So I've recently made the jump into a low-carb diet after tapering down for many many months. I'm trying to knock off some of this weight I've gained over the past year or so. My problem is that I have borderline (~190) high cholesterol. I control with diet and exercise (low fat), but have noticed that a lot of low carb choices are a little higher fat than what I am used to. I am worried that all of this extra dietary fat is going to spike it up further, despite my best efforts to cut fat where I can and exercise.
Right now I am mostly eating chicken and veggies, but there is a lot of fat in the plain greek yogurt I am eating, as well as in nuts and cheese.(I am following Bernstein's guidelines for the most part)
What do you all low-carb eaters do out there? Have any of you had trouble with cholesterol after going low-carb?
Lots of folks find that their cholesterol numbers improve drastically when they go on a low-carb diet. I have the same experience - when my diet consists of ~50% fat, my LDL drops. But when I've had a few too many meals with pasta, bread or anything else that is tasty and spike-producing, my LDL skyrockets.
FYI - I eat eggs, cheese and full-fat greek yogurt everyday and my cholesterol numbers are fantastic.
I think that following low carb requires eating higher levels of fat. And this is the quandry that causes many to pause. The "mantra" is that dietary fat is the source of blood cholesterol. But what I learned is that this is far from the truth. Bernstein argues that your cholesterol will "normalize" after 6 months or so and that his patients generally end up with great cholesterol levels. And generally the argument is that a key source of abnormal cholesterol patterns is excessive carb consumption and higher than normal blood sugar levels. If you read his newest book, he quotes his cholesterol levels, they appear astounding (I mean really really good).
And many of the other low carb experts agree. If you read the "New Atkins for You" (available at your local public library), it makes the same arguement. And for a more detailed discussion of the topic, read "The Art and Science of Low Carb Living" which goes into a great deal of the research with a particular emphasis on lipids (this book is oriented towards healthcare professionals).
And for an entertaining discussion of some of the recent research work on diets, Stephen Gardner has an engaging lecture on weight loss studies and his results with some particularly encouraging results for cholesterol levels under Atkins. Hope that helps.
I have been getting through ~ 35 eggs, loads of cheese and 3 big pots of Greek yogurt per week for the last six months and my cholesterol is great.
These days all I seem to be eating is green veggies, omelettes, meat...
My experience is like the others. I eat 3 eggs with cheese and sometimes meat, every day. I refuse to buy anything that is low or no fat.If you read the nutritional info the low fat version of anything is higher in carbs and sugars than the full fat product. Not exactly ideal for a D diet. My lipids are great and seem to stay very consistent. IMHO low fat is a lie and a scam.
anything over 200 total is considered high, but my doctor likes to see it much lower than that for people with diabetes because of all of the risks for atherosclerosis and heart disease/stroke.
In a high carb diet most of the energy the body needs is provided by carbs. If you lower the carbs the missing energy needs to be replaced. Since about 58% protein can be converted to glucose adding extra protein would seem to be one approach. But it doesn't work too well and in fact is bad for you. The Inuit who traditionally ate a high fat low carb diet had a name for this "Rabbit Starvation" to describe illness brought on by being forced to subsist on very lean arctic hares during hard times. You can Google "Rabbit Starvation" for a more detailed explanation.
So if you want to lower carbs the best replacement is fat. Numerous studies have shown that the dangerous combination is high carb high fat. High carb low fat and low carb high fat produce essentially the same blood lipid results. Some people say that in a low carb high fat scenario saturated fat is actually good for you, Google "Paleo Diet" for more on this.
Here's a link recently posted by FHS about how low carb works. Although the link is mostly about endurance sports on high fat it has an excellent explanation about how the body's metabolism changes when the bodies main fuel source is fat. I would also second bsc's book recommendations especially "The Art and Science of Low Carb Living" A final source would be the Bernstein Group here on tuD, look through the archives as the issue of blood lipids on low carb high fat, as well as the suitability of saturated fats in a low carb regime have been discussed in detail there with plenty of links to relevant studies.
Since this is against the conventional approach to fat in the diet I would suggest reading up on alternate views so you can make an informed decision you are comfortable with.
High cholesterol doesn't come from what you eat. Dietary cholesterol has virtually no affect on the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream, which is produced by your body.
Being hypothyroid will raise LDL. Have your thyroid checked before you try to eliminate cholesterol from your diet. If you do have hypothyroidism, the hormone supplement you will need to take will lower your LDL. The change may take up to six months, though, so give it some time.
My lipids improved on low carb/moderate protein/high fat. The worst they were was when I vegetarian & eating high carb, extremely low fat & no saturated fat. My doctor chalked that up to genetics, which isn't true in my family.
Low carb/low fat is pretty much starvation. Don't cut the fat, except for transfats.
Agree with Ann's recommendation. Hypothyroidism plays havoc with LDL & triglycerides.
My cholesterol improved MARKEDLY after I started low carbs, and increased my SATURATED fat intake. My biggest problem has always been high triglycerides, and after 1 year on low-carb, for the first time ever, I got GOOD tris on my lipid panel -- 77 when the recommendation is <150 if I remember correctly. My HDL had gone up to 65 -- it's NEVER been that high, and my VLDL was 15 (range <40) -- normal for the first time since they started measuring. My cardiologist would like to see my LDL less that 70, and it was 90, BUT the cutoff for glycemically gifted people is 100, so I'm still not in bad shape, considering the rest of my numbers. I think you should read Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, for an interesting take on the low-fat hysteria, and how it was politically manipulated. Then I think you should give yourself a year to experiment, and if it doesn't work for you, there are other approaches. Some people have found success with vegetarianism, although the danger there is too many carbs and not enough protein. Some people even go so far as veganism, but personally, I wouldn't do it, because you CAN'T get vitamin B-12 on a vegan diet and you HAVE to supplement, and I really think that it's better to get your nutrition from food, not pills, unless there is some overriding reason for supplementation. But the choice is yours. Good luck!
thanks everyone for the great advice. I will definitely be making a trip to my library to check out those books. So far, I've been feeling really great since starting this diet and have noticed that my blood sugar is more stable since starting it. I feel a lot better about having full fat choices now, especially since the low/no fat options are always so processed.
Great informative post, John. Wish more were aware that doctors get their drug info from pharm reps selling the product. Statins are a multi billion dollar business. Also, some doctors receive lecture fees, honorariums from Pharma & who knows what other perks. Man, what a corrupt system!