High Fat/Low-Carb (HFLC) diet, or Ketogenic diet, has become so popular in the last 5 years especially since 2015 when the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reported that dietary cholesterol was no longer a “nutrient of concern”. People dive into bacon, fried eggs, steaks, butter, cheese, heavy cream, pork fat and other fatty foods. Many people on Ketogenic diet claim that they lost weight, diabetes (type 2) is reversed, or other chronic conditions are improved. I have seen clients benefit from HFLC diet in the short term, but when it comes to long-term, I am not convinced that HFLC dieters are truly healthy. As I often advocate that each one of us is unique, there is no one diet that fits all human beings. Our bodies and their dietary requirements are highly individual, based on genetics and epigenetics. While one person may thrive long term on a Keto or low-carb diet, someone else may develop serious health conditions.
Your Lipid Profile
Generally speaking, HFLC diet promotes lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL [explain what HDL is]. Total cholesterol and LDL might increase, but as long as the particle size of the LDL cholesterol is large and “fluffy”, you may not have to worry (It all depends on how high the number is though). However, some HFLC dieters experience high triglycerides. Your triglyceride level measures the total amount of stored fatty acids in both your LDL and HDL particles. The higher your triglyceride level, the more fatty acids you have stored in both particle types in your blood. So, this is not a good indication to continue a high fat diet.
Ketogenic dieters often disregard the importance of fiber, eliminating fruits, starchy vegetables, grains and legumes, and eat only small amounts of vegetables. Eating less fiber will create significant changes in your gut bacteria that can cause inflammation, constipation, and/or diarrhea. One 6-month study of 217 people who were on a high-fat diet, showed damage to the concentration and composition of gut bacteria, including increased inflammation and reduced beneficial fatty acids. Also, the limited food choices in a keto diet often includes more dairy than we should eat. A lot of cheese and dairy products could cause digestive discomfort, gas, and bloating.
Diets that are too high in fat can actually block your body from making T4 into the active hormone T3. T3 7 is the thyroid hormone that gives you energy and affects your weight, digestion, and metabolism. The ketogenic diet especially puts a woman’s body in persistent fight-or-flight mode, creating high cortisol. Having high cortisol levels can affect the conversion of T4 to T3. A thyroid hormone called reverse T3 is often increased due to the high amounts of stress and cortisol. Reverse T3 stores away thyroid hormone and makes it inactive, blocking active T3.
Last thing I would like to address is very interesting. Low carbohydrate diets often result in rapid weight loss, reduced blood pressure, and decreased blood glucose. So, people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes often believes that their conditions are reversed when their hemoglobin A1c go down to the normal range. This reversed condition might be true but some experts say that ketogenic dieter will fail on glucose intolerance test. A glucose tolerance test is known for finding out if you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy, which measures how well your body’s cells are able to absorb glucose (sugar) after you consume a specific amount of sugar.
Research shows that the glucose level of the Keto diet group went very high after drinking high sugar liquid and took longer to get back to a normal blood-glucose level.
This means that the body needs more insulin in order to bring the blood sugar back to normal. This condition is called Insulin resistance or loss of insulin sensitivity, when more insulin than normal is required to deal with blood glucose. Those researches stated that being on a Ketogenic diet or high fat diet leads to insulin resistance, and there is a high possibility that it can lead to type 2 diabetes.
When you eat a low carbohydrate diet high in fat and protein, fatty acids are burned for energy, however they also accumulate in tissues like your muscle and liver. When your muscle and liver begin accumulating fat, both tissues begin rejecting insulin in an effort to block more energy from entering. Essentially, the more fat you eat, the weaker insulin becomes.
So, if you are considering or have been on a Ketogenic or HFLC diet, please make sure that you take a blood test every 3 months to cover at least the categories I mentioned above. Also, monitor your glucose level a few times a day and eat high carb food, like banana to see if your blood sugar spikes at 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour checkpoints. Yes, as I recommended in a previous article, you should purchase a glucose meter even though you are not diagnosed with prediabetic or type 2 diabetes.