“Keto-like” diets have taken over social media. And while some might experience weight loss by following the diets, they might be doing it at the cost of their cardiovascular health. A new study suggests “keto-like” diets may double the risk of blocked arteries and heart disease.
“Our study found that regular consumption of a self-reported diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat was associated with increased levels of LDL cholesterol— or ‘bad’ cholesterol—and a higher risk of heart disease. To our knowledge, our study is one of the first to examine the association between this type of dietary pattern and cardiovascular outcomes,” said study author Dr. Iulia Iatan of the Healthy Heart Program Prevention Clinic, St. Paul’s Hospital and University of British Columbia’s Centre for Heart Lung Innovation in Vancouver, Canada.
High LDL levels can cause coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, chest pain, heart attack and stoke. LDL levels can vary based on sex, age, blood pressure and whether someone smokes.
What is keto?
Ketogenic diets are low-carb diets like those developed 1960s by Dr. Robert Atkins. The idea behind the diet is to get more calories from proteins and fats and fewer from carbohydrate.
Unfortunately, many of these diets offer little guidance on what sorts of proteins and fats should be incorporated. Pork, for instance, is high in fat and protein, but isn’t necessarily good for heart health. Increasing pork intake could certainly help you reach a caloric goal, but ultimately it could be damaging to your health.
There are four main types of keto diets:
- Standard ketogenic diet: This is a very low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet. It typically contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and only 10% carbs.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet: This diet involves periods of higher carb “refeeds,” perhaps five ketogenic days followed by two high-carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic diet: This variation allows you to add carbs around workouts.
- High protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to the standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein and less fat. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs.
The goal for a keto diet is to get your body into ketosis, a metabolic state where your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a low-carb, high-fat diet, but it’s important to focus on the right kind of fats — like the beans and nuts in the Mediterranean diet.
“It’s a well controlled trial that shows that eating lower carb and more saturated fat is actually good for you, as long as you have plenty of unsaturated fats and you’re mostly eating a Mediterranean-type diet,” Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University told the New York Times.
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