Cholesterol on the Keto Diet

Cholesterol and Keto

Much of what most people thought to have understood about Cholesterol (both “good” and “bad” Cholesterol and off and on Keto) is outdated and completely misunderstood. Until now doctors and medical professionals warned patients about eating high-fat foods for fear of increasing cholesterol levels which then would undoubtedly lead to heart disease and other metabolic issues like diabetes.

Likewise, some folks are very reluctant to begin a Ketogenic diet based on the all you can eat bacon and cheese buffet (Dirty Keto) which goes against everything the medical professionals have been preaching all these years.

Both are wrong!

It’s true. And once the bigger picture, the true picture, is clear… it will all make sense. Only humans and animals produce Cholesterol which means humans get the 25% mentioned above through animal proteins. Plants are naturally Cholesterol-free.

Cholesterol Myths and Truths

First, we need to get a better understanding of the whole Cholesterol fiasco and why the previous myths have been debunked.

  • Cholesterol isn’t harmful. In fact, the human body produces 75% of the necessary Cholesterol supply and the other 25% is ingested.
  • Cholesterol doesn’t just float around willy-nilly in the bloodstream causing plaques and heart disease.
  • A “Cholesterol panel” is actually a lipid panel. Cholesterol isn’t even an interest; it’s the vehicle in which Cholesterol travels that wreaks havoc on the cardiovascular system.
Keto Cholesterol Panel

When a lipid panel is drawn the good old doctors are looking for the numbers and sizes of the Cholesterol carriers (lipoproteins), not the Cholesterol itself. HDL (good), LDL (bad) and VLDL (ugly) are the vehicles, like a car per se, for Cholesterol.

These particles move the Cholesterol around the parts of body where it’s needed.

  • The HDL, high-density lipoprotein, is deemed the “good” one because it’s responsible for returning any leftover LDL Cholesterol vehicles back to the liver to be recycled or sent down the poop chute. HDL has anti-inflammatory properties and assists the immune system.
  • The LDL, low-density lipoprotein, is not so good. These guys are slow and tend to get stuck in the arteries which starts plaque buildup. The LDL value calculates how many and the size of these lipoprotein vehicles are in the blood. An overabundance of smaller LDL vehicles can cause problems. The best scenario is there is a lower number and they are bigger in size.
  • Then there is the VLDL, very-low-density lipoprotein, which doesn’t even carry Cholesterol and instead carts around triglycerides. Triglycerides are the byproduct of leftover and unused sugars (carbohydrates) that need a place to hide. They are smaller than LDL Cholesterol carriers, thus the risk for heart disease is much greater with these guys.

In summary, Cholesterol gets a free ride and a bad rap. Lipoproteins are just trying to do a good job, for the most part, and it appears that eating foods high in carbohydrates and sugars is the real culprit.

How Does Keto Help Cholesterol Levels?

Keto Cholesterol Levels

Research has shown improved lipid panels in both men and women in several studies. A low-fat diet versus a ketogenic diet has also been examined and studied specifically for lipoprotein improvements. Studies have been conducted for as few as 24 weeks to more than a year.

The common factors in research thus far:

  • Triglycerides decreased due to the ketogenic diet limitations on carbohydrates and refined sugars.
  • Increased LDL carrier size.
  • Increased the number of HDL carries to deal with the LDL.
  • Decreased body mass index and weight.
  • Better blood glucose readings.

Pretty awesome news for those struggling with an out of whack lipid panel. And weight loss. And glucose issues.

The #1 Ketogenic Diet Myth – Cholesterol on Keto

A menu consisting of bacon and cheese (Dirty Keto) isn’t going to cut it on the Ketogenic diet. That is a terrible meal plan (especially long term). The Ketogenic diet is based on getting the correct number of macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) to maximize results and maintain a state of Ketosis.

It’s all about balance. Adequate protein, higher percentage of calories in fat than anything else and limit carbohydrates to 20-50 grams. Individual numbers vary based on goals and other factors. There are a number of macronutrient apps and calculators online. So, go ahead and eat the bacon and savor that cheese. They aren’t forbidden; they just have to fit the ratio.

Need another reason the bacon and cheese diet is absurd? Humans need to balance electrolytes. Sodium, potassium and magnesium are imperative for health and wellness. Some of these can come from animal proteins, but the best sources are above-ground veggies. Plus, vegetables are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants.

Cholesterol isn’t such a bad guy after all. The Ketogenic diet can absolutely assist in correcting a lipid panel, along with many other benefits. Oh, and a slab of bacon a day with a block of cheese certainly doesn’t fulfill the Ketogenic dietary needs, but both are in fact Keto-friendly foods!

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Clean Keto, Dirty Keto and Lazy Keto

Clean Keto, Dirty Keto, Lazy Keto

Today we will look at types of Keto from a different perspective, essentially the 3 different types are: Clean, Dirty and Lazy Keto. The Ketogenic diet is a way of eating to lose weight that limits carbohydrates and includes plenty of healthy fats. People following Keto are strict with their food intake. They eat whole, unprocessed foods and monitor their macros (their fat, protein and carbohydrate intake ratios). Their aim is to force or keep their body in a state of Ketosis.

If you follow the Keto diet, your body burns fat instead of glucose for its energy needs. Those who strictly follow the diet attest to losing weight fast in just a few days of drastically reducing their carbohydrates.

However, as with any diet there are some rules that some follow and other people follow different rules. Even the Keto diet has followers that do the ‘Clean Keto’ version, while others do the ‘Dirty Keto’ version, and some swear by the ‘Lazy Keto’ version.

Clean Keto

The Clean Keto diet follows the principle of eating foods with low carbohydrate content, but those that keep you feeling fuller longer due to their high fiber content, such as green leafy vegetables.

The clean Keto diet is often referred to as the ‘strict’ Keto diet. You only eat healthy, whole foods. You do not eat any processed foods at all. Although the Keto diet allows nuts and dairy, there are some advocates who avoid these foods as well as they believe they will not help them with fast weight loss.

If you are on the clean Keto diet, then drinking alcohol is a definite no-no. It all boils down to eating a clean diet, focusing on whole foods, without eating anything processed or even drinking an occasional glass of wine.

Dirty Keto

If you decide you want to go Keto, but don’t particularly want to follow the restrictions religiously, then your diet will no doubt be branded as being the ‘dirty Keto’ diet.

Following this diet means you can eat anything as long as your carb intake remains low and it’s still high in fat. This way of eating does not focus as stringently on where you source your food and nutrients, just as long as you follow the Keto principle. In other words, this diet puts a premium on convenience, so you can eat whatever is available or on hand, provided you keep the carbo-fat percentage intact.

Lazy Keto

The one rule to Lazy Keto focuses only keeping the carbohydrate intake to no more than 20 grams per day. Unlike clean Keto, you don’t have to track your calories, nor do you have to count the other macronutrients (fat and protein).

This method is appealing to people who find tracking to be a chore. And who want quick results without much work. Just focusing on counting the carbohydrates is way simpler. But simple does not always mean easy. While it is a fact that you will lose weight doing a Lazy Keto diet (at the end of it, it is a low-carb eating plan, and we know those work), the chances of hitting a weight-loss plateau (likely fairly soon) are very high.

Clean, Dirty and Lazy Keto – A Summary

Clean Keto, Dirty Keto, Lazy Keto

The Golden Rule of a regular Keto diet (also called ‘strict’ or ‘clean’ Keto) is to focus on the Fats and keep your daily Carb intake to less than 20-30 grams per day. With the dirty version, the macronutrient ratio remains the same, but the quality of the foods you eat matters a whole lot less.
With Lazy Keto, neither are you tracking calories, nor are you counting the other macronutrients (fat and protein).

It is easy to understand why some people prefer to go for the Dirty Keto or Lazy Keto diet if they lead a busy lifestyle and can’t organize their meals in advance. It’s a lot easier to throw a ready-made frozen meal in the microwave than it is to plan your meals, chop and peel vegetables and find healthy cuts of meat.

If you enjoy being in the kitchen, then you won’t find cooking Keto meals a chore at all. Weighing your foods, watching the portions, counting the ratios etc., may all be fun for one person, but not for someone else. Usually the one it’s not fun for is the dirty Keto or lazy Keto dieter, who may find the convenience of other foods better for them. They will look for foods that are as low in carb as possible, but the meat may be processed, and the vegetables may not be organically grown.

Let’s take a look at an example. A fast food chain may be selling a chicken burger, complete with salad. The clean dieter won’t eat it all, however, the dirty dieter will eat most of it, processed meat and all, but throw away the bun. At the end of the day their macros may not look too bad, however, the clean Keto dieter’s nutrients and overall long term health will look a whole lot better!

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