Making the decision to begin Keto can be slighty overwhelming when you delve into the new language, new products, and new rules for eating. High Fats? Low Carbs? What fats are the right fats? This article will shed some light on a slippery topic…
FACTS about FATS
For most of my life, fat was a four letter word. I remember when my sweet Momma said we had to get rid of the bacon grease can and that we’ll be putting bouillon in our green beans from now on. It was a sad day for us all. Everything became low fat. What’s changed? All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. The differences are in the lengths and shape of the carbon atoms, and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon atoms. What those fats do and how they do it is all wrapped up in those differences.
The worst kind of fat you can ingest is known as trans fat. It’s the byproduct of hydrogenation, a process used to turn oils into solids and to preserve them from spoiling. It changes the carbon chains, with the process. Since the trans fats are a by-product, they are cheap to produce and have been heavily marketed. They create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. They contribute to insulin resistance, and a host of immune system disorders and diseases. Trans fats have NO known health benefits, and there is no safe level of consumption. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.
The Ketogenic Way of Eating (WOE) is a high-fat, adequate/moderate protein, low-carbohydrate way of eating. This diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates for fuel. It is necessary to include a high intake of healthy fats for this WOE to be healthy and successful. Shifting your metabolism from sugar burning to fat burning is actually the metabolic point of this type of diet. When converting to fat fueling, we gain many advantages like decreased systemic inflammation and increase sustained energy. When our primary calorie intake is fat based, then our metabolism is trained to look for and burn fat for fuel, therefore you will use you body’s fat stores for energy and many people find that they move to a lower weight and body fat content. So what fats are the best fats? What quantities should I be eating of them? Here are some Facts about Fats to give you a better understanding of Keto approved fats.
Use Saturated Fats for Cooking
Unfortunately, saturated fats have been demonized by the sugar and pharmacy industries to their gain. A few books to lay out the science behind this are: Cholesterol Clarity, by Jimmy Moore, The Obesity Epidemic, by Jason Fung, The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that… by Uffe Ravnskov These are found in animal products like bacon, meat, butter, cream, cheeses, eggs, lard, tallow, coconut oil (this is not an inclusive list, there are more) (did I say bacon?). These have high smoke points, and have long shelf lives. That bacon grease container that grandma kept on the counter-top, was the best thing she could have been using. So use your pork grease, the steak and roast renderings, the hamburger grease and the sausage grease. When these are not appropriate or available, use coconut oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are sourced from animal fats that have been grass fed as opposed to grain fed. They can also be found in fish and seafood among other foods. Omega 6 fatty acids are what most of us have way too much of due to the man made vegetable oils we’ve been eating. Try to find ways to increase Omega 3 and decrease Omega 6s. Omega 3s lower the risk for heart disease due to their inflammation-reducing abilities. They also are needed for proper neurological function, cell membrane maintenance, mood regulation and hormone production. Add MCTs to Your Diet Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) contain 6-12 carbons, which is much shorter than the majority of SAD fats which contain 13-21 carbons. Because of the shorter chain length, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. These go straight to the liver, which can then be used as instant energy, or turned into ketones. Unlike regular fatty acids, Ketones can cross the blood brain barrier providing an energy source for the brain, which would ordinarily use glucose for fuel, AND the brain loves it! Benefits for weight loss include: increased fullness, less body fat storage than Long Chain, increases body’s ability to burn fat and calories, causes greater fat burning and loss, and increases ketone production. Coconut oil is the one product that you can ingest to give you a good supply of MCTs. You can also purchase MCT oil from your local vitamin store, a retailer online, or here from Amazon. Be sure that you get a quality oil, 100% coconut sourced, without flavor or odor, and without palm oil. (Save the orangutans!) Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil is a good source of MCT also. It’s said to be 18x more effective than coconut oil and that you will need to slowly build your body’s ability to increase your dose to avoid stomach upset.
Include Heart-healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
These are omega 9, oleic acids and are found in avocados, avocado oils, olives, olive oils, nuts etc. These are plant source fats. These are best used cold, on salads, or as flavorings and oils at the end of the cooking process, after turning off the heat.
Unsaturated fats: These should not be heated.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6 are both essential and our body needs and loves them. But too much of even a good thing is not good. The reason they are called poly-unsaturated is because poly is more than one. These fats have double bonds which tend to react with oxygen when heated and form free radicals which are harmful to us. This oxidative damage is a process which creates the free radicals. The process that creates the free radicals increases inflammation, heart disease and cancer. Extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, which include sesame, flaxseed, avocado, and macadamia are all best for cold use. Flax-seed should never be heated and should be refrigerated, but most of the others can be used for finishing the meals, or low heat cooking.
Omega 6 and Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
Both of these fatty acids are polyunsaturated. In America, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids have tipped over to an unhealthy and risky ratio. While Omega fatty acids are essential, too much of a good thing turns bad. Soybeans are the biggest source of Omega 6 in the USA. These fatty acids are different than other fats. Not just for energy, these are biologically active and have important roles in processes like inflammation and blood clotting. Omega 6s are pro-inflammatory, and Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory effects. Now before you eliminate all Omega 6s, remember these are essential. Inflammation is essential to our survival. These protect us from infection and injury, but again, too much of a good thing, turns bad. Excess inflammation may be one of the leading and most serious diseases the human race is forced to deal with including heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome as well as a host of immune deficiency diseases. Instead of the favored Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio of 4:1-1:1, America’s ratio today is more like 16:1 and it’s killing us. So to summarize, a diet with too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 increases inflammation. We must better balance these two.
Animal Sources for MOST Omega 3s
Omega 3 sources include seeds and nuts, fish and seafood. Grass-fed meats have the maximum amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Grain-fed meat, is actually low in Omega 3s and loaded with omega 6s. The industry doesn’t make it easy to be healthy does it? Focus on Smoke Point, Oxidation Rate and Shelf Life The high the smoke point is, the better. If oil is heated above its smoke point, the oxidation begins and loads the oils with free radicals. The slower the oxidation rate is the better. Some oils can oxidize even on the shelf, when exposed to oxygen and light or even temperatures below their smoke points. This is why you see better quality oils in dark bottles. Oils high in saturated fat have a longer shelf life (12-24 months), while monounsaturated oils last about 6-12 months and polyunsaturated fats only 2-6 months.
Oils to Avoid
Processed vegetable oils, margarine, hydrogenated oils, (oils that have been processed through a chemical hardening method adding hydrogen to achieve increased stiffness of liquid oils at room temperature) partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and interesterified fats (sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, canola, soybean, grapeseed and corn oil) are all damaging to your health. Most all of the above have been modified by mankind. Our bodies cannot process them or use them and the proof is in the pudding, or margarine, or cookies, crackers, and vegetable oil fried foods.