The Truth About Fat-Free Foods & Why They are the Worst!

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adding butter to coffee

Failure to embrace fat and choose fat-free foods is one of the most common keto mistakes.

If you’re new to the keto world, you might be having a hard time wrapping your head around the concept of adding fat to your diet. For many of us, low-fat eating has dominated our lives for years and fat-free foods have loaded the shelves at grocery stores for decades. Remember SnackWells?! They are actually still around…

holding box of SnackWell's fat free cookies

The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans all recommend limiting fat intake. So you might be wondering how consuming fat can possibly be healthy for you, especially when eating fat is the opposite of mainstream recommendations!

Team member Erica is proud that she runs on bacon, butter, & coffee! 😆

woman wearing Bacon Butter Coffee Tee

One of the hardest concepts for people to grasp when they start the ketogenic diet is adapting to the idea that fat is not the enemy! For decades, we’ve been fed the wrong information, leading us to fear fat when in fact, fat is one of your body’s best allies when eating keto!

I have chosen to dedicate this entire article to the mental shifts we need to make surrounding fat so our bodies can run efficiently on keto.

Here are some common mistakes regarding fat that prevent keto from working the way it truly should.

bacon in an air fryer

Common Keto Mistake #1: Thinking “Eating fats will make me fat.”

With the keto diet gaining popularity, butter, cheese, and bacon are flying off the shelves. Countless people are finding success by dropping carbs and adding fat back into their diets with the keto way of eating. But the question still remains: Are full-fat items healthy and why shouldn’t I go for popular fat-free foods?

It’s understandable why so many people mistakenly assume that eating fat will make them fat, right? Especially considering fat has more than double the number of calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein. However, on the ketogenic diet, it takes fat to burn fat! Remember, consuming a diet high in healthy fats revs up your engine (metabolism), so you burn more fat!

holding Kerrygold butter non fat free food

The purpose of the keto diet is to get your body to burn fat for fuel instead of relying on glucose from carbs for fuel. When you’re burning fat, you’re in ketosis. To get into ketosis, the most important thing you need to do is to keep your carb intake low, typically 20-30 grams of carbs a day. Protein intake is moderate, and then you can add in fat to taste.

Ideally, your body will be able to burn its own fat stores and fat from your food for fuel. You don’t necessarily need to add a ton of extra fat to your diet, but you shouldn’t be afraid of buying full-fat items and fatty cuts of meat. After all, fat fuels your fire!

lifting bison burger with cheese

Common Keto Mistake #2: Not adding enough fat.

Low carb diets do not necessarily equal ketosis, but when combined with high fat and moderate protein, the body turns into a fat-burning machine! On the ketogenic diet, fat is your body’s new source of fuel, and if left out, you will quickly find yourself running on empty.

One of the healthiest ways to eat is to choose foods that are as close to their natural states as possible, and a lot of foods naturally contain fat. For example, dairy products are all high-fat foods. Skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and other fat-free foods are not found anywhere in nature.

Low-fat and fat-free foods have been processed to remove the fat, and many of them have added fillers, preservatives, and sugar. When the fat is taken out of a product, something has to be done to make it taste good, and that’s usually the addition of sugar.

half an avocado cut into cubes

Another reason to embrace fat is that it keeps your blood sugar stable, which in turn will help to maintain your energy levels. Elevated blood sugars are pro-inflammatory, and current research has shown that the driving force behind many chronic diseases is inflammation.

Keto diets are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, so eating keto is one of the best things you can do to keep your blood sugars stable, reduce inflammation, and benefit your overall health.

Sports Research mct oil

If you’re still concerned about increasing your fat intake, remember that there are essential fatty acids that your body needs to function. There are also essential amino acids found in proteins. But there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate and no such thing as a carbohydrate deficiency!

fork holding up piece of steak from the air fryer

Still worried about your heart health? Try to include a variety of fat sources in your diet. Eat natural fats from plant and animal sources. Ask yourself if the fat comes from a source that makes sense to you, and if you could make that oil yourself at home.

Avoid corn, soy, vegetable, and canola oils, as those oils are highly processed. Focus on including plant fats such as avocado oil, avocados, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds. Also include animal sources of fat like butter, ghee, tallow, fatty fish, dairy fats, and fatty cuts of meat.

broccoli on a plate

Common Keto Mistake #3: Avoiding fat in the hopes that you’ll burn stored body fat.

This ties into the two mistakes above. I can’t tell you how often I hear people state they are trying to avoid fat and choose fat-free foods so their bodies will instead burn the unwanted fat it already has. Low carb diets do not necessarily equal ketosis, but when combined with high fat and moderate protein, the body turns into a fat-burning machine! On the ketogenic diet, fat is your body’s new source of fuel, and if left out, you will quickly find yourself running on empty.

Remember: When you’re eating keto, fat is your BFF!

Your metabolism and brain need and love it! Fat intake is absolutely essential for success on the ketogenic diet; otherwise, you’re just on a low-carb, low-calorie diet, which usually slows metabolism and results in weight plateaus, hunger, excessive protein intake, and won’t get you into ketosis.

Adding more fat can help you break through plateaus and rev up ketones (aka fuel) by adding in more fat to fuel the fire of your body’s metabolism!

woman in kitchen with cheese, salami, avocados

All that said, I totally get the hesitation that surrounds fat. We’ve been told our entire lives that fat is the enemy, but anyone familiar with the research will tell you that our country’s pathological fear of fat was based on unreproducible studies and bad science.

You don’t have to jump right into a high-fat diet when you first start keto. Keep in mind that it’s more important to limit your carbs than it is to eat a set amount of fat to make keto work. You can gradually increase your fat intake over time until you find the right amount that works to keep your fat-fueled fire burning hot and melting those excess pounds away! 🙌

Want to learn more about keto? Learn how to get started here!

About the writer:

Emily graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Idaho, holds 5 years of blogging experience, and has been featured in Every Day Health and Women's Health Magazine.

Join The Discussion

Comments 6

  1. Jamie

    Good article! I was just getting ready to try some of that butter coffee I’ve been reading about. Any recommendations on MTC oil? I read it’s not the same to just get coconut oil but it seems like that’s all that is available locally for me.

    • Amber (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      Hi there! You could try this Premium MCT Oil derived only from Coconut Oil – Hope that helps!

      • Mahlia Neville

        I’m putting on weight, my dietitian thinks its because I’m eating too much fat…

        • Emily (Keto Nutritionist)

          Hi Mahlia, for keto to work for weight loss, make sure you’re keeping your carbs low (20-30g a day), your protein intake moderate (anywhere from 60-100g of protein a day) and then add fat to taste. You don’t necessarily need to meet a set amount of grams of fat a day. Avoid polyunsaturated fats like corn, soy, canola, and vegetable oils. Hope that helps!

  2. Holly

    Lovin your myth busting articles! I have learned SO much from you! I don’t feel like I am on this journey alone… I lost 20lbs and started letting the carbs creep in and that lead to cheat meals and cheat days! ? A lot of the problem is lack of knowledge and that’s why I am thankful for your sight! Keep up the good work girl!?

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Aww, Thanks a ton for the sweet comment, Holly! It sure made my day! We are cheering for you!

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