What Do Cardiologists Think of High-Fat Diets Like Keto and Atkins?

What Do Cardiologists Think of High-Fat Diets Like Keto and Atkins?

Staff Writer
6 minute read

What Do Cardiologists Think of High-Fat Diets Like Keto and Atkins?

It can be hard to navigate the world of nutrition with all the conflicting advice out there. And when it comes to high-fat diets like the ketogenic (keto) and Atkins diets, opinions are particularly divided—from dietitians, physicians, and cardiologists alike. So what do cardiologists think about these two popular diets that have been around for decades? Let’s take a look. 

What Are Keto and Atkins Diets? 

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that puts your body in a state of ketosis. This means your body is burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The idea behind this is that by limiting carbs, you're forcing your body to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose from carbs. You typically eat 70-75% fat, 15-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs on keto. 

The Atkins Diet is another popular high-fat diet that has been around since the 1970s. It focuses on reducing carb intake to about 20g per day for two weeks in order to get into ketosis. Afterward, it slowly adds back in more carbs until you reach your desired weight loss goals or find the right balance between carbs and fats for you personally. 

How Do Cardiologists Feel About These Diets? 

Cardiologists agree that although these diets may initially help shed some pounds because of their restrictive nature. However, Keto and Atkins are only viable short-term solutions due to the lack of variety and potential health risks like heart disease or stroke associated with higher fat content. Additionally, many cardiologists are concerned about the lack of nutrients in these diets, which could lead to deficiencies over time if not balanced correctly with nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.    

While these restrictive diets are popular for weight loss, it is important not to rely solely on them. Numerous studies have indicated that lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and eating a balanced diet, can improve one's chances of sustaining the desired weight over the long term compared to relying on only drastic dietary restrictions. For most people who wish to lose weight safely and sustainably over time, a healthy balanced diet combined with regular exercise can provide a better solution than either Keto or Atkins alone. 

The Pros of High-Fat Diets From a Cardiologist's Perspective

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, some cardiologists find that high-fat diets can have their benefits in certain circumstances. So let's look at the pros of high-fat diets from a cardiologist's perspective. 

Reducing Inflammation 

One benefit of high-fat diets from a cardiologist's perspective is that they can help to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is linked to various cardiovascular issues, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart attack. By reducing inflammation, high-fat diets can improve heart health. 

Lowering Blood Sugar Levels 

Many high-fat diets are also low in carbohydrates, which can help to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Lowering blood sugar levels helps to reduce the strain on your heart by controlling insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance. 

Weight Loss Tool 

Another benefit of high-fat diets from a cardiologist's perspective is that they can be used as a tool for weight loss. This is because high-fat diets limit the carbohydrates a person consumes, forcing their body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.

This leads to weight loss as long as the person consistently sticks to their diet plan and adequately monitors their calorie intake. Additionally, research has found that following a low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet can lead to more sustainable weight loss than other restrictive diets.  

The Cons of High-Fat Diets From a Cardiologist's Perspective

While there are some potential benefits associated with high-fat diets from a cardiologist's perspective, there are also some potential risks involved with them as well. So let's take a look at some of the potential risks associated with high-fat dieting. 

Unhealthy Fat Consumption 

One primary concern is that many people don't understand how much fat they should consume on these diets or what fats they should be eating. Unfortunately, eating too much fat or unhealthy fat can increase cholesterol levels and raise your risk for heart disease over time. Therefore, it is essential to emphasize the importance of healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, flaxseed, and avocados rather than saturated fats found in processed meats and full-fat dairy products. 

Weight Gain 

Another potential risk associated with high-fat diets is that many people find it challenging to stick with them due to cravings for carbohydrates or other foods they eliminated during their dieting process. As a result, people who start a high-fat diet may lose weight initially. 

Still, if they cannot maintain their plan due to cravings and hunger, eventually, they will gain back any weight lost plus some more due to overeating unhealthy foods when their cravings become too strong. This could lead to weight gain, which puts them at higher risk for heart disease and other health complications. 

Nutrient Deficiencies 

Finally, an additional downside of high-fat diets is that they often limit certain food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, which can put people at risk for nutrient deficiencies over time if not appropriately supplemented. Therefore, people who follow these plans need to ensure that they are consuming enough vitamins and minerals from other sources, such as dietary supplements or fortified foods, to avoid any nutritional deficiencies that could potentially lead to health problems down the line.  

A Cardiologist's Opinion on the Keto and Atkins Diet 

  • Cardiologists largely agree that while these diets may lead to initial weight loss due to their restrictive nature, they are not sustainable long term.

  • Cardiologists are concerned about the lack of nutrients in these diets, which could lead to deficiencies over time if not balanced correctly with nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

  • For most people who wish to lose weight safely and sustainably over time, a healthy balanced diet combined with regular exercise can provide a better solution than either Keto or Atkins alone. 

  • Some cardiologists find that high-fat diets can have benefits in certain circumstances, such as reducing inflammation and lowering blood sugar levels. 

  • However, some potential risks are involved with high-fat dieting, such as unhealthy fat consumption and nutrient deficiencies.  

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