Ketogenic dieting, intermittent fasting and the impacts to your heart health

WINNIPEG — Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the most important things to do to help keep your heart healthy University of Manitoba cardiology fellow Dr. Phyllis Sin says.

She told CTV News that lifestyle changes, like dieting, exercising, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake make the biggest impact on improving heart health.

“But we also know that these are also the most difficult to implement,” she explained Friday, after hosting a session on two popular diets at The Wellness Institute.

The two diets she and a colleague covered were the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting.

“It’s not 100 per cent clear what it does long term to your heart health and same with intermittent fasting,” she said.

Eating keto, she explained is when most of your calories come from fats, a little protein and very little carbohydrates. 

Intermittent fasting is limiting hours in the day when you eat – a common window is 11a.m. to 7p.m.

Sin added that there is evidence that these two diets do help people with weight loss, but when choosing one, it’s important to consult with your doctor or a dietitian to use the right approach for your lifestyle.

“If you use a more plant based approach for both of these diets, that can also lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol, and perhaps let you come off your blood pressure medications cholesterol medications and help improve the way your body processes sugars,” she said.

She did caution that for people living with diabetes, these two diets may not be ideal because a low carb diet and not eating for a long period of time could cause blood sugar levels to dip too low.

Winnipegger Melina Elliott has been doing the ketogenic diet for two and a half years. 

“I went for my physical and my doctor said to me, ‘you have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes , your body is holding out well now, but you need to make a change,’” she said via Skype from Ontario where she was for work. 

Elliott is also sure she was on track to be at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. She’s now lost 85 pounds and says people are amazed with her progress.

“They’ll see me and they’ll ask, ‘what did you do?’ and I tell them I flipped my diet,” she said.

Through her work at BodyMeasure, she is able to keep a very close eye on her health markers.

“I am at no risk now for type 2 diabetes or heart disease,” she said.

Her motivation is her health and the choice to stick with it is an easy one.

Dr. Sin was a part of the free Matters of the Heart Event put on by the Wellness Institute. A team of resident physicians from the University of Manitoba Cardiac Sciences Program give presentations on current heart health issues.

The next event is a free webinar called, ‘Women’s Heart Health: What Makes Us Different’ will be held February 26 at noon featuring Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse, Kendra Gierys.