If you or someone close to you is suffering from high cholesterol, you are probably all too familiar with atorvastatin.
This drug is under the family of statins and is mostly known in the market as the brand name Lipitor.
Like all statins, Lipitor or atorvastatin blocks cholesterol production of the body. This, in turn, will lessen the risk of an individual from developing heart problems and other issues related to high cholesterol.
So, what is the link between keto and high cholesterol?
To be honest, there are no known studies that prove problems arise when a person combines statins and keto diet. But some people are convinced that these can affect their overall efforts in losing weight.
Aren’t Low Carb Diets Supposedly Healthy?
Keto diet and other low-carb diets have been highly recommended. It is a solution to many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, obesity, and so much more.
The health-conscious ones often turn to keto diet to trim and tone down the belly weight.
On average (maybe a bit more) the low-carb diets draw amazing results to a lot of people. Of course, there is no perfect diet and we cannot say for sure which will result well for an individual. It depends mostly on genetics and lifestyle choices. No two people are the same, so just because one worked well for the other does not mean it will do so for another.
There are a small fraction of the people who have had increased cholesterol levels when doing low-carb diets, most specifically on ketogenic or a high-fat paleo diet. However, counting cholesterol can be tricky.
Risk factors often come with a high-carb and high-caloric diet. But what about low-calorie meals? Does it have the same effect?
It would be a great idea to stay ahead of the game when it comes to your health. If you know you are prone to cholesterol level increases or you have a family history of heart problems, then taking a precautionary measure or two will surely benefit you.
The great news is that you do not have to resort to a low-fat diet when doing keto if you have hypercholesterolemia. Keto is all about high fat and low carb, so taking away one of its key elements may not be a good idea.
Supplements like veggie oils or medications such as the Lipitor are not really necessary when eating low-carb.
There is even a study that indicates both atorvastatin and keto work similarly in reducing cholesterol levels.
How does it work then?
It all boils down to biology. Apologies if we are going to get scientific here.
Every cell in the body can make cholesterol. That being said, it shows how vital cholesterol is in our human body. Majority of these are made in the liver and the small intestine. The cholesterol found in the body is mostly made by the cells. However, 15 percent of it is attributed to diet.
When the cells need cholesterol, they obtain it through the blood or try to make their own. It is not uncommon for them to do both.
When obtaining cholesterol from the blood, there is a rate-limiting step that determines the overall output or cholesterol level. This is the process where HMG-CoA is converted to mevalonate. The enzyme involved in this is called HMG-CoA reductase.
Now, if the release of this enzyme becomes limited, there will be a great reduction in the amount of cholesterol produced. Experts gathered from that concept that if they can come up with a drug that can do that, they will be able to provide a solution to high cholesterol problems. The result is the creation of Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.
Once the statins, like Lipitor, are taken, the cells are unable to create the cholesterol needed, so they look for other means to do so. They synthesize as many LDL receptors and gather the LDL cholesterol that came from the bloodstream. This means that there is less amount of LDL receptors present in the bloodstream. LDL or low-density lipoproteins are one of the bad ones. So, when these are lessened, it follows that the cholesterol level in the bloodstream decreases.
When statins (or anything else) inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, the cells can’t make the cholesterol they need to function properly so they resort to the other method and synthesize many LDL receptors that are dispatched to the surface to harvest LDL-cholesterol from the bloodstream. The LDL-cholesterol extracted from the blood means there is less in the blood and levels measured are lower, which is why statins reduce LDL-cholesterol levels.
Why is this explanation necessary? Well, low carb diets, like keto, and high cholesterol is inevitable. After all, low-carb diets always bank on foods high in fat for an energy source.
Surprisingly, people who took in more cholesterol experienced a decrease in their HMG-CoA reductase mRNA. Consequently, there is also a decrease in the number of LDL Receptor mRNA. Amazing, right?
Low-carb diet regulates the cholesterol levels produced by the cell over a huge variety of dietary cholesterol level by instigating cellular uptake and synthesis. What great news. Atorvastatin and Keto diet have the same mechanism of action!
But, will it not pose danger to your health if you take in Lipitor while on Keto?
As stated, Keto diet helps in the regulation of your cholesterol. In fact, it can very much do so without experiencing the harmful effects of some medications. Maybe, when your cholesterol level is on the right track, you can ditch the drug and focus on eating healthy.
For the very few individuals who suffer from a spike in their cholesterol level while on Keto, here are a few things you should do:
1. Identify what is causing the increase in cholesterol level. It may be a thyroid issue or something else
2. Move away from the saturated fats and try to consume as many monosaturated fats as possible.
3. If you are taking bulletproof coffee, stop.
4. Increase your carb intake by incorporating little amounts of fiber-rich foods.
Hope this helps. Stay healthy.