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Olive Oil and the Keto Diet

Why extra virgin olive oil is among the preferred fats for a body in ketosis.
By Daniel Dawson
Aug. 14, 2020 09:16 UTC

The keto­genic diet has been surg­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in recent years, with some mar­ket ana­lysts expect­ing adher­ence to the eat­ing pro­gram to con­tinue grow­ing over the next half-decade. The diet is already well-estab­lished in Europe as well as North America and is expand­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in Asia too.

The fat-cen­tric diet his­tor­i­cally was used to treat chil­dren and adults with epilepsy. However, mod­ern stud­ies have shown that adher­ing to a keto­genic diet may have a vari­ety of other health ben­e­fits, includ­ing weight loss and mit­i­gat­ing the effects of Type 2 dia­betes.

See Also:Olive Oil Basics

The diet works by hav­ing adher­ents replace car­bo­hy­drates and pro­teins with both sat­u­rated and unsat­u­rated fats. Many health experts and enthu­si­as­tic fol­low­ers of the keto­genic diet say includ­ing extra vir­gin olive oil in the diet is a great way to improve its effi­cacy.

What is the keto­genic diet?

The keto­genic diet – keto for short – is pri­mar­ily based on the con­sump­tion of fat, giv­ing less empha­sis to the other two macronu­tri­ents – pro­teins and car­bo­hy­drates.

While ratios vary depend­ing on the indi­vid­ual and their goals, the caloric intake of keto diet adher­ents is typ­i­cally com­posed of only five to 10 per­cent car­bo­hy­drates and 15 to 30 per­cent pro­tein, with the remain­der of the diet made up of fat.

See Also:Diet News

The idea behind the diet is to achieve keto­sis, a state in which the body and brain switch from break­ing down car­bo­hy­drates to pro­cess­ing fats as the pri­mary source of energy.

During keto­sis the body con­verts fat into ketones, which are then con­verted into energy. At the begin­ning of the diet, the body solely burns newly-con­sumed fat, but as the body adjusts, it begins to break down stored fat too.

Since the body is revert­ing to this alter­na­tive source of fuel, it is impor­tant to not con­sume a high vol­ume of car­bo­hy­drates, as it will quickly con­vert back to using this macronu­tri­ent as fuel.

Health ben­e­fits of the keto­genic diet

When prop­erly man­aged, the keto­genic diet can bring a vari­ety of health ben­e­fits to the adher­ents.

The pri­mary use of the keto­genic diet is to lose weight. After the body has burned through all of the car­bo­hy­drates, it solely con­verts fat into energy, which burns far more calo­ries. There is also some evi­dence sug­gest­ing diets high in fats and pro­teins are more sati­at­ing and result in par­tic­i­pants con­sum­ing fewer calo­ries over­all.

See Also:Health News

Research sug­gests that the keto­genic diet may also lower the risk of heart dis­ease and mit­i­gate the risk of meta­bolic syn­drome (i.e. high blood pres­sure, high cho­les­terol and high blood sugar) by rais­ing the body’s level of good” cho­les­terols and low­er­ing the level of bad” cho­les­terol.

Adherence to the keto­genic diet may also mit­i­gate the impacts of insulin resis­tance and Type 2 dia­betes. There is also some evi­dence (though it is far from con­clu­sive) to sug­gest that the keto­genic diet may also be ben­e­fi­cial for acne, can­cer pre­ven­tion, poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome and some neural dis­eases, includ­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.


Regarding dia­betes, can­cer pre­ven­tion and acne, the keto­genic diet may be ben­e­fi­cial because it uses up the body’s insulin and pre­vents it from build­ing up in the blood­stream. Insulin helps to fuel the growth of can­cer cells and too much of it in the blood can lead to insulin resis­tance and dia­betes.

Researchers are still unsure of why the keto­genic diet may be ben­e­fi­cial in mit­i­gat­ing the impacts of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, but the­o­rize that when fat is con­verted into ketones and sent to the brain, it may act as a pro­tec­tive lay­er­ing on the brain cells.

Olive oil and the keto­genic diet

Since roughly 70 per­cent of caloric intake on the keto­genic diet comes from fat, it is impor­tant to be eat­ing the cor­rect kinds.

Consuming sig­nif­i­cant amounts of monoun­sat­u­rated fats is impor­tant for improv­ing the effi­cacy of the keto­genic diet. For this rea­son, extra vir­gin olive oil – which is com­posed of about 73 per­cent monoun­sat­u­rated fat – fits per­fectly within the keto­genic diet.

Not only does the con­sump­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil as part of the diet com­ple­ment many of the afore­men­tioned health ben­e­fits, but some evi­dence sug­gests that it is among the pre­ferred fats to digest by a body that is in keto­sis.

See Also:Cooking with Olive Oil

Extra vir­gin olive oil is also rich in antiox­i­dants, which can help absorb much-needed nutri­ents in food. Since a lim­ited num­ber of car­bo­hy­drates is crit­i­cal to suc­cess for the keto­genic diets, con­sum­ing sal­ads dressed with extra vir­gin olive oil or veg­eta­bles grilled with the stuff helps the body get the most out of these foods.

Additionally, extra vir­gin olive oil is rich in polyphe­nols, Omega‑3 and Omega‑6 fatty acids, all of which are health­ful com­pounds that help the body func­tion prop­erly.

Away from the health ben­e­fits of adding extra vir­gin olive oil to the keto­genic diet, there is also the fla­vor fac­tor.

From adding it to sal­ads to fry­ing eggs in it, extra vir­gin olive oil is a ver­sa­tile cook­ing ingre­di­ent that can help add some vari­ety and com­plex­ity to a keto meal plan.


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