The Keto Diet and Heart Health

You must have heard about the keto diet in the past. It’s an eating plan that involves low-carb intake, moderate protein consumption, and high fat. By limiting your carb intake, your body gets into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, fat is broken down into ketone bodies which will be sent to the bloodstream. The ketone bodies become the source of energy of the body in lieu of carbs. 


The popularity of the keto diet


The keto diet is highly popular since it has been advertised by several influencers, shared on social media, and advocated by best-selling authors. The diet continuously gained popularity over the years, with experts claiming this can treat different illnesses. However, the most popular reason for people to follow the keto diet is weight loss. Since fat is broken down to be converted into energy instead of carbs, more fat is burned instead of gained by the body. This usually results in weight loss.


 Is the keto diet beneficial to the heart?


Theoretically speaking, the keto diet can be beneficial to the heart. However, there are many versions of the keto diet that confuse some people, leading them to an unhealthy type of diet that doesn’t trigger ketosis. The diet may be challenging to follow. Some people may choose to consume too much protein and unhealthy fats when they consider processed foods as their main food source while on the diet. Nonetheless, when the keto diet is followed appropriately, you may experience the following heart benefits:


Weight management


Obesity is often linked with higher risks of heart disease. Managing your weight by following a healthy diet can prevent heart ailments. Based on research, reducing weight among obese people from 5 to 10 percent may result in a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. 


The keto diet allows one to naturally lose weight in three ways: First is to target the stored fats and break them down to be used as body fuel. This causes the body to use more fats instead of storing them, leading to weight loss. The recommended fat and protein in the keto diet plan can make you become satiated for a longer period compared to carbohydrates. The reason for this is that protein and fat can prevent hunger hormone production. This makes you eat less and lose weight in the end. 


Regulates blood sugar


Carbo loading may cause sugar spikes which can increase the risk of heart disease. Or diabetics, sugar spikes may damage blood vessels and nerves found in the heart. Thus when diabetes is not managed properly, it can lead to serious heart disease. The keto diet has been associated with lower blood glucose, weight loss, fewer cravings,  decreased hunger, increased HDL, decreased triglycerides, and decreased insulin resistance. Because of these, the diet is known for being beneficial for diabetes prevention. However, long-term studies are required to further provide medical evidence. 


Improved heart health in general


Short-term studies revealed that the keto diet has potential heart health benefits by means of weight loss and reduced resistance to insulin. Changes in cholesterol levels vary among keto dieters. Some experience reduced bad cholesterol levels while others experience an increase. As of now, there’s still no evidence of long-term results on heart ailments.


For people with existing heart ailments


People with heart conditions who like to start a keto diet must tread with caution. When you suffer from any medical condition that affects the liver, pancreas, thyroid, or gallbladder, you have to avoid the keto diet completely since it can have adverse side effects on your health. 


The truth about ketones and their effects on the heart


Ketones or ketone bodies are chemicals created in your liver because of the breakdown of fats. The ketones function as alternative body fuel when there’s a lack of glucose supply. Scientists have been studying the effects of ketones on people with heart ailments. 


In a published study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ketones have been found to have heart health benefits. When one experiences severe heart disease, the failing heart may reprogram its metabolism as it relies on ketones for energy. The study also revealed more positive effects on other cardiovascular risks such as body weight, inflammation, and cholesterol. 


Prior studies showed that the keto diet may increase the risk of heart disease when the foods consumed don’t include healthy fats. With keto, dieters are asked to increase their fat intake and they may acquire that from processed foods. This is why it is a must to study the numerous pathways to attaining ketosis. 


Low carb or high fat, always eat lots of nuts, fruits, and vegetables


Health experts advise against going low carb and avoiding vegetables, fruits, and grains that are known to be beneficial to health. According to them, the secret to a healthier life is to cook more for yourself and incorporate more vegetables, fruits, and beats into your meals. They instead advise two simple swaps in their diet. They can swap their breakfast pastry or afternoon snack for oatmeal or a smoothie.


Based on academic research done on 54 patients, the swaps worked by reducing the cholesterol levels of the participants by 5 percent after a month-long trial without the use of any medication. The study suggests the significance of choosing healthy foods to reduce the overall cholesterol level without having to face the mind-altering impact of statins.