Popular fat loss diet may come with severe risks warns new study

There is a wide range of dietary patterns promising significant fat loss. Not only can finding the right one be a challenge but the safety of many of these dietary plans has been thrown into question. The ketogenic diet, deemed a “wonder for weight loss”, may have deleterious effects on other cardiovascular markers like cholesterol, a new study has warned.

The ketogenic diet is distinguished by its exceptionally high-fat content, which typically makes up 70 to 80 percent of the eating plan.

“Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat,” explains Harvard Health.

It adds: “It’s advertised as a weight-loss wonder, but this eating plan is actually a medical diet that comes with serious risks.”

A new study investigating the effects of high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and keto-like diets has aimed to quantify their impact on cardiovascular health.

The research, presented at the ACC Annual Scientific Session, found that a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet almost doubled the risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the standard diet.

It came to this conclusion after drawing on data collected by the UK Biobank for information on serum lipids, and dietary patterns, as well as other metabolic markers.

All data were collected from participants who recorded their diet in a 24-hour food survey.

Among them, 305 met the criteria for an LCHF diet, defined as consuming less than 25 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates and more than 45 percent from fat.

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Participants were matched to a control group deemed to be on a standard diet.

Doctor Liam R. Bruh, one of the study authors, said the findings showed that the effects of the ketogenic diet aren’t uniform, but that a small portion of participants will have “severe hypercholesterolemia”.

These individuals are bound to see the greatest increase in cardiovascular risk.

Michelle Routhenstein, a heart health dietitian at Entirely Nourished, a virtual counselling and consulting private practice, told Medical News Today that the study findings are in line with her own observations.

She said: “This study reiterates what I see in my private practice, [as] many individuals come to see me after being on the keto diet for several months with very high LDL and apolipoprotein A levels, two important factors that help establish risk for atherosclerosis.

She added: “The keto diet can be very high in saturated fat and low in soluble fibre, which negatively impacts both these values.”

The primary aim of the keto diet is to manipulate the body into using ketone bodies as fuel instead of sugar.

When the body switches to a keto diet it shifts away from glucose to use fatty acids instead; a process known as ketosis.

This causes the body to start burning fat within two to three weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To avoid dangerous increases in cholesterol, however, it’s important to focus on other aspects of lifestyle.

Exercising regularly, practising portion control and introducing more whole grains into the diet may all assist in prolonging healthspan.

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