The dreams are difficult to deal with when you’re dieting. Maybe they don’t disturb your sleep; they’re often just daydreams. But it’s understandable that they keep coming back: dreams about bacon, dreams about butter, dreams about cream and cheese, and full-fat milk. If those are the foods you dream about when you’re trying to stick to a rigorous eating plan, keto is the perfect diet for you. You can basically eat all of the “healthy” fatty foods like bacon and butter that you want, since about 75% of your daily calories are supplied by fat when you’re on keto.
However, some people who are new to the diet make a mistake that can render all of their hard work and careful eating useless. They don’t eat enough fat.
That doesn’t seem to make sense at first. When you start a diet, your goals are usually to lose weight and burn all the fat you’ve stored in your body. How could not eating enough fat be a problem – when you’re trying to lose it?
The answer has to do with the way the keto diet works, and you have to understand a little of the science to see why fat isn’t always a bad thing.
Carbs, Fat and Keto
It’s common knowledge that keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet. You have to cut out almost all carbohydrates, meaning no bread, no pasta, no cereal, no rice or potatoes, no beans or peas, no soda or sweets, no processed or junk food. Most fruits are out, too.
Needless to say, none of that stuff (except the fruit) is really “good” for you. So when you’re eliminating all of the foods that are likely to cause weight gain, wouldn’t you want to eliminate as much fat as possible, too?
Nope. Here’s why.
A ketogenic diet (the full name for keto) works because your body is put into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When the body is deprived of carbs, it can’t turn them into glucose to provide the energy it needs. So it’s forced to find another energy source, and what it does is burn stored body fat to produce molecules called ketones. When the body is in ketosis, it uses ketones as fuel instead of glucose.
That explains why the keto diet is low carb. But what’s the deal with fat?
One reason fat is important in a keto eating plan is that it makes you feel full. If you’re regularly hungry on any diet, chances are high that you’ll just give up completely.
Another is that fat supplies an enormous percentage of the calories your body still needs to function properly. Without enough fat from calories, the body will be forced to use less energy. That means it won’t burn as much stored fat as you want it to on keto, and you’ll start to slow down because of a decreased metabolism.
The worst-case scenario is that the body will stop burning stored fat completely. It has very few carbs to burn because of the keto guidelines, and a slow metabolism means that it’s no longer producing ketones. Instead, it starts using the protein you eat to make glucose for energy – and you fall out of ketosis.
In other words, if you don’t eat enough fat on keto, the diet simply can’t work and you won’t lose weight.
What’s the best way to avoid the problem?
Getting Enough Fat on a Keto Diet
Most people who follow the keto guidelines properly eat enough fat and don’t suffer hunger pains. Problems can surface, though, when they’re eating too many carbs or eating the wrong types of fat.
You probably know this, but it’s worth restating. Trans fats, processed vegetable fats, and margarine are prohibited when you’re on keto, as are the fast food and snacks which usually contain “bad” fats in addition to grains and sugar. And as we’ve mentioned, calories from carbs should be limited to about 5% of your diet.
For those who’ve followed the rules and still find that they’re getting tired and hungry because they’re not eating enough fat, here are some suggestions to boost your fat intake.
1. Try adding more of these foods to your keto shopping list:
● Butter and olive oil
● Heavy cream
● High-fat cheese (good choices are cream and cottage cheese, brie and mascarpone, colby, swiss and cheddar)
● High-fat nuts (good choices are macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pecans)
2. Eat lots of avocado: We’ve already listed it once but it’s worth repeating. Avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can eat on keto, it contains lots of healthy fat, and it is extremely versatile. You can put it into salads, make keto-friendly guacamole, use it in omelets, mix it into or use it as a topping on chicken dishes – the possibilities are endless.
3. Make a sauce: Don’t just eat veggies; eat veggies with a cheese sauce. Regularly eating a sauce made with cheese and heavy cream may get you back to optimal fat consumption all by itself.
4. Make whipped cream: When you eat the fruit that you’re allowed on keto (remember, it’s severely limited and berries are the best choice), top it with whipped cream sweetened with stevia. You can even add mascarpone to make a thicker whipped cream with higher fat content.
5. Cook with meat or bacon grease: If you fry up some bacon or ground beef, save the grease and use it instead of oil the next time you sauté veggies or scramble eggs.
6. Eat proteins with higher fat content: Instead of picking up 85/25 ground beef at the store, choose 80/20 or 73/27. Eat dark meat poultry instead of breast meat. Add sausage and more fatty fishes to your diet. All will increase your fat intake and help you stay in ketosis.
7. Make fat bombs: These are small, sweet treats that are high in fat, and there are literally thousands of recipes in cookbooks and online. They range from cheesecake and cookie dough fat bombs to chocolate and peanut butter options. All are keto-friendly, all will give you a quick boost of fat – and all will ease some of the cravings you may be experiencing.
One of the hardest things to accept on keto is that you’re supposed to eat fat, as long as it’s the right kind of fat. Overcoming that mental hurdle and “embracing the fat” will help keep you in ketosis and keep the weight loss coming.