The Analysis: Whats Happening Here
Theres an important part of this Lean Mass Hyper-Responder that needs to be called out. Thats the word lean.
While Im not a stage-ready bodybuilder, Im definitely more on the skinny side than the fat side. And it seems to be to the point where a hardcore, long-term keto diet puts me in a relatively unknown state.
Im at the point where my fat cells can no longer release enough triglyceride, so they start releasing cholesterol. I am churning LDL this is flux-based energy. Obviously, Im still here, happy, and healthy, so our wonderful bodies are well-adapted to all kinds of incredible scenarios.
But at the end of the day, if you were to ask anyone, is this LDL churn this a good thing or bad thing over the long haul?, the truthful answer is we just dont know.
Carbohydrate Moderation Increases Hdl In Healthy Non
The majority of studies assessing the effects of carbohydrate restriction on HDL have been conducted on primarily Caucasian, obese subjects.
In 2006, researchers sought to investigate the relationship between carbohydrate intake and HDL cholesterol in a healthy, diverse population. ;Scientists examined data from Canadians of South Asian, Chinese, European, and Aboriginal origin from two cross-sectional studies conducted in the late 90s.
They included participants who were 35-75 years of age and who were not born in Canada but had lived there for at least 5 years. Subjects who suffered from moderate to severe medical conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, and active cancer were not included. Subjects of all different weights and BMIs were included as long as they were considered healthy.
Scientists then randomly selected 619 subjects who met these inclusion criteria and examined their carbohydrate intake and levels of HDL cholesterol.
After adjusting for demographic factors such as age, sex, and ethnicity and lifestyle factors such as smoking, researchers noted that subjects in the lowest third of carbohydrate consumption had significantly higher levels of HDL cholesterol than subjects in the highest third of carbohydrate consumption.
Fewer servings of sugary drinks were also associated with higher levels of HDL. Because of their findings, the researchers attributed differences in HDL concentration to carbohydrate intake.
Is Keto A Good Choice If You Have Both High Cholesterol And High Blood Pressure
If you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, its important to talk with your doctor before deciding to go on a ketogenic diet. Your doctor will take your specific circumstances into consideration, such as overall health, the medications you take, and other risk factors, before approving a keto diet.
With some studies showing keto may potentially improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels, it might be worth asking your healthcare professional about it.
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Healthy Protein Choices For Better Cholesterol
When it comes to cholesterol, it’s the saturated fats in meat you need to be concerned about. High-fat meats such as marbled red meat, bacon and chicken skin, as well as cheese, are sources of saturated fat. To help improve cholesterol levels, replace high-fat meat and cheese with leaner cuts of red meat such as sirloin and pork loin, white meat poultry and seafood. Vegetarian sources of protein also make good choices.
Eating more fatty fish may help lower cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats linked to better heart health, including lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure. Be sure to add salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines to your low-carb diet, even if it ups your total fat intake.
Eggs are virtually carb-free, but high in cholesterol. However, the cholesterol in food, including eggs, doesn’t affect your blood cholesterol levels as once thought. Because all the cholesterol is in the yolk, if you have high cholesterol or a history of heart disease, it’s recommended that you limit your yolk intake to three times a week, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. There’s no restriction on egg whites.
The Basics: What Is Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is essential for the life of all animals, including humans.2 Cholesterol is found in virtually every cell of your body and is necessary for many bodily functions, including:
- Cell integrity: As an integral part of every cell membrane in the body, cholesterol is required for maintaining cell structure and fluidity.
- Hormone synthesis: Cholesterol is needed to make steroid hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, and other related hormones, such as vitamin D3.
- Creation of bile acids: Your liver converts cholesterol into bile acids, which help you absorb fats and the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Myelin formation: The myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerve cells contains plenty of cholesterol.3
;Your body makes most of the cholesterol that is found in your bloodstream. Its primarily produced in the liver.
Dietary cholesterol found in animal foods like eggs, shellfish, cheese, and organ meat makes up a smaller portion of your blood cholesterol pool.
Unlike fat, which contains nine calories per gram, cholesterol has no calories. Because its present in foods in very small amounts, its measured in milligrams instead of grams. Most fatty meats and whole-milk dairy products contain just a little cholesterol, whereas some shellfish and organ meats are high in cholesterol, yet low in fat.
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What Specific Foods Should I Eat On Keto To Also Maintain Good Cholesterol
Consuming mostly unsaturated fats, compared to saturated fats, while on a keto diet may improve cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats are found in foods such as:
- Plant oils like olive, avocado, sunflower, corn, and canola oils
- Fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel
- Nuts and nut butters, including peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts;
- Seeds, such as flax, sesame, sunflower, and chia
The keto diet is also typically lower in fiber, so maximizing the small number of carbohydrates allowed while following keto can benefit not only cholesterol levels but also gut health. Choosing non-starchy fruits and vegetables like avocados, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and spinach can help.
Additionally, many people cannot follow the keto diet in the long term, so having a clear and defined plan for how to transition off the keto diet is important to help retain any positive health benefits acquired.
Final Thoughts On The Keto Diet And Cholesterol
So does the keto diet raise cholesterol? It can due to the high-fat content of the diet, however, the keto diet overall has positive effects on cardiovascular health markers.
The bottom in is that instead of focusing so much on cholesterol levels, its a better idea to tackle chronic inflammation.;Inflammation is the primary cause of atherosclerosis, or hardening and stiffening of arteries that accompanies plaque deposits and increases risk for heart attacks.
If youre following the ketogenic diet, what are some ways you can take care of your heart and keep chronic inflammation at bay?
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What Happens To Your Cholesterol When You Go On A Keto Diet
Even if youre at risk for cardiovascular disease, you still may be a candidate for the popular diet.
For every person who talks up the ketogenic diet, theres another warning about the ill effects on your heart. The worry is that following a very high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carbohydratediet will create a subsequent spike in cholesterol levels, which could, in turn, raise your risk for heart disease.
The worry is certainly valid. On the keto diet, each day youre eating up to 80 percent of your calories from fat and sticking with 20 to 50 grams of net carbs, a term used in popular diets, including;keto and;Atkins;but one that is not officially recognized in the medical community. This all means youll be eating a lot of fat per day, and in the name of meeting that quota, that may include unhealthy choices such as butter, coconut oil, and animal fat, all sources of saturated fat, which has been linked to poor heart health, according to the American Heart Association .
But the effect of keto on heart health isnt as straightforward as it sounds. Indeed, the keto diet may not have as detrimental an effect on your cholesterol as some have thought.
How To Follow Keto In A Heart
One of the draws of a keto diet is the idea that you can eat any and all fat that you want. Thats not a healthy mindset to step into. I recommend patients choose cardioprotective fats, like nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocado, and extra virgin oils, such as olive oil, says Ryskamp. Similarly, avoid foods that are high in saturated fat as your primary fat sources.
Its not just fats that are important, but maximizing the small amount of carbohydrates youre allowed. Getting enough fiber can be a challenge, and youll want to make sure youre eating plenty of low GI-index veggies . Ultimately, the benefits come from replacing foods, like processed carbs, that experts believe are detrimental to overall wellness, with those that are heart-healthy, like unsaturated fats, she says.
Its been repeated over and over: If youre drastically changing your diet which includes going keto you need to talk to your doctor first and make sure its safe for you and your individual health concerns. You also want to get your lipids checked before and during keto, so your doctor can watch for a cholesterol spike and determine if this is a healthy diet for you.
One of the biggest concerns, says Soffer, is that once you come off keto, you continue eating a high-saturated-fat diet in combination with a typical Standard American Diet . Because keto is highly restrictive, most people dont stay on it for the long haul, so watch your diet and plan appropriately when you go off the diet.
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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.
How Fat And Cholesterol In Food Affect Blood Cholesterol Levels
The types of fat in the diet help determine the amount of total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. The types and amount of carbohydrate in the diet also play a role. Cholesterol in food matters, too, but not nearly as much.
- The discovery half a century ago that high blood cholesterol levels were strongly associated with an increased risk for heart disease triggered numerous warnings to avoid foods that contain cholesterol, especially eggs and liver. However, scientific studies show a weak relationship between the amount of cholesterol a person consumes and his or her blood cholesterol levels
- In studies of more than 80,000 female nurses, Harvard researchers found that consuming about an egg a day was not associated with higher risk of heart disease. However, people who have heart disease or diabetes should monitor egg consumption.
For most people, the amount of cholesterol eaten has only a modest impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. For some people, though, blood cholesterol levels rise and fall very strongly in relation to the amount of cholesterol eaten. For these responders, avoiding cholesterol-rich foods can have a substantial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, at this point there is no way other than by trial and error to identify responders from non-responders to dietary cholesterol.
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The Importance Of Ongoing Monitoring
People who follow the keto diet should consult their doctors to arrange .
If a doctor notices that LDL cholesterol levels are rising, the diet may no longer be appropriate.
People with high levels of fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in their blood have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
People with high cholesterol should adopt a lifestyle that reduces these levels. This is because high cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
The keto diet emphasizes high amounts of fat, but not all fats have equal value. For example, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the 20152020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans .
Saturated fats occur in foods such as cookies, cakes, and other snacks. Coconut oil, butter, and ghee contain high levels of saturated fats, whereas extra virgin olive oil and margarine are higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, and cod can be an excellent source of protein, and they contain unsaturated fat, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for the body.
People with high cholesterol who follow the keto diet can snack on certain nuts and seeds that are generally low in carbs and rich in fiber and protein. Chia seeds have a higher content of polyunsaturated fats.
Reduce Your Saturated Fat Intake
If you would prefer to stay keto or have a genetic propensity toward high cholesterol, you may want to lower your saturated fat intake. Many healthy foods are high in unsaturated fats, including avocados, raw nuts and seeds, fish, seafood, and healthy oils like avocado or olive oil.
By focusing on those foods and reducing saturated fat sources, such as butter, coconut oil, and animal and dairy fats, you may find that it positively influences your cholesterol profile .
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Higher Percentages Of Saturated Fat In Low
In the debate of low-fat versus low-carb diets, both can help you shed unwanted weight equally, as long as youre choosing healthy options. But it turns out a diet composed of fewer carbs and higher percentages of saturated fat might actually have health benefits outside of weight loss better blood cholesterol levels.
This finding came from a follow up analysis of the DIETFITS study, which set out to contrast the effects of low-carb versus low-fat dieting and determine which was better for losing weight. In a subgroup of 210 low-carb dieters, those who consumed a higher percent of saturated fats as part of their overall diet had better levels of blood lipids, including both higher HDLs and lower triglycerides, which are the main type of fat in the blood and in body fat storage.
That’s not to say that saturated fats are suddenly exonerated; there’s a bit of a catch, said Christopher Gardner, PhD, nutrition expert and senior author of the analysis. Those with the best lipid levels and highest percent of saturated fat intake also ate fewer carbohydrates, particularly added sugars and refined grains.
So the lesson here isn’t that saturated fats are good for you, it’s that they’re not going to topple a good dieting effort that’s low in carbs and refined sugars and high in whole foods and vegetables.
Carbohydrates That Lower Cholesterol
While some carbs raise your cholesterol, other carbs might lower your numbers. Most of these carbs also have a low-glycemic index. The positive effect on cholesterol might be partly due to the soluble fiber found in these foods. Healthy carbohydrates that lower cholesterol include oatmeal, beans, oranges, pears, strawberries, barley and grape nuts. While certain carbs might be more effective at lowering your cholesterol, including more high-quality, less-processed carbs such as whole-grain bread, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta in your diet helps too.
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Zero Carb Absolutely Zero Carb Forever Probably Not
This will be hotly debated. But in my opinion, for me, right here, right now, some level of carbohydrate is closer to optimal, as long as I can control the carbohydrate cravings / sweet tooth addiction which I definitely can when using them as a workout aid only.
Did going from a nearly zero carb diet to a low carb diet fix my lipids? This is arguable, but Im not convinced LMHR is best 24/7/365.
In the keto/carnivore community, we love to argue about whether or not carbohydrates are natural or species appropriate. I think the answer is clear if you look at nearly any tribe thats in a temperate climate: its cyclical, but when theyre available, you can be damned sure that they eat them. And a lot of them at that.
Given that my ancestors werent eskimos, its worth considering that were going to use those summer/fall harvest times to fatten up for winter.
Of course, those tribal individuals are obviously their feet more, and arent eating refined garbage mixed with toxic seed oils disguised as vegetable oils. If I can have the best of both worlds preferably using sources that I know dont mess me up , I feel like this is more optimal living for me.
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.
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