Adding enough good fats into your low carb diet

An article written by Skip Franzsen and me entitled ‘Adding Fats into your Banting Diet’ was posted on my website 14 Jan 2016. We wrote it in response to questions asked by those starting out on a low carb diet who were unsure how to add enough healthy fat into their diet. In this article, we explain which foods amongst those on the Green List (containing 0-5g carbs per 100g) have the highest amount of fat and we rank them accordingly.

In the article, we explain that the Real Meal Revolution’s famous green, orange and red lists are essentially a ranking of foods according to their carbohydrate content. Foods on the Green List contain zero to 5g of carbohydrate per 100g, foods on the Orange List contain 6g – 25g of carbohydrate per 100g and those on the Red List contain more than 25g of carbohydrate per 100g. Although Banters are directed to choose anything from the Green List without worrying about the carbohydrate content, a common problem when you begin a low carb diet is making sure you’re eating sufficient healthy fats. If you keep your carbs to under 20g per day and eat protein in moderation (approximately 1g per 1kg of lean body weight), this usually equates to 5% of your daily calories coming from carbs, 15-20% of calories from protein and 70-75% of calories from fat. If you’re unaccustomed to this ratio of macronutrients, eating sufficient healthy fats can be a real challenge.

Here’s our original article:

 

Introduction

The Banting ‘Green’, ‘Orange’ and ‘Red’ lists (Real Meal Revolution) are essentially a ranking of foods according to their carbohydrate content:

  • Green-listed foods contain 0g – 5g carbohydrate per 100g (download Green List)
  • Orange-listed foods contain 6g – 25g carbohydrate per 100g (download Orange List)
  • Red listed-foods contain over 25g carbohydrate per 100g (download Red List)

    Banters are directed to eat green-listed foods, to limit the amount of orange-listed foods to occasional consumption, and to avoid all red- listed foods. A common Banting problem is upping the fat intake into the range of 70-75% of total daily calories; new Banters often struggle to eat enough fat.

    Eating largely from the Green List, you need to find creative ways to increase your intake of healthy fats if you are to get it into the recommended 70-75% range on a consistent basis. The fat content is often ‘hidden’ in the makeup of foods. Eating only green-listed foods, I (first author) found that it was fairly easy to consume around 50% of total daily calories as fat, but I needed to be a bit more creative to reach the 70-75% target.

    Consuming sufficient fat starts with the choice of foods and then the quantity of those foods. I find that cooking for a high, healthy fat intake needs some pre-planning and I do so by using the ‘Carb Counter’ (a tool provided in the Real Meal Revolution on-line course) to identify the macronutrient totals in the food I plan to eat. As an experienced Banter, at the start of each day I have in mind the number of grams of fat, carbs and proteins as well as the total number of calories I plan to consume. My wife and I generally have breakfast, eat a light snack for lunch, and I buy any extra ingredients needed for our evening meal. As I plan the meal, I am most often thinking ‘Where do I get the extra fats?’

Towards a ‘fat ranking’ of green-listed foods

Using the nutritional information provided in the Real Meal Revolution’s ‘Lists’, we have developed a slightly different way of ranking foods with a focus on the fat values of low carb foods. In effect, we have created a Fat Ranking of Green-Listed Foods.

For example, macadamia nuts have a fat ranking of 76%. This means that 76% of every 100g of nuts is fat and most of this (a whopping 82.6%) is the good monounsaturated fat (see Rogers, 2013). Another way of saying this is that there are 76g of fat in every 100g of macadamia nuts. In comparison, avocados have a ranking of 15% fat (that is, 15g fat per 100g of avocados). This means you would need to eat a lot more avocados to get the same amount of fat as you would consume in 100g of macadamia nuts (just over five avocados – approximately 1kg – are needed to equal the amount of fat in 100g of macadamia nuts).

This ranking has assisted me (first author) in consuming sufficient fat and it may also be useful to you. By being creative, you can use it to include foods with higher fats in your diet. As a simple example, take a poached egg. The egg itself has loads of good nutrients, including Omega 3 fats, but it has a comparatively low fat content of just 5g (for one large, 50g egg). Now put this poached egg on a 100g piece of cheddar cheese and add some beef salami (30g) or a seed cracker (5g) with a good spread of butter (6g) and the fat content of your meal now represents approximately 75% of the total calories eaten.

Simple examples of enhancing the fats

Breakfast: Try one large (50g) soft-boiled egg with 100g of cheddar cheese cut into fingers that you dip into the egg.
The percentages of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) in terms of total daily calories for this meal (as per the ‘Carb Counter’ and ‘Meal Tracker’ available to members of the Real Meal Revolution) are 73.2% fat (39.1g), 1.6% carbs (1.9g) and 25.2% protein (30.3g). The egg has 5.3g fat and the cheddar cheese has an additional 33.8g fat, pushing the meal into the target fat percentage of 70-75%.

Dinner: 2 grilled lamb loin chops with gem squash and butter, avocado and baby marrow.

This meal works out as 80.1% fat (83.9g), 3.4% carbs (7.9g) and 16.6% protein (39.1g). The avocado and butter add an additional 38.1g of fat to the meal, as detailed below:

  • 190g lamb loin chops: 45.6g fat, 0g carbs, 31g protein
  • 100g avocado: 15g fat, 1.8g carbs, 2g protein
  • 100g cooked gem squash: 0.2g fat, 2.9g carbs, 1.8g protein
  • 28g butter: 22.7g fat, 0g carbs, 0.2g protein
  • 150g cooked baby marrow: 0g fat, 3.2g carbs, 4.1g protein
  • Total macronutrients: 83.5g fat, 7.9g carbs, 39g protein

    Grilled loin chops are a favorite in our families. They’re simple to cook and by adding half an avocado per meal and a tablespoon of butter into the center of the gem squash you almost double the fats without the meal feeling ‘greasy’.

    The total calories for both breakfast and dinner are fairly low at 1420 calories yet these two meals are nutritious and satiating because of the high fat content. It is not necessary consume 70-75% of calories as fat at every meal, as long as your total daily calories are in this range.

Other ways to increase your fat intake that are popular amongst some Banters are bullet-proof coffee (coffee with added butter and coconut oil), Banting hot cocoa (cocoa powder, cream, coconut oil), chocolate fat shakes (cocoa powder, full cream milk or almond milk, butter, coconut oil and cream) and ‘fat bombs’ (high-fat, low-carb and low-protein snacks). My favourite (second author) is a savoury salmon fat bomb made by blending cream cheese with smoked salmon, butter, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and some fresh dill and rolling the mixture into balls (or rolling it between two sheets of baking paper). It freezes well and is delicious spread onto seed crackers.

Top fat-ranked Banting superfoods

So what are the top fat-ranked, green-listed superfoods? These are the top 20 foods measured by percentage fat:

  1. Virgin Olive oil and coconut oil – 100% fat. Use olive oil for dressings or for cooking at low temperatures and coconut oil for high temperature cooking as it has a high smoke point (see our free spreadsheet of fats). Coconut is a Banting superfood. Add coconut oil to a Bullet-proof coffee. Coconut flour is red-listed as it has a carbohydrate content of 30g per 100g (with 10g fat and 9g protein) but it can be used in small quantities. Check the ingredients in canned coconut milk and coconut cream (or make your own) and choose the purest product available, without additives (‘Ayam’ is the purest brand available in Australia).
  2. Butter – 81% fat. Cook with it by itself or mix it with olive oil or coconut oil. A Banting friend eats slices of it (like cheese) if she is hungry and needs additional fat. This works very well especially if the butter is high quality (organic or grass-fed).
  3. Macadamia nuts – 76% fat. These really are a Banting superfood, filled with healthy monounsaturated fat; just watch the serving size as the carbs and calories can add up.
  4. Pecan nuts – 72% fat. Pecans are another Banting superfood.
  5. Pork belly and pork ribs – 53% fat.
  1. Mascarpone cheese – 44% fat.
  2. Cheddar cheese and pork salami – 34% fat.
  3. Cream – 33% fat.
  4. Beef salami – 32% fat.
  5. Beef sausage – 28%. Avoid any that contain wheat additives or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  6. Parmesan cheese – 26%fat. Parmesan can be expensive and can be substituted with nearly identical Italian products (for example, grana padana) and other Italian hard cheeses.
  7. Pork sausage and streaky bacon – 25% fat.
  8. Lamb loin chops – 24% fat.
  9. Pork ribs – 23% fat.
  10. Droe Wors/Dried Sausage – 21% fat.
  11. Beef fillet steak – 18% (obviously higher in protein).
  12. Bacon back – 16% fat (note that streaky bacon is 8% higher fat).
  13. Avocado and olives – 15% fat.
  14. Sardines in olive oil, mackerel fish and roast chicken –14% fat.
  15. Beef sirlion steak – 11% fat.

Foods that are surprisingly poor in fats

Most steaks come in at about 11-18% fat. They have a higher protein content.

Most of the green-listed fish (other than sardines and mackerel which contain 14% fat) are poorer in fats but are a good source of Omega 3 amino acids, an important addition to a balanced diet (see Tufts University School of Medicine, 2002).

Dairy products are also quite low in fat with the exception of cream (33% fat) and hard cheese (34% fat). Greek yogurt (6% fat) is surprisingly poor in all the macronutrients, including fat and protein. The take-away message from all this is that it is better to snack on cheddar or other hard cheeses (34% fat) on seed crackers or macadamia nuts (76% fat) rather than snacking on yogurt (which is comparatively low in fat and protein).

Some lower fat foods have excellent nutritional content

Avocados (15% fat), olives (15% fat) and eggs (9.9% fat) score comparatively poorly on the ‘fat ranking’ when measured against other green-listed foods, but all have excellent health benefits and should become an important part of your Banting diet. Read more about the benefits of these foods here: avocados (Gunnars, 2015), olives (Rudrappa, no date) and eggs (Health24, no date).

References

Gunnars, Kris (2015). ‘12 proven benefits of avocado (no. 5 is very impressive)’, article on Authority Nutrition website, http:// authoritynutrition.com/12-proven-benefits-of-avocado/, last accessed 25 Dec 2015.

Health24 (no date). ’10 health benefits of eggs’, article on Health24 website, http://www.health24.com/Natural/Natural-living/10- health-benefits-of-eggs-20120721, last accessed 25 Dec 2015.

KetoDiet Blog (2015). ‘Savory Salmon Fat Bombs’, recipe on the Keto Diet Blog, http://ketodietapp.com/Blog/post/2015/01/25/Savory- Salmon-Fat-Bombs, last accessed 7 Jan 2016.

Real Meal Revolution (no date). ‘The Famous Lists’, on The Real Meal Revolution website, http://realmealrevolution.com/real-food- lists, last accessed 1 Jan 2016.

Rogers, Ron (2013). ‘Are macadamia nuts healthy?’ Article on Livestrong.com, http://www.livestrong.com/article/360245-are- macadamia-nuts-healthy/, last accessed 1 Jan 2016.

Rudrappa, Umesh (no date). ‘Olives nutrition facts’, article on Nutrition and You website, http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/ olives.html, last accessed 25 Dec 2015.

Tufts University School of Medicine (2002). ‘Omega-3 Fatty Acids’, article on Tufts University School of Medicine website, http://medicine.tufts.edu/Education/Academic-Departments/Clinical-Departments/Public-Health-and-Community-Medicine/Nutrition- and-Infection-Unit/Research/Nutrition-and-Health-Topics/ Omega-3-Fatty-Acids, last accessed 25 Dec 2015.

Download our free list of fat-ranked_green-listed_foods.

 

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