Keto diet and cholesterol

What is the keto diet? And does it affect your cholesterol level? Knowing what is the keto diet can be of benefit and can help you understand how cholesterol affects the body.

The keto diet is a particular dietary pattern, which is low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and moderate in protein, designed to lose weight and get other health benefits, is known as the ketogenic or keto diet. It has some similarities with the low-carb and Atkins diet. 

The keto diet reduces the carbohydrate intake, replaces it with fats, and puts the body in ketosis. The body starts to burn the fats to get energy. There is high ketone body formation in the liver, which supplies power to the brain. Ketogenic diets are responsible for reductions in insulin levels and blood sugar.

Keto diet is very useful in losing weight and reducing the risk of many diseases. The keto diet also keeps you feel full for longer compared to a low-fat diet. 

Foods to avoid in the keto diet:

keto diet and cholesterol

As the keto diet is low carbohydrates based diet, so all high- carb foods are not allowed in ketogenic meal plans, such as the following:

  • sugary foods ( soda, candies, smoothies, cakes, pastries, brownie, high energy drinks)
  • grains/ starchy foods ( rice, pasta, cereals, wheat products, bread)
  • fruits ( all types of fruits are restricted except berries)
  • beans/legumes (chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans)
  • sauces
  • condiments
  • alcohol
  • unhealthy fats ( mayonnaise, processed vegetable oil),
  • tubers/root vegetables ( carrot, sweet potato, and potatoes), and processed foods

Foods to eat:

The following are foods you’re allowed to eat on the keto diet:

  • eggs 
  • meat (chicken, turkey, steak, bacon, red meat, and ham), 
  • fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon, and trout)
  • cream/butter
  • cheese ( prefer unprocessed cheddar, blue, or mozzarella)
  • nuts/seeds (flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • a whole avocado
  • healthy oils (coconut oil, extra version olive oil, avocado oil)
  • low-carb veggies ( peppers, onions, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables)
  • selective condiments (pepper, salt)

Types of the ketogenic diet:

There are several versions of a keto diet, including the following:

  • standard
  • cyclic
  • targeted
  • high protein

Standard ketogenic diet: This diet includes moderate protein 20%, low-carbs only 5%, and high fat 75%.

The cyclic ketogenic diet involves a cyclic pattern of higher carbohydrate refeeds, including a five-day low carb diet followed by a two-day high carb diet.

Targeted ketogenic diet: This version of the ketogenic diet only allows the use of carbohydrates during the workout.

High-protein ketogenic diet: This dietary pattern is the same as a standard ketogenic diet, but the protein intake is higher up to 35%, carbs 5%, and fats 60

Is the Ketogenic diet safe for a person with high cholesterol? 

As this diet allows high fat intake includes animal fat, which is rich in saturated fat. Some people, in the beginning, feel increases in their cholesterol levels. But studies showed that there is a positive connection between cholesterol and keto diet. Hence, it creates confusion, either increases or decreases your cholesterol level.  

So, to answer all these questions, let’s have a look at individual facts. Cholesterol is essential for the proper functioning of your body. It is present in your body in two foams LDL (low-density lipoprotein) bad cholesterol and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) good cholesterol. The balance between them is critical.  

Keto diet is also very useful in controlling medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cancer. You lose more fat than fat-free mass by following this diet. This diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates, which is an instant source of energy to your body. The excess sugar intake also enhances fat production in the liver. By cutting off sugars (carbohydrates) from the diet, you can effectively manage your sugar and cholesterol levels. 

How does the Ketogenic diet affect your cholesterol level?

Eric, in his study, concluded that the keto diet has a positive relationship with your cholesterol level, metabolic health, and heart health in the following ways:

  • Due to lower carbohydrates intake, your liver makes fewer triglycerides, which reduces your total body cholesterol level.
  • Increases HDL (good cholesterol) level, which binds with bad cholesterol and removes from your body.
  • Keto diet improves your TC (triglyceride) to HDL ratio.
  • Low carbohydrates diet improves your insulin resistance and balances your blood sugar level.
  • Helps in reducing chronic inflammation in your body

Can a keto diet increase your cholesterol level?

In the keto diet, you can consume healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil as the type of fat is much important than the quantity of fat intake. Healthy fat is beneficial in balancing your body cholesterol level.

According to the reviews of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The intake of high fat, low carb diet (keto diet) improves cardiovascular risk markers such as lowers blood sugar level, insulin resistance, triglyceride level, and LDL level. On the other hand, it increases the HDL level, which prevents the risk of heart diseases. 

Keto diet quickly reduces your body weight and also lowers your cholesterol level. Nevertheless, results vary from individual to individual due to some other factors, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and genetics. 

Risk factors of the keto diet:

In the beginning, you experience some side effects of this diet. As you remove your primary energy source (carbohydrates) from your diet, the body will take some time to adjust. Some commonly reported side effects of the keto diet are headache, weakness, constipation, and keto flu.

What is keto flu? It is a collection of some minor symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and sleeplessness. Excessive fat intake may affect your kidney functioning. 

Bottom line: 

It is a prevalent misconception that the keto diet can increase your cholesterol due to high fat intake. At the same time, carbohydrates intake is more closely related to fat production by your liver. Hence, studies showed that the keto diet is becoming a favorite tool in losing weight, total cholesterol, and bad cholesterol in your body. By using healthy fat in your keto diets such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado, you can help you maintain your lipid profile. This will be effective in preventing several diseases. 

“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”

— Christian Tanobey