Originally developed in the 1920s as a therapeutic diet for pediatric epilepsy, the ketogenic diet re-emerged in the late-1990s as novel way to lose weight.
It’s a little counter-intuitive in that it calls for high amounts of fat, just enough protein for health and low amounts of carbohydrates. It tricks the body into burning fats, rather than carbohydrates, for normal energy needs -- and more fat than is being consumed, so the body uses up stored fats as well.
Normally, the body converts carbohydrates into glucose for energy. But if a shortage of carbohydrates is sensed, the liver starts converting fat into usable fatty acids and ketone bodies. The process is called ketosis.
This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This means bypassing high-carbohydrate foods such as sugar, breads, pasta, even some fruits and vegetables, while consuming more foods high in fat such as butter, cream and nuts.
“The foundation of the keto diet is fat, and up to 80% of your calories on this diet come from fat,” says John Gibb of HighKey. “Carbs are your body’s default source for energy, so when you cut back on them, your body turns to burning fat for energy and creates ketones. To create enough ketones to sustain your energy levels, you have to consume plenty of fat that your body can turn into fuel.”
But the type of fat does count. Most dietary fat is made of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) — made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs — are more ketogenic.
We asked a handful of processors, who are specializing in keto-friendly products, what fats and oils they use in their products and why. Coconut oil was a particular favorite, and many also used nuts and butter for both nutrition and their good fats.
John Gibb, Founder
HighKey keto cookies, granola, brownie baking mix
We use almond flour, butter, coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), in addition to that which is naturally found in coconut oil, as our primary fat sources but the fat sources vary by product line. For products like our Instant Hot Cereals, you’ll see a nice mix of nutrient-dense nuts and seeds like hemp, chia and flax that are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, as well as magnesium and potassium, which are both recommended supplements for people on a keto diet since a lot of foods rich in those nutrients are high-carb like legumes and higher sugar fruits.
Our goal is to create keto-friendly versions of some of people’s favorite foods that taste as good as the original. That’s why when it comes to our fat sources, just like all of our ingredients, we choose them with taste in mind first. I think we can all agree that butter makes just about everything taste better! For us, the magic happens when we’re able to balance out that desire for delicious taste with the nutritional needs and preferences of keto and low carb dieters. Not all fat is created equally, so we look to sources that provide our consumers with natural, high-quality fat sources that are clean and packed with fiber and nutrients.
Although both saturated and unsaturated fat are considered keto-friendly, unsaturated fats are still recommended over saturated fats because of their anti-inflammatory properties and because they are “heart-healthy.” In our Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies, which are the best-selling chocolate chip cookie on all of Amazon, the highest contributor to unsaturated fat comes from our almond flour.
Chief Creative Officer, Lilly's Foods, Lilly's Organic Keto Hummus
Since the keto diet requires such a high percentage of fat, it is important to intake mostly healthy fats. Our keto dips were designed to take advantage of this fact, and offer a delicious dip that contain lots of these healthy fats.
- Olive oil – in all the flavors
- Sesame Tahini – in all the flavors
- Coconut Milk -- in Ranch Dill and Turmeric
Coconut milk is a good natural source of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). The MCTs are more likely to be used as an energy source as opposed to being stored as fats. It also adds a great flavor and creaminess to the dips. Olive oil contains vitamin E and is a healthy source of fat. Sesame tahini is high in healthy fat and low in carbs. Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and the anti-inflammatory antioxidants called lignans.
CEO and Founder, Love Good Fats Chewy Nutty bars
Love Good Fats
Our core line of 10 bars are made with a special blend of good fats such as nuts, nut butters, tropical oils with high MCT and responsibly sourced oils (palm stearin and coconut oils). Our two Chewy-Nutty bars are the latest addition to our family of bars and include a unique blend of good fats including dry roasted almonds, walnuts, coconut oil and MCT oil. We will be launching two additional new Chewy-Nutty bars in June as well.
When developing our products, we want to make sure that the product not only tastes good but keeps you satiated with good fats and moderate protein. Our products’ nutritional profile is high in dietary fats and fibers and low in net carbohydrates and sugars, resulting in a delightful treat that makes you feel full longer.
The keto diet calls for a reduced intake of carbohydrates and, once achieving a state of ketosis, your body converts fat into ketones as its energy source instead of carbohydrates. With that being said, for ketosis, it's key to watch consumption of net carbohydrates (carbs-fiber) - our bars have only 4-5g of net carbs and 1-2g of sugar, so they're perfect for a nice filling snack while still aiming to keep daily net carbs low enough to get/stay in ketosis (consume approx. 25g of carbs or less per day).
Director of Business Operations, Supreme Specialty Foods/Beyond the Equator 5 Seed Butter
Also, good fats are essential to the keto diet. Our products contain 13-14g of good fats that will help keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time and crush your cravings for something sweet.
Supreme Specialty Foods/Beyond the Equator
We specifically chose high-oil seeds to make our 5 Seed Butter for the nutritional impact they would have on the final product.
Chia, flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds all contain essential fatty acids that are difficult to incorporate into today's diet.
Omega-3 and omega 6-oils, found in large quantities in chia and flax, help improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Our Unsweetened 5 Seed Butter, which we recommend for those on the Keto diet, boasts 17g of fat, 8g of protein, and only 5g of carbs. This is a good way to add healthy fats and protein into your diet without piling on the carbs.