Low-carb fats and sauces – the best and the worst

What are the best and the worst fats and sauces on a low-carb diet? It’s an important question as a low-carb diet needs to be high in fat to be sustainable (here’s why). For more information on fat’s role in the body, what happens to the body when you eat it and whether to worry about cholesterol, take a look at our written guide to fat on a low carb or keto diet.

There are tons of great options for adding more fat to your diet, but there are also some not-so-good ones. For more details, please check out this visual guide. The lower-carb options are to the left:

The numbers represent grams of net carbs per 100 gram (3½ ounces).

The green foods contain less than 5 percent carbs .

Note: these are general numbers so please keep in mind that they may vary between different brands. To be on the safe side, read the nutrition facts label on the back.

Mustard vs. ketchup

Should a low-carber choose mustard or ketchup?

Well, ketchup generally contains a lot more carbs than mustard does, but some kinds of mustard also have a lot of sugar added, so choose sugar-free mustard, like for example Dijon. Check the nutrition facts to make sure.

BBQ issues

Please note that store-bought BBQ sauce is loaded with sugar. Those glazed ribs may look nice, but there’s quite a load of sugar on them. Remove to stay low carb. Or decide to eat anyway, knowing what you’re doing.

How to eat more fat

Fat is satiating, and it makes food taste great. But how do you make sure that you eat enough on a keto diet… and not too much? A basic rule is to eat what you need to feel satisfied, but not much more.

A ketogenic diet for beginners

A keto or ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet, which can help you burn fat more effectively. Many people have already experienced its many proven benefits for weight loss, health and performance.

Here you’ll learn how to eat a keto diet based on real foods. You’ll find visual guides, recipes, meal plans and a simple 2-week get started program, all you need to succeed on keto.

What “keto” means

The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”.

This is an alternative fuel source for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.

Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar).

The liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones then serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain.

The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.

On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off.

This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.

When the body produces ketones, it enters a metabolic state called ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but nobody can fast forever.

A keto diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinitely and also results in ketosis. It has many of the benefits of fasting – including weight loss – without having to fast.

Who should NOT do a ketogenic diet?

There are controversies and myths about a keto diet, but for most people it appears to be very safe.

There are, however, three groups that often require special consideration:

  • Do you take medication for diabetes, e.g. insulin?
  • Do you take medication for high blood pressure?
  • Do you breastfeed?

2. What to eat on a keto diet

Here are typical foods to enjoy on a ketogenic diet. The numbers are net carbs, i.e. digestible carbs, per 100 grams.

To remain in ketosis, lower is generally better:

The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbs. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake under 50 grams per day of net carbs, ideally below 20 grams. The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis, losing weight or reversing type 2 diabetes.

Counting carbs can be helpful at first. But if you stick to our recommended foods and recipes you can stay keto even without counting.

Try to avoid

Here’s what you should avoid on a keto diet – carb foods containing a lot of sugar and starch. This includes starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. These foods are very high-carbs.

The numbers are grams of net carbs per 100 grams, unless otherwise noted.

This means that on a keto diet you’ll basically need to avoid sugary foods completely, as well as starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Also avoid processed foods, and instead follow our keto diet advice.

Furthermore, the food should primarily be high in fat, and only moderately high in protein, as excess protein can be converted to blood sugar in the body. Avoid low-fat diet products. A rough guideline is about 5% energy from carbohydrates (the fewer carbs, the more effective), 15-25% from protein, and around 75% from fat.

What to drink

So what do you drink on a ketogenic diet? Water is the perfect drink, and coffee or tea are fine too. Ideally, use no sweeteners, especially not sugar.

A small amount of milk or cream in your coffee or tea is OK (but beware of caffe latte!).

For more, have a look at our full guides to keto drinks and keto alcohol.

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