How Does Keto Or Low
In some people who follow keto or low-carb diets, blood total cholesterol goes up little, if at all. Some even experience a drop in LDL cholesterol after starting low carb. However, others experience an increase in both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.11 Or, there is an increase only in HDL cholesterol resulting in an improved LDL/HDL ratio.12
One meta-analysis of randomized trials reported that people eating a low-carb diet, on average, experience a reduction in both total LDL and small LDL particles, as well as an increase in the peak LDL size.13
A rise in cholesterol during keto or low-carb eating may be related to losing weight. Although cholesterol levels often drop during the first 2-3 months of losing large amounts of weight, there can be a later rise in cholesterol that persists until weight stabilizes. Once weight loss ceases, cholesterol levels tend to come back down.14
Therefore, it could make sense to wait until someones weight has been stable for a few months before assessing cholesterol levels.
For an estimated 5 to 25% of people whether weight loss occurs or not LDL cholesterol goes up significantly in response to very-low-carb diets, sometimes by 200% or more. Many of these folks seem to belong to a group that Dave Feldman at Cholesterol Code refers to as lean mass hyper-responders .15 These often healthy people are sometimes shocked to discover that their LDL cholesterol has soared above 200 mg/dL after going keto.
How Is Cholesterol Transported In Your Body
Cholesterol is absorbed from your digestive tract or produced by your liver and circulated throughout your bloodstream, where it can be used by cells as needed. The remaining cholesterol then returns to the liver to be converted into bile acids or used for other purposes.
Importantly, cholesterol doesnt travel around your bloodstream on its own. As a hydrophobic substance, it must be packaged within lipoproteins to move around the bloodstream.
Think of lipoproteins as boats needed to safely carry cholesterol through the bloodstream. When we talk about blood cholesterol levels, were referring to the amount of cholesterol contained in different lipoprotein particles .
In addition to cholesterol, these lipoprotein particles also contain special proteins called apolipoproteins, triglycerides, and other compounds.
- Cholesterol packaged in lipoproteins that contain apolipoprotein B100 is referred to as LDL cholesterol, or LDL-C .5
- Cholesterol packaged in lipoproteins that contain apolipoprotein A is referred to as HDL cholesterol, or HDL-C .
Despite what weve all heard, theres actually no such thing as good or bad cholesterol there is only one type of cholesterol. Your LDL and HDL values refer to how much cholesterol is carried in your HDL and LDL lipoprotein particles. In fact, the same cholesterol is continuously transferred among these and other types of lipoproteins as they make their way through the bloodstream.
The Difference Between Dietary And Blood Cholesterol
Although it may sound like common sense that eating a high-fat low-carb diet filled with cholesterol-rich foods would raise blood cholesterol levels, thats not the way it actually works.
Your body expertly regulates your blood cholesterol by controlling how much cholesterol it makes. When you eat more cholesterol, your body makes less. When you eat less cholesterol, your body makes more.
Because of this regulating ability, studies show that foods high in dietary cholesterol have very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in most people . This is why for most people, high-cholesterol keto foods do not negatively impact your blood cholesterol levels.
A 2012 study in Nutritioncompared a low-calorie diet to a low-carb, high-fat diet among 360 overweight and obese participants. After one year, participants on the keto diet saw their total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL decreased, while HDL rose. HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol.
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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.
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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Is Keto Safe If I Have High Cholesterol
Even though there are so many studies showing that a ketogenic diet can help lower your blood pressure, you should still speak with your doctor to see what they think about you starting this new way of eating.
Some people shouldnt start keto to lower cholesterol numbers. If you have high cholesterol levels that have been passed down by your family, keto may not do much to help you. Additionally, if you suffer from liver or kidney disease, keto may do more harm than good.
With that said, keto is safe for most people and if you arent dealing with any of the above conditions, feel free to give it a shot. If your doctor is one of those old-school types who are against any kind of diet other than the standard so-called healthy diet that hasnt worked for many years, dont be afraid to ask for a second opinion from another medical professional.
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What Is Keto Diet All About
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What Happens To Ldl On Keto Diet
A ketogenic diet typically leads to improvements in a range of blood lipids and other markers for cardiovascular health like blood pressure, inflammation, and triglycerides. But the changes to LDL are less predictable and can sometimes go up.
However, studies show that on keto we typically see that even when the total LDL increases, there is a reduction in the small bad LDL, referred to as VLDL or, very low density lipoprotein. This means that most of the increase is in the larger, heart friendlier LDL particles .
Its important to note here that for most people on keto LDL either stays the same or goes down. This finding is reflected in a 2006 study looking at the effects of carbohydrate restriction on LDL cholesterol in a group of 29 men for a 12 week weight-loss intervention found that LDL particle concentrations decreased by 9.6% .
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What Is Hdl And Why Is It Good
HDL, or high density lipoprotein, is often called good cholesterol. However, it isnt actually a type of cholesterol. Its a lipid-carrying protein that transports cholesterol throughout the body.
The primary role of HDL is collecting excess cholesterol and transporting it to the liver where its recycled or destroyed. This prevents accumulation of cholesterol in the blood, which keeps cholesterol from building up in blood vessels and preventing heart disease.
HDL particles also have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. The combination of these beneficial properties is why HDL is associated with cardiovascular health.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet
This diet severely restricts carbohydrates, typically providing only 5-10% of calories , compared to the 50% currently recommended. It also includes moderate levels of protein with no restriction of fat .
The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to use fat as a fuel source rather than carbohydrates, which is the bodys preferred source of fuel. This process produces ketones. Ketosis occurs when these ketone bodies accumulate in the blood. Exact quantities of carbohydrates to induce ketosis will vary, as achieving ketosis is highly individualised.
Many types of ketogenic diets exist, but all ban carb-rich foods such as sweet sugary foods, breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes and other starchy vegetables and fruit juices. But also foods like beans and legumes, and most fruits. Most ketogenic diets allow foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fatty cuts of meat, processed meats, lard, butter, cream, and cheese, as well as sources of unsaturated fats, including nuts, seeds, avocados, plant oils, and oily fish.
As a result, a ketogenic diet can end up being high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and low in foods which we know are cardio-protective e.g. legumes, whole grains, fibre-rich starchy vegetables and most fruits.
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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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Replace Saturated With Monounsaturated Fat
Keto is a high-fat diet. Because of this, going Keto entails eating more butter, animal fat, coconut oil, and other sources of saturated fat than most people otherwise would.
And as we covered earlier, higher intakes of saturated fat are well understood to raise cholesterol levels. Thats why Keto and high cholesterol often go hand in hand.
One way to mitigate high cholesterol on Keto? Replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats.
The best sources of monounsaturated fats are olives, avocados, and nuts. Instead of a fatty ribeye, you have a chicken and spinach salad drenched with olive oil. Instead of cooking with butter, you cook with avocado oil. You get the idea.
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Are There Any Fast Foods I Can Eat While On The Healthy Ketotm Diet
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Which Foods Are Highest In Cholesterol
Only animal products contain cholesterol. These include:
- Milk and dairy products.
Plant-based foods dont have cholesterol. You wont find it in peanut butter or avocados, says Zumpano. However, dietary cholesterol doesnt necessarily cause elevated blood cholesterol. The real problem lies with eating the wrong kind of fats.
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Ketogenic Diet In Diabetes
One small study had 11 women with type 2 diabetes follow a ketogenic diet for 90 days. After the 90 days, results revealed an increase in HDL cholesterol, a decrease in triglycerides, and no significant changes in LDL cholesterol among participants. Additionally, the study showed decreased body weight and blood pressure.
How Do I Lower My Cholesterol On Keto
Believe it or not, just eating a ketogenic diet can be all you need to lower your bad cholesterol levels. There have been many studies done on this top, and theyve found that keto can have a positive effect by:
- Managing your blood glucose levels and reducing your bodys resistance to insulin, especially in comparison to diets that are high in carbohydrates, according to this study performed at Kashan University of Medical Sciences and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Increasing the size of LDL particles, limiting the amount of pattern B, and reducing the risk of oxidative stress.
- Bringing on weight loss by limiting calorie intake as the result of being satiated, reducing obesity.
- Lowering the number of triglycerides in the blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high levels are an indicator of a higher than average risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Increasing your good cholesterol levels, balancing your HDL to LDL cholesterol ratios.
If you need additional evidence that a ketogenic diet is good for your cholesterol levels, an exciting study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. This review came to the conclusion that a diet that is both high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates, such as keto, improved every marker of cardiovascular risk being studied. The study found:
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