They have clear, potentially life-saving benefits for some of the world’s most serious diseases.
The most common heart disease risk factors tend to improve greatly, for most people (1, 2, 3).
But even if these risk factors improve on average, there can be individuals within those averages that experience improvements, and others who see negative effects. There appears to be a small subset of people who experience increased cholesterol levels on a low-carb diet, especially a ketogenic diet or a very high fat version of paleo.
This includes increases in Total and LDL cholesterol… as well as increases in advanced (and much more important) markers like LDL particle number.
However… it is better to be safe than sorry and I think that these individuals should take some measures to get their levels down, especially those who have a family history of heart disease.
Fortunately, you don’t need to go on a low-fat diet, eat veggie oils or take statins to get your levels down.
Some simple adjustments will do just fine and you will still be able to reap all the metabolic benefits of eating low-carb. People who have mostly small LDL particles have a high risk of heart disease, while those with mostly large particles have a low risk (4, 5). However, science is now showing that the most important marker of all is the LDL particle number (LDL-p), which measures how many LDL particles are floating around in your bloodstream (6). This number is different from LDL concentration (LDL-c), which measures how much cholesterol your LDL particles are carrying around. It is important to get these things tested properly in order to know if you truly have anything to be concerned about. If you can, have your doctor measure your LDL-p (LDL particle number)… or ApoB, which is another way of measuring LDL particle number. If your LDL cholesterol is high, but your LDL particle number is normal (called discordance), then you probably have nothing to worry about (7). On a low-carb diet, HDL tends to go up and triglycerides down, while Total and LDL cholesterol tend to stay the same.
Within those averages, it appears that a subset of people on a low-carb ketogenic diet DO get a rise in Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and LDL particle number.
If you want to dig into the science behind this paradoxical rise in cholesterol on a ketogenic diet, then read that article (you need to sign up with a free account). Unfortunately, not everyone can have advanced markers like LDL-p or ApoB measured, because these tests are expensive and not available in all countries. In these cases, Non-HDL cholesterol (Total Cholesterol – HDL) is a fairly accurate marker that can be measured on a standard lipid panel (10, 11).
If your Non-HDL is elevated, then that is reason enough to take measures to try to get it down. Bottom Line: A subset of individuals do experience increased cholesterol on a low-carb diet, especially if it is ketogenic and ultra high fat.
It’s also important to rule out medical conditions that can cause elevated cholesterol.
Another thing to consider is weight loss… in some individuals, losing weight can temporarily increase LDL cholesterol. If your levels go up at a time when you are losing weight rapidly, you may want to wait for a few months and then measure them again when your weight stabilizes. It’s also important to rule out a genetic condition like Familial Hypercholesterolemia, which afflicts about 1 in 500 people and is characterized by very high cholesterol levels and a high risk of heart disease.
Of course, there are many subtle genetic differences between us that can determine our responses to different diets, such as different versions of a gene called ApoE4 (14). Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s take a look at some actionable steps that you can take to bring those cholesterol levels down. Bottom Line: Make sure to rule out any medical or genetic condition that may be causing you to have high cholesterol. It involves adding 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil (or coconut oil) and 2 tablespoons of butter into your morning cup of coffee.
I haven’t tried it myself, but many people claim that it tastes delicious, gives them energy and kills their appetite. All the studies showing that saturated fat is harmless used normal amounts… that is, amounts that the average person consumes.
There is no way to know what happens if you start adding massive amounts of saturated fat to your diet, especially if you’re eating it instead of other more nutritious foods. I’ve also heard reports from low-carb friendly docs (Drs Spencer Nadolsky and Karl Nadolsky.
If you drink bulletproof coffee and have cholesterol problems, then the first thing you should do is try removing this from your diet. In the largest and highest quality studies, saturated fat is not linked to increased heart attacks or death from heart disease (15, 16, 17). However… if you have problems with cholesterol, then it is a good idea to try to replace some of the saturated fats you are eating with monounsaturated fats.
If this alone doesn’t work, then you may even want to start eating more fish and replacing some of the fatty meat you are eating with leaner meat. It protects the LDL particles from oxidation, reduces inflammation, improves the function of the endothelium and may even lower blood pressure (18, 19, 20, 21). It is definitely a superfood for the heart and I think anyone at risk of heart disease should be using olive oil, no matter whether their cholesterol is high or not. Bottom Line: Monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, avocados and nuts, may have cholesterol lowering effects compared to saturated fats. That is, that carbs should be low enough for the body to start producing ketones out of fatty acids. Although there is no clear definition, anything up to 100-150 grams per day (sometimes higher) can be classified as a low-carb diet. It is possible that some individuals see cholesterol increases when they’re in ketosis, but improve when they eat just enough carbs to avoid going into ketosis.
You can try eating 1-2 pieces of fruit per day… maybe a potato or sweet potato with dinner, or small servings of healthier starches like rice and oats.
Depending on your metabolic health and personal preferences, you could also just adopt a higher-carb version of paleo instead. This can also be a very healthy diet, as demonstrated by long-living populations like the Kitavans and Okinawans, who ate a lot of carbs. Other natural ways to lower cholesterol levels include eating foods high in soluble fiber or resistant starch, and taking a niacin supplement. At the end of the day, low-carb diets are still incredibly healthy and the benefits FAR outweigh the negatives for most people, but a subset of individuals may need to make some adjustments in order to make the diet work for them. A low-carb, high-fat vegan diet, also known as the Eco-Atkins diet, beat a high-carb, low-fat diet for producing weight loss and preventing heart disease, according to a recent study.
The research, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Toronto and published in BMJ Open, suggests the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) Eco-Atkins diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by 10% over 10 years.
The findings are surprising because medical experts have historically insisted that eating dietary fat causes high cholesterol and raises the risk of heart disease.

The fat sources for the Eco-Atkins diet came from nuts, vegetable oils, soy products, and avocado, while carbs came from oats, barley, and low-starch vegetables such as okra and eggplant.
After six months, the Eco-Atkins dieters lost 4 more pounds than those who followed a high-carb, low-fat diet.
The latest study bolsters recent scientific findings indicating that dietary fat has been wrongly blamed for causing obesity and other diseases.
According to obesity experts, a high-carb diet promotes disease and weight gain by causing pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin. While the idea of consuming more dietary fat may sound shocking given the low-fat diet mantra that has dominated SAD (the Standard American Diet), dietitian and nutrition professor Dr.
Volek has followed a LCHF ketogenic diet for the past 20 years, crediting it for his excellent health. Because dietary fat has a negligible impact on insulin, eating it doesn't produce surges in our blood glucose and blood insulin the way ingesting carbs does. Meanwhile, the popularity of the vegan diet continues unabated, as celebrities like Samuel L. Leto, who won the Academy Award this year for "Dallas Buyers Club," has credited the vegan diet for his age-defying good looks. Bill Clinton said his mostly vegan diet is responsible for his 30-pound weight loss and for reversing his heart disease. Experiencing easy weight loss and improved health on a vegan diet isn't surprising to obesity experts like Dr.
Cannes Film Festival fashion: Amal Clooney, Blake Lively, Victoria BeckhamThe 69th Cannes Film Festival opened on Wednesday, May 11 with Woody Allen's new film. Ways to earn extra money: The side hustleRemember when a full-time job used to mean working 40 hours a week or more and bringing home a decent paycheck that would last, at least until the next pay check? Because the carbohydrates that we eat raise our blood sugar, and because high blood sugar is the definition of diabetes, it makes sense for those of us who have diabetes to reduce how much carbohydrate we eat, write Drs. Most important is to avoid wheat in any form -- and this specifically includes wheat flour. As much as possible, eliminate table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and fructose, except in small amounts of low-glycemic fruits like avocados, green peppers, and citrus.
These are the most concentrated starches and sugars that wreck the most havoc with our diabetes.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement of how a food raises blood glucose (aka blood sugar) levels. Refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index, but unprocessed carbs from fresh produce and whole grains usually have a low to medium GI. Choosing a diet comprised of food with a low glycemic index has been shown as an effective weight loss strategy in controlled studies.
The glycemic index is not something than can be calculated or imputed simply by examining a food’s nutrient facts or its ingredients. Glycemic Load is a better indicator for the rise in blood glucose because it takes into account the actual portion size consumed. An apple with a glycemic index of 34 will have a glycemic load of only 7 for a 3 ounce serving.
To confuse you even more, many nutritious foods have a higher GI than foods with little nutritional value. Bottom line: While choosing food with a low glycemic index has been shown to help with weight loss, it is not a very practical diet strategy.
This entry was posted in WeightLoss and tagged blood glucose, carbohydrates, glycemic index, Glycemic Load, meats, sugar by Hemi Weingarten. If you are a carb-lover like me, any news that avoiding carbohydrates is better for health is hard to take. At the end of the 30 days, I wanted to scientifically quantify whether this type of diet is healthier or not. However, when you start digging in to specific numbers on the tests, some interesting results appear.
With diabetes such a frequent health concern, we all should pay attention to our blood glucose levels. While distinguishing differences in liver enzymes when both are in the “normal” range is almost pointless, it does make sense that when the body is having an easier time digesting healthful foods, the liver does not have to work as hard.
While some of my liver enzymes were decreased on the low-carb diet, generally showing the liver having an easier time processing food, others were not so positive.
I had a number of tiny changes in my blood factors that could be interpreted to show signs of dehydration and possible iron deficiency. So, overall, how do I answer the question, “Is a low carb diet healthier?” I think the answer is that medical science is still catching up with popular dieting trends and the results aren’t fully understood yet. They had low-carb patients with massively increased cholesterol whose levels normalized when they stopped drinking bulletproof coffee. Many people also claim to get the best results, mental and physical, when they’re in ketosis. I still eat a low-carb diet myself… a non-ketogenic, real food based low-carb diet with about a 100 grams of carbs per day. But the latest report indicated that vegans who ate more fat and reduced their carb intake actually improved both their cholesterol profile and heart-disease risk.
Eco-Atkins dieters ate a low-carb diet with the following macronutrient breakdown: 43% of calories from fat, 31% from proteins, and 26% from carbs.
Science journalist Nina Teicholz recently made this argument in her book, The Big Fat Surprise.
By limiting those surges in blood sugar, we dramatically reduce inflammation, which is what fuels weight gain and disease, they say.
Kim Kardashian recently lost 56 pounds in six months on a ketogenic-style Atkins diet that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams.
More importantly, we don't fuel inflammation in our bodies, which causes aging and leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer's disease. Eric Westman, director of the Duke University Obesity Clinic, has helped hundreds of morbidly obese people lose thousands of pounds by following the low-carb, high-fat Atkins and ketogenic diets. Wheat is addicting, and of course breaking any addiction is difficult, so for most people the better approach is to go cold turkey.
The worst of these are baked potatoes, because they have the highest glycemic index, meaning that they make your blood sugar spike the most. As soon as you eliminate them from your diet the sooner you will be able to control your diabetes and regain your health. Kim Kardashian lost 56 pounds in six months on a ketogenic-style Atkins diet that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams.
GI is an important measurement for people living with diabetes who need to control their blood glucose through diet, oral medication, and insulin injections.
The data is collected by measurement of a food’s effect on people’s blood glucose under very controlled conditions in a lab. Additionally, the glycemic index found in various data tables, is a measure of the effect of a single food product consumed in isolation.

Glycemic load is defined as the grams of available carbs in a serving times its GI divided by 100. It felt like a “no carb” diet because the only carbs I ate were oatmeal, whole fruit smoothies, an occasional amount of quinoa and any small amounts of carbs that happened to be in things like tomatoes, corn, or salad dressing. So, I had a blood sample drawn and analyzed to measure my cholesterol, blood sugar and other basic indicators of health.
Likely, most busy physicians would take a quick look at the results and say, “Well, you were healthy before and you are still healthy. In general, I had been eating more meats than normal (lean proteins like turkey and fish mostly) yet my cholesterol went down!
Not surprisingly, on a low carb diet, where you are ingesting fewer sugars than normal, the blood glucose level falls. It was interesting to see that while my total cholesterol dropped 19% and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol dropped 24%, my good cholesterol also dropped—by nearly 20%! In general, you don’t want your triglyceride levels to increase as this is a risk factor for heart disease and other problems. We have been conditioned to associate white blood cell counts with strong immune systems and the ability to fight off disease. I had never really thought much about iron before so I hope to talk about that in a future post. Most of us eat way too many carbohydrates and can have better health if we eat less of them and more of the healthy stuff like vegetables and lean proteins. Similarly, TV star Sharon Osbourne lost 28 pounds in six weeks on a LCHF Atkins diet that reduced her carb intake to 25 grams a day. The list of those carbohydrate foods to avoid is actually a short one that’s easy to remember. Eliminating these sugars at home is easy because we have a great natural non-caloric sweetener, stevia.
Avoiding sodas sweetened with sugar, including those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, is easy because of the non-caloric alternatives that we have. These are followed within hours by sugar crashes, which lead to hunger pangs and a tendency to eat more. Use of the glycemic index needs to be balanced with basic nutrition principles of variety for healthful foods and moderation of foods with few nutrients. All marks, brands and names belong to the respective companies and manufacturers and are used solely to identify the companies and products.
While most of us know that eating too much meat and saturated fats raises cholesterol, how many of us know that eating too many carbohydrates does the same thing?
I assume this might be related to the decreased acetyl co-A production issue mentioned above. Many studies of low carbohydrate diets only report that participants lowered triglyceride levels.
Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be connected to ketosis and that the liver has to work harder to process the body’s fat stores as a supply of energy than it does to process carbohydrates.
The changes were small but it does highlight that you have to be careful when you undertake any drastic dietary changes.
However, we don’t need to cut out all carbohydrates completely and if we do, it might not be good for us. William Davis makes clear in his book that I reviewed at Lose Your Wheat Belly for Diabetes Health.
After wheat and potatoes, the starches that will raise your blood sugar the most are rice and corn. A vicious cycle of overeating and weight gain is thus formed, and a probable outcome is pre-diabetes or worse.
Hardest of all, I ate no sugars except for fruit and any small amounts that might have been in salad dressing.
Anecdotally, however, it seems that some people on low carb diets experience at least a temporary increase in triglyceride levels, which could reflect the body using fats as a source of energy. However, some additional research showed anecdotal evidence that white blood cell counts often fall when people are on ketogenic diets. Some suggest that over time, ketosis eventually results in lowered and better liver enzyme levels. Eating more of the good kind of carbohydrates (whole grains) and less of the bad kind (simple sugars and candies) is another area we need to work on. A baked potato has a very high GI, but eaten with a bit of butter, will actually have a medium GI. I ate tons of salad greens and vegetables, lean proteins like fish, turkey and chicken, healthy raw nuts, fruits and oatmeal. While we use terms like “burn off that fat” or “melt that fat” when we think about losing weight or exercising, what I was not connecting is that the body essentially has to process stored fat (through a process called ketosis) and get it out of the body.
However my hematologist believes there is nothing to fear as I’m negative on bone marrow biopsy, infections, etc. Therefore, when you start eating healthier, you see decreased inflammation and perhaps lower white blood cell counts. I have experimented with cutting carbs to 30% of calories for the past 9 months and found your article illuminating as my reduced carb intake seems to correlate to my low WBC counts. One source I read indicated that this diet-induced triglyceride increase is not dangerous in the same way that increased triglycerides due to over-consumption of bad fats is and that the triglyceride levels fall over time as fat is eliminated from the body. However, another study looking at ketogenic diets in children suggests that the lowered white blood cell count could also indicate a nutritional deficiency, such as Vitamin D. I have been going back up with carbs to 40% and 50% because of lack of energy for workouts (seems to be helping). I eat a very healthy diet and exercise almost daily for an hour, including running, martial arts, etc.
Check out our How to Lose Weight page with helpful tips.Don’t know how to start on low carb? Check out our page on how to cure low-carb side effects.Do you have other specific problems?
Please help us out by leaving a comment below about what kind of social situation you find hardest, and why.A general tip can be to eat before you leave for a social situation, when you predict it will be hard to find good food. And if you are addicted to sugar or processed foods, check out our video course for helpful tips >Feeling hungryMost people feel way less hungry on a low-carb, high-fat diet. Millions of people have been using it over hundreds of years, with no major risk identified and proven. Missing an insulin shot or two – or a brief pump malfunction – in this situation can tip you over the edge. Low carb works by lowering the fat-storing hormone insulin, but it never goes away completely.

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