Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous Key Points:
- A recent study sought out to explore the questions, “Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous?”
- A recent meta-analysis aimed to identify the effects of ketogenic diet (KD) on lipid profiles in normal-weight adults. Studies included 57 participants with a body mass index (BMI) below 25.
- The KD, characterized by extremely low carbohydrate content, typically involve 20-50 grams of carbohydrates or less than 10% of the total daily caloric intake. Most of the daily energy intake in these diets is made up of fats and proteins, accounting for 60-77% and 19-30%, respectively.
- KDs were associated with cardiovascular benefits such as increased HDL but also increased potentially dangerous cardiovascular biomarkers such as increased cholesterol, LDL, and apolipoprotein B.
- People following high saturated fat KD should know the potential risks and benefits.
Keto Nutrition and Heart Health: Understanding the Benefits and Risks
The KD, often simply referred to as “keto,” has gained significant popularity in recent years. Known for its high-fat, low-carbohydrate approach, some hailed the diet as a weight loss and muscle-building miracle. (Rhyu & Cho, 2014; Tzenios et al., 2023). However, while the KD can offer substantial benefits regarding body composition, it’s not without its potential risks, particularly for certain individuals. (Joo et al., 2023; Kodur et al., 2023)
In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into a recent article on ketogenic diets titled “Effects of very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets on lipid profiles in normal-weight (body mass index < 25 kg/m2) adults: a meta-analysis.” This article will go over the potential benefits and consequences of a KD, including its potential for weight-loss. So you can decide whether a low-carb/ketogenic diet suits you.
What is the keto diet?
A low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet (KD), limits the intake of carbohydrates while emphasizing proteins and fats. It aims to induce ketosis, where the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy. Low-carb diets can aid in weight loss, blood sugar management, and reducing the risk of certain chronic conditions. (Kim, 2021)
The Benefits of a Low-Carb/Ketogenic Diet
KD offers several benefits. They are effective for weight loss, especially in the short term. (Anton et al., 2017; Bryngelsson & Asp, 2005) Additionally, low-carb diets can help control hunger and reduce cravings, making it easier to stick to the diet. (Erlanson-Albertsson & Mei, 2005) By reducing carbohydrate intake, these diets also help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or metabolic syndrome.(Akrimi & Brinkmann, 2022)
Other Benefits of the Keto Diet are:
1. Improved lipid profiles: Several studies have shown that KDs can improve lipid profiles, including decreased triglyceride levels and increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. (“Ketogenic Diet: Its Benefits &Amp; Overall Effects on Adults Objective,” 2021)
2. Weight loss and reduced inflammation: KD has been shown to promote weight loss, which benefits heart health, as obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. (Dixon et al., 2023) The KD has anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Chronic inflammation is associated with the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. (Ciaffi et al., 2021)
3. Improved glycemic control: KD is known for regulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. (Versha et al., 2023) By reducing carbohydrate intake and promoting ketosis, the KD can help stabilize blood glucose levels, which is important for individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance (. et al., 2023). Improved glycemic control is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular complications (. et al., 2023).
Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous? The Potential Risks of a Ketogenic/Low Carb Diet
Despite its potential benefits, the ketogenic diet isn’t suitable for everyone. Certain individuals may be at risk of adverse effects, particularly if they have specific health conditions.
People with Kidney Disease: Individuals with kidney disease may need to be cautious. The diet’s high protein content can strain the kidneys, potentially exacerbating kidney problems.(Kim & Jung, 2020; Ko et al., 2020)
People with Heart Disease: People with heart disease should also exercise caution. While the ketogenic diet can improve some cardiovascular risk factors, it can also increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, known as ldl cholesterol, due to its high saturated fat content. This could increase the risk of heart disease over time. (Santos et al., 2022; Sharma & Gulati, 2012)
Potential for nutrient imbalances: The KD may disrupt the balance of electrolytes in the body, particularly sodium, potassium, and magnesium. (Harvey et al., 2018) Imbalances in these electrolytes can affect heart health, as they play a crucial role in maintaining proper heart function. Individuals on the KD must monitor their electrolyte levels and ensure they consume adequate amounts of these minerals. The KD restricts several food groups, including fruits, vegetables, and grains; individuals following the diet may not get enough of certain vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous for Some People? New Study on Ketogenic Diets
A recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials has revealed that ketogenic diets may negatively affect blood lipids in individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI). Most of the research on ketogenic diets has been on overweight individuals, but there are few studies on normal-weight individuals.
The study focused on assessing the impact of a ketogenic diet on blood lipids in adults with a normal BMI. The study subjects were 57 adults, each with a BMI under 25. The ketogenic diets implemented in these trials were very low in carbohydrates, with a daily intake of 20-50 grams or less than 10% of the total daily caloric intake. (Joo et al., 2023)
In contrast, the control group’s diet consisted of carbohydrates making up 45%-65% of their daily caloric intake. In the ketogenic diets, fats, and proteins accounted for 60-77% and 19-30% of the daily energy intake, respectively. The dietary interventions lasted for 3-4 weeks.
The results showed that the Ketogenic diet had beneficial effects such as:
Increased High-density lipoprotein cholesterol:
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is often called “good” cholesterol. It plays a crucial role in lipid metabolism by transporting cholesterol from the body’s tissues back to the liver, where it can be broken down and removed from the body. This process is known as reverse cholesterol transport. While higher levels of HDL-C are generally associated with lower cardiovascular risk, this is not always the case. Some people with high HDL-C levels still develop heart disease, and some treatments that raise HDL-C levels do not necessarily lower the risk of heart disease. Therefore, HDL-C is one factor among many contributing to cardiovascular health. KD increased High-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 13.53 mg/dL (0.35 mmol/L).
Increased Apolipoprotein A.
Apolipoprotein A (ApoA) is a component of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), often referred to as “good” cholesterol. KD increased Apolipoprotein A by 0.34 grams/L (34 mg/dL).
The negative effects on cardiovascular health were:
Increased Total cholesterol:
A KD Increased Total cholesterol by 56.8 mg/deciliter (dL; 1.47 millimoles/liter, or mmol/L).
Increased Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol:
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is often called “bad” cholesterol. This is because LDL-C carries cholesterol particles throughout your body, and high levels of LDL-C can build up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow. KD Increased Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 41.8 mg/dL (1.08 mmol/L).
Increased Apolipoprotein B:
- An increase in ApoB levels can be concerning because it suggests that more LDL particles are circulating in the bloodstream. These LDL particles can contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. KD increased Apolipoprotein B by 0.35 grams/L (35 mg/dL).
The findings of this analysis raise concerns, given that prolonged exposure to elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B are causally linked to the development of cardiovascular disease.(Abiodun, 2015; Tronko et al., 2021)
However, it’s important to note that in each of the included studies, the intake of saturated fat was relatively high (approximately 21%-33% of daily energy intake), which is known to increase levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B. Therefore, the results may not apply to a ketogenic diet with a monosaturated fat ketogenic diet like a Mediterranean Keto Diet, which is cardioprotective. (Bautista & Engler, 2005; Ivan et al., 2022)
Conclusion: Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous?
In conclusion, a low-carb/ketogenic diet can have benefits and potential risks. It can help with weight loss and improve blood sugar control. However, a ketogenic diet high in saturated fats can potentially negatively affect cardiovascular health. It is important to approach a low-carb diet cautiously and ensure you still get all the essential nutrients your body needs. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is recommended before making any major changes to your diet.
Abiodun, I. S. (2015). Is Apolipoprotein B and Small, Dense Low Density Lipoprotein a Better Marker of Cardiovascular Risk? International Journal of Biomedical Research. https://doi.org/10.7439/ijbr.v6i10.2638
Akrimi, S., & Brinkmann, C. (2022). Combining Exercise and Carbohydrate Restriction in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus—A Critical Look at Possible Intervention Effects. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192316251
Anton, S. D., Hida, A., Heekin, K., Sowalsky, K., Karabetian, C., Mutchie, H. L., Leeuwenburgh, C., Manini, T. M., & Barnett, T. E. (2017). Effects of Popular Diets Without Specific Calorie Targets on Weight Loss Outcomes: Systematic Review of Findings From Clinical Trials. Nutrients. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080822
Bautista, M. C., & Engler, M. M. (2005). The Mediterranean Diet: Is It Cardioprotective? Progress in Cardiovascular Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0889-7204.2005.04558.x
Bryngelsson, S., & Asp, N.-G. (2005). Popular Diets, Body Weight and Health. Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1080/11026480510031990
Ciaffi, J., Mitselman, D., Mancarella, L., Brusi, V., Lisi, L., Caporali, R., Cipriani, P., Meliconi, R., Giacomelli, R., Borghi, C., & Ursini, F. (2021). The Effect of Ketogenic Diet on Inflammatory Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health in Rheumatic Conditions: A Mini Review. Frontiers in Medicine. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.792846
Dixon, K. A., Michelsen, M. K., & Carpenter, C. L. (2023). Modern Diets and the Health of Our Planet: An Investigation Into the Environmental Impacts of Food Choices. Nutrients. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15030692
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Joo, M., Moon, S., Lee, Y. S., & Kim, M. G. (2023). Effects of very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets on lipid profiles in normal-weight (body mass index < 25 kg/m2) adults: a meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuad017
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Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous?
The ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, has gained significant popularity in recent years. It’s known for inducing a metabolic state called ketosis, where the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, producing molecules known as ketones. While the diet has been hailed for its potential health benefits, it’s not without its potential risks and side effects.
The Ketogenic Diet and Ketosis
The ketogenic diet involves significantly reducing carbohydrate intake while increasing fat intake. This dietary shift causes your body to enter a metabolic state known as ketosis. In ketosis, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
Foods to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet emphasizes high-fat foods like avocados and coconut, along with a moderate intake of proteins. Carbohydrates are typically minimized, but certain low-carb vegetables, such as leafy greens, are encouraged. Starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which are typically high in carbohydrates, are usually limited or avoided on a ketogenic diet.
Potential Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet was originally developed to treat epilepsy, and it’s been shown to reduce seizures in some individuals. It’s also been studied for its potential effects on other health conditions, such as diabetes and mental health disorders. Some people also follow a ketogenic diet for weight loss or blood pressure control.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet: Constipation, Diarrhea, and Those with Kidney Disease
Despite its potential benefits, the ketogenic diet isn’t suitable for everyone and can lead to side effects, often referred to as the “keto flu.” These can include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and bad breath. Some people may also experience an increase in urination, which can lead to a loss of electrolytes.
Is Low Carb Diet Dangerous?
Long-term adherence to the ketogenic diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies due to the restriction of certain food groups, including whole grains and legumes. This diet’s high fat intake can also increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, posing a higher risk for heart disease over time.
In rare cases, the ketogenic diet can lead to more serious complications like kidney stones or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Therefore, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian (RD), before starting a ketogenic diet.
Is a Low Carb Diet Dangerous? Keto Diet Safety
The ketogenic diet can offer potential health benefits, but it’s not without its risks. Considering these factors and consulting with a healthcare professional before starting this diet is crucial. While the ketogenic diet can offer short-term benefits for weight loss and control of certain health conditions, it’s important to consider the potential long-term health risks and to ensure that your diet is nutritionally balanced. As with any diet, the key is to focus on nutrient-dense foods and maintain a balanced diet for overall health and well-being.