The keto diet? Here are a few things you need to check

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Blood tests can help make sure your ‘healthy’ diet isn’t doing your body damage

If you want to lose weight quickly, you’ve probably heard about – or may already be following – the ketogenic (‘keto’) diet.

As well as being an effective way to lose weight, studies have shown this high-fat, low-carb diet may deliver other health benefits, including reducing seizures in children with epilepsy and protecting brain function.

But while the diet certainly has its merits, it’s easy to do keto wrong.

And if you’ve been following the keto diet for a long time, you could be at greater risk of developing certain health problems, especially if you’ve got an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

That’s why it’s important to regularly monitor what’s going on inside your body, to make sure your ‘healthy’ diet isn’t having the opposite effect.

In this article, we’ve outlined three important things to check when following the keto diet to safeguard your health now and in the future.

While the keto diet certainly has its merits, it's easy to do it wrong #keto #ketodiet #labtests #health #wellness Click To Tweet

Monitor your blood sugar levels

The keto diet is similar to the Atkins and other low-carb diets in that it involves drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat and replacing them with fat.

Carbohydrates usually account for at least half of the typical American diet. These carbs are converted into glucose, which are then used as the body’s primary energy source.

By restricting your carbohydrate intake, your body is forced to burn fat instead of glucose for energy – putting it into a metabolic state called ketosis.

During ketosis, fat is converted into ketones in the liver. These ketones are released into your bloodstream, where they are used by your muscles and other tissues for fuel.

Because the keto diet lowers the amount of glucose in your blood, studies have shown that it may be useful for people with diabetes who have trouble regulating their blood sugar levels (although the American Diabetes Association doesn’t recommend any particular diet over another).

People with diabetes regularly test their blood sugar levels to avoid blood sugar spikes and hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar).

But even if you don’t have diabetes, it’s a good idea to monitor your blood sugar and insulin levels when following a low-carb eating plan.

That’s because there’s evidence to suggest that the keto diet may affect the body’s ability to respond to insulin – a condition known as insulin resistance.

When this happens, the body becomes less efficient at removing sugar from the bloodstream, increasing the risk of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Check your cholesterol levels

Fat has traditionally been a big no-no if you want to lose weight, so people may be surprised to learn that the high-fat keto diet is an effective weight-loss strategy.

But even if you’re losing weight and look ‘healthy’, a high-fat diet can pose serious health risks that aren’t always easy to see.

In particular, it’s important to regularly check your cholesterol levels.

That’s because a diet high in fat – particularly saturated and trans fats – can raise the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or ‘bad cholesterol’) in your system.

This builds up in your arteries and can cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which increases your risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke.

That’s why it’s recommended people following the keto diet stick to ‘healthy’ fats like avocado, nuts and fatty fish.

Rather than clogging your arteries, these types of fats actually boost the amount of high-density lipoprotein (or ‘good cholesterol’) in your blood that help carry excess cholesterol out of your arteries and back to your liver.

While a standard cholesterol panel will tell you your good cholesterol/bad cholesterol ratio, advanced lipid tests like those in our Keto Lab Panel take this a step further and actually measure the quality of your LDL particles, so you know how damaging (or not) they are to your blood vessels.

If you’re planning on starting or are already following a low-carb, high-fat diet, it’s also a good idea to get your lipoprotein(a) levels tested.

This type of LDL is mostly determined by your genes, and some studies suggest elevated levels can triple your risk of heart attack or stroke.

While eating a high-fat diet (or not) won’t usually affect your Lp(a) levels, experts believe high Lp(a) levels are most damaging when your LDL levels are also high, so it’s important to know if you have any underlying cholesterol problems so you can reduce your risk factors as much as possible.

Even if you're losing weight and look ‘healthy', a high-fat diet can pose serious health risks that aren't always easy to see #keto #ketodiet #labtesting #health #wellness Click To Tweet

Monitor your thyroid hormones

It makes sense that your diet affects your cholesterol and blood sugar levels – but did you know can impact your thyroid hormones too?

T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) are the main hormones produced by the thyroid gland. They play an essential role in many vital body functions, including your heart rate, metabolism and fertility.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which comes from your pituitary, is also crucial to how well your body functions, as it affects the amount of T4 and T3 your thyroid produces.

The keto diet doesn’t usually cause any problems if your thyroid is functioning normally.

But eating too few carbs can lower your thyroid hormone levels, which may cause issues if your baseline levels are already low.

For example, if your T3 and T4 levels are low, you may experience problems like fatigue, constipation and weight gain.

And if you think this doesn’t apply to you, consider this: the American Thyroid Association estimates that nearly 20 million Americans have some sort of thyroid disease, and as many as 60 per cent of those don’t know they have the condition.

That’s why it’s a good idea to check your T3, T4 and TSH levels if you’re thinking of (or already) following the keto diet, so you can make sure your diet isn’t exacerbating any underlying issues.

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Want to check if the keto diet is right for you? Check our our Keto Lab Panel and order yours today!

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About the Author:

Dr. Alan Hopkins is a graduate of Loma Linda University School of Medicine where he was elected into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society for leadership and academic excellence. He is board-certified in Emergency Medicine and completed an A4M fellowship in Anti-Aging Medicine. He’s an advocate of innovative medical care and is on the board of directors of several private companies to assist them in developing strategies that are consumer-oriented and patient education-based.
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