Animal fat in the keto diet good or bad for you?

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Pork crackling
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Blood cholesterol

I am on the keto diet so I personally believe that animal fat can form part of a healthy diet but this is a controversial subject. (If you would like to know more about the keto diet you may like to watch this video) Conventional wisdom however suggests that animal fat and cholesterol in one’s diet is bad because it raises blood cholesterol. It is true that raised blood LDL  ‘bad’ cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease but there is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that diet has very little to do with your blood cholesterol levels. It may possible to lower total cholesterol marginally with a fat restricted diet but this will lower both HDL ‘ good’ cholesterol and LDL ‘ bad’ cholesterol  but only slightly, about 5% therefore the ratio of HDL:LDL remains the same which negates any advantage in the lowered total cholesterol level. In fact high sugar intake in one’s diet can lead to a lowering of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and with the help of high insulin, glucose is converted to fat which raises blood lipids and increases stored fat. Indicating that carbohydrates also have an effect on blood lipids.

The fact is that the liver is responsible for 80% of the bloods cholesterol so lowering cholesterol in the diet has minimal effect because the liver will compensate by producing more cholesterol. The reason is that cholesterol is essential to our normal physiology. It forms the building blocks for some hormones, formation of vitamin D, cell membranes (including neurones) and bile production for the digestive system.

What happens to carbohydrates in the body

The following is my way of looking at trying to simplify this complex question and I am sure there are contrary views on this. I know this is over simplified but it helps to make the point.

Here is a loaf of supposedly healthy wholegrain bread. The total calorie content is 2100 . If one consumed the whole loaf your body could theoretically convert it to about 500 grams of glucose . Then if not needed for energy immediately the body could convert the glucose into 60 grams of animal fat. So in essence the loaf of bread has ended up as animal fat in our body, so why are we so concerned about eating animal fat but somehow think bread in our diet is better than fat? If you were dragging a sledge 50 kms a day across the Antarctic you would easily burn the loaf of bread as energy or if you ate the fat or sugar the same would happen leaving nothing to be stored for future needs. So it depends on your bodies needs at the time how it chooses to use what we consume in our diet. So if you eat fat it doesn’t necessarily end up as fat in your body, your body decides what to make with whatever we ingest.

Carbohydrates in bread can be converted to glucose then to animal fat

To demonstrate this point in another way, Wagyu beef is specially reared on a diet of high carbohydrate grain. Take a look at these 2 same cuts of beef, the one on the left is Wagyu, grain fed and the one on the right is grass fed. Notice the much higher percentage fat in the muscle of the grain-fed animal verses the grass fed animal. Again showing that carbohydrates are converted to animal fat in the body, It is not necessary to feed the wagyu animal fat for its body to make fat, so what is the difference? Of note here is that grass fed beef is also rich in conjugated linoleic acid which is an essential fatty acid so it is needed in our diet because the body has no way of making its own. Conjugated linoleic acid apparently lowers inflammation which is a risk factor in cardiovascular disease it may also help with weight loss.

Pasture verses grain fed

Remember the question of animal fat in our diet is a controversial subject so there will be opposing views. I have reintroduced animal fat into my diet about 5 years ago without any increase in my blood cholesterol and lipid level. In my case total blood lipids seems more related to my level of obesity or BMI. When I am overweight may total cholesterol is up but my percent of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol is down, so that’s extra bad but that’s me. We are all different, I suggest you conduct your own research and come to a conclusion which suits you and discuss it with your medical professionals before acting.

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