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What Do You Do if You Get Elevated Cholesterol on a Low-Carb Diet?

Analyzing cholesterol on a low-carb diet

It’s a question I often get. Isn’t a low-carb and high-fat diet bad for the cholesterol? And what if you get an elevated cholesterol on LCHF, what should you do?

The good news

First the great news: A low-carb high-fat diet usually results in an improved cholesterol profile, indicating a lower risk of heart disease:

The classic effect of a low-carb diet on cholesterol is a slight elevation, partly due to an elevation of the good (HDL) cholesterol, indicating a lower risk of heart disease. This especially as the cholesterol profile also typically improves in two more ways: lower triglycerides and larger, fluffier LDL particles. All things that reduce risk of heart disease, statistically.

It has also been shown that two years with low-carb, high-fat diet advice results in a reduction of atherosclerosis – people actually got less signs of heart disease.

The bad news

However, there are also potential problems, even if they are rare.

On average the elevation of total and LDL cholesterol is so small that most studies do not even pick up on it. But for a smaller number of people – possibly around 1-2 percent of the population – there can be worrying elevations of LDL and total cholesterol, beyond what can be considered normal.

This potential risk is worth taking seriously. It can also be worth taking steps to correct it. I’ve written more about it on the page about potential side effects of low-carb diets:

Low Carb Side Effects & How to Cure Them

Continue Reading →

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Can Low-Carb Diets Result in Hair Loss?

Hair Loss on Low Carb

Is it possible to lose hair when starting a low-carb diet? Yes, and there are many misunderstandings and myths about it.

Here’s what you may need to know.

Temporary hair loss can occur for many different reasons, including any big dietary change. This is especially common when severely restricting calories (e.g. starvation diets, meal replacements) but it can also occasionally happen on low-carb diets.

If so, it usually starts 3-6 months after starting a new diet, at which point you’ll notice an increasing amount of hairs falling out when brushing your hair.

The good news is that even if you should be so unfortunate this is only a temporary phenomenon. And only a percentage of the hair will fall out (the thinning will rarely be very noticeable to others). Continue Reading →

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“Young Mother Nearly Dies From a Low-Carb Diet”

Mother

Can it potentially be life-threatening to breastfeed on a strict low-carb diet?

MailOnline: New mother nearly DIES from a low carb diet: 32-year-old developed life-threatening condition […] while breastfeeding

While this seems to be exceedingly rare – four published cases ever, all of which ended well – it’s apparently possible to develop ketoacidosis while breastfeeding on a strict low-carb diet. The same thing can happen due to starvation.

Don’t do a strict low-carb diet when breastfeeding – and make sure to eat enough in general.

Correction

Note that the ending of the MailOnline article is misleading. There’s normally no need to “see a doctor immediately” if the breath starts smelling of acetone on a low-carb diet. That’s a common sign of normal ketosis, which is completely safe under normal circumstances (unless you’re a type 1 diabetic, then it signals that you need more insulin).

When breastfeeding however, it’s probably wise not to eat so strict low-carb that you get that smell. Let the weight loss take some more time and go for a more moderate, non-ketogenic, low-carb diet while breastfeeding (50+ grams of carbs per day). And make sure you eat enough. It’s hardly worth taking any health risk at all for losing weight faster.

More

I’ve just recently written more extensively about the rare risk of ketoacidosis when breastfeeding on a strict low-carb diet:

Breastfeeding on a Low-Carb Diet – Is It Dangerous?

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Breastfeeding on a Low-Carb Diet – Is It Dangerous?

Is it dangerous to breastfeed while on a low-carb, high-fat diet?

Recently, the journal of the Swedish Medical Association published a case report (summary in English) of a woman who, six weeks after giving birth, had to be hospitalized for severe ketoacidosis. Luckily, she recovered quickly and her numbers were back to normal the next day.

Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition, most often seen in type 1 diabetics with acute insulin deficiency. In rare cases, ketoacidosis may occur in non-diabetics after prolonged periods of starvation or inadequate food intake, in which case it typically occurs in combination with stress or other medical conditions.

The woman in this case had been eating low-carb, high fat for a long time before the incident. After giving birth however, she had suffered flu-like symptoms of fever, nausea and a complete loss of appetite. Despite this, she was still able to breastfeed her baby, which of course ramped up her nutritional requirements.

The case study report brings up the woman’s low-carbohydrate diet as one possible contributing factor to the situation. However, as soon as the media found out, they immediately exaggerated this possible contributing factor to the guaranteed sole cause of the condition (which, as we shall see, is unikely):

In the woman’s own words

The woman described in the case report in the journal contacted me of her own accord through common acquaintances. She tells a different story from the one perpetuated by the media: Continue Reading →

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Gallstones and Low Carb

Gallbladder

Gallbladder in pink

Do gallstones improve or worsen on a low carb / high fat diet? It’s a common question with an interesting answer.

The gallbladder stores bile, a yellow-green fluid manufactured in the liver. The bile is used to digest the fat you eat. The question is: Is it good or bad for the gall bladder to eat fat? Continue Reading →

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