For the past few years, the low-carb diet has become increasingly popular among people who wish to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. One of the factors that affect the success of the low-carb diet is cholesterol. In this blog, I will discuss the relationship between low-carb (ketogenic) diet and cholesterol, as well as what to do when cholesterol rises after low-carb.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is naturally found in the body. It is essential for maintaining the structure of cell membranes, the production of hormones, and the absorption of vitamins. Cholesterol is also present in many foods, especially animal-based products such as meat, eggs, and dairy.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often called “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as “good” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of arteries and form plaques, leading to blockages and increasing the risk of heart disease, while HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL from the bloodstream and lower the risk of heart disease.
What is Low-Carb (Ketogenic) Diet?
A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrate intake, which often results in the body using fat as its primary source of energy instead of glucose. Ketogenic diet is a type of low-carb diet that requires significant restriction of carbs and high intake of fat.
While the low-carb (ketogenic) diet can lead to weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and a reduction in inflammation, it can also cause an increase in cholesterol levels for some people.
Low-Carb and Cholesterol: What’s the Connection?
When the body is on a low-carb (ketogenic) diet, it produces ketones, which are used as a source of energy instead of glucose. This process increases the production of LDL cholesterol in some people, leading to an increase in total cholesterol levels.
However, it’s important to note that not everyone experiences an increase in cholesterol levels on a low-carb (ketogenic) diet. Many studies have shown that the increase in LDL cholesterol can be modest and may not lead to an increased risk of heart disease in healthy people.
What to Do When Cholesterol Rises After Low-Carb?
If you experience an increase in cholesterol levels after starting a low-carb (ketogenic) diet, there are several things you can do:
1. Monitor Your Cholesterol Levels: It’s essential to get your cholesterol levels checked regularly and monitor any changes. This will help you adjust your diet accordingly and prevent any potential health risks.
2. Increase Fiber Intake: Eating more fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help lower cholesterol levels by absorbing cholesterol and keeping your bowel movements regular.
3. Increase Physical Activity: Exercise can help improve cholesterol levels by burning excess fat and increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
4. Consider Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage high cholesterol levels. Speak to your doctor if you experience a significant rise in cholesterol levels after starting a low-carb (ketogenic) diet.
Cholesterol is an essential substance that plays a vital role in our body. While a low-carb (ketogenic) diet can have many health benefits, it can also cause an increase in cholesterol levels in some people. If you experience a rise in cholesterol levels, monitor your cholesterol levels, increase fiber intake, increase physical activity, and speak to your doctor about medication options. As always, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet or exercise program.