Why Eating Cholesterol Doesnt Raise Your Cholesterol
When people talk about cholesterol, theyre usually referring to your lipid profile, or the fat and fatty acids;in your blood .
Cholesterol is responsible for everything from building hormones to strengthening cell membranes, transporting vitamins, and helping you absorb all the nutrients from food.
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Many people dont know your body can produce all the cholesterol it needs to function. The vast majority of your cholesterol is produced by your body, with a smaller percentage coming from your diet. Even then, most of the cholesterol in your food cant be used by your body, and it leaves your body as waste.
How A Keto Diet May Influence Cholesterol
There has been some research done on low-carbohydrate diets and their effects on cardiovascular health. It can be hard to draw specific conclusions on the topic, though, because many of the studies are short term , are of a small sample size, and examine different variations of very-low-carb diets.
Nevertheless, we are starting to understand a little bit more about how very-low-carbohydrate, or ketogenic, diets may affect cholesterol levels. Below is a summary of some of the research studies.
The Effect Of A Ketogenic Diet On Weight And Cardiometabolic Risk Factors
Because of the increasing popularity of the ketogenic diet, the US National Lipid Association Nutrition and Lifestyle Task Force recently reviewed the evidence and published a scientific statementi on the effect of these types of diets on body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, including lipids. They concluded:-
Its also worth noting this diet has been associated with short term side effects such as gastrointestinal complaints including constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain which are often experienced in the first few weeks. Some individuals may experience symptoms described as the keto flu within 2 to 4 days of starting a keto diet, which may occur as the body adapts to using ketone bodies for fuel. It may last a few days to one week and include light-headedness, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty exercising, poor sleep and constipation.
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How Genetics Plays A Part
While the ketogenic diet may be safe for most people, it might not be healthy for others to follow. A ketogenic diet could increase LDL cholesterol levels in some people at high risk for heart attack and stroke.
In particular, people with an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia should always consult with their healthcare provider before trying a ketogenic diet. Familial hypercholesterolemia is marked by very high LDL cholesterol levels and an increased risk of premature heart disease. The American Heart Association has state that only 10% of people with familial hypercholesterolemia are aware they have it.
Additionally, some people have a rare genetic condition that affects how LDL particles are regulated, causing high LDL cholesterol levels. The genetics causing this response isnt completely understood, but the APOE gene, which provides instructions for making a protein called apolipoprotein e, may be one of several factors involved. People who have this inherited genetic condition should avoid the keto diet.
The Bottom Line About Cholesterol And The Keto Diet
Cholesterol is essential to key processes in your body.
Low-carb, high-fat diets such as the ketogenic diet, increase the concentrations of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol when compared against standard high-carb diets.;
Carbohydrate restriction in healthy individuals leads to higher levels of HDL cholesterol.;
Low-carb, high-fat diets generally decrease LDL particle concentration and increase the size of LDL cholesterol, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Dangerous VLDL cholesterol concentrations in the blood decrease with a ketogenic diet.
Improvement in the total LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio has been demonstrated when dietary carbohydrates are replaced with fat.
When we weigh all the evidence, the benefits of low carb diets on our cholesterol levels greatly outweigh the negatives for most people.;
However, some people may need to adjust their diets in order to meet optimal cholesterol levels. If you have a genetic predisposition, or a history of elevated cholesterol levels or heart issues, please undertake low carb diets with the supervision of your doctor.;
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Key Takeaways From A Ketogenic Diet Review
A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow, and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because its so hard to stick with that people cant eat this way for a long time. It is also important to remember that “yo-yo diets” that lead to rapid weight loss fluctuation are associated with increased mortality. Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months , try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.
Ldl And Carbohydrate Restriction: What Is The Relationship
Lets go back to the research assessing how the low-carb, high-fat diets such as the ketogenic diet affect your LDL levels. In the meta-analysis by Bueno et al., low-carb diets were shown to increase HDL twice as much as low-fat diets after randomized controlled interventions. It also showed that there was a small increase in LDL-C in low-carb subjects compared to low-fat diet subjects who experienced no increase.
The research study by Brinksworth et. al also showed that low-carb diets yielded greater increases in HDL cholesterol when compared to a low-fat diet.
Key Takeaways: Some research suggests that high-fat, ketogenic diets can increase LDL-C by a small amount.
A Quick Primer On Your Genome
A genotype is a set of genes in your body. Everyone has a unique genotype . A phenotype is how those genes are expressed in other words what makes you, you.
The other two factors influencing the characteristics;expressed by your genes or your phenotype are:
This means that two people with the exact same genotype could end up looking completely different due to the way their environment affected the expression of their genes.
Of particular interest to ketogenic dieters are the apolipoprotein A and apolipoprotein E genotypes. These genotypes influence the way your body processes fats and cholesterol. Some of you will have the perfect genes for a keto diet: if this is you, you will be able to eat all the fat you want and it wont affect your cholesterol.
However, others may be negatively affected by high levels of saturated fat intake.
The key takeaway here is that a keto diet consisting primarily of saturated fat is not for everyone! Lets dive into the keto genes and how they affect your cholesterol levels!
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It Could Increase Your Cholesterol
A typical keto diet involves getting up to 85% of your daily calories from fat. With all that fat, it’s not surprising that the diet isn’t exactly considered heart-healthy.
“When we look at the long-term effects of a diet chronically lower in fruits and veggies and higher in animal saturated fats, odds are it’s not helping heart health,” says Kimball. “I’m not saying that the keto diet is inherently bad for cholesterol or heart and vascular health, but elevated cholesterol is a side effect that is not uncommon.”
On the other hand, because of the scarcity of long-term research on keto and heart health, it’s tough to say how things might play out if you stick to the diet for years. According to Kimball, keto can often improve blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and help people maintain a healthy weightbenefits that might outweigh the downsides of higher cholesterol.
“There are just so many factors involved,” she says. “It’s something that should be managed on an individual basis with your physician or dietitian.”
For healthier ways to lose weight this year, check out our list of The Best Healthy Eating Tips For 2021, According to Dietitians.
Predicting How Keto May Affect Your Cholesterol Levels
To have an idea if the keto diet may have a negative effect on your cholesterol, consider your starting triglyceride number. According to the Mayo Clinic, triglycerides are another type of lipid in your blood that your body uses for energy; high triglyceride and LDL levels can lead to fatty deposits that gum up arteries, notes the American Heart Association. Normal levels are less than 150 milligrams per deciliter . About a quarter of the population has triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL, which is the threshold to consider elevated triglycerides. This is a large percentage of the population, so its not uncommon, says Soffer.
If you have normal levels, keto is likely safe to try. For people with normal or perfect triglyceride levels, the impact from keto is minimal or none, says Soffer. If, on the other hand, you have insulin resistance,type 2 diabetes, and/or abdominal obesity, and your triglycerides are elevated it may seem like you should shy away from keto, but the opposite may be true, Soffer argues, explaining that the low-carb nature of keto has the potential to decrease insulin resistance and improve triglycerides.
Still, though, the aforementioned Nutrition & Metabolism study involved a mere 34 people so more research, particularly larger, longer-term studies, is needed before scientists can fully understand the true effects of keto on insulin resistance and triglycerides.
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Can Apoe4s Follow A Ketogenic Diet
Indeed they can. In fact, I strongly encourage all fatigue patients to follow a ketogenic diet regardless of your genetic status. But the ApoE4 group needs to be mindful of the type of fat and protein they consume on a day-to-day basis. Below I lay out the dos and dont for those of you with ApoE4 genes.
- Eat as much olive oil as possible
- Remember, 1 liter per person of extra virgin olive oil every week.
- Follow a traditional paleo or ketogenic diet.
- Both diets are too high in animal fats and proteins for your genes.
- Adherence to either will create negative health outcomes!
What Happens To Triglycerides On Keto
Studies show that on a keto diet, triglycerides generally decrease . This makes sense when considering that triglycerides are a type of stored fat. When youre on keto your body uses fat for fuel leaving less triglycerides to be stored in your fat cells.;
Reduced triglyceride levels decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease .;
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The Myth: A Keto Diet And Cholesterol
Since a Ketogenic Diet requires you to eat a large amount of saturated fats, this means that your cholesterol levels can increase, which many people immediately think is a terrible thing that can cause your arteries to clog and you to die. While it is commonly assumed that this increase in cholesterol is a bad thing; that is not necessarily the case. The biggest myth surrounding a Ketogenic Diet is that the diet, which is high in fat, will cause your arteries to clog and give you heart disease. There have been many studies done on the subject of eating a high amount of fats, a low amount of carbs and its effects on the body and cholesterol.
A meta-analysis completed in 2010, discusses this belief that high levels of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease, and reports that this connection has no validity. The meta-analysis did not find that there was a strong linking between high-fat foods and cholesterol. Another study looked into different diets that are low carb and found that these diets can actually decrease your risk of heart disease. And yet, another study done at Johns Hopkins University found that diets lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat posed no greater health risks to developing heart disease. ;
Can A Keto Diet Clog Your Arteries
If you are considering going on a Keto Diet, or are already on it, you might have heard the common myth that following it can cause your arteries to clog. You might hear people say this as you explain to them the diet that you are on. It might make you wonder where this myth came from and why people are stuck on it. The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet with moderate protein. It is commonly known that fats can cause your cholesterol levels to skyrocket and therefore clog your arteries. >Is cottage cheese keto?
Clogged arteries can cause heart attack, heart disease, other cardiovascular issues and even death. What you might not know is that research shows that although a Keto diet is high in fat, it can do wonderful things to the body, including increasing healthy cholesterol. Increasing healthy cholesterol can decrease your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lets start by discussing what cholesterol is and how it affects the body.
You May Lose Muscle Mass
A true keto diet isn’t just low-carbit’s quite low-protein, too. This means that some of the losses on the scale won’t just be body fat. You could lose muscle, too.
“When protein intake dips so low, it’s only natural for there to be loss of muscle mass, even with people who exercise on a regular basis,” says Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD. “A lot of times someone isn’t aware that they’ve lost muscle mass because they’re so excited that the scale is going down.”
To keep whittling your waistlinewithout whittling down your musclesKimball encourages a modified keto diet.
“This could look like not going so low-protein by adding foods like fish or Greek yogurt,” says Kimball. “You might not achieve ketosis, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll still likely see results.”
For a more in-depth look at this popular eating plan, check out our guide to doing keto safely.
Keto May Harm People With A Genetic Mutation That Affects Ldl Regulation
Where things get possibly dangerous is if youre one of the people who has an inherited genetic mutation that affects the way LDL particles are regulated. If these individuals follow a keto diet, their LDL levels can skyrocket, says Soffer. This result doesnt happen often enough to skew overall results in population studies, but what matters most is the effect the diet has on your individual health. Its a long-recognized phenomenon that hasnt been published well, he says, adding that the genetics that drive this response arent completely understood.
You may not be aware that you have a preexisting genetic mutation, also called familial hypercholesterolemia . In fact, as the AHA notes, for people with FH, only 10 percent know they have it. Being aware of your family history, including members who have had a heart attack at a young age, is important and can help point your provider in the right direction. In some instances, research shows that a low-carb diet may actually be beneficial for those with FH who also have insulin resistance, suggests an analysis published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine in July 2015. This is not something to tease out on your own. Instead, its just another reason why you should talk to your doctor about a dietary change, particularly if you have other health conditions, like high cholesterol.
So Is A Keto Diet Safe
The answer is yes. According to the research mentioned above, a keto diet is more beneficial than harmful to the body. This diet will not cause your arteries to clog. In fact, it will decrease your chances of heart disease because it produces higher amounts of the good HDL cholesterol. The good cholesterol can help to decrease the amount of bad, or LDL cholesterol. The more good cholesterol you have, the better your chances are of avoiding heart disease.
A Ketogenic Diet is perfectly safe and can be even more beneficial to the body than other types of diets because of it is low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein, which seems to be what your body needs. You will know your body has reached ketosis when you feel full, and after 3-4 days of eating foods low in carbs.