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Can you tell me about cholesterol and the Ketogenic diet?
Can you tell me about cholesterol and the Ketogenic diet?

What is the Ketogenic diet, how does it work and could it be affecting your cholesterol levels?

Anna avatar
Written by Anna
Updated over a week ago

What is the Ketogenic diet?

Hint: a low carb/high-fat diet

Ketogenic diets aim to use up your glycogen stores to make the body use fats and proteins as energy instead of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, and typically carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, which can be used as energy when needed.

This means that the Ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates and higher in fats and protein.

What are the different types of fat?

Hint: unsaturated, saturated and trans fats

So there are three main fats that we consume regularly in our diets:

  • Unsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol levels (commonly referred to as bad cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol).

  • Saturated fats is found in fatty cuts of meat, butter, and other dairy products. It’s recommended that we try to limit our intake of saturated fats as much as possible, as a high intake can lead to an increased LDL cholesterol, which has been known to be an important risk factor in heart disease.

  • Trans fats are mostly found in hydrogenated oils. They’re known to increase LDL cholesterol and don't have any beneficial qualities. Trans fats are banned in some areas of the world and are increasingly being removed or reduced from food products in the UK.

It is best to moderate the amount of saturated fat in your diet — instead, opt for sources of mono and polyunsaturated fats, and to avoid trans fats where possible 🙂

Are carbs and fats "bad"?

  • Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains contain carbohydrates and these provide essential nutrients for optimal health.

    When eaten in their whole form, carbohydrates are rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

    You can still enjoy the benefits of lower carb fruits and vegetables on a Keto diet, such as berries and leafy greens.

  • Mono and poly-unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados are nutrient-rich — they contain a range of vitamins and omegas, which have many health benefits.

    We also need fats to help us to absorb certain vitamins, make hormones and for other essential body functions.

Does the ketogenic diet affect my cholesterol?

Short answer: maybe — it depends on the types of food you've been eating & your exercise levels

It's possible that your cholesterol may have been affected by switching to a Ketogenic diet. But there's a lot of research going on to look at the effects of this.

This will depend on the types and quantities of foods you have been eating, as well as your exercise levels.

LDL cholesterol is seen to increase when on this diet, due to a higher intake of saturated fat.

But we still don’t know what this means for an individual’s risk of heart disease, as no long term studies have been done looking at this specifically.

There are many other factors that may affect risk of heart disease, such as genetics, environment, lifestyle and other medical conditions.

The takeaway

In terms of advising a particular diet, we know there is no one-size-fits-all.

So if you wanted to take a more in-depth look at your diet, it may be worth speaking with a nutritionist. This is not a service we currently offer, but we are planning to launch this in the very near future.

You can find out more and join our waiting list here.

You might also like to check out our health hub article on the Keto diet here 🌟

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