How does a ketogenic diet affect cholesterol?
So you’re thinking about getting on board with the Keto diet to improve your health and achieve your health and fitness goals. You probably even read our article about it and are willing to give it a try, but still are a bit worried that all that fat intake can lead to some health issues or concerns, especially how the keto diet can affect your cholesterol levels.
Fear no more, as today’s article will cover this topic in depth and see what recent research has to say about the keto diet and cholesterol levels, so read on to learn any caution you should have and how to do it the right way for you.
THE KETO DIET IN A NUTSHELL
The ketogenic diet is a way of eating high in fats and protein, and very low in carbs, under 50 grams of carbs per day, that will stimulate your body’s production of ketone bodies and switching to using these as fuel instead of glucose by your cells. This is usually referred to a state of ketosis, which can take a few days to be achieved and is important to note that might not be possible for every individual.
There are many benefits claimed to the keto diet that have been researched and proven like reduction of triglycerides, managing glucose levels in blood, helping regulate appetite and thus how much you eat, and obviously, this will lead to weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight
DOES IT AFFECT CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Research here is a bit mixed since there are some studies where an increase in cholesterol levels and LDL had been shown in patients who adopted a high fat low carb diet. However there is also plenty of research showing that a keto diet will improve and decrease triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL levels which is desirable to manage and prevent cardiac disease and metabolic disorders.
There is also plenty of research that shows that a well executed Keto diet will help reduce fat accumulation in the liver and improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome ,even when there is no weight loss. This helps improve liver health and other conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome in women. Other studies also show that there is significant weight loss without inducing hypercholesterolemia.
It is also evident that there will be an increase in ketone bodies and free fatty acids in the blood system because that is what is desired to get into ketosis and start using those as fuel for the cells in our body.
WHY THE MIXED RESULTS AND HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
The mixed results can be explained by the limitations of the studies to control the meal choices of the patients: Since the keto diet relies mostly on fat ingestion, the type of fats the participants of the studies choose will have a big impact on the cholesterol and triglyceride levels after a few weeks and months. Not all fats are equal just as not all calories are equal, so choosing mostly healthy fats, higher in omega 3 and HDL should be the focus when trying to implement a keto diet. Nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, fatty cold water fishes, avocado and other whole meals should be favored over fried foods, hydrogenated oils, and fast food.
Having explained this here are our main tips based on the research to troubleshoot your keto diet and make it work for you and not against you.
Before starting a sudden change in your diet make sure you consult with your doctor to give you clearance to start your transition to a keto diet and to keep monitoring your progress and keep you safe.
It is important to be aware of how you feel and how the diet affects you, however keep in mind what is known as the “keto flu” which is a set of symptoms that can appear as you begin your transition towards ketosis but which should disappear after a few weeks. These include: fatigue, dizziness, nausea or headaches. However if these continue for more than a few weeks you should seek medical advice.
The keto diet is high in fat but doesn’t mean your meal choices don’t matter. Make sure to stay on the whole meal side and favor foods like avocados, nuts, olive or coconut oil, cold fish. If you’re not sure on which foods you should include or need help to start your keto diet journey you can check our meal plans here.
There do exist a few conditions that could be in danger when adopting a keto diet. However these are rare and very specific medical conditions like fat induced lipemia, where switching to a keto diet can lead to a strong increase in blood triglycerides to the point they can cause pancreatitis.This is one condition where a diet low in fat would be more appropriate. That again shows the importance of being monitored by a health professional.
If you try the keto diet make sure you get your blood work done in regular medical check ups to monitor your cholesterol and triglycerides levels and to make sure your body has effectively entered ketosis.
Be ready to reverse the diet and move on to other efforts to improve your health if after a few weeks you do not feel better, if your body is not able to enter ketosis or if you notice on a medical check up that your LDL and triglyceride levels are too high.