12 Healthy High-Fat Foods Perfect For Nutritional Ketosis

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full fat foods for nutritional ketosis

Jimmy Moore Before Nutritional Ketosis

Jimmy Moore Before Nutritional Ketosis

Jimmy Moore After Nutritional Ketosis

Jimmy Moore After Nutritional Ketosis

In my two previous CarbSmart columns, I explained what the difference is between the relatively new concept of nutritional ketosis and the traditional Atkins diet and the 5 low-carb mistakes I feel I was making that nutritional ketosis has helped fix. As many of you know, I’ve been doing my own experiment of this concept for over five months and counting (read my updates for Day 1-30, Day 31-60, Day 61-90, Day 91-120 and Day 121-150) and it’s produced some pretty remarkable weight loss and health improvement results so far as I’ve lost over 50 pounds while enjoying robust energy, mental clarity, stable d blood sugars, complete satiety, zero cravings and counterintuitive results in the gym.

It’s been an amazing ride so far and I look forward to continuing this journey in the months to come. But the most popular question I’ve received from people about this by far has been “What the heck are you eating?” It’s a fantastic question as I have consistently been over 2.0 millimolar blood ketone levels for most of this experiment. I have been reluctant to share my exact menus – they are what’s working for me. Some people may not need to eat exactly like me to experience the results that I have; others of you may need to be even more strict. The best thing for you to do is test to see how you respond to various foods and adjust accordingly. We are all different and require varying levels of fat, protein and carbohydrate for our specific metabolic needs. If you are like me and are metabolic deranged, it may be necessary to cut your carbohydrate intake down to the bare minimum, and reduce protein as well.

One of the major keys to my success with nutritional ketosis has been a very deliberate increase in fat consumption. I haven’t been afraid to eat fat on my low carb diet; in the absence of carbs it is the body’s fuel source. But pushing fat levels even higher while restricting carbohydrate and protein has made all the difference in the world. I remember when I first began this experiment, I got a lot of e-mails from readers who asked how I got my fat consumption up to 85% of my calories. Some joked, “What are you doing, drinking butter?” I can’t help but laugh at this notion, but it does allow me to make this a teachable moment for people who may be unfamiliar with the differences in the macronutrients.

When discussing what a very high fat diet consists of, it’s important to remind people that one gram of dietary fat has 9 calories, while carbohydrate and protein each have only four calories per gram. This means you need less than half of the volume of fat in order to get the same calories you would receive from carbohydrate and protein. So it’s really not as much fat as you would think. To help you figure out what to add into your diet to dramatically increase the amount of fat you are consuming, I’ve compiled a list of 12 healthy high-fat foods that are perfect for your nutritional ketosis plan. If you eat these deliciously healthy fatty (but not fattening) foods while reducing your carbohydrate and protein, there’s no reason why you can’t experience all the tremendous positive benefits that come from being in nutritional ketosis.

Here are those 12 high-fat foods you should be eating along with the percentage of calories that come from dietary fat (statistics courtesy of CalorieKing.com):

high fat avocado1. Avocados82.5% fat

I remember the first time I tried an avocado – people had told me about how incredible they were. It was so hard I could barely get it open without slicing my thumb off. I didn’t know you have to let this fruit ripen until the “alligator” skin gives way to light pressure. Once I had my first taste of a fully-ripened Haas avocado, it was love at first bite! An avocado is cooling when you’re eating spicy foods, and offers a smooth texture change. I eat a whole avocado almost everyday with my eggs and wouldn’t imagine doing nutritional ketosis without it!

Butter - Dietary Fat2. Butter100% fat

This one should be a “well duh,” as butter is a staple of any good low carb lifestyle change. But when you are attempting to achieve nutritional ketosis, it’s even more important that you deliberately add butter to foods, for both the flavor and the fat content. My favorite brand of butter is Kerrygold grass-fed unsalted (in the silver packaging). Once you get a taste of this bright gold goodness you’ll never go back to anything else! I usually fry up 2-3 eggs in 2-3 tablespoons of butter – it’s an incredibly tasty way to start the day. Why anyone would continue to eat a man-made product like margarine thinking it’s a “healthy” food, when they could be eating butter, is beyond my comprehension.

3. Whole eggs61% fat

Speaking of eggs, they are one of the world’s most perfect foods. Everyone who cares about managing their weight and improving their health should be eating them. I buy eggs from a local farmer who allows his chickens to forage in an open pasture getting plenty of sunshine. The payoff is the rich, dark orange color of the egg yolks – store-bought eggs pale in comparison. If you can find a good source of fresh eggs from a local farmer, do it. Even with the premium price, they are still one of the most economical foods low carb foods. Even when money is tight, you can feed your family well. I eat eggs virtually every day because they provide me with the perfect ratio of protein to fat to keep me on the straight and narrow with my pursuit of nutritional ketosis. Please don’t fall for the idea that the yolk is somehow bad for you. Eat just the egg whites is like only driving a Mustang on the side streets without ever getting on the interstate. You’ll never experience the full benefits of eating eggs until you eat the whole egg!

Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 29-Ounce Jar4. Coconut oil100% fat

Other than grass-fed butter, my absolute favorite source of healthy dietary saturated fat is coconut oil. Contrary to popular belief, adding this quality fat to your diet does not make everything you consume taste like coconuts. My favorite brand is Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil; it imparts a pleasantly sweet smell with a very mild flavor of coconuts. I especially enjoy cooking my eggs in coconut oil along with sea salt and parsley; it gives them a nice “buttery” flavor. Because it is highly saturated, coconut oil has long been vilified as a nutritional demon. That misguided opinion is finally beginning to turn around. If you are trying to increase your level of blood ketones, then there’s probably no better way than to start adding coconut oil to your daily menus.

Low Carb Breakfast Options: Eggs and Bacon5. Bacon69.5% fat

I don’t have to convince anyone reading this to start eating more bacon, do I? Back in August, at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium, Harvard organic chemist Mat Lalonde extolled the virtues of consuming bacon. He noted that the fatty acid profile of this much-vilified food is actually pretty darn close to ideal. Of course, if you can get bacon from pastured pigs, that’s even better! My wife Christine loves bacon and eats it almost every day. Healthy fats, perfect amount of protein and minimal carbohydrates – what more could someone eating a low-carb diet ask for? If you’re concerned about nitrites and nitrates in bacon, then you definitely need to read this recent column by Chris Kresser to put your mind at ease. Bacon goes great with…well, everything. So eat up!

6. Sour cream88.5% fat

If you are able to tolerate dairy, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to add sour cream to just about everything you eat. It’s such a rich source of fat while providing amazing flavor and luxurious texture to anything you eat. I’ve put sour cream on top of steak, eggs, even vegetables. Just a couple of tablespoons of sour cream will give your fat intake the boost it needs to help you get into that glorious state of nutritional ketosis. I use the full-fat versions of either Breakstone’s or Daisy, depending on which is on sale. They go on something I eat just about every day. Enjoy!

7. 70% Ground beef59.5% fat

What low carb dieter doesn’t like a nice hamburger? The key is to find the fattiest ground beef you can. This can be a challenge in this fat-phobic society. Most of the meats you’ll find in your local grocery store are 85-90% lean, meaning they’ve cut most of the best part of beef out of it! Look for 70% ground beef, and choose locally farmed grass-fed beef whenever possible. EatWild.com can help you find a local source of grass-fed beef. The great thing about a burger is you can cook it in butter, add some cheese (see below), and spread some sour cream on it for a mouthwatering low-carb, high-fat meal that will put you well on your way to reaching nutritional ketosis. WOO HOO! (Editor’s Note: What, no avocado on your burger?!)

Full Fat Cheddar Cheese8. Full-fat cheddar cheese74% fat

Cheese is one of my favorite foods. Sadly, most people think Velveeta and American cheese are cheese. Nope! Not even close. They are highly-processed, cheese-like products that you really don’t want to eat, no matter how low the carb counts might be. Hard cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss are better choices. Find the ones that you enjoy, and be sure to buy the full-fat versions. Selecting low-fat cheeses defeats the purpose, and won’t help you reach nutritional ketosis. Cheese is so versatile! Put on top of just about anything, or eat us all by itself. I’ve even found that spreading cream cheese (see below) between two slices of cheddar cheese is an excellent high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb snack. I’ve also found cheese adds the perfect extra ration of protein on days that I lift weights at the gym. Can you tell I love my cheese?

9. Coconut88% fat

Growing up, I couldn’t stand coconut. It wasn’t the delightful tropical flavor that coconut provides that bothered me, but the waxy, gritty texture. But the first time I ever ate the meat of a fresh coconut - on Grand Cayman Island during the annual Low-Carb Cruise -  oh my gosh! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The best part about coconut is that its fatty goodness jacks up those blood ketone levels amazingly. Mix some coconut into a smoothie in the morning and it will keep your hunger satisfied for hours on end. It’s time to get cuckoo for coconuts!

10. Dark chocolate65% fat

You might be thinking to yourself, “Say what? Dark chocolate? Are you kidding me?” Nope, I’m not kidding. Lean in really close, because I’ve got a secret to share with you: I eat dark chocolate made with sugar EVERY SINGLE DAY on my nutritional ketosis plan. Yep, I sure do! Sometimes I’ll even have it with some of that Kerrygold grass-fed unsalted butter I mentioned – truly incredible. I’m not talking about cheap, fake dark chocolate or even the sugar-free ones you can buy in most stores. I have fallen head over heels for a brand of chocolate that is far superior to anything I’ve ever put in my mouth before – Taza 80% Stone Ground Dark Chocolate. This stuff contains little chunks of real cacao and even has real sugar in it (GASP!). But I eat a half and sometimes a whole bar of this daily with no negative impact on my blood sugar or blood ketone levels. It’s got to be the cocoa butter that make it such a perfect addition to my nutritional ketosis plan.

11. Cream cheese88.5% fat

I said earlier that sour cream was amazing with virtually any food you could consume? Well, the same could be said about cream cheese! This stuff has an amazing fat profile that will give your meals the kind of boost they need to help you reach nutritional ketosis. If you’ve never put cream cheese in your eggs before, lemme tell you that’s an experience you won’t soon forget. It totally changes the texture of eggs; you may never eat them any other way again. I know of no better brand than Philadelphia cream cheese. Again - it bears repeating – beware of the lower-fat version. Read your label to make sure fat is the predominant ingredient and you’ll be good to go.

12. Liquid fish oil100% fat

And finally, I couldn’t talk about healthy fats without telling you about fish oil. While you won’t be adding this to your food, it is an important supplement to your diet, and will increase your blood ketones dramatically. I take two tablespoons of Carlson’s lemon-flavored liquid cod liver oil daily to infuse my body with healthy omega-3 fats as part of my heart-healthy regimen. There are fish oil capsules and tablets available at drug stores, but many of these tend to be rancid, and therefore counterproductive. That’s why I prefer the liquid fish oil. In case you’re worried about the “fishy” taste of this stuff in your mouth, it’s actually a delightfully pleasant “lemony” taste. I couldn’t imagine going through my day without taking my liquid fish oil, and the resulting blood ketone levels make it worth it!

Be hyper-aware of the nutritional content of everything you put in your mouth. In our fat-phobic society, many of the foods listed above have lower-fat and “lean” versions. You don’t want to consume these. Your lower protein, low-carb nutritional ketosis plan requires high fat levels to be optimally healthy.

Did I leave off one of your favorite high-fat foods that you enjoy on your own personal plan? Feel free to share it with us in the comment section below along with the percentage of calories from fat it provides. Also, please provide any specific topics you would like for me to address in future CarbSmart columns about nutritional ketosis. THANK YOU for reading and I look forward to continuing to share this amazing journey with you.

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Comments

    • Tracy Bulharowski says

      Constipation can be a problem when following a low-carb diet. Take one magnesium pill every night before going to bed. The magnesium naturally lowers one’s blood pressure, so that’s why taking it before bedtime is ideal. Here is a link for Magnesium Glycinate 400.

      Hope this helps!

  1. Karen says

    I just want to add that another good way to incorporate coconut oil is to make your own mayo. It won’t taste exactly like Hellman’s (or whatever people eat), but being able to control the ingredients is well worth a taste difference. Here’s one blog post showing how:

    http://www.spain-in-iowa.com/2012/01/how-to-make-homemade-mayonnaise-with-4-simple-ingredients/

    I found the salt to be too much, but it may be my brand of sea salt. I use eggs from a local farm and use a good quality olive oil (Braggs), because a lot of olive oils have been shown to have a cheaper oils mixed in. I add a pinch of smoked paprika (see Mountain Rose Herbs for a great source of pure herbs and spices). I usually don’t put the lemon in, but always use the whey. It helps it last a really long time. I thought this might be helpful for those who can’t use dairy (minus the whey, of course).

    My biggest problem is my missing gallbladder. I find it gives me a severe stomach ache and other gastric problems if I eat more than a little coconut oil at a time. (By little, I mean a tsp) It also seems worse on an empty stomach (if I put it in my coffee and drink it before eating). Would love to know how others who are missing a gallbladder deal with this. (Besides the obvious, don’t eat it on an empty stomach!)

    • says

      Karen, have you tried ox bile tablets? The problem with losing your gall bladder is that your body is ill-equipped to take in any sizable quantity of fat at one time. A healthy gall bladder stores bile, then contracts in reaction to fat, squirting out the bile needed to digest that fat. Once the gall bladder is gone, the bile just drips at a steady rate into the intestine; no surge of bile when it’s needed. I know folks who have found that taking ox bile tablets with a fatty meal helps. I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on television, yadda-yadda, just reporting that I’ve known folks who found this helpful.

      • Robin says

        lol, I say the same thing to my clients at work, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. I don’t have a gallbladder and I find the coconut oil is helping my digestion.

      • says

        Dana, don’t know how I missed your answer until now (now that Robin commented; thanks, Robin!). And, yes, since you posted that I have recently found ox bile tablets through our chiropractor who explained the drip process the gall bladder-less body uses. The ox bile helps a lot and I’m slowly trying to build up my coconut oil consumption.
        Thank you for the reply!

        ~Karen

    • Cindy says

      I have the same problem with a missing gallbladder. I use coconut oil topically- I slather it on my skin. Usually, I add olive oil, mineral salts and some nice smelling essential oils. One caution- you do have to give it time to absorb through the skin before you get dressed. I haven’t tried the blood ketone meter yet (just ordered one through Amazon), but it did help me increase ketone levels based on the ketostick.

      Second caution- put your hair up if it’s long unless you’re looking for a deep conditioning that lasts all day:-)

  2. Joanne Arnold says

    For the person concerned about fibre, my high-fat breakfast often consists of a bowl of milled flax prepared like one would oatmeal with two added tablespoons of peanut butter on top and a cup of almond milk on the side. I make flax a part of my daily diet because it’s got such a great fibre boost and I love the taste. I did this this morning for breakfast and came out with 12 g of fibre for that meal alone. Also, my morning snack, 2 oz of almonds, had 327 calories and 7 g of fibre.

  3. Mike says

    Hi

    In the book the art and science of low carbohydrate performance. By Volek and Phinney. I read a section about coconut oil where basically they said “Ingestion of MCT oil will result in significant ketosis even if consumed with carbohydrates, although this MCT-induced ketone production may not be associated with the full spectrum of metabolic benefits associated with carbohydrate restricted keto-adaptation. Thus we do not encourage the use of MCT oil”. That said, however, neither do we discourage consuming foods that naturally contain MCT’s”.

    So at the moment I have stopped using coconut oil. Is there something I have missed in what they have said as I don’t want to undo the work I have put into getting myself into Ketosis, and all the benefits that go along with it. Could you clarify this point, and advise me.

    Regards

    Mike

  4. Marci says

    Wow I’m already doing/eating all of the above, except for avocados. I like them but they’ve been really pricey this year for some reason … drought? flood? Anyway I eat a lot of coconut CREME as it is 70% coconut OIL and the rest is coconut. The best of BOTH worlds in one food! I find it tastes better and is easier to eat than coconut oil alone.

  5. Nancy says

    Hi, just wondering what are the best kind of nuts to eat on this low carb, high fat diet? Almonds, cashews, pistachios or mixed nuts……are they all ok?
    Lastly, a friend told me to start taking Omega 3-6-9 supplements, would this be good or bad?
    Thanks.

    • James says

      Macadamia nuts are great. They are little balls of fat and not much else. IMO, the only risk is eating too many and therefore pushing carbs and calories higher than desired. Walnuts are also good. The nuts you mention are ‘better than ok’, but IMO Macadamia have a great nutrient profile and walnuts are almost as good.

  6. Tess says

    Hi,
    With the calculations of my Macronutrients Ratio, are the recommended carbohydrates net carbs? That is what I assumed and how I have proceeded.

  7. Holly says

    I’m a chocolate engineer. Straight chocolate liquor – ground nibs are 53% fat. When you add the sugar and cocoa butter at best you’re getting 34% fat.

  8. Holly says

    I work with chocolate. Chocolate liquor – ground nibs are about 53% fat. When you combine it with sugar and cocoa butter at best you’re around 35% fat. Cocoa powder typically has 10-12% fat; you can get some high fat cocoa powder from Europe at 20-22%. Probably best to get baking chocolate-liquor add cocoa butter and or coconut oil and some stevia.

  9. tony says

    are calories a concern on this type of eating? i would love to eat this way but am concerned about caloric intake.

  10. Steve says

    I’m Keto with no gallbladder, I take 3 papaya enzymes after eating anything. I mean anything. I take 9 to 15 a day. I went keto after losing my gallbladder because carbs of any kind caused gas and pain so I practically quit eating. The doc kept telling me to eat more fruits and veggies. The more I ate the sicker I got. Got down to 158 lbs and I’m 5’11″. This was a decade ago, I usually weigh about 185. I’m 54 yrs old. My blood pressure at sam’s the other day was 98/64. Flip that food pyramid upside down or throw it away. I was keto before keto was cool.

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