Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Heart Health
Losing weight has been a challenge for most people. With the current fast-paced lifestyle, it's hard to eat healthy, much less plan a healthy meal. There are plenty of fad diets that come out that promise weight loss in a month or two. Some of them work, some of them don’t, but that doesn’t stop people from trying again.
I’ve had acquaintances who shared their experiences with diet fads until they found one that really made them feel better. They shared that the effectiveness of the diet lies with how you feel about it and how motivated you are.
One of the popular diets is the Ketogenic diet. Many people have sworn on the effectiveness of this program. However, there have also been some qualms on the negative effects it brings. Everything has a good and bad side, so let’s explore the facts so we can pinpoint if it is more beneficial or not.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Through this diet, carbs are removed and replaced with fat to produce ketones. Ketosis happens when the body is “starved” of carbs, which burns the ketones as a primary energy source instead of carbs (2).
This, in turn, causes weight loss that forces the body into a metabolic state through deprivation of carbs. People lose weight as fast as ten days since it makes use of the body’s natural fat-burning system (3).
Effects of a Ketogenic Diet
There are always two sides to a coin, and medical diets are not an exception. As far as diet goes, it is not for everyone. What may work for one person may not work for another. It also depends on specific health conditions. Let’s explore the effects of a ketogenic diet:
- Studies show that a ketogenic diet prevents epileptic seizures
- Despite high fat food content, a Ketogenic diet causes LDL or bad cholesterol levels to drop, and increases HDL or good cholesterol levels (4)
- Insulin levels also decreases which benefits type 2 diabetes patients
- Reduces body weight and body mass index
- Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Prevents obesity
- High-fat diets prevents risk of osteoporosis
- People with kidney diseases should avoid this diet because it may worsen their condition
- Others have reported side effects such as bad breath, mood changes, nausea, sleep problems, constipation, and vomiting due to the high-fat content and deprivation of carbs
- Long-term effect of this diet is ketoacidosis wherein excess ketones are formed and causes the blood to become acidic. Severe ketosis can be fatal.
Effects on Cardiovascular Health
People are wondering how a high-fat diet such as the Ketogenic diet prevents obesity and increases heart health. It seems contradictory if we focus on the term “high in fat.” In fact, studies show that the Ketogenic diet has significantly helped in reducing obesity.
As mentioned earlier, a Ketogenic diet uses high-fat food to use as energy stores. The fat content is not stored in the body but converted into energy. Ketosis uses the natural body process of fat-burning.
High cholesterol is one of the culprits to cardiovascular disorders. The Ketogenic diet is beneficial in treating obese patients to reduce body weight and body mass index. The logic is that even though there is high fat in the food intake, no fat is stored in the body. Since the body is deprived of carbohydrates, energy cannot be gained from it.
The reaction of the body is to burn the fat and then use it for energy. As cholesterol decreases, the risk for obesity also diminishes. When a person is predisposed to heart disease, lowering the risk of obesity also lowers the chances of heart problems.
So, how does a Ketogenic diet affect cardiovascular health? Let’s say, for example; you have hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, damages the walls of the arteries due to the force applied to it.
Therefore, the higher the blood pressure, the more that you are prone to heart problems such as heart disease. Obesity is a contributing factor to hypertension. The more you weigh, the more oxygen is needed for your blood and tissues. Thus, more pressure is applied to the arteries due to the added force of the blood flow.
Going back, obese patients who undergo the Ketogenic diet lose weight quickly, bad cholesterol count goes down, and body mass index is reduced. Therefore, the risk of hypertension and heart problems are significantly reduced.
Another example is atherosclerosis which refers to the buildup of fats and cholesterol in the arterial walls which restricts blood flow (5). When fats and cholesterol buildup, they turn into plaques and cause blood clots which leads to atherosclerosis.
Patients who are on a Ketogenic diet do not have fats or cholesterol to store. The fat that comes from food are all converted into energy needed by the body. Thus, a Ketogenic diet prevents people from suffering from atherosclerosis.
Remember, we talked about high fat content in a Ketogenic diet. Some people are wary of this diet because they feel that it contributes to heart problems. High fat is misunderstood for bacon, fatty foods, cholesterol, and oil. That is not the case.
As discussed above, meats that are rich in protein are also rich in fat. But these are the good fat or good cholesterol. Therefore, people who are under the Ketogenic diet does not mean that they eat too much fat. Everything is in moderation and is balanced. That is why you should never attempt to plan your own Ketogenic diet; always consult with a dietitian and your doctor.
To sum it up, a Ketogenic diet is more beneficial to a healthy heart. We have also learned that a Ketogenic diet is harmful to those with kidney diseases. Therefore, always consult a doctor. While it may present benefits, think of the conditions that do not call for it. A Ketogenic diet is not the only treatment – there are still other options.
So, if we were to weigh the pros and the cons a Ketogenic diet is recommended for those who are obese and have heart conditions. Make sure to rule out kidney disorders with your doctor before you start this diet. You also don’t need to stay on this diet on a long-term basis.
When you have already reached the desired body weight and body mass index, you can revert to your normal diet but make sure that you still eat healthily. At first, you may have challenges adjusting, experience cravings and mood swings, but you just need to have self-control. Enlist the help of your close friends and family to act as your support group, too.
As with all diets and weight loss programs, the key is to be responsible, self-motivated, and self-confident. You have to feel good about something to succeed in it. If you’re unhappy with what you are doing, then it may not be for you. Find other alternatives that make you feel better and don’t settle for less.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. If you also have additional tips for us, please feel free to chime in. Don’t forget to share this article!
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