Is a Low Carbohydrate Diet Right for You? Let’s work backwards:
Before diabetes, heart disease and stroke there are things to look out for, these will be discussed and then we will talk about how to turn them around.
Metabolic syndrome is the name they give to a set of risk factors, if you have metabolic syndrome you are at risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It is estimated that over 100 million people in the United States have Metabolic Syndrome with 3 million new cases each year.
To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome you must have 3 out of the 5 risk factors listed:
· A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity - if you are a man and your waistline is ≥ 35 in. (90 cm.) and if you are a woman and your waistline ≥ to 31 in. (80 cm.).
· A high triglyceride (TG) level
· A low HDL cholesterol level or your good cholesterol
· High blood pressure (BP)
· High fasting blood glucose (BG)
Insulin resistance has been shown to be the underlying cause of metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body cannot use its insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar into cells where it’s used for energy. Insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels, and it’s closely linked to overweight and obesity. Genetics (ethnicity and family history) and older age are other factors that may play a role in causing metabolic syndrome.
When you continue to eat excess carbohydrates or carbs your body can only store so much in your muscles and in your liver as glycogen before your body runs out of room and when that happens your liver turns carbohydrates into fat via a process called carbohydrate induced hepatic de novo lipogenesis. This fat is in the form of triglycerides or it will be turned into Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL) aka cholesterol, the bad kind. Continually storing carbs as glycogen in your liver can lead to Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), it is associated with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and obesity; in other words all the features of Metabolic syndrome are also associated with NAFLD. Increased rates of lipogenesis have been found in Low Fat/ High Carbohydrate diets.
Working backward to insulin resistance we find that insulin production cannot keep up with the glucose, from a high carbohydrate meal, being rapidly absorbed from the gut. Insulin resistance is the primary cause of type 2 diabetes and can be seen years before the actual onset.
A diet high in carbohydrates is not for everyone, if you have noticed any of these symptom or have been told by your doctor that you are glucose intolerant, insulin resistant, have NAFLD or metabolic syndrome it might be a time to eliminate the likely culprit.
Metabolic Syndrome or any of it's markers: large waist circumference (Men WC ≥ 35”, Woman WC ≥ 31”), high TG/low HDL, high BP, and high BG and/or Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease <-- Insulin Resistance <-- Glucose Sensitivity <-- Diet high in carbohydrates
How eating a Low Carb, Ketogenic Diet (LCKD) can help you:
On a low carb diet that induces ketosis you force your body to run on fat because you aren’t supplying it with an abundance of carbohydrates any more. This increased fat oxidation turns your body in a fat burning machine while the reduced amount of carbs that you eat allow your body to start to heal because you are no longer forcing your body to produce insulin to combat large amounts of carbohydrates. When in ketosis saturated fat becomes the preferred source of energy and as such it will use the saturated fat in your body, which decreases the amount of saturated fat in the blood. In addition to using fat as fuel you are also no longer eating a surplus volume of carbohydrates so your liver will no longer have to make fat from excess carbohydrates (de novo lipogenesis) most of which, if you remember, ends up as saturated fat in your blood or triglycerides. This is why saturated fat and triglycerides levels go down on a low carb diet. While in ketosis your body simultaneously reduces Triglyceride levels while increasing your HDL or “good” cholesterol. An increase in your good cholesterol is the best way to improve your heart health as it takes excess cholesterol back to the liver. HDL levels are not improved as quickly as the triglycerides are lowered but over a two-year study it showed that HDL levels continued to rise.
A low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet has been shown to lower blood pressure and is also very effective at lowering blood glucose, so much so that T2D patients on a LCKD have been able to decrease and even stop taking medication – this is obviously while under a doctor’s care and advisement.
While on a LCKD your body is healing from the inside and when you Mind Your Macros you will be following nutritional guidelines so that you will lose weight while your body heals and if your WC is: Men WC ≥ 35”, Woman WC ≥ 31 then ketosis will be burning off the excess abdominal fat at an increased rate as compared to fat from other parts of your body as it uses your fat stores for energy.
By reducing our carbs and eating a LCKD we are able to lose the large stomach, decrease our triglycerides, increase our good cholesterol (HDL), decrease blood pressure and blood glucose. The studies show that interrelationships between a LCKD and the reverse of metabolic syndrome, NAFLD and T2D are too big to ignore.
Low Carb, Ketogenic Diet --> decreases the need for insulin --> reduction in blood glucose --> no longer forcing the body to deal with excess carbs by storing them in your liver and turning them into fat (de novo lipogenesis) --> reduction in fatty liver --> reduction in saturated fat and triglycerides in the blood --> increased HDL, the good cholesterol --> and decreasing high blood pressure. Effectively reducing or eliminating most if not all of your metabolic syndrome markers.