Adding Fat and Flavor to Your Meals

The secret to the ketogenic diet is turning your cells into efficient, fat-burning engines. Your macros have been designed to get the body to burn its fat as fuel to supply the additional energy you need. Making sure this additional energy comes from body fat is important to maintaining healthy weight loss. Without it, you risk falling into starvation mode, where your metabolism slows and your body burns proteins — your muscles and organs — instead of fat.

Typical macros include low levels of carbs to manage your insulin response and moderate levels of protein to maintain muscles and organs, while the rest of the calories come from fat. For most people, fats make up 70–80% of their total calorie intake.

Most people aren’t used to including this much fat in their diet and options might not be clear. Here are some healthy sources of fat and tips for adding fat and flavor to your meals!

Healthy Sources of Fat

Fats are energy dense — they have over twice as many calories per gram as proteins and carbs. This makes it very important to measure accurately to avoid overeating. Fat is the key to flavor in meat, dairy, and sauces. This explains why low-fat foods have added sugar and so many artificial ingredients.

Animal fat. Any kind will do — animal fat is 100% fat. There are plenty of options: lard (pig), tallow (beef), duck fat… Experiment with different flavors.

Avocado. Also a great choice with about 80% of its calories coming from fat and full of micronutrients.

Dairy. Butter is nearly entirely fat; there are trace amounts of sugars and proteins that you can ignore. If you’re sensitive to milk, try ghee. Usually, milk solids are the source of sensitivity and ghee is simply butter without the solids. It’s also easy to make your own: when butter is melted, it splits into three layers: a white foam, clear oil, and solids at the bottom. Let the foam settle and then skim the oil — that’s ghee! Other good dairy sources are heavy cream, whipping cream, sour cream, and soft cheese like cream cheese, brie, and fresh mozzarella.

Oil. Most oils are great for a keto diet: olive, coconut, palm, avocado, seed oils like sesame and nut oils like walnut, almond or macadamia. Avoid corn, canola, soy, peanut, and grapeseed oil. For more details, see the Keto Intelligence Food List.

Pepperoni. It delivers a whopping 85% calories from fat! Buy some quality pepperoni to eat as a snack and to add to eggs and salads. A daub of brie on a slice of pepperoni makes for a delicious high-fat snack.

Nuts. Macadamia, brazil, and pecans are your best choices. They are high in fat and low in net carbs and protein. They make a good snack — just be sure to measure, as they are high in calories!

Salad dressings. While many salad dressings are sweetened, there are just as many alternatives. A vinaigrette is easy to make at home from oil, wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and spices.

Sauces. Mayo, aioli, béarnaise sauce, and cream-based sauces are all good sources of fat.

Adding Fat to Your Meals

Cook with fat. No more steaming! Cook your vegetables, meat, fish, and eggs in tasty fat. Add both butter and olive oil to your scrambled eggs. Try different fats for variety — there are plenty of flavors to experiment with.

Be sure to scrape the pan. Don’t waste them — any fats you measured for the recipe should count towards your macros. Scrape out the drippings and serve with your food.

Top any dish with butter, oil, sauces, or creams. Drizzle oil over your avocado or make a sauce from horseradish, sour cream, and mayo to serve with meat. Melted butter and mayo can also complement many dishes.

Add fat to your coffee or tea. Aside from butter or coconut oil, MCT oil is a very healthy source of oil. It’s commonly made with highly purified coconut oil, so it adds no flavor.

Garnish foods. Nuts, seeds, sliced olives, grated or crumbled cheese, avocado, and cured meats all make for versatile toppings. Try them on salads, soups, and dips.

Find snacks with fat that you enjoy. Nuts, cured meat, soft cheese, and olives all fit the bill — this is also where pepperoni shines.

Do not eat low-fat or no-fat food products. They are often full of artificial ingredients and add no nutritional value.