Which fats and oils should I eat on a ketogenic diet?

By Dr. Stephen Phinney and the Virta Team

On a well-formulated ketogenic diet where 70-80% of your daily energy comes from fat, the majority of your dietary fat should be from sources of monounsaturates and saturates.

Here’s a table of the best fats and oils to consume on a ketogenic diet:

Keto diet - acceptable fats and oils

We only need about one teaspoon (5 grams) each of omega-6 and omega-3 fats each day to meet our essential fatty acid needs. Too much omega-6 in particular is not well-tolerated by our digestive tract. The older ‘high linoleic’ versions of safflower and sunflower oil are 65-75% omega-6, so if even one third of your daily energy needs (say about 600 out of 1800 Calories) came from one of these oils, that 600 kcal would contain 8 teaspoons of omega-6 fat. That’s way too much, and way out of balance with a normal omega-3 fat intake. High omega-6 oils such as corn, soybean, cottonseed, peanut, and the older versions of safflower and sunflower are good sources of essential omega-6 fatty acids if one is consuming a low fat diet. In that case, most of your daily energy comes from carbohydrates and fat is just a sliver of your daily energy use.

Olive oil is pretty close to ideal in its fatty acid composition. Other good fat sources are high oleic safflower and sunflower oils, plus lard (which is typically half monounsaturated) and canola oil.

Back to Keto FAQ


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40 Comments

  1. Avatar

    What about dairy products ? Do they have to be grass fed animals
    or any regular dairy

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Dairy products are OK as long as they don’t have sugar in them. Some examples of acceptable dairy products are cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream and sour cream. These dairy items do not have to be from grass fed animals, they just have to be full fat. I hope that helps!

      Reply

      1. Avatar

        Hi, can I use flaxseed oil on the keto diet?

        Reply

        1. Virta Health

          Thanks for your question! Flaxseed oil can be a good source of omega 3 fatty acids! Check out https://blog.virtahealth.com/mufa-pufa-ketogenic-diet/ for more information.

          Reply

      2. Avatar

        Whole milk?

        Reply

        1. Virta Health

          Whole milk contains 12 g of carbs in 8 oz and is considerably lower fat than other options.

          Reply

  2. Avatar

    Hi , what about peanut oil .

    Reply

    1. Avatar

      Peanut oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, so we recommend sticking to the oils in the table above.

      Reply

  3. Avatar

    Is baking/roasting meats with avocado oil ok?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Yes!

      Reply

  4. Avatar

    If you’re allergic to avocados can you safely use avocado oil?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      I would recommend discussing this with you medical provider just to be safe.

      Reply

  5. Avatar

    Can you have Sunflower oil on Keto diet yes or no?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Yes- Just look for high oleic sunflower oil

      Reply

  6. Avatar

    Can I fry with olive oil? + is sunflower oil keto?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Olive oil typically doesn’t have a high enough smoke point for frying. Canola oil or avocado oil are better options. High oleic sunflower oil can be a good option for those following a ketogenic diet.

      Reply

  7. Avatar

    Why does the Keto Herd talk so bad about Canola Oil when it’s so high in MUFAs? Is it the high pufas?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Rob! Dr. Phinney wrote a post about canola oil and how it can be a good source of omega 3 fatty acids on a well formulated ketogenic diet: https://blog.virtahealth.com/canola-oil-keto/

      Reply

  8. Avatar

    What about duck fat? How does it compare to tallow or lard?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      That is a great option!

      Reply

  9. Avatar

    What about cold pressed pecan oil on keto diet? I use it to make mayo because it has a neutral taste

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      As Dr. Phinney writes, “On a well-formulated ketogenic diet where 70-80% of your daily energy comes from fat, the majority of your dietary fat should be from sources of monounsaturates and saturates.” There is a great chart on this page that shows the fatty acid breakdown of a variety of fants and oils we recommend to our patients: https://blog.virtahealth.com/fats-oils-ketogenic-diet/

      The pecan nut is close to 51% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), much higher than any of the oils that we recommend. Compare that to avocado oil (another great tasting and neutral option for mayo or dressings) that only has 15% PUFA and you can see the avocado oil would be the better way to go.

      Reply

  10. Avatar
    Samantha Spencer June 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    What about rapeseed oil?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Samantha! Thanks for your question! Rapeseed oil is not a great option as it is very high in polyunsaturated fats. As Dr. Phinney writes on this post, “On a well-formulated ketogenic diet where 70-80% of your daily energy comes from fat, the majority of your dietary fat should be from sources of monounsaturates and saturates.”

      Reply

  11. Avatar

    Why dairy products supposed to be full fat, what is the problem with low fat, and is it rich in carbo?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Thank you for your question! The goal of a ketogenic diet is to induce ketosis through a low carb, high fat diet. Full fat dairy products like sour cream, cream cheese and heavy whipping cream provide a great source of fat for fuel, while also minimizing carbs.

      Reply

  12. Avatar

    Sunflower oil is ok to use?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi! You want to look for “High Oleic” sunflower oil, not regular sunflower oil

      Reply

  13. Avatar

    how about sardines w/ vegetable oil?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      We would recommend looking for sardines in olive oil versus “vegetable” oil.

      Reply

  14. Avatar

    can I use mustard oil + sunflower oil for cooking? mustard oil is high in omega 3 and sunflower is high in omega 6. do you think it can balance out? Olive oil is super expensive whee i am from. people use vegetable oils most of the here. so i am trying to find a better option within my reach.

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      If you use sunflower oil, we would recommend looking for “high oleic” for a better blend of omega 3’s to omega 6.

      Reply

  15. Avatar

    Can I use corn oil to bake with on a Keto diet? If not which oil should I substitute?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      In general, people don’t tolerate high amounts of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), such as corn oil, as part of a high fat diet, which is why we recommend focusing one’s intake on monounsaturates and saturates, such as coconut, canola, olive or avocado oil. Melted butter is also a great option for baking. More on which fats and oils to eat on a ketogenic from Dr. Phinney and team here: https://blog.virtahealth.com/fats-oils-ketogenic-diet/.

      Reply

  16. Avatar

    I went in a keto diet and after a month, my cholesterol was through the roof. Why is this?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Dr. Phinney has previously written: During rapid weight loss, cholesterol that you had stored in your adipose tissue (ie, body fat) can be mobilized, which will artificially raise serum LDL as long as the weight loss continues. The best time to check is a couple of months after weight loss ceases. Total cholesterol includes HDL (the so called ‘good cholesterol’), which usually goes up 10-15% on a ketogenic diet. That said, some people have high calculated LDL cholesterol values even after weight loss stops. If this occurs, you should discuss further diagnostic tests with your doctor. Current research is looking at LDL cholesterol as a mix of different particle sizes, where the small ones are dangerous and the larger ones are not. With a well-formulated ketogenic diet, we see a shift away from the small dangerous LDL even when the total LDL goes up.

      Reply

  17. Avatar

    Best oil to deep fry with on keto?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Avocado oil may be a good option as it has a very high smoke point!

      Reply

  18. Avatar
    Pete in New Zealand October 20, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Is my slow pressed veggi juice all good for my keto journey. I use, spinach, kale, cucumber, zucchini, celery, fresh turmeric and 2 teaspoons of cold pressed organic flax seed oil. 2 teaspoons of the ocean extract powder from the Body Ecology range by Donna Gates – like spirulina.
    How is that mix and would you add or reduce anything ? I do not need anything sweet in it. Just a case of man up and drink up. I have about 300 ml, a day in my eating window as only eating once a day for 2 months as it is just so easy to stick too.
    Pete in New Zealand

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi! 300 ml of juice, even from vegetables, may be too high in carbohydrates but it all depends on what your goals are and how you respond to it. The best way to know if it works is to track your blood sugar and ketones.

      Reply

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