How To Maintain Healthy Cholesterol On Keto
We still dont know the best diet for high cholesterol, but the data suggests that Keto can improve cholesterol profiles in obese people and those with diabetes. Its a promising drug-free therapy for these populations.
But what if your LDL spikes on Keto? Some people say not to worry about it. That other risk markers are more important. That high cholesterol alone doesnt cause heart disease.
Maybe theyre right. We dont have good long-term data on otherwise healthy people that develop high LDL on Keto.
But since high LDL is a well-established heart disease risk factor in other populations, its probably wise to play it safe. Beyond consulting with your doctor to manage your cholesterol, be mindful of these 3 dietary considerations:
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.
Darren Robb/Getty Images
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-carbohydrate diet 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.
Five Ways To Lower Your Ldl On A Keto Or Low
Has your cholesterol increased on a low-carb diet? Do you fear that you may need to abandon this way of eating and its potential benefits?
Here are five ways you can reduce your total and LDL cholesterol levels while maintaining a keto or low-carb lifestyle. Consider trying them in this order.
1. Avoid Bulletproof coffee
Bulletproof coffee refers to adding butter, coconut fat or MCT oil in coffee. Avoid drinking significant amounts of fat at all when youre not hungry. This alone can sometimes normalize elevated cholesterol levels.23
2. Eat only when hungry
Only eat when hungry and consider adding intermittent fasting. This may reduce cholesterol levels. Although most research on intermittent fasting and LDL reduction come from low-quality observational studies during Ramadan, a recent pilot study of time restricted eating showed a significant reduction in LDL.24 While we need more data, this remains a promising intervention.
3. Eat foods higher in unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats
Foods higher in unsaturated fats include fats like olive oil, fatty fish and avocados. Replacing sources of saturated fat with these foods may be enough to lower LDL cholesterol.
However, remember that many unsaturated oils are highly processed. As with food, we recommend focusing on the least processed oils like olive oil, macadamia oil, and avocado oil.
4. Eat LDL-lowering keto-friendly foods
These low-carb plant foods may help lower cholesterol levels somewhat:
5. Eat more carbs
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Replace Some Saturated Fats With Monounsaturated Fats
In the largest and highest quality studies, saturated fat is not linked to increased heart attacks or death from heart disease .
However if you have problems with cholesterol, then it is a good idea to try to replace some of the saturated fats you are eating with monounsaturated fats.
This simple modification may help to bring your levels down.
Cook with olive oil instead of butter and coconut oil. Eat more nuts and avocados. These foods are all loaded with monounsaturated fats.
If this alone doesnt work, then you may even want to start replacing some of the fatty meat you are eating with leaner meat.
I cant emphasize olive oil enough quality extra virgin olive oil has many other benefits for heart health that go way beyond cholesterol levels.
It protects the LDL particles from oxidation, reduces inflammation, improves the function of the endothelium and may even lower blood pressure .
It is definitely a superfood for the heart and I think anyone at risk of heart disease should be using olive oil, no matter whether their cholesterol is high or not.
It is also important to eat fatty fish that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, at least once per week. If you cant or wont eat fish, supplement with fish oil instead.
Monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, avocados and nuts, may have cholesterol lowering effects compared to saturated fats.
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Is Keto Bad For Cholesterol
Weve all heard the story. Maybe weve even been the protagonist.
Person goes full keto. They lose a bunch of weight, normalize their pre-diabetic glucose numbers, resolve their high blood pressure readings, have more energy, feel great, and have nothing but high praise for the new way of eating.
Except for one thing, everything seems perfect: their cholesterol is sky-high. It throws a wrench into the whole operation, installs a raincloud over the procession, spoils their confidence.
Could I be killing myself?
Are my health improvements just a mirage?
In other words, are the apparent benefits of keto merely superficial if your cholesterol skyrockets?
The evidence is pretty clear that for the majority of adults who go keto, their cholesterol numbers improve.
In obese adults with type 2 diabetes, a ketogenic diet improved blood lipids and boosted fat loss compared to a low-calorie diet.
In lean, healthy adults without any weight to lose , total cholesterol went up from 159 to 208 mg/dL and triglycerides fell from 107 to 79 mg/dL. A lipophobic doc might freak out at the rise in TC, but given that the triglycerides dropped, I bet the change reflects a rise in HDL and an overall positive, at worst-neutral effect.
But you arent everyone. You arent the average of a population. And, given the number of readers I have and the number of people trying a ketogenic diet, there are bound to be some people whose lipid profiles go in the other direction.
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Should People With High Cholesterol Do Keto
Some studies have shown that cholesterol elevation during a ketogenic diet occurs not only from LDL, but also from HDL, better known as “good cholesterol.” This means that increased levels are not entirely negative. Furthermore, the increase in LDL cholesterol that has been reported is specifically from a larger molecule that is not associated with cardiovascular risk7.
If there is one thing to always keep in mind, it is that everyone is unique. But, this does not change the fact that there are some very important rules to follow on the keto diet to avoid complications.
A person with high cholesterol can start keto without problems as long as they follow these recommendations:
Why Did My Cholesterol Increase On Keto
Ive been on the keto diet together with my husband for four months.
When I went for my annual check-up, I found out that my cholesterol numbers had gone up:
2019: 78 mg/dl2020: 130 mg/dl
I am worried that this diet is detrimental to my health at this time. Could you please give me some advice?
Thanks for the question, Deirdre.
This is a challenging question that has to be individualized. If you are concerned about your cholesterol changes, I suggest you consult with a doctor familiar with low-carb diets and lipids. I like to remind my patients that lipids are just one part of cardiovascular risk. That is why studies such as the one by Virta health, can show a slight increase in LDL but an overall decrease in cardiovascular risk. I suggest people work with a doctor who can help put their overall cardiovascular risk into perspective rather that focus on one solitary variable.
Additionally, here are three guides that may help you understand more about the issue:
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Keto And Cholesterol: What Youve Heard Is Probably Wrong
Cholesterol is a waxy substance only produced by animals and humans. Plant-based foods like fruits and veggies are cholesterol-free.
When scientists first studied the human heart and noticed a correlation between hardened, clogged arteries and an increase in heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and an increase in body fat, they blamed cholesterol. Why? Because thats what they found built up as plaque.
Eating foods high in cholesterol, they said, would then in turn give you high cholesterol.
You can see why their original theory made sense. When you see congealed bacon grease sitting in a pan, its not such a stretch to imagine the same happening in your body.
But this isnt an accurate picture of how cholesterol truly works. In fact, many studies associating dietary cholesterol, high cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of heart disease have since been debunked.
What Is The Relationship Between Keto And Cholesterol
In short, a well-formulated ketogenic diet will likely increase your cholesterol. The reason for this is that keto emphasizes a large amount of saturated fat in the diet, and high levels of saturated fat will increase cholesterol. Now, because of Ancel Keys, weve be taught that high cholesterol is a problem. However, putting it bluntly, Ancel Keys was wrong. In this meta-analysis of 21 well-formulated studies the conclusion was that there is absolutely no relationship between high levels of cholesterol and heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
In fact, in this study, keto was shown to favorably affect biomarkers such as cholesterol, as they relate to heart disease.
So keto will increase your cholesterol , but increased cholesterol has no scientific causal relationship to any sort of heart disease or cardiovascular disease. In fact, studies like the one above show that keto has BENEFICIAL impact.
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Heart Risk Factors Improved
During the first six months of the study, the low-fat dieters had greater reductions in LDL, or bad, cholesterol, but the differences did not persist over time.
The study is not the first to suggest that low-carb weight loss programs like the Atkins diet are safe and may be slightly better than low-fat diets for reducing risk factors for heart disease.
But it is one of the longest to show this, says lead researcher Gary D. Foster, PhD, of Temple Universityâs Center for Obesity Research and Education.
Roughly three-fifths of the low-carb dieters and two-thirds of the low-fat dieters stayed on the respective diets for two years.
The study appears in the September issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
âFor many years there have been concerns that the low-carbohydrate approach to weight loss was bad for the heart,â he says. âThis study would suggest those concerns are largely unfounded.â
Reasons For High Cholesterol On A Ketogenic Diet
Now that you understand a little more about how these cholesterol numbers relate, there a few other scenarios you should become familiar with. Abnormally high or low cholesterol levels are typically an indication of metabolic adaptations or deeper issues going on.
There are several reasons for this such as pre existing insulin resistance, rapid weight loss, an increase in HDL, thyroid conversion and chronic inflammation. Hopefully this information will allow you to discern what it is going on in your body a little better.
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Keto And Cholesterol: A Ketogenic Diets Connections With Cholesterol
About 32% of men and 13% of women in the US suffer from low levels of HDL cholesterol. Additionally, the majority of Americans do not have HDL cholesterol levels high enough to decrease the risk of cardiovascular illness.
As chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular illness increase in prevalence worldwide, scientists have evaluated methods to increase levels of HDL cholesterol. For many years, physicians have used drugs called statins to increase HDL .
Recently, scientists have looked at utilizing dietary interventions as cost-effective methods to optimize HDL cholesterol and prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases. Below we document three research studies examining low-carb and ketogenic diets effects on HDL.
How To Do Keto Without Raising Cholesterol
Although higher cholesterol levels are an expected effect at the beginning, it is necessary to avoid high concentrations .
In addition, it is important to practice regular physical activity in order to use the fats released into the blood and prevent them from being oxidized.
Unsaturated fat has the particularity of being protective of the cardiovascular system, especially Omega 3. Unsaturated fat is divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats6. These are known as good fats and can be found in different plant and animal sources.
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What Are The Different Types Of Cholesterol
If you have ever tried to mix oil and water, you know that lipids and water do not mix. The same properties are true within the body cholesterol does not mix well in the blood.
Because of the hydrophobic nature of cholesterol, it must be transported via a special carrier called a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are made of both lipids and proteins, allowing it to travel throughout the body and delivers cholesterol to cells that need it.
Lipoproteins are classified based on their protein and lipid composition since protein is dense and fats are not, lower density lipoproteins contain more fat and less protein, whereas higher-density lipoproteins have more protein and less fat.
When referring to blood cholesterol levels, it is actually these lipoproteins that are referenced. There are five different lipoproteins:
LDL: This is often referred to as the bad cholesterol and stands for low-density lipoprotein. LDLs job is to transport cholesterol to needed tissues throughout your body however, LDL is highly vulnerable to oxidation. Oxidized LDL can cause inflammation and cause plaque build-up in arterial walls.
HDL: Often called the good cholesterol HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL is often seen as the good guy because it transports cholesterol from your body to the liver to either be broken down into waste or recycled. HDL has anti-inflammatory properties and has many benefits for your immune system.
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Keto Diet For Weight Loss
In recent times, keto diet has gained the attention of people who are looking for an effective weight loss solution. This is because keto diet can help you to lose weight quickly and effectively.
There are several reasons why the keto diet is effective for weight loss. Some of the most popular reasons include:
The keto diet helps to reduce appetite. This is because the high-fat content of the diet helps to increase satiety, which can help to reduce overall calorie intake.
The keto diet promotes fat loss. This is because the body is forced to burn stored body fat for energy on a keto diet.
The keto diet can help to increase metabolism. This is because the low-carbohydrate intake on a keto diet can help to increase thermogenesis, which can boost metabolism.
If youre looking for a way to lose weight quickly and effectively, then the ketogenic diet may be right for you!
Just How To Make Your Own Ketogenic Diet Regimen Meal Planning Easy
If you get on the keto diet plan, you will certainly understand that getting your diet plan right can be tough. It is not easy to obtain all the nutrients your body needs through food alone. This is where a keto meal strategy can come in helpful.
A keto meal strategy consists of all the meals you need to eat for morning meal, lunch, supper, and treats each day. You can utilize our totally free keto food listing pdf to customize your dish plan or comply with another persons strategy, which was already customized for their needs.
Adverse Effects Of Ketogenic Diet
- The ketogenic diet’s most frequent and mild short-term adverse effects are a set of symptoms known as keto flu, which include:
- In a few days to a few weeks, these symptoms will go away. Some of these symptoms might be alleviated by ensuring appropriate hydration and electrolyte consumption.
- While the ketogenic diet may aid weight loss in the short term, it is not sustainable in the long run. Furthermore, several studies demonstrate that the diet is linked to a slew of issues that frequently result in emergency department visits and hospitalizations for dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and hypoglycemia.
Bad breath is also common
- Bad breath, which is typically characterized as fruity and somewhat sweet, is one of the most prevalent adverse symptoms of ketosis. Acetone, a ketone produced as a consequence of fat metabolism, is to cause. During ketosis, your blood acetone levels rise, and your body releases part of it through your breath.
- Sweat and urine can occasionally begin to smell like acetone. This strange-smelling breath will go away in a few weeks for the majority of people.
Ketosis may cause digestive problems
Other side effects of ketosis
Other, less common side effects may include: