Because of the many surprising benefits of fat, the keto diet is now one of the most effective diets to lose weight. As a high-fat, low carb diet, the diet requires followers to load up more healthy fats instead of carbs.
The aim is to transition your body into the state of ketosis where it uses fats for energy instead of carbs. While in ketosis, your body will become very efficient in burning fats, which helps you to lose weight fast.
But aside from helping people with weight loss, the keto diet also comes with many other health benefits. The diet can help to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, and many more.
Surprisingly perhaps most of these benefits are due to the high-fat content in keto. To find out more about this, let’s take a look at the many benefits of fat on keto.
Different Types of Fat
Before we look into the benefits of fat, it’s important to note that there are many different types of fats and not all of them are created equal.
Related reading: Best Fats To Eat On A Low Carb Diet
There are four types of fat and they are saturated fats, monounsaturated fats polyunsaturated fats and naturally-occurring trans fats.
All these fats are in fact necessary for good health. Although saturated fat has had bad press for many years because it was thought to cause heart disease that theory has now been debunked even though some still maintain that saturated fat is bad for you.
Related reading: Keto Diet Versus Low Fat Diet For Weight Loss
It’s carbohydrates that have now been shown to be the underlying cause of heart disease and that is why low carb diets work so well and low fat diets have made the problem worse.
The health benefits of saturated fat include including balanced hormones, improved brain function, and the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A,D E and K.
Good Fats Vs. Bad Fats
When following the keto diet, you should focus on eating more of the “good fats” and limit your intake of the “bad fats”.
Related reading: Best Fats To Eat On A Low Carb Diet
So what are good fats? These are polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats and a certain type of saturated fat known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
They are known as good fats since they are good for the heart, cholesterol, and overall health. As Monica Auslander Moreno, founder of Essence Nutrition, has explained,
“Healthy fats are satiating, flavorful, and necessary for so many metabolic processes. Plus, they often reduce the need for added sugars in food products, which is a much-needed win these days.”
On the other hand, bad fats include artificial trans fats which are common in manufactured food products. These are polyunsaturated fats that have been altered by a process to prolong shelf life.
They have now been banned by the FDA but may continue to be sold until 2021. They continue to be used in other countries but The World Health Organization has called for them to be banned globally by 2023
Artificial trans fats will increase your level of bad LDL cholesterol and lower your good HDL levels. They can also lead to inflammation, which is the number one cause for stroke, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Natural trans fats are found in dairy products and meat but are not considered to be harmful.
Heated polyunsaturated fats
Heated polyunsaturated fats are bad for you because heating damages the essential fatty acids. I cringe when I see recipes that call for “cooking oil”.
Cooking oil and other vegetable oils that are sold in supermarkets have been processed using chemical solvents, bleach and deodorizers so are not good for you.
Many are made from genetically modified corn, soy bean and canola plants so should be avoided.
You should not cook with cold pressed polyunsaturated oils like sunflower, grape seed flaxseed or walnut. Some health authorities say you should not heat olive oil to over 180C (356F) because it damages it’s health benefits.
Benefits of Fat on Keto
Now that you know which types of fats are good and which ones are bad, let’s take a look at the benefits of fat in our overall health.
1. Minimize the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Polyunsaturated fats are good fats that can help to lower the bad cholesterol known as LDL. One good example of these fats is known as Omega 3, which prevents the blood from clotting and minimizes the risk of stroke.
Related reading: How a Low Carb High Fat Diet Affects your Cholesterol
Omega 3 has also been found to help lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat that’s linked to various heart diseases. Some of the best sources of Omega 3 fats are cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
Other good sources of polyunsaturated fats are extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, flax seeds and flax oil, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts.
Although you might see corn oil and canola oil mentioned on some lists they are not good to eat because they have come from genetically modified plants.
2. Lower Blood Pressure Level
Bad fats can directly increase your cholesterol level. Too much cholesterol could increase your blood pressure and will put you at risk of stroke and heart attack.
When following the keto diet, you should focus on eating a balanced intake of the good fats. This way, you can take advantage of the many benefits of fat, and one of these is to lower the blood pressure level.
Some of the best sources of monounsaturated fats are avocados, walnut oil, grape seed oil, and olive oil.
3. Helps Build More Muscles
Having more good fats in your diet can help to build more muscles when training since it supports hormone balance and helps you to recover from intense exercises.
A diet that’s high in fat and low in carbs such as keto can help to elevate the growth of hormones, which inhibits the breakdown of muscles.
In addition, eating healthy fats like polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are necessary for our bodies to prevent inflammation.
Just make sure you eat more of plant-based and healthy fats, such as coconut oil, avocados, MCT oil, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
4. Better Body Composition
Studies show that if you get most of your calories from fat, you’ll be able to achieve optimal body composition. As already mentioned, fats are important in our body whether you’re on the keto diet or not.
Fat makes up the outside layer of all the cells in our body. This helps to make the cells become more sensitive to insulin, leading to an energetic metabolism with less inflammation.
If you’ll lower your intake of carbs and replace it with healthy fats, your insulin sensitivity will be improved and inflammation will be reduced. This can also help to improve your metabolism, which is important for maintaining a healthy weight.
Related reading: How Many Carbs Do You Need To Eat To Lose Weight?
5. Improve Reproductive Health
One of the surprising benefits of fat is that it can help to improve reproductive health in both men and women. That’s because fat helps in the production of hormones and in regulating hormone balance.
For women, not getting enough fat could lead to infertility while eating the wrong type of fats could increase the risk of PMS and menopause complications.
Meanwhile, men who don’t get enough good fats will have a lower testosterone level and other hormones that are necessary for better reproductive health.
One of the best things about following the ketogenic diet is that you can eat a lot of delicious foods, especially those that are high in fats.
While some of them are good some are also dangerous for your health especially if you consume them in a high amount. So when it comes to following the keto diet, you should be mindful of the types of fats that you consume.
Fats while being very satisfying are also high in calories. Although the keto diet should have a high ratio of fats to carbs eating too much fat could prevent you losing weight.
Aside from taking advantage of the health benefits of fat in keto, these fats can help you to reach ketosis fast.