bran Oil Keto Friendly?
Not Really… While rice bran oil is better than most seed oils it is still not the best seed oil. It offers 21.3 g saturated fat, 41.7 g monounsaturated fat and 37.3 g polyunsaturated fat per 100 g. This makes it slightly more stable at high temperatures. Of the seed oils mentioned so far it also has the best Omega 6-to-3 ratio. Per 100 g you will be getting 1.8 g Omega 3’s. But this is still far off from the ideal ratio.
Is Canola/Rapeseed Oil Keto Friendly?
YES VERY, but ONLY in RAW form… Canola or rapeseed oil is one of those oils that are extremely healthy. With a ratio of 2:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 it’s THE healthiest option. But only in raw form. It has 64.5 g monounsaturated fat, 28.3 g polyunsaturated fat and only 7.2 g saturated fat. It’s relatively high polyunsaturated fat content does however make it volatile at high temperatures and cooking with canola or rapeseed oil can produce some trans fats. But, enjoying this oil raw will give you 1 g of Omega 3 and 2 g of Omega 6 in every tablespoon, roughly 11 g. The only drawback of this oil is that it can be extremely processed and therefore offers very little other nutrients.
Is Soybean Oil Keto Friendly?
Not Really…With 16.2 g saturated fat, 23.8 g monounsaturated fat and 60 g polyunsaturated fat this oil it very unstable at high temperatures. It is also extremely processed. But that being said it has quite a high Vitamin E content. And with a high Omega percentage at a relatively acceptable ratio, just more than a teaspoon (14 g) of soybean oil will give you 1 g of Omega 3’s and about 8 g of Omega 6’s. But do NOT heat this oil. Rather use a fat or oil that is stable at high temperatures to cook with.
Is Peanut Oil Keto Friendly?
Not Really… In its unrefined form peanut oil has a nice nutty flavor and is naturally high in antioxidants, making it quite stable at higher temperatures. But this is only in its unrefined form. With a total of 18 g saturated fat, 48.4 g monounsaturated fat and 33.6 g polyunsaturated fat and 5230 times more Omega 6 than Omega 3 peanut oil isn’t the healthiest of oils, even in its unrefined form. Unrefined peanut oil is also very expensive compared to other plant based oils that are stable at high temperatures, so overall it isn’t the healthiest oil, but there are better, cheaper options, especially for cooking.
Is Palm Oil Keto Friendly?
One More than the Other… You may not be aware of this, but there are two different types of Palm Oil, red palm oil and palm kernel oil and one is more keto friendly than the other, so make sure you get the right one if you can find a “sustainability proven” brand. Because palm oil farms are one of the biggest threats to forests and the leading cause of orangutan numbers falling to near extinction.
Is Red Palm Oil Keto Friendly?
Relatively…Red palm oil is derived from the fruit or pulp of the palm tree. It has 44.5 g saturated, 44.5 g monounsaturated and 11.1 g monounsaturated fats. The Omega count for this oil is 9,6g per 100g, but the Omega 6-to-3 ratio is far from ideal, at 45.5:1. So you’ll have to eat about a pound of this oil before you get 1 g Omega 3’s. That being said, in its most unrefined form, red palm oil has the highest vitamin A and vitamin E content of all vegetable oils. It also has naturally occurring antioxidants, which makes it more stable than most vegetable oils at high temperatures.
But, there’s a catch. Not only does red palm oil have a very unique taste, which some people don’t particularly enjoy, it also has quite a low smoking point. So while it’s a good oil to use for frying, the carotenes and other naturally occurring, beneficial nutrients in the unrefined product start burning before the oil is ready to use. Refined red palm oil doesn’t have this problem, but it’s also stripped of all its nutrients. All in all red palm oil is a fantastic substitute for fat spreads like butter or margarine.
Is Palm Kernel Oil Keto Friendly?
Better for cooking, but… Palm kernel oil is derived from the seeds of the palm fruit which undergo a lot of processing to extract the oil. As a result, most of the naturally occurring micro nutrients are leached away and all that’s left is an oil that’s relatively good for cooking, but there are other oils that are better, so all in all, given sustainability issues and so forth, it’s better to opt for coconut oil rather than palm kernel oil for cooking.
Is Avocado Oil Keto Friendly?
Relatively… Avocado oil isn’t as healthy as you may think. Yes, it is low in saturated fats and relatively low in polyunsaturated fats, at 11.9 g and 14.2 g per 100 g respectively and the 73.9 g monounsaturated fats include quite a few oleic acids… But there are much healthier oils you can use, ones with either a better stability for cooking or a better omega ratio for raw use. One bonus of avocado oil is that it doesn’t really have much of a taste, so it doesn’t make your food taste any different, unlike some other oils. It is also relatively heat stable, but again there are better options for cooking. Cheaper options… Yes, avocado oil is quite expensive and given the mediocre fat profile it might just not be worth the price.
Is Olive Oil Keto Friendly?
It Depends… Like palm oil there are two different types of olive oil, the refined one and the unrefined, extra virgin one. You probably already know that extra virgin olive oil is the better choice, but here’s why:
Is Refined Olive Oil Keto Friendly?
Not Really… While refined olive oil has roughly the same fat profile as extra virgin olive oil, with 15.5 g saturated, 74.8 g monounsaturated fat and 10.7 g polyunsaturated fat per 100 g and an Omega 6-to-3 ratio of 12,8:1, with 11.6 g Omegas per 100 g. Refined or “light” olive oil is
Extracted from the leftovers of extra virgin olive oil. In other words all the healthy nutrients end up in extra virgin olive oil, while refined olive oil is the last drops of oil that can be squeezed out of the pulp. As a result it has less polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, and is less heat stable than extra virgin olive oil.
Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Keto Friendly?
YES… Extra virgin olive oil has basically the same fat profile as refined olive oil with one exception, it has 1 g less saturated fat, making it healthier in that respect. It also has all the added nutrients that are missing from refined olive oil. And while most people think extra virgin olive oil should be enjoyed raw, it actually performs the best under heat thanks to its high polyphenol content. The one thing that olive oil doesn’t have is a great omega ratio. So raw canola oil is still a better option for salads…
Is Goose Fat Keto Friendly?
Relatively… Like most animal fats goose fat has a relatively low amount of polyunsaturated fats, making it stable at high temperatures. It also has an amazing taste and adds a delicious flavor to any meal. Per 100 g it contains 28.9 g saturated fats, 59.5 g monounsaturated fats and 11.6 g polyunsaturated fats with 10.8 g Omega’s and Omega 6-to-3 ratio of 19,6:1. This means that it isn’t the healthiest fat, but it’s definitely the tastiest.
Is Lard Keto Friendly?
Quite… Lard is rendered pork fat and per 100 g it contains 41 g saturated fats, 47.5 g monounsaturated fats and 11.5 g polyunsaturated fats. As you can see it contains quite a high amount of saturated fats, but the 11.7 g Omegas in a ratio of 10.2:1 makes up for this. It is healthier than goose fat in this respect, but you may want to think about the high saturated fat content before making it a staple in your diet.
Why is Ghee Keto Friendly?
Ghee or clear butter is a relatively new addition to the Western diet. It has the same fat profile as butter, but as the name suggests it is “clear” of all the additional milk sugars and proteins that butter has. This makes it less likely to burn at high temperatures and has the added benefit of not spiking your insulin levels as much as butter would. That being said, it’s not the best for spreading, but it’s great for cooking and baking. Per 100g it contains 65,3g saturated fat, 30,6g monounsaturated fat and 4,1g polyunsaturated fat. So not only does it not burn as easily as butter, it is also stable at higher temperatures. It also contains 4,2g Omegas in a ratio of 8,7:1, which is close to the ideal 4:1 ratio.
Why is Tallow/ Beef Dripping Keto Friendly?
Tallow is the beef version of lard, but offers more heat stability and a better Omega ratio, while still offering a great taste. While it isn’t great for baking sweet confectioneries it’s perfect for any and all savory dishes. Per 100 g tallow contains 52.5 g saturated fats, 43.4 g monounsaturated fats and 4.1 g polyunsaturated fats with 3.9 g Omegas in a near perfect 5.1:1 ratio. It is also so stable at high temperatures that it is often added to seed oils to make them less oxidative.
Why and When Is Butter Keto Friendly?
Butter is a firm favorite among bakers because it offers a delicious taste to any product. But in keto butter has the drawback of containing lactose and casein, milk sugars and proteins, which can spike your insulin levels. So, while butter is considered keto friendly, it isn’t the most keto friendly choice. Switching it out for tallow or ghee when cooking savory or “sweet” dishes respectively is the better option. But rest assured butter can still be a part of your keto diet provided that you make provision for the added sugar and protein it contains and add these to your macro counts. Per 100 g butter contains 68.6 g saturated fat, 27.6 g monounsaturated fat and 3.8 g polyunsturated fat with 4.1 g Omegas in a 8.7:1 ratio. Which makes it less than ideal, but still better than margarine.
Why Is Macadamia Nut Oil Keto Friendly?
Macadamia nut oil is one of the most keto friendly and healthiest oils you can use, but it is also one of the most expensive ones. Per 100 g it contains 17.9 g saturated fats, 78.6 g monounsaturated fats, and only 3.5 g polyunsaturated fats, making it extremely heat stable and very low in saturated fats. It also has 3.6 g Omegas in a 6,3:1 ratio, Overall this is one of the best oils you can use in you keto diet with loads of antioxidants, given that you can afford it.
Why Is Cocoa Butter Keto Friendly?
Unknown to most, cocoa butter isn’t just a good moisturizer. It can also be used in food. It offers good stability at high temperatures, but compared to other keto friendly fats the benefits of cocoa butter doesn’t make up for the price. Per 100 g it contains 62.8 g saturated fats, 34.1 g monounsaturated fats and 3.1 g polyunsaturated fats with 3 g Omegas in a 28:1 ratio. It does however make everything taste amazing, so it might be a worthwhile investment every once in a while.
Why Is Coconut Oil Keto Friendly?
Coconut oil is a natural source of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s). These are saturated fats that are immediately absorbed and are commonly used to kick start ketosis or overcome a plateau. The drawback is that coconut oil has more of the longer MCT’s than pure MCT supplements. But given the fact that coconut oil is the most diverse and heat stable of all cooking fats and oils it still remains one of the staple oils in any ketoer’s diet. Per 100 g it contains 92.1 g saturated fats (mostly MCT’s), 6.3 g monounsaturated fats and only 1.6 g polyunsaturated fats. It does contain 1.9 g Omegas, but their all Omega 6. But given that coconut oil is relatively cheap and can actually help you reach and maintain ketosis it remains the best option for cooking, baking and even raw consumption.
Why Is MCT Oil Keto Friendly?
MCT Oil supplements are 100% saturated medium chain triglycerides. To learn more about what makes MCT Oil such a great addition to your keto diet read this. For now, suffice it to say that MCT oil is a great supplement to any diet and can help you reach your daily fat intake goals as well as your weight loss goals in as little as 3 servings a day.
Saturated fat isn’t all that bad
Some saturated fats in your diet is actually good for you. Most animals fats contain more saturated fats, but they also contain more fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K than most plant-based oils. Animal fats are also generally a lot less processed than plant based fats and oils, adding to their nutritional value. Do however look for grass fed or organic products, as products from animals that are grain fed are more likely to contain hidden hormones and other toxic additives.
Also, not all saturated fats are bad. For example MCT’s are considered saturated fats, but they are by far the healthiest fats you can consume as they help your body adapt to ketosis and also do not necessarily increase your cholesterol levels.
If you’re new to keto, get some recipes
The fact that calories from fats, look less than those from carbs and proteins may be confusing at first. If you use a couple of keto recipes to help you get to grips with how much of what you should be eating, and what that looks like, you will soon be able to come up with some of your own recipes and meal plans.
Once you understand the sizes of portions, do still make sure you have the right values. But when you get into the swing of things you’ll quickly figure out how to create amazing and tasty meals with just the right calorie ratio from fats, proteins and carbs.