The Keto Diet and Heart Disease

The Keto diet has been a hot topic amongst our members for the last little while. It is a low carb, high fat content diet that is touted to help with the weight loss battle. Without getting into the details behind how the diet is supposed to work, the reason this diet in particular is not good for those with heart disease relates back to cholesterol.

LDL is the “bad” cholesterol in our bodies. It essentially can be thought of as the gunk that creates narrowings and blockages in our arteries, thus reducing the blood flow to our heart muscle, and increasing our risk of a heart attack. Our current researched guidelines tell us that LDL is affected by the amount of saturated fat that we consume in our diets. For the meat eaters out there, the majority of our saturated fat comes from the proteins (meats) we consume. Beef, pork, and veal, (red meats) have the highest levels of saturated fat as compared to chicken, fish, and turkey (white meats). The Keto diet in particular recommends an increase in consumption of red meat. Other high saturated fat foods also on contained in the Keto diet include high fat dairy products like butter, cream, and cheese, full fat yogurt, and milk along with coconut oil, seafood, and high fat salad dressings. These are the very foods that drive your LDL levels up, putting you at risk. For the healthy population this may not be a huge concern, however if you have 3 or more risk factors for heart disease or currently have diagnosed heart disease the Keto Diet may not be safe for you. Personally, given the research guidelines currently in effect, I do not recommend this diet for any of my cardiac members.

It is recommended you speak to your doctor if you have 3 or more of the following risk factors before starting this diet.

  1. Overweight – BMI greater than 25 or a waist girth of more than 88cm for women or 100 cm for men.
  2. Are on blood pressure medication, or have high blood pressure
  3. Are on cholesterol medication or have high cholesterol
  4. Diabetic
  5. Smoke
  6. Have high stress levels
  7. Do not exercise 150mins per week
  8. Have a family history of heart disease
  9. A man over 40 or women over 45 years of age
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Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.