Many people don’t realize that extra weight means potentially having blood work show that there are too many triglycerides. A body uses these fats for energy, but if the levels are too high, they can harm a heart. Similar to cholesterol, triglyceride issues can clog arteries and in severe cases result in a stroke or heart attack. Luckily, there are several ways to lower triglycerides, and the Body Reboot book explains how to do that. We offer some tips below on how to reduce your risk for heart disease now and in the future.
First, Perfect Keto explains to us what triglycerides are and what role they play in how your body functions.
A triglyceride is a type of fat, or lipid, found in your blood. Specifically, a triglyceride is made up of three fatty acids bound by a glycerol molecule.
When your body needs to store fat, it’s stored as triglyceride. When your body needs to transport fat, it’s transported as triglyceride.
And when you need energy? Assuming you’re fat-adapted: triglyceride.
Think of triglycerides as the SUV of fats. A multi-purpose vehicle.
These vehicles store and transport energy throughout your body. To access this energy, you break apart the triglyceride, then use the fatty acids within to produce energy, or ATP.
But if you eat lots of carbs and sugar, you won’t be breaking apart many triglycerides. Instead you’ll be storing them.
Web MD further explains why triglycerides matter and what they affect in the body. You may be surprised that they change a lot of things from high blood pressure to developing diabetes if you’re not too careful!
Why Triglycerides Matter
High triglycerides can be part of an unhealthy condition called metabolic syndrome. Other parts of this illness can include:
Low HDL “good” cholesterol
High blood pressure
High blood sugar
Metabolic syndrome greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
1. Follow a low carb diet
Healthline recommends following a low carb diet, and we do too! A low carb diet, and more specifically a ketogenic diet, can vastly improve your health. Too many carbs in your body get converted into fat, but by reducing your carb intake, you’ll burn more carbs. Your body will begin to burn fat, which is what is known as ketosis. Get your body into ketosis by eating a diet that’s high in fat and low in carbs, and you’ll lose weight and improve your health.
Much like added sugar, extra carbs in your diet are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.
Not surprisingly, low-carb diets have been linked to lower blood triglyceride levels.
One 2006 study looked at how various carb intakes affected triglycerides.
Those who were given a low-carb diet providing about 26% of calories from carbs had greater drops in blood triglyceride levels than those given higher-carb diets providing up to 54% of calories from carbs.
Another study looked at the effects of low and high-carb diets over a one-year period. Not only did the low-carb group lose more weight, but they also had greater reductions in blood triglycerides.
Finally, a 2003 study compared low-fat and low-carb diets. After six months, researchers found that blood triglycerides had dropped 38 mg/dL (0.43 mmol/L) in the low-carb group and only 7 mg/dL (0.08 mmol/L) in the low-fat group.
In 2003, The New England Journal of Medicine — as Healthline just mentioned — found that on keto diet the participants’ blood triglycerides significantly dropped! They also revealed that going on a low-fat diet doesn’t nearly have the same results.
The effects of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on weight loss and risk factors for atherosclerosis have been incompletely assessed.
We randomly assigned 132 severely obese subjects (including 77 blacks and 23 women) with a mean body-mass index of 43 and a high prevalence of diabetes (39 percent) or the metabolic syndrome (43 percent) to a carbohydrate-restricted (low-carbohydrate) diet or a calorie- and fat-restricted (low-fat) diet.
Seventy-nine subjects completed the six-month study. An analysis including all subjects, with the last observation carried forward for those who dropped out, showed that subjects on the low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight than those on the low-fat diet (mean [+/-SD], -5.8+/-8.6 kg vs. -1.9+/-4.2 kg; P=0.002) and had greater decreases in triglyceride levels (mean, -20+/-43 percent vs. -4+/-31 percent; P=0.001), irrespective of the use or nonuse of hypoglycemic or lipid-lowering medications. Insulin sensitivity, measured only in subjects without diabetes, also improved more among subjects on the low-carbohydrate diet (6+/-9 percent vs. -3+/-8 percent, P=0.01). The amount of weight lost (P<0.001) and assignment to the low-carbohydrate diet (P=0.01) were independent predictors of improvement in triglyceride levels and insulin sensitivity.
Severely obese subjects with a high prevalence of diabetes or the metabolic syndrome lost more weight during six months on a carbohydrate-restricted diet than on a calorie- and fat-restricted diet, with a relative improvement in insulin sensitivity and triglyceride levels, even after adjustment for the amount of weight lost. This finding should be interpreted with caution, given the small magnitude of overall and between-group differences in weight loss in these markedly obese subjects and the short duration of the study. Future studies evaluating long-term cardiovascular outcomes are needed before a carbohydrate-restricted diet can be endorsed.
2. Lose weight
Of course, losing weight will always improve your health. As we just briefly covered on #1, Perfect Keto further elaborates why getting on the right track is vital. Plus — losing weight will help lower your triglycerides, which is essential to reducing your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Losing weight not only decreases stored body fat, but also reduces serum triglycerides.
One study looked at 401 overweight adults enrolled in a weight loss program. By the end of the study, adults who lost 5-10% of body weight had significantly lower triglycerides. Those who lost over 10% had even more significant results.
Another study looked at people who gained weight back after losing it. Even so, these folks maintained reductions in both triglycerides and total cholesterol.
How does shedding pounds reduce triglycerides?
Well, losing weight improves blood sugar and insulin levels, which means less triglycerides are made by the liver. Lower blood sugar, lower triglycerides.
Obesity is also a major risk factor for heart disease. Losing extra weight is good for the heart.
Healthy weight loss means losing fat, not muscle. To do so, make sure you eat enough protein and lift weights.
Healthline reiterated that losing weight is a useful and necessary way to lower triglyceride levels:
Whenever you eat more calories than you need, your body turns those calories into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells.
That's why losing weight is an effective way to lower your blood triglyceride levels.
In fact, research has shown that losing even a modest 5–10% of your body weight can decrease blood triglycerides by 40 mg/dL (0.45 mmol/L).
While the goal is to sustain weight loss in the long term, studies have found that weight loss can have a lasting effect on blood triglyceride levels, even if you regain some of the weight.
One study focused on participants who had dropped out of a weight management program. Even though they had regained the weight they had lost nine months before, their blood triglyceride levels remained 24–26% lower.
The study above that Healthline mentioned is none other than the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition study. In 1995, they found that the participants had much lower triglyceride levels despite dropping out of a weight loss program. It’s pretty incredible knowing that even though they dropped out of the program that they still have lower triglyceride levels! Imagine how much more their health would have improved had they stayed in the program!
Dropouts of a weight reduction program are not evaluated for the lasting effects of weight reduction. This study was an attempt to learn about the benefits of weight reduction received and sustained by the dropouts of the program. Ninety-seven males and females dropping out of a dietary weight management program after 16-18 weeks of treatment, and after 9-9.4kg weight loss and wishing to rejoin the program for a second time after at least 9 months' absence from it, were considered for the study. Their body weight, serum cholesterol, serum triglyceride, and blood sugar levels at the beginning of the second attempt, were compared with the respective values at the beginning of the first attempt. All patients had regained the weight lost during their first attempt when they reported for a second attempt. However, serum cholesterol and triglyceride values were 15% and 26% less for females, and 17% and 24% less for males, compared to their respective values on the first attempt, in the subgroup of patients with normal blood sugar levels. In the subgroup with above normal blood sugar levels, however, serum cholesterol and triglyceride values showed an increase by 12% and 17% respectively, for females, and by 2% and 7% respectively, for males, compared to their baseline values on their first attempt. The mechanism responsible for this observation was not uncovered. However, the observation that even an incomplete attempt at weight reduction appears to contribute in maintaining lower levels of serum cholesterol and triglyceride of at least those with normal blood sugar levels, is useful in nutritional counseling for emphasizing the health benefits of the weight reduction.
3. Choose what you eat carefully
To make the keto diet a success, WebMD urges dieters to select what they’re going to eat mindfully. Stay away from high fructose sugar and added sugar in food. Reduce sugar to improve your health and reduce heart disease from taking place down the road.
If you have high triglycerides, get your sweet tooth in check. Simple sugars, especially fructose (a sugar often found in fruit), raise triglycerides. Watch out for foods made with added sugar, including soda, baked goodies, candy, most breakfast cereals, flavored yogurt, and ice cream.
One of the easiest things you can do to lower your triglycerides is to cut out sweetened drinks. Sodas and other sugary drinks are packed with fructose, a known offender when it comes to boosting triglycerides. Drink no more than 36 ounces of sweet sippers per week — that means three 12-ounce cans of soda.
Learn to spot added sugars on food labels. Words to look for include brown sugar, corn syrup, words ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose), fruit juice concentrates, cane syrup, cane sugar, honey, malt sugar, molasses, and raw sugar.
Check out the Body Reboot book to get the scoop on why the ketogenic diet can help keep your heart healthy. For a limited time, you can get a free copy of our book! Help us cover shipping and head over to this page to get a free copy.
Sources: Perfect Keto, Healthline, NCBI: Int J Food Sci Nutr. 1995, NCBI: N Engl J Med. 2003, Web MD
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