When it comes to dietary fat, I have three big rules:
- Don't consume concentrated "fat only" meals.
- Don't consume fat without protein.
- Make sure you're getting enough omega-3's.
The problem is, people tend to look at fat as either "really bad" or "absolutely benevolent." The reality is that neither is the case.
Of course fat is an essential nutrient that's been overly demonized for most of the last 60 years. Without enough saturated fat your hormone levels will plummet. Without enough omega-3 fatty acids, chronic inflammation will send you into the hurt locker.
Where Keto Dieters Screw It Up
Fat can also be a great energy source, but this is where people, especially keto dieters, get really screwed up. In their minds, fat is a freebee. They think you can eat as much as you want without worrying about the implications for progress. What's really dangerous about this for lifters is that many believe that eating lots of fat will somehow displace their protein requirements.
It's true that the body spares protein in a state of ketosis (1), but there's a big reason why you'd want to maintain a decent protein intake. Unless you're using a keto diet to fight a chronic disease, or to fuel an endurance race, the goal isn't just to get into ketosis.
Rather, your goal is probably to lift heavy weights and look good naked. Getting enough protein is essential to help you build and maintain muscle mass, and its thermic effect will help you burn fat.
Mobilize Your Own Fat For Energy
So yes, you want to consume fat, particularly saturated fat, to keep that testosterone pumping. You also want to make sure you're getting enough omega-3's to fight inflammation. What you don't want to be doing is artificially loading up your bloodstream with excess energy on a constant basis because that'll keep you from your real goal: mobilizing your own fat stores for fuel. So consuming a bunch of fat without any protein is a big mistake.
Drinking "bulletproof coffee" every morning for breakfast is one example of this. That combination of butter and medium chain triglycerides blended up into a frothy beverage will lead to a rapid artificial increase of ketones in the bloodstream. With all of that readily available energy, your body isn't going to go through all of the extra work to mobilize your own fat stores for fuel. It's also going to ruin your appetite for getting the protein you'll need.
If you're going to go high fat and low carb, consume fat throughout the day in combination with protein and lots of leafy green vegetables. Foods like whole eggs, grass-fed beef, liver, grass-fed butter, chicken thighs, fatty fish, and olive oil should all be on the menu. You should also be eating brazil nuts to fulfill your selenium requirements and maintain thyroid function.
MCT oil and coconut oil should also be consumed, but sparingly as a quick source of energy because medium chain triglycerides get quickly converted into ketones. Think of these as performance enhancers to consume on days when you're going to have a really grueling workout or when you're expecting a long hard day on the job.
Carbs should also be considered performance and recovery enhancers, and the bulk of your carbs should also be consumed during and after your workout.
Here's an example of what the whole thing could look like:
- Meal One: 3 whole eggs fried in grass fed butter, 5 Brazil nuts, 3 cups of green leafy vegetables, 2 capsules of Flameout® and 2 caps of Curcumin.
- Meal Two: 8 ounces of grass fed beef, 3 cups of green leafy vegetables and 2 capsules of Flameout (add two tablespoons of MCT oil on hard training days or when you need an energy boost).
- Workout Nutrition: Have 1 serving of Plazma™ 15 minutes prior to your workout and sip on 1 serving of Plazma throughout your workout.
- Meal Three: 8 ounces of grass fed beef, 3 cups of green leafy vegetables, and on hard training days add 1/2 to 1 cup of white rice to this meal.
- Meal Four: 6 ounces of wild-caught salmon, 3 cups of green leafy vegetables. Once or twice a week, switch this to grass-fed beef liver.
With this type of eating protocol, you'll get the fat you need, you'll fill your protein requirements, you'll have enough carbs to fuel your workouts and your recovery on your hard training days, and enough omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients to help your body fight inflammation.
So to sum it all up, eat lots of fat, but make sure you're eating it with protein. Additionally, don't consume it in mass concentrated sources like bulletproof coffee. Finally, make sure you're using a good omega-3 supplement to fight inflammation.
- Manninen, A. "Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets and the Preservation of Muscle Mass"