A Dietitian’s Tips for Tasty Ways to Incorporate Fat into the Diet

We are excited to share today’s guest blog post by ketogenic dietitian and Keto Ambassador, Vanessa Aldaz, MPH, RD, CDE. Thanks for these awesome tips, Vanessa!


BleVanessa Aldaznding in the fats- Can we make them taste better?

By Vanessa Aldaz, MPH RD CDE

I often hear the same complaint from new keto parents: “It’s just too much fat– my child has a hard time eating it all”. Or “It just doesn’t taste that good”.  Even parents that have been doing the diet for a longer time will come back eventually and ask “How can we continue giving the fats?”

Whatever happened to the old saying ”Fat makes everything taste better”?  Yes, I imagine it especially does when it is also covered in sugar and simple carbs! But not so much in this magical diet known as the ketogenic diet when sugar is not allowed and loads of butter, oil, mayo, lard or other fatty goodness are needed to keep our children away from those vicious seizures.

So how can we keep the magic happening each time we slather and pound the fat component of the diet on our child’s plate? Can we make it go down easier? Well, perhaps! If you haven’t tried some of these tricks and tips, you might find some of these useful. Remember to mix it up and continue to use creativity. Here are a few tasty ways to blend in the fats on a high fat diet! Hmm, maybe fat does make everything taste better…..

Note- Be sure to tailor these ideas to work with your prescribed ketogenic ratio or diet type. Consult with your dietitian for help.

  1. Mix in the MCT oil. If using MCT oil in your diet- mix it into mayonnaise or a dressing.
  2. Make herbed butter! Fresh or dried herbs work just fine– Use a pinch or weigh out and calculate into your ratio if using more. Add herbs like parsley, oregano, tarragon, lavender, cilantro, rosemary, thyme or herbs de Provence to butter, ghee or even coconut oil. Make it into a log, freeze or keep refrigerated and use as needed for fats that add flavor, freshness and color.
  3. Spice it up! Same as above but add spices. Paprika, cayenne and even a pinch of curry are enough to give your fats a kick!
  4. Make a dressing! Mix oil, heavy cream, salt and pepper, and an acidic component whether it be lime or lemon juice or vinegar. Try to use 3 parts fat to 1 part acid component. Don’t forget to calculate the vinegar or citric juices as these may add extra carbs.
  5. Infused oils! Yes, infused oils have very low or even no carbs but provide plenty of aroma and flavor. Take 1 cup of any oil (except flaxseed)- such as olive, coconut oil, canola or corn oil and add a flavoring component, such as 2 cloves of garlic, or 1 tsp red pepper flakes, dried rosemary, oregano, thyme, or basil. You could also add 1-2 star of anise, some cloves, a piece of fresh dried turmeric (which is also a great antioxidant), or ginger root. Add the oil blend to a small sauce pan. Bring to a low simmer then turn off heat and let stand until cool for 30 minutes. Once cooled, use a sieve and keep only the oil. Drizzle on foods like fish, vegetables, or meats! YUMM!
  6. Infused cream! To 1 cup of heavy cream- add 1 TBSP of one of the following: dried herbs or spices (such as basil, garlic, curry, peppermint or mint leaves), tea leaves like green tea, cinnamon sticks, orange or lemon peel, macha green tea, or a chai tea bag. Bring the mixture to a low simmer for 10-15 minutes or until cream is infused with enough flavor. Do not boil. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate. Depending upon whether you made a sweet or savory cream infusion, you can add salt or your choice of sugar substitute. The infused cream can be made into a sauce or dessert topping or as a twist on a fat bomb!
  7. Create a mousse using heavy cream whipped and blended with applesauce or pureed fruit.
  8. Make a savory mousse by mixing an infused oil, heavy cream and pureed chicken, tuna or salmon. Use to dip with keto crackers or veggies.
  9. Keto ice cubes! Mix MCT oil and heavy cream together (emulsified forms of the MCT oil work best), pour into fun shaped ice cube trays, and freeze! These work great in a diet orange soda or diet root beer as a “keto float”!

Medium Chain Triglcyerides (MCTs) and the Ketogenic Diet

coconutoilIf you are new to the ketogenic diet, you may be wondering about the term “MCT” you keep hearing about. MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride. Some of you may already be using MCTs, but perhaps you are wondering what makes them different from regular fats and oils. In today’s post, we’ll teach you all about MCTs, what makes them unique, and how they are sometimes used with the ketogenic diet for epilepsy.

Dietary Fat

To understand MCTs, it helps to know a little about dietary fat in general.  Dietary fat is made up of fatty acids, often referred to as the “building blocks” of fat. Fatty acids can classified as short, medium, or long-chain, depending on their length.

Most of the fat in the foods we eat is in the form of triglycerides, which are made up of 3 fatty acids. A triglyceride can be classified as short, medium, or long-chain depending on the length of the fatty acids that it contains. A long chain triglyceride (LCT) contains 3 long chain fatty acids, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) contains 3 medium chain fatty acids and a short chain triglyceride (SCT) contains 3 short chain fatty acids.

How the Body Processes MCTs

Now that you understand the structure of dietary fat, let’s move on to the differences in how the body processes MCTs in comparison to LCTs.

  1. Digestion & Absorption: Because of their shorter length, MCTs are more easily digested and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract than LCTs.
  2. Transportation: Once dietary fat is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, the body must then transport it to the liver where it is metabolized to produce energy. MCTs are transported directly from the gastrointestinal tract through the bloodstream to the liver.  In comparison, LCTs must take a longer route through the lymphatic system then through the circulatory system before finally reaching the the liver. The analogy I like to use is that LCTs and MCTs have the same origin (GI tract) and destination (liver) but LCTs take the longer, slower scenic route and MCTs take the expressway.
  3. Metabolism: In addition to the differences described above, the metabolism of MCTs is unique as well. Fat metabolism occurs in the mitochondria of the liver. LCTs require a substance called carnitine to enter the mitochondria, however MCTs can enter mitochondria freely so they are not limited by the presence of carnitine.

How Is MCT Used with the Ketogenic Diet?Liquigen

Remember that the ketogenic diet works by switching the body’s metabolism from using glucose for energy to using fat for energy, which produces high amounts of ketones in the body. The unique features of MCTs make it useful with the ketogenic diet because MCTs are capable of producing more ketones than regular fat (which is mostly LCT). Although a small number of foods contain a percentage of MCTs (such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and butter fat), pure MCT oil is not found naturally. However, there are specially-produced MCT oils available, such as Liquigen®.

The MCT Ketogenic Diet (MCTKD) was first introduced in the 1970s. This diet is a variation of the Classical Ketogenic Diet and is based on the percentage of calories coming from MCTs (usually between 30-60%), rather than a ketogenic ratio. The idea is that because MCTs produce more ketones than regular fat (which consists of mostly LCTs), incorporating high amounts of MCTs into the diet allows patients to stay in ketosis while consuming relatively higher amounts of protein and carbohydrates. This makes the MCTKD appealing to individuals who might have trouble complying with the protein and carbohydrate restrictions of the Classical Ketogenic Diet.

High amounts of MCTs can cause gastrointestinal disturbances in some individuals, such as vomiting or diarrhea, so the amount of MCTs that can be used depends on each patient’s tolerance. When used, the ketogenic dietitian will usually recommend introducing MCT oil gradually to help ensure tolerance. Like the Classical Ketogenic Diet, the MCTKD is initiated in the hospital under medical supervision and all foods must be weighed using a gram scale.

The MCTKD is frequently used in Europe and Canada. Although the MCTKD is less common in the U.S., MCT oil is often incorporated into the Classical Ketogenic Diet and Modified Atkins Diet. MCT oil may be added to the diet to help boost ketone production or to help maintain ketosis with a lower ketogenic ratio with more protein and carbohydrates allowed.

As always, consult with your health care provider before introducing MCT oil or any other new item into your child’s ketogenic diet.

Do you use MCTs? If so, how do you use them?

-Mallory

 

 

Photo attribution: Flickr user Mattie Hagedorn