Many people are left completely confused on the topic of dietary fat, especially when it comes to the notorious saturated fat. The low-fat craze seems to be waning, but the fog of confusion persists. You know you’re supposed to consume relatively high amounts of healthy fats on a ketogenic diet, but what about saturated fat? Is saturated fat a good idea to consume on keto? What foods contain saturated fat? What about the connection to heart disease or obesity? Let’s delve into this hot topic that’s still somewhat coated in controversy.
What Is Saturated Fat?
Food contains three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. Contrary to popular belief, you need protein and fat to survive, but you don’t need glucose (sugar). Your body can create its own glucose from dietary fat and protein in a process called gluconeogenesis.
Your body can’t make essential amino or fatty acids, so you must obtain them from your diet. There are no essential carbohydrates, but there are essential fatty acids and proteins.  This doesn’t mean that carbohydrates can’t be a healthy part of your diet; it’s just an important fact to remember.
Protein and carbohydrates yield four calories per gram, whereas fat yields nine calories per gram. This means that fat provides lots of energy and leaves you feeling satiated. Fats are composed of greater amounts of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. Saturated fat is a type of fatty acid that’s saturated with hydrogen atoms. For every carbon atom in saturated fat, there are two hydrogen atoms.
Monounsaturated fats contain one double bond between two connecting carbon atoms. Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between connecting carbon atoms with carbon atoms on the same side of the double bond. Trans fats have double bonds, but the hydrogen atoms are on the opposite sides of the double bonds.
All this science talk about carbon atoms and double bonds can fly over your head, but the main point to know is that saturated fat is simply more ‘saturated’ with hydrogen atoms than unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature and are found in meat, dairy, fish, and coconut oil. Coconut oil has a whopping 87% saturated fat. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are found in foods like olive oil and fatty fish.