T Nation

Olive Oil Intake


Just a quick question for anyone who might know the answer:

When I cook chicken or fish, I always sautee with olive oil. I haven't been including the olive oil used for cooking in my diet log, and was wondering if I should be doing that. I think, but don't know, that the olive oil is absorbed into the food during cooking. Does anyone have any input about this, and should I be including the cooking oil into my nutritional logs?


Tough call as you don't really know how much of it is absorbed and how much cooks off. If your fat and calories need to be that close, count it. If you are just tracking for the sake of tracking I wouldn't worry about it.


One tablespoon of olive oil is about 120 calories (all from fat), I belive that some is abosrbed by the food, but not all of it. I guess that it would depend on what your goal is, if you are trying to lose weight, I would count it, if I was trying to gain weight, I would not.


One other thing, there is probably more variance as far as calories go in your estimated metabolic rate than is in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.


depends on your technique also. if you're searing things, like a good carmelized sear w/ only 30 sec a side and finish in the oven, then very, very little oil will be absorbed as the water will stay in the chicken and not boil off therefore allowing oil to absorb because the temp is too low. but i doubt you're searing w/ olive oil 'cause it burns a good ways before the temp you need to do that.

most people want to keep the oil out because the meat tastes better that way but if you're thinking the other way around , you WANT the oil to be absorbed, well keep in mind that the benefits of olive oil suffer some pretty good damage once it hits the heat. and i would say just use it in your salad or whatever and learn to cook w/higher temps/very little oil.


With olive oil a quick to moderate medium heat should be the maximum, as already mentioned you'll be burning off the benefits of unrefined extra virgin olive oil and its one of the oils that's not stable with high heat cooking which is not healthy too. Better you use high heat canola oil or peanut oil for a sautee that isn't very light.
Here's a tip I found recently;
" Add a pinch of turmeric powder in the frying oil which is a powerful anti-oxidant that prevents the free radical generation in the fried food to a greater extent. Only disadvantage is the yellow coloration of foods. "


Measure the amount of oil used. Measure the amount of oil remaining after cooking. Then there is some kind of fancy equation that you can use to figure out how much got absorbed. Anyone help with this one?


Don't listen to this guy. Olive oil is the best non-saturated oil to heat or fry with. It's mainly comprised of monounsaturated fats - it has TWICE the monos as canola. Monos DO NOT hydrogenate! And Canola is crap.

Excessively heating olive oil will evaporate the alcohols and esters which make up its delicate taste and fragrance. But frying olive oil will not change its health aspects, only the flavor.

All oils will oxidize and hydrogenate to a tiny degree if repeatedly heated to very high temperatures such as is done in commercial frying operations. Virgin olive oil is highly monounsaturated and therefore resistant to oxidation and hydrogenation. Studies have shown oxidation and hydrogenation occurs to a lesser degree in olive oil than in other oils. But in any case, the amount of hydrogenation is miniscule and no home cooking would ever experience this problem with olive oil.

The large refinery-like factories which take unsaturated vegetable oil and turn it into margarine or vegetable lard do so by bubbling hydrogen gas through 250 to 400 degree hot vegetable oil in the presence of a metal catalyst, The process can take several hours. You cannot make a saturated product like margarine at home by heating olive oil or any other vegetable oil in a pan.

Changing a cis-fat to a trans-fat does not occur on a home stove.

Just so you know, I am a nutritionist with a Masters Degree.


I'd rather be fat than worry about that.


Thanks for the input. I was pretty sure olive oil was about as good as I could get for a cooking oil, so I'm glad to see at least partial confirmation. And as for the log, I guess I'll just include it, since I'm working on the T-Dawg diet for the next couple months.


Grape Seed oil is the mac daddy of them all. Has a little bit better fat profile and also sustains heat better (than olive oil). I've also found that it costs less (not by much) but you can't find it as easily as olive oil. Beside...fat is one of the best sources of calories apart from protein. Many dieters go nuts and don't get enough calories and grape seed oil is a great way to get extra calories. Add it to your Metabolic Drive at night to slow protein digestion too!


well, here's what guru di olio Udo Erasmus has to say about olive oil:

"Extra virgin olive oil, while not damaged by processing, is a poor source of essential fats, and provides less that 1% n-3 and only 10% n-6. When extra virgin olive oil is fried, it is extensively damaged. It should not be used for frying, but should be added to foods after they come off the heat."


he also says this:

"The richer an oil is in EFAs (especially n-3), the more it is damaged when fried, and the more toxic it becomes."


now i don't really know about that stuff cause i'm not a scientist or whatever. but practically speaking, i do know olive oil smokes like a mother at pretty low temps, and that burning oil=black toxic shitty tasting gook. i agree grape seed oil kicks ass.

and just so we're all on the same page: saute is different from fry. the defining elements of saute being:

  1. high heat. 500f and up.
  2. as little fat as possible.

saute means jump. your pan should be so goddamn hot the food jumps like mexican jumping beans when it hits. you also need to flip it around to minimize burning. you also need to work fast cause it doesn't take long. you also can't do this with the crap pan you bought at safeway.

basically you use so little oil when you saute that counting it isn't an issue. since high temp oil is neccesary, toxicity from burning is kept to a minimum, even more so since so little is used. probably more toxicity in the air than in the food at this point...get a decent hood.


You either took that information from oliveoilsource dot com or directly from the book by Kiritsakis, I don't know which. You may be a MSc Nutritionist, but I am a Doctor of Food Science and what you put and what it says on that site / in the book, is not enirely accurate. But its 2.30 am here, I can't be arsed to go into great detail.


This is good information, I don't fry with anything, as Udo Erasmus says, the best thing to fry with is Water.


Stig do you mind elaborating on this matter? There are some conflicting views here... and frying with water??


Frying with water means poaching, boiling etc.

On the Mono oil front, Canola isn't as good as Olive Oil mainly because its undergone more processing, Extra Virgin Olive oil is the least processed oil you'll find in the store.

Much of the smoking you get from heating olive oil comes from bits of sediment. Although Canola and Olive Oil are better for frying with, the info from people like UDO seems to make more sense than the stuff put out by those who are marketing Olive oil. Will look in some of my textbooks tommorow.

Best bet is if you have to fry oil, use as little as poss.


if you're frying with oil, it's getting in/on your food. Count at least half of the calories if not all.

Olive oil is safe for frying, at low to medium heat. The very best oil for cooking is coconut, since it's saturated and therefore very stable when heated. But don't worry - olive oil's okay.

But try to use "extra-virgin" - not just virgin, or filtered.


With all that knowledge you apparently don't do your own cooking. Put your olive oil in a pan on high heat for several minutes then see what happens....

You're ranting on about me saying don't use it at all.... I said don't use it for high heat cooking. Maybe you're the one who shouldn't be listened to.... You may be a nutritionist, but there's a difference between a nutritionist and a good nutritionist so don't assume throwing out the title will always bear weight.

Here is a good snippet from another source regarding proper temperatures to fry olive oil with;
or vegetables, 160?, and for other foods, 175?. The time will depend on the food, but in general food should not get stiff or hard.

As a consequence of the above, keeping in mind the terrible repercussions of saturated fats on health, and that the critical temperature of olive oil is 210?, olive oil is the grease that is most ideal, healthy, and nourishing for frying.

In order to fry correctly with this oil, a series of precautions should be taken:

a) Oil should be heated by moderate heat, and not over a strong flame.

b) Oil should never be allowed to smoke, as this means that the critical temperature has been reached and thus it is easy for undesirable by-products to be formed.
An easy way to check the temperature of the oil is to toss in a little piece of bread:

* If the bread goes to the bottom and doesn?t rise, the temperature is about 150?C, a temperature that is still low for proper frying.
* If the bread falls and rises slowly to the surface, the temperature is between 160? and 165?. This temperature is recommended for frying delicate foods (such as vegetables).
* If the bread falls and rises to the surface after a few seconds, the temperature is between 175? and 180?C. This temperature is recommendable for frying most foods.
* If the bread doesn?t sink and toasts, the temperature is high (between180?C and 185?C).

c) The oil should be strained immediately after using it in order to get rid of the food remains that it might contain, which might accelerate its degradation.

d) Olive oil may be used a maximum of 5 or 6 times for frying as long as all of these details have been seen to, although it is recommendable to use it fewer times.

Other nutritional considerations that should be kept in mind with respect to frying with olive oil:

a) Other nutritional considerations that should be kept in mind with respect to frying with olive oil:

b) Other nutritional considerations that should be kept in mind with respect to frying with olive oil:"

..... 2004 Basil Olive Oil Products Ltd.

Your opinion on Canola oil being crap, maybe you assume it's dangerous because it's derived from rapeseed... keep in mind it's erucic acid content is kept to 2% and while it's large amount of polyunsaturated omega 3 fats will be burned away in cooking, it is good for HIGH heat cooking.


Here is a think you can do with cuts of red meat which is quite good.

Take your piece of steak or what have you and tenderise (bash) it with a wooden spoon or one of those wooden kitchen hammer things. Then get about one third a teacup of red wine, any old red wine will do and about three tablespoons of olive oil and put these into the bag with the piece of meat.

The meat should be covered by the mixture, you might need to increase the amounts. Move the bag about regularly and leave it for about 8 hrs in the fridge.

Some of the fats in the meat that are not so desirable will be leached out and replaced by the olive oil.

To be honest, I've never tried it but I know people who have and its worth doing. Also Charles Poliquin mentioned it a long while ago not sure he advocated the same method I just wrote though, but similar sort of thing.


Olive Oil smokes though at low heat because of the sediment in it. Its more or less unavoidable.