How much saturated fat is considered 'safe'

(Tony H) #1

I’m new to keto and like a lot of folks making mistakes early and watching my blood sugar soar. I was originally just aiming to stay below 50g of carbs per day but now have decided it’s still too much so need more fat. All the recipes on dietdoctor are sky high in saturated. How many grams of saturated fat are you long termers eating per day and are your bloods looking good? Feels a silly question cus if they wasnt Im assuming you wouldnt be here I guess :joy: Ive not yet tasted a bulletproof coffee as it contains about 26g of saturated fat for breakfast which just freaks me out when Ive spent the last couple years working with a nutritionist telling me to keep it below 23g a day. Altho she was happy with my keto choice and pushed me towards it but told me to watch my saturated fat intake still.


There’s nothing unhealthy about saturated fat, that’s left over make believe from the 90’s. You’re good. The only “unhealthy” fat is man made trans fats (partially hydrogenated), and those almost don’t exist anymore.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #3

Okay, let’s think about this for a bit.

The purpose of a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is to lower insulin. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrate (glucose), protein (amino acids), and fat (fatty acids). The first of these has a large effect in stimulating insulin secretion, because too much glucose in the blood stream can be dangerous and possibly even deadly. So insulin mobilises to get it out of the blood. It goes into muscle to be burned and into fat tissue to be converted into fatty acids and stored.

Protein has a much lower effect on insulin, and when we eat it in the absence of carbohydrate, its insulin effect is counteracted by the secretion of another hormone, called glucagon. Fat has almost no effect on insulin whatever, just the bare minimum to keep us alive. (Insulin is required for us to be able to make use of the food we eat, but it is unhealthy when the level is chronically elevated.)

So when we eat a ketogenic diet, we are no longer eating the carbohydrate we used to get our energy from. What does that leave? Protein is used for fuel only when we are starving to death; the body prefers to use it to build and repair tissues. That leaves fat. Since fat has a minimal effect on insulin, we can safely eat all we want, without raising insulin. The other advantage of fat is that it contains over twice the calories per gram that carbohydrate contains, so it takes less than half as much to give us the same amount of energy.

Therefore, eat enough fat to satisfy your hunger, and no more. As for the types of fat, stick to the traditional cooking fats: butter, lard, tallow, and bacon grease. They are high in saturated and monounsaturated fats, and low in polyunsaturates. Too much polyunsaturated fat will (a) nauseate you and (b) cause systemic inflammation. Therefore, avoid the industrial seed oils, because their percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids is far, far too high.

(Tony H) #4

Thanks guys. I feel ready to jump in and even tasted a bulletproof coffee, tasted better than it looked :yum: I have only lost 3lbs in 2 weeks so far but I think my carbs have been too high and perhaps my calories not high enough. I’m 5’11 and 225lbs and I’m only consuming around 1700cals a day. I’ve dieted off and on for years so wouldn’t be surprised if my BMR is lower than what the calculators say but I’ve read eating more will help bring this up. I also drink too many hot drinks with a splash of milk throughout the day which I’m guessing will be effecting insulin and holding me back. I will switch to unsweetened almond milk instead as that is labelled 0g carbs and hopefully have more success.

(Bob M) #5

I still would avoid seed oils, if possible. No sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, etc. Particularly if heated.

(Scott) #6

Heavy whipping cream is zero carb and probably a better option.


Why? Milk->cream sounds a more logical change to me, both are dairy but cream isn’t so carby especially considering you probably need a much smaller amount. Or your drinks contain a lot and cream just won’t cut it? If almond milk floats your boat, fine, I am just curious why you thought about such a very different item from milk itself.

And maybe you shouldn’t consume calories all day, this is usually the opinion here and it makes perfect sense to me (not like I always follow that but usually close enough).

Of course, if they are very important to you, it may be better to keep them for now but be open, one can change a lot! Sometimes it is subtle. Sometimes keto alone helps, sometimes we train out of ourselves of something (like me and my sweetened drinks. I reached the point where I strongly prefer them without sweetening and I started being unable to consume them without a serious amount of sweetness. skipping my cream or substitute was more stubborn but I realized I am way better off without messing with my satiation way before my proper meals).


Why people think that? It’s obviously has sugar. Cream has lactose. That’s why it’s sweet…
It’s little but not zero.

I googled and looked it up on the database of the site I use for tracking, it seems whipping cream usually have about 3% sugar. A bit more than lemon, I just looked that up too as I was curious :slight_smile: Even my high-carber SO who eats raisins every day feels the sweetness in lemon. 2.5% is enough for that.

(Tony H) #9

I hadn’t passed up cream just not thought of it cus I’m a noob. I tried it and it’s nice. I do think I need to cut down on tea as recently I’m probably consuming 7 or 8 cups a day amd that’s likely not good but atm the main thing that makes me hungry is food. I’m very often hungrier shortly after eating than before I eat. This usually goes away after an hour or so and then I can go several hours without getting hungry at all.


According to the Cronometer database, 2 tbsp of heavy cream has 0.8 net carbs, while lemon has 4.0. That seems like a significant difference in favor of heavy cream.

(Ethan) #11

Saturated fat is the best fat. Omega 3s, 6s, and 9s are essential, but not needed in large quantities. As a carnivore, I eat all fat from animal sources, and most of
It is saturated. There is no need to count.

(Joey) #12

All of it :wink:

If you’re really not eating carbs (minimal grams daily), then you need fat to survive. There’s only so much protein that’s healthy and tolerable, so the rest of your energy must necessarily come from fat.

Again, this presumes you’re not eating carbs. If you are, the fat gets socked away in adipose tissue for the “rainy day” that never comes. Hence, metabolic and organ problems will be brewing.

Absent any metabolic dysfunction, saturated fat is awesome. It’s the mainstay of my (extremely healthy and sustainable) diet. Same for my wife. And both our bloodwork and family internist agree… it’s “safe.”


This is very familiar to me… And a little food is horrible, I rather fast when hungry than eating a too small meal, waaaaaay less hunger and suffering. Do you eat big enough meals?

They are totally not comparable :smiley:
2 tbsp of heavy cream is enough for quite many coffees for me while it’s a smallish or bigger but a single portion of lemonade anyway :smiley: And the many creamy coffees feel something (despite their probably below zero satiation level, the lemonade has zero, these are for me, of course)…
But they are very different, not comparable or one should do it for their individual case at the moment if both are options (with the correct portions, not merely the same volume of the items), I just checked both out as I was curious about them.

Not if one uses it up… I even lost fat easily while eating pretty much carbs (still low-carb but quite a few times more than I do on my normal days now). But yes, that eating style may be less fortunate, I understand the logic… Some still must work with it as other options are unrealistic for them but that’s too offtopic here even for me.

(Tony H) #14

Im really not sure tbh. I’ve been a yoyo dieter for years so I suspect that my metabolism is prob on the slower side, that said calculators estimate by BMR around 2200. Im 5’11, 225lbs. Atm my aim being new is 3 meals a day, so far I have eaten around 1800ish, give or take, some days higher some lower. To start out my aim was to keep carbs under 50g but seen as tho I only occasionally get some movement on my ketostix and thats usually only 0.5 so Im am now going to switch to 20g total as I assume im constantly coming out of ketosis which is prob why I’ve only lost 3 lbs in 2 weeks so far. In the 4 weeks prior to that after having my last bloods I shifted 12lbs in 4 weeks eating low carb, maybe 100g/150g a day so Im 15lbs down in 6 weeks but it has slowed down massively since I started keto which tells me Im doing something wrong. It doesnt sound much but the dif between 20g and 50g is huge so Im going to have to completely rethink what Im eating, It doesnt look so easy to get all my calories without carbs.


I don’t know if my insights are accurate, but I’m sharing them so that if I’m mistaken, the lovely experts here can correct me because I want to know too. (I’m newer with only 12 weeks under my belt.)

As I understand it, Ketostix (which is what I use too since pricking my finger is ouchy for me,) or any urine stick cannot tell you how much you are in ketosis or if you are “coming” out of it. Only a blood test kind can tell you that. The urine strips simply measure whether or not your body is or isnt in ketosis, and dumping ketones. Because if it is, 1) you must be in ketosis to dump any, even the trace .5, and 2) it had more than it needed to burn that day.

Someone with a trace .5 (5 mg/dl) can be in the same kind of ketosis as someone with a moderate 4 (40 mg/dl.) I can see how someone in full throttle ketosis might have many days in a row where their measurement is a moderate 4 because their body is making so many ketones that it had way more than it could burn so dumped them, and on days where they are not as strongly in ketosis they may have less to dump. But I also see how depending on a particular day, activity level, foods that were eaten, a person raging in ketosis might have only a trace to dump due to their body burning more that day than other days, and that .5 does not mean they fell out of ketosis.

And oddly, out of the past 12 weeks, the two weeks I finally got moderate results of 4 on my Ketostix we’re weeks 8-10, and I ate more “keto” carbs in those two weeks than any other week. I had homemade keto crackers and keto pumpkin breads etc. etc., almost on a daily basis. But when I toned down to limiting my “net” carbs to below 15, suddenly I’m having only a trace .5 or 0! :woman_shrugging:t3: So far I think it’s because we shouldn’t see urine strips as the same kind of tool that the blood tests are? And I’m not sure how long it takes for our bodies to respond to our diet from a week ago?

You may not be doing anything wrong at all, and you may not need to make the drastic gouge of 30 total carbs to go from 50 down to 20. Maybe buy one of the blood test kits to know for sure if you are doing anything wrong?

To our experts/veterans: please correct any errors in my logic because this is how I have been guiding myself.

(Tony H) #16

Yes I suspect your correct. I’m waiting for pay day to order a ketone tester. I’m just baffled how I could lose weight at a solid pace on low carbs then stop on keto. I have been doing low carb for maybe 15 months or so on and off. Lost 20lbs pre Xmas, put it all back with interest after going on a major binge at Xmas. Maybe due to the restriction then when I got the taste I struggled to get back on the wagon. I have no interest in ever going back to biscuits and sweets but I’d do things I’m not proud of for some peanut butter on toast :yum:

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #17

Then you are not taking into account the fact that a gram of fat contains over twice the calories of a gram of carbohydrate, not to mention the fact that it is much more satisfying.

If you eat real food, avoid starches, grains, and sugars, keep the rest of your carbohydrate intake under 20 g/day, and eat enough protein and fat to satisfy your hunger, you will not need to worry about calories, or other macros. Especially do not consciously limit your calories; instead, let your body tell you how much to eat. To set a calorie limit risks putting the body into “famine mode,” in which it will still hang on to its fat store, even when carb intake is low enough. At first, on keto, you may find yourself still eating portion sizes similar to those you ate as a carb-burner. Don’t worry about it. You are most likely to find your appetite dropping noticeably after a few weeks. If it doesn’t, worry about it at that point. But many people who started a keto diet by restricting calories found that their fat loss did not begin until they started eating more, not less.


50g is way too much for most of us I suppose. I can go way over 20g and stay in ketosis, apparently (40-45g net? total doesn’t matter) but 50g is much. Maybe if I was very active…?
But 20g is safe enough (it’s too much for some but it’s rare) and doable for many. It was impossible for me, hence my 40g before fat adaptation, I was lucky but one risks not being in ketosis all the time with such a high amount.
It doesn’t mean it can’t be great for people. My 80g net carbs limit worked wonderfully for years, I felt good and lost fat for a while. But I had to go lower. Some people may stay there or go higher and it works for them.

Losing fat and doing keto are too different things. There may be some correlation but it’s not so simple. Ketosis doesn’t guarantee fat-loss even for a person who has much to lose and it’s very possible to lose fat easily without ketosis.

And you can’t expect quick fat-loss on any woe. In the beginning we lose some water weight, some people more, some less but losing fat takes time. Though some people can do it super quick too, I have heard about 4lbs per week once (for a pretty long time) but it was a very very heavy man eating very little for him so the deficit was enormous and explained the fat-loss. And the huge extra fat explained why the body didn’t panicked and slowed down the metabolism like crazy. But I am sure he had some lucky genetics or something to be able to do that, it’s definitely not like that for every heavy man and even less so for women. Beware of big deficits but if it’s small, why would the body throw away many times as much fat? People say it’s possible but no wonder if it doesn’t happen to us.

But if you are impatient and have ideas, try things, experimenting is fun. Just not too extreme ones.

How come? Do you not like fatty protein sources? Even with some low-carb sides it doesn’t seem that hard to me but I do like fatty pork and that is great at its fat/carbs ratio…
You even liked your BP coffee enough, I can’t imagine drinking something like that :smiley: But some people can consume heavy cream or butter galore, that helps with calories if one likes too lean stuff for their energy need… (It couldn’t satiate me well enough I fear - but I like my fatty protein and my energy need is smallish so all is well.)
I am sure there are some pleasant enough ways for you as well.

(Tony H) #19

I think eating chicken breast most days prob doesnt help me, by time I throw in some EVOO, avocado and a bit of salad im still well under 500 cals. Same with breakfast, Ive been having 3 eggs with some cheese, tbsp EVOO and again its still well under 500 so I defo need to work on bulking my meals out without adding carbs. Today was the first time I let go with saturated fat. Ended up consuming 45g of it which still kinda freaks me out but suppose it’ll be that way until I get my first lot of bloods done and see its not harming me.

EDIT: Maybe this is why I get really hungry 20 mins after eating, my bodys way of telling me it needs more.

(A fool and his bacon are soon parted) #20

The basic principle of a well-formulated ketogenic diet is a real-food diet with (1) carbohydrate intake limited to 20 g/day or less, (2) a reasonable protein intake, and (3) fat to satiety, no more, no less. Neither fear fat, nor stuff it down your gullet.

Also bear in mind that gram for gram, fat contains over twice the calories of carbohydrate, so if you cut your carbohydrate intake by, say, 300 g/day, it will take only 133.3 g/day of fat to replace the missing calories. And if that happens to be 48% saturated fat, 48% mono-unsaturated fat, and 4% polyunsaturated fat, so much the better.