Doing Keto? Then You Better Ditch the Cheat Day…
The often embraced ‘cheat day’ is a common theme in many diets and the popular ketogenic diet is no exception, but new research from UBC’s Okanagan campus says that just one 75-gram dose of glucose – the equivalent a large bottle of soda or a plate of fries – while on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet can lead to damaged blood vessels.
The ketogenic (keto) diet has become very common for weight loss or to manage diseases like type 2 diabetes in recent years.
The keto diet consists of eating foods rich in fats, moderate in protein, but very low in carbohydrates, thereby causing the body to go into a state called ketosis in which fat is burnt at very high levels.
For the test, researchers recruited nine healthy young males and had them consume a 75-gram glucose drink before and after a seven-day high fat, low carbohydrate diet.
The diet consisted of 70% fat, 10% carbs, and 20% protein, similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet.
“Even though these were otherwise healthy young males, when we looked at their blood vessel health after consuming the glucose drink, the results looked like they might have come from someone with poor cardiovascular health,” said Jonathan Little, associate professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBCO and study senior author.
“It was somewhat alarming,” he added:
Little says the most likely culprit for the damage is the body’s own metabolic response to excess blood sugar, which causes blood vessel cells to shed and possibly die.
The researchers point out that with only nine individuals included in the study, more work is needed to verify their findings, but that the results should give those on a keto diet pause when considering a cheat day.
“My concern is that many of the people going on a keto diet – whether it’s to lose weight, to treat Type 2 diabetes, or some other health reason – may be undoing some of the positive impacts on their blood vessels if they suddenly blast them with glucose,” adds Little.
Little concluded: “Our data suggests a ketogenic diet is not something you do for six days a week and take Saturday off.”