Low-carb dieters risk lowering their tolerance to carbohydrates such that ‘cheat day’ could hurt more than their waistline. In fact, the University of British Columbia just discovered that interrupting ‘ketosis’ — the fat burning state in which many low-carb dieters’ bodies rest — can cause “alarming” damage to their blood vessels.
To test this theory, UBC researchers gave nine healthy young men a 75-gram glucose drink (equivalent to a plate of fries or a large bottle of soda) before and after a seven-day high fat, low carbohydrate diet, “similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet,” (Science Daily).
“We were originally looking for things like an inflammatory response or reduced tolerance to blood glucose,” said Cody Durrer, the study’s first author. “What we found instead were biomarkers in the blood suggesting that vessel walls were being damaged by the sudden spike in glucose.”
Jonathan Little, senior author of the study, believes the damage is caused by the body’s metabolic response to excess blood sugar, which involves the shedding — and possible death — of blood vessels.
“Even though these were otherwise healthy young males,” he said, “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.”
“It was somewhat alarming.”
Of course, with only nine individuals taking part in the study, larger-scale research is required before we write off our beloved Friday doughnuts — or before we revert back to a less carb restrictive diet.
That said, as Science Daily points out, “The results should give those on a keto diet pause when considering a cheat day.”
Little expressed a similar worry: “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… Especially if these people are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease in the first place.”
“Our data suggests a ketogenic diet is not something you do for six days a week and take Saturday off.”
If you’re a keto advocate; you probably knew that anyway. But hey: we can all do with a little extra motivation to moderate (or avoid) cheat day, right?