So, we’ve established how many calories to eat on a ketogenic diet along with setting our protein and carbohydrate intake. The last piece of the equation you’re left with is how much fat should I eat on a ketogenic diet?
How much fat on keto?
How much fat on a keto diet is generally determined after your total calories, protein, and carbohydrates have been established. Many sites will tell you to set these numbers by percentages, but doing so doesn't take into account the individual and their goals.
So just how much fat should you eat on a ketogenic diet?
When you think of a ketogenic diet you’re thinking it’s a “high fat” diet…
and you’d be correct.
but not for the reasons you may be thinking.
This is why we’ve left it as the last piece in the puzzle to calculate after setting the total calorie count, and protein and carbohydrate intake within that total
The fact of the matter is, you can reach a state of ketosis with only protein and carbohydrate restriction. So why do we eat so much fat on a ketogenic diet?
Simply put, fat acts as a caloric ballast, “a filler.”
You can also think of it as a lever that you dial up or down depending on the rate of weight loss or weight gain you wish to achieve.
After calculating the required amount of protein to prevent muscle loss, where it is not too high so as to prevent ketosis and restricting our carbohydrate intake to 30g net carbs, caloric intake would be too low, resulting in metabolic slowdown.
i.e. what most people would refer to as “starvation mode” just for the sake of using a term most people will seem to grasp.
But if my body runs on fat and I don't need to eat fat…
When we say that you can reach a ketonic state by just eating protein and restricting carbohydrates… we mean it.
This is because, from an energy standpoint, your body doesn’t know the difference between dietary fat (fat you consume) and stored body fat (fat on your body).
Therefore, the more dietary fat you consume, the less body fat will be lost. Aside from a few essential fatty acids, there is no real need to consume fat to reach ketosis.
In fact, an average person carries about 9,000 grams (~80,000 calories) worth of stored fat. Taking that into account, on average a person burns 100 calories per mile walked, that would be enough fat (energy) to walk 800 miles.
The primary purpose for including relative high amounts of dietary fat, as mentioned, is to keep our calories raised high enough to prevent a slowdown of our metabolic rate and because fat helps our food become more tasty.
i.e. “starvation mode”
Is it possible to eat too much fat on the keto diet?
I kid… I kid…
Is it possible to eat too much fat on the keto diet?
Of course! Just like protein or carbohydrate, a person can eat too much fat. Whether you are looking to lose body fat or put on muscle using a ketogenic diet, there is indeed a thing as consuming too much fat.
I know this goes against the dogma that a ketogenic diet defies the energy balance equation of calories in vs. calories out, but that’s for another discussion.
It is of our opinion that not all calories are created equal, but calories still do matter even if they come from fat. An individual’s biochemistry ultimately decides how the body will express (burn or store) those calories, which changes on a ketogenic diet.
But I digress.
OK, so just how many grams of fat should you eat on a keto diet?
Ready for it…
If you’ve gotten our quick start guide or read the previous 3 posts in the series you may have a good idea of where to start.
Fat calories will make up the remaining calories after protein and carbohydrates are subtracted. This usually leaves you with about 60 – 80% of your calories coming from fat.
To calculate how many grams of fat you should eat on a keto diet:Fat calories = (maintenance calories – protein calories – carb calories)
Fat calories / 9 (9 calories per gram of fat compared to protein and carbohydrates which is 4 calories per gram) = How many grams of fat you should eat on a keto diet.
To get your specific numbers, feel free to grab the keto quick start guide below which includes a one page pdf on getting you started right away along with a keto friendly food list or view the first 3 parts in the series below.
- HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD YOU EAT ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
- HOW MUCH PROTEIN ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
- HOW MANY CARBS ON A KETOGENIC DIET?
DON’T HAVE THE QUICK START GUIDE DOWNLOAD IT BELOW
How am I supposed to eat all that fat?
At this point you may be thinking how am I supposed to eat all that fat? And, if you’re not used to eating so much fat it may seem like a lot in the beginning.
Rest assured, it’s nothing to worry about. The fat in the diet helps provide a sense of fullness, and besides…
It makes food taste damn good.
What fats to eat on a ketogenic diet?
First off, avoid unhealthy processed fats and oils such as processed vegetable oils, margarine, hydrogenated oils or trans fats which have been shown to be damaging to your health.
Your best bet will always be saturated and monounsaturated fats from whole foods.
With that said, here are some examples to give you an idea of what fats to eat on a ketogenic diet:
- Fatty cuts of meat (think Ribeye, NY Strip, skin on Chicken Thighs)
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel)
- Eggs (more specifically the yolks and preferably pasture raised)
- Did we mention fatty cuts of meat like bacon? Yes… bacon
- Healthy Oils (avocado, coconut, olive oil)
- Nuts and seeds (our favorites are macadamia nuts and pili nuts)
For a more complete list with fat gram count, download the list below.
All good things must come to an end
There you have it folks.
Throughout the 4 parts of this mini-series we’ve established how many calories you should eat to fulfill YOUR needs. Then, we showed you how to calculate your personal macros along with the WHY.A ketogenic diet, in essence, ends up becoming a “high fat” diet due to the fact that we must limit our protein and carbohydrate intake , but still keep our calories high enough as to not cause a big metabolic slowdown.
With the exception of a few essential fatty acids, ketosis can be established with a diet of all protein and restricting carbohydrates ala Protein Sparing Modified Fast (Which we will dive into another day).
As with everything, these guides are meant to give you a starting point where you can begin to make adjustments based on your own personal results
I’ve learned that we are constantly learning new things each and every day to optimize our own health, looks, and performance. Try not to over complicate things and just take action.
What’s your go to staple to hit your fat intake?