Keto fats, sauces and oils – the good, the bad and the ugly
Many foods taste better with a little something — a buttery sauce, a spicy dip, a flavourful relish, a savoury marinade. And a keto diet should be high enough in fat so that you feel satisfied after every meal.
What fats, oils, sauces and dips can you add to your food and stay keto? What’s best for your health?
Here’s a simple guide, with the lowest-carb (keto) choices to the left:
The numbers are the average amount of net carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
To the left, in the green zone, are choices with less than 5 grams of carbs. Choices in the red zone, to the right, have a lot more carbs and likely need to be avoided even in small amounts to stay in ketosis. See our best tips for getting into ketosis Beware: Read all labels. Manufacturers often add sugar to many products.
In a keto contest between mustard and ketchup, who wins? Mustard, hands down. Ketchup is full of sugar; mustard often has little or (occasionally) none.
But again, read labels carefully as some mustard brands do sneak in sweeteners. For example, traditional Dijon mustard has zero carbs while some “honey” mustard brands may have 10 grams or more.
Feasting on tasty baby back ribs or a seared steak fresh off a hot grill is one of the great pleasures for many on the keto diet. However, beware of store-bought barbecue sauces, which are often high in sugar. Eat them with full knowledge of their carb hit, or try instead a savory, sugar-free rub or just season with salt, pepper, and powdered or minced garlic.
See our low-carb & keto BBQ guide
Most of us start out understandably fat phobic after 40 years of being encouraged to eat low fat.
On keto, make sure to embrace the fat. Eat the butter, and stir coconut oil into tea and coffee.
Drizzle on olive oil. Fat tastes great, it satisfies, and it helps make your keto diet sustainable.How much to eat? If you are hungry between meals, eat a bit more fat. See our guide on how to eat more fat
A word about oils
What about vegetable, nut and seed oils? This is a bit more complicated. Natural oils that have been around for thousands of years are generally safe and should be embraced on a keto diet.
Feel free to use pure olive oil, ghee, avocado oil, almond oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, fish oil — anything for which it is easy to extract the oil with simple pressing, grinding, churning or low heat separating.
We do recommend minimizing the use of industrial seed or vegetable oils created within the past 60 years, such as corn oil, soy oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and cottonseed oil. These oils are created by chemical extraction and high heat industrial processes.
Since it’s not clear what kind of effects this might have on health, we feel that sticking with traditional, less processed fats makes sense.Learn more here: Vegetable oils: are they healthy?
Here’s a handy list of the amount of carbs, per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), in common fats and sauces.
Or, better yet, make your own. Check out our scrumptious recipes linked below.
Coconut oil 0
Béarnaise sauce 2
Hollandaise sauce 2
Ranch dip 2
Thousand islands dressing 3
Heavy cream 3
Soy sauce 4
Blue-cheese dressing 4
Tomato paste 15
Don’t skimp on the sauce!
We guess you’ve been told all your life that it’s the sauce that will make you fat and give you a heart attack, right? Well, the good news is that it has been proven over and over again that fat won’t make you fat and will not clog your arteries, either. There’s no reason to fear natural fat, saturated or otherwise. It’s an old and failed theory that natural fat is anything but a healthy, satiating and great food, full of vital fat-soluble nutrients. Learn more.
So, now that we’ve got that issue out of the way, it’s time to say no to flavorless low-fat products packed with sugar, artificial sweeteners, food colorings and flavors. Stock up your fridge with clean, natural ingredients full of flavor like:
- Dairy: Heavy whipping cream, sour cream, crème fraiche and cream cheese will make the perfect base for a tasty creamy sauce or dip.
A great tip for thickening your sauce or gravy without using flour — add some cream cheese and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickens.
- Dairy free: Mayonnaise is a great base for cold dips and dressings. You can easily make it yourself or, if you buy it, we recommend mayo made with avocado oil, or light olive oil. Try to stay away from soybean and canola oil due to their high content of inflammatory omega-6.
Other dairy-free options without egg are coconut cream, oil and veggie-based sauces like satay sauce, pesto, romanesco sauce, sugar-free ketchup, guacamole and chimichurri.