People begin a Keto diet for a variety of reasons including weight loss, stabilization of blood sugar levels, increased energy and lowered blood pressure. But does Keto always lower your blood pressure? Is there any evidence to say that it might do the opposite instead and cause high blood pressure?
The good news is, for the majority of people, Keto is beneficial for blood pressure levels. However, there are a few groups of people that might have cause to concern. The following article will highlight the benefits of Keto for your blood pressure as well as the groups of people that might want to steer clear of this diet.
How does Keto work?
The Keto diet is an ultra-low-carb diet that has you eating a high amount of healthy fats and a moderate amount of protein. The reasoning behind this is simple. You need to switch from using glucose to using ketones as fuel for your body. Glucose is formed in the liver from the carbohydrates that you eat. Unfortunately, it’s a fast-burning fuel that leaves you hungry shortly after you eat it. It’s also prone to being stored in your body as fat if it’s not used immediately as energy.
Ketones, on the other hand, are made from your stored fat cells. They help you burn through your stored fat by using it as energy. In order to access them, you need to reduce the number of carbs you eat a day to a very low amount. Most people on Keto stick to roughly 20-25g of net carbs a day.
When your body is using ketones for fuel it sends hunger signals to you less often. There is plenty of fat to go around, especially on a high0fat diet like Keto, so you have a steady, constant supply of energy. This allows you to exercise more and provides you with better mental clarity at work and a deeper, more restful sleep. It also aids in weight loss because you’re literally burning away your stored fat.
What causes high blood pressure?
The cause of high blood pressure doesn’t seem to be one individual thing. Instead, it’s a combination of a few possible causes. The good news is, if you remove any of these causes you will probably see in drop in your blood pressure.
If you’re a heavy drinker then you might have higher blood pressure levels. Because drinking isn’t forbidden on the Keto diet, as long as you stick to low-carb drinks, you might run the risk of high blood pressure while on Keto. Take an honest look at how much you’re drinking, and if you’re worried about your blood pressure you should try reducing the amount that you drink or eliminating alcohol altogether.
Stress can also increase your blood pressure levels. There appears to be a correlation between high levels of stress and high blood pressure. If you’re looking to lower your stress levels you can try positive steps such as meditating, increasing your sleep, gentle exercise, yoga, journaling and positive affirmations.
Not exercising enough and having a high BMI and weight can raise your blood pressure as well. The simple solution to this is to eat healthier, move more and do what you can to shed some weight. Excessive levels of sodium can also play a role in high blood pressure. One of the ways to combat this is to increase your potassium intake while lowering the number of salty foods that you eat.
Will Keto raise your blood pressure?
The short answer is, no, the Keto diet will not raise your blood pressure levels. The majority of people experience a decrease in their blood pressure alongside other heart-healthy benefits. In fact, it seems to be the best diet studied to date for lowering blood pressure levels. However, there is a small percentage of the population that isn’t suited for the Keto diet.
How does Keto help lower your blood pressure?
Most people on Keto will see a reduction in their blood pressure. This is because the Keto diet helps reduce the amount of strain that’s put on your arteries. Blood pressure is the measurement of how hard your arteries have to work to pump blood with the systolic pressure (the top number) measuring how much pressure is in your arteries when your heart is pushing blood through and the diastolic (the bottom number) measuring how much pressure your arteries are under in between beats.
Eating a diet that’s low in carbohydrates and high in healthy levels of fat can decrease the plaque build up in your arteries which means that there’s more room for blood to move through and a lot less pressure being put on them. The Keto diet also promotes weight loss and most of the people who follow this diet will lower their BMI. As you saw above, lowering your weight can be a big help in lowering your blood pressure.
The Keto diet can help you sleep better at night and it increases your energy levels during the day. If you have more energy to move around, you’re naturally going to be making decisions such as taking the stairs, or bustling around your house cleaning, or dancing to music that’s playing. These are things that you just don’t do when you’re lacking in energy which means that you can be moving and burning calories without even realizing it when your energy levels are raised with Keto. Both increased sleep and more exercise can help you lower your blood pressure.
Can Keto ever raise your blood pressure?
There are times when you might see a rise in your blood pressure levels while on Keto, but it’s rare. If you experience higher blood pressure you should first ask yourself how stressed out you are. If following the Keto diet is causing you to stress then you might want to consider scaling back the intensity. Try eating a few more carbs per day or switching to a cyclical form of Keto where you have a day or two of higher carbs mixed in with the traditional 20-25g of net carbs.
Family history can also play a role in your blood pressure. If you know that a parent or sibling has struggled with high blood pressure then there’s a chance that you might have a genetic predisposition towards high blood pressure yourself. Regardless, you should speak to a doctor. Your doctor will help you to determine what’s causing the increase in your blood pressure levels and whether following a low carb diet is the best thing for your individual health.
Will Keto raise your cholesterol levels?
Cholesterol levels go hand in hand with your blood pressure. If you’re on the Keto diet you might see a rise in your cholesterol levels. However, don’t be tricked into thinking that this is necessarily a bad thing. The Keto diet raises your levels of HDL, or high-density lipoproteins. HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol and you should aim to raise your HDL levels in order to combat heart disease.
The purpose of HDL is to absorb cholesterol in the body and move it from your arteries into your liver where your liver can then flush it out harmlessly. This serves an important purpose. Instead of your arteries getting clogged with high levels of cholesterol, HDL can help move them out of the body so that your arteries remain clear.
In a 24 week study on the effects of the Keto diet on obese people, it was determined that the Keto diet raises your HDL levels while decreasing your LDL, or low-density lipoprotein levels. Keto was also shown in this study to lower the level of triglycerides that are found in the body alongside a reduction in weight and BMI.
LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol because it sits in your arteries and blood vessels building up over time. This buildup, also known as plaque, causes the arteries to narrow so that blood has a tougher time moving through them. The more LDL and plaque that has built up over time, the less room there is for blood to flow and the greater the risk of a heart attack.
Because a blood test for cholesterol tests for all varieties of cholesterol you might find that the numbers have increased. However, in the majority of cases, this is an increase in HDL that will help your body get rid of high levels of LDL. Ask your doctor to let you know the levels of both your LDL and your HDL. This way you can test to see if your HDL is going up and your LDL is going down from test to test.
A word of caution, there is a group of people with a genetic condition known as hypercholesterolemia. If you have this condition then any high-fat diet such as the Keto diet will raise your levels of LDL to an unhealthy level. This is why it’s always a good idea to discuss any diet changes with your doctor prior to making the switch.
The Keto diet is great for lowering your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels. It’s high-fat, low carb content allows your body to reduce your BMI while raising your energy levels and your HDL levels. If you find that you’re suffering from high blood pressure while on Keto you should speak with your doctor. This will allow you to rule out any genetic conditions for the high blood pressure so that you can enjoy your Keto diet without any concern