My Cholesterol Test Results on LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) Diet

So the proof is in the pudding (no pun intended).

I’ve been on a low-carb, high-fat diet for close to a year now and today I got the latest cholesterol blood test results back. So in this post I’ll list 3 sets of blood test results that I’ve received over the past couple of years, so that I (and for those of you interested) will have a record of the impact of being on a LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet.

Background

Before I reveal the results, I want to explain why I’ve gotten my cholesterol level checked multiple times in a one year period (2011). Basically, the first time was a month or two into the LCHF diet, when I still wasn’t sure exactly what the effect of a diet consisting of dietary fat as the majority of caloric intake would be. Of course, per the literature and prior *objective* scientific research, the expectation was that my HDL (good cholesterol) would go up, bad cholesterol (LDL) would stay the same or go up some, and Triglycerides (i.e., fat in the bloodstream) would plummet. But, hey, like everyone else I was always told it would result in the opposite, so I wanted to get them checked.

I then had another set of tests done midway through the year, simply because the company I work for hosts a free annual “Health Fair” on site. Basically, a bunch of medical folks come and take over a floor of on of our buildings and they do all kinds of tests: blood tests, weight, skin tests, etc. At the end, after performing all of the tests, there is a “Health Advisor” who you meet with privately and he looks over the results of your tests and gives the good or bad news, and steps to rectify. Those results were overhwhelmingly positive, showing marked increases for the better. But, I seem to have misplaced the paper with the results so I’ll leave that set out of this post. No need as we have tests both prior and after to compare.

So, without further adieu, here are the results of the three sets of blood tests I’ve taken throughout the year. Specifically I’ll list the cholesterol, triglyceride, and inflammation test results. For comparison, I’ll also list the blood tests I had gotten as part of an annual physical in early 2010, when I weight about 260 pounds thanks to my body’s inability to cope with the typical high-carb, low-fat SAD (Standard American Diet).

Early 2010 Test Results (While still on SAD diet)

Weight: 260 lbs.
HDL: 35
LDL: 100
Total Cholesterol: 151
Cholesterol/HDLC Ratio: 4.3
Triglycerides: 82

Doctor’s Response after Reviewing Results: he just told me what I’d heard every time before – I’m too fat and, with my family history, will likely be dead by the time I’m 60 unless I get off my lazy ass and start working out and eating less. A low fat diet, per that think-tank of ignorance, the American Heart Association, was always recommended for lowering cholesterol and overall alleged ‘health’.

April 27, 2011 Test Results

Weight: 222 lbs.
HDL: 46
LDL: 109
Total Cholesterol: 168
Cholesterol/HDLC Ratio: 3.7
Triglycerides: 63

Doctor’s response after reviewing results: he was surprised and, just like the ‘Health Advisor’ at the health fair did, he turned around as if the examination room might be bugged/under surveillance and then said in a low voice something like this – “I can’t explain how it’s doing it but every time I see someone who goes on a low-carb diet the results are always positive. So just keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.” Fortunately, my doctor understands that “Total Cholesterol” is a completely meaningless number, and even the calculation is of it is dubious. Unfortunately, we don’t know whether the rise in LDL is bad because no one tests it properly – you need to test actual LDL particle size to determine whether it is the large, fluffy LDL particles (in which case they are GOOD!) or the small killers. I guess health insurance companies won’t pay for those tests so doctors don’t prescribe them.

Also, note that, in people who have a Triglyceride count below 100, the formula used to calculate LDL (IT IS NOT ACTUALLY MEASURED BUT CALCULATED!) fails. So it, like the total cholesterol number, is pretty much meaningless. A good article about this can be found here (make sure to read further down about the LDL/calculation stuff).

December 8, 2011 Test Results

Weight: 198 lbs.
HDL: 69
LDL: 138
Total Cholesterol: 217
Cholesterol/HDLC Ratio: 3.1
Triglycerides: 48

Note the HDLs have skyrocketed for the better! Triglycerides keep going down, and the all important “ratio” (per my doctor) is even lower. How can this be? Isn’t a diet that consist of primarily fat (including lots of saturated fat) supposed to be unhealthy for you? Hmmm….well, no. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Haven’t heard from my doctor regarding these latest test results, as I asked the lab to send a copy of the results to me directly, in addition to him. Usually I call after 3 or 4 days and then wait for a call back. My guess is he’ll look over the results, shake his head in amazement at the HDL increase, which has almost doubled in just a year, the Triglyceride count which has been cut in half in just a year, and either call me to congratulate or, perhaps, ask for diet advice…(wishful thinking) : )

Side-by-Side Comparison

Early 2010 27-Apr-11 8-Dec-11
Weight 260 222 198
HDL 35 46 69
LDL 100 109 138
Ratio 4.3 3.7 3.1
Triglycerides 82 63 48

So there it is. Thoughts?

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15 thoughts on “My Cholesterol Test Results on LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) Diet

  1. eddy says:

    Great post. I really enjoy successes like yours, there’s a lot of “look low carb loses weight!” Out there, but clear evidence that you are now a truly healthier person is refreshing. Good read for doubters out there

  2. Mark says:

    Thanks Eddy,

    One other test that I’ve received 3 times this year but didn’t mention was the CRP (inflammation) test. This is apparently a very popular test with doctors these days, though there is very little info about it on the web aside from just high-level generalities. Back in the April along with the blood lipid tests my doctor ordered a CRP (C-Reactive Protein) test to measure the amount of inflammation in my body. I turned 40 this year so perhaps that’s why? Anyway, he said that the medical community is still not totally sure what to make of the inflammation measure, but it makes sense that a high level of inflammation is not good. My inflammation level was quite high during the April test – it was almost an 8.0, if I recall. Anything over 3.0 is considered high according to the testing center.

    So he had me wait a month and re-take. That CRP test came back at 3.1 – still in the high range but not horrible. That’s when it hit me – when my doctor prescribed the first CRP test he had given me a tetanus shot (that once a decade shot!). I believe that that is what caused the spike in inflammation.

    This month I had, along with the usual blood lipid tests, another inflammation/CRP test and it is now at 2.1, well within range of normal inflammation. So no worries. I post it here just to provide more data points/reference in respect to LCHF. There is *very* little good info about the CRP or inflammation on the web aside from the http://www.coolinginflammation.com blog, which is excellent. And guess what his ‘anti-inflammation diet’ is? It’s a low-carb diet!

    mark

  3. Wenchypoo says:

    I had similar results, and that shut up my doctor, who always was trying to sell me Lipitor. When I gave up fruit on top of it all, my LDL plummeted, and the doctor said we were going to make ANNUAL appointments for me from now on, instead of QUARTERLY appointments.

    The reason why your doctor had to look around before he cheered you on is because for doctors/hospitals to hold onto their AMA membership and/or accreditation, they have to tow the party line, which is the same line towed by the cross-connected health lobbyists (AHA, ADA, ACS, ABCS, H&LI, and all the rest) who depend on “customers” for their livelihood. Coincidentally, this “line” is created by our own government in the form of farm subsidies–we base a national diet on them, and bolster the economy in myriad ways: demand for crops, demand for health care, demand for junk food, demand for MORE…and then so-called “professionals” helping to spur demand by towing the party line (AMA-certified dieticians, nutritionists, diet programs, some gym trainers, TV doctors, Oprah, etc.), and then there’s these cockamamie exercise programs/devices/foods sold on TV at the end of it all to supposedly “help” you recover, but you never do–it’s just more money spent.

    It’s the exact same way in the veterinary world.

    It isn’t our health they have in mind, but how they all can wring out the most money from us before we die, and how they can kill us off before we reach Social Security and Medicare eligibility age–that leave 64 11/12 years per person to max out all possible profits. Our living longer in spite of all this dietary danger is just more gravy for them. Those of us who live longer WITHOUT their input are usually self-reliant, far less susceptible to marketing, can see BS coming a mile away, know the difference between wants and needs, choose real food instead of pills, and are therefor less apt to end up as profit figures on some CEO’s ledger. Supposedly, they’ll also be the ones who trash the economy…like politicians haven’t done a fine job of that already!

  4. Clara says:

    Amazing results and just the encouragement I need to stay on tract with my own no-carb diet plans.

  5. brian mikesell says:

    Cool stuff. Any concerns from you or your doctor on your LDL elevating between each test. Was there a particle size test done to show that the 130+ wasn’t a concern? My doc says anything above 130 is reason for concern – or reason for her to make money for big pharma.

  6. Mark says:

    I didn’t even bother consulting with my doctor after the 2nd test.

    One thing I didn’t mention in the post regarding the third test – I didn’t fast like I was supposed to for the test. I’d bet if I did a proper fast and took it again, the LDL count would be back down to the 100 – 110 range.

    Based on everything I’ve learned, I’m not concerned with the LDL level, even if it were higher. Mainly because there isn’t anything I can do about it. Go on a statin? No way. Get a particle size test? I could do that, but then what if the particle size is small and dangerous? Go on a statin? Again – no way I’ll ever do that. So I’ll stick with what I’m doing and take solace in knowing that if I were to go back to a SAD (Standard American Diet) my HDL would be much lower, LDL would be the same or slightly lower, Triglycerides through the roof, and I’d be fat and tired all the time : )

    mark

    • Jeff says:

      This is bull. You have more options than taking a statin, staying on your diet or doing as the American sheep. Are Japanese and Chinese people crazy obese? Do they eat little carbs? It’s clearly confirmation bias on your part. You need to revisit your options.

      • Mark says:

        Jeff,

        Care to explain my options? Care to clarify exactly what I’m saying “is bull”? Also, please make sure to be up-front about any biases you may have if you do reply (i.e., you’re a vegan/vegetarian).

        I eat a fairly moderate carb diet now – in the 50 – 100g per day range. Mainly because I am no longer overweight, plus I do some intensive training (weightlifting and HIIT). But my carb intake is still much lower than the Standard American Diet/Food Pyramid(My Plate) prescribes.

        Traditional Japanese and Chinese food is actually quite healthy. It is basically Paleo: meat/vegetables and a little rice. Unlike in the USA, the rice isn’t usually the main component of the meal. Also, it is benign/nutrient-void steamed white rice versus the anti-nutrient packed ‘brown rice’. Regardless, don’t take my word for it. This guy has done a lot of research on the topic: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-asian-paradox-how-can-asians-eat-so-much-rice-and-not-gain-weight/#axzz2qCErSCqu

        Decently prepared Asian food is also very difficult to find in the USA. Try going to any Asian restaurant and avoiding cheap, rancid vegetable oils, etc.

        mark

  7. [...] Adding back the carbs, aside from weight/fat gain, has me concerned for another reason: will my HDLs drop? Will my triglycerides rise? My lipid profile, blood pressure, etc. are top-notch now. It will be interesting to see, in a month or two when I go to the doc for a physical and surely another lipid test, to see how the results compare to my previous tests. [...]

    • Susan says:

      Hi,
      Could you write how you are doing these days on LCHF? Have you had any recent tests done and how do you feel generally?
      Many Thanks
      Susan

      • Mark says:

        Hi Susan,

        I’m doing great. Been battling an achilles issue (see my latest post on that), but that has nothing to do with the LCHF eating and all to do with my focus on fitness. Overall I feel great. I had the standard lipid/cholesterol tests done again last Summer and they were excellent – my HDL went up quite a bit higher, into the 70s.

        mark
        http://www.lowcarblearning.com

  8. Mihir says:

    Hi Mark,

    Just found your post after getting my most recent lab numbers back. As expected, my LDL (calculated) went up a bit and triglycerides plummeted. However, my HDL actually went down (from 45 to 33). I’ve been doing LCHF for about 3 months now and feeling great otherwise. It was a bit disappointing to see the drop in HDL.

    Did you have any tests done between the early 2010 and April 2011 numbers? I’m interested in knowing if this initial drop in HDL is normal.

    Thanks.

    • Mark says:

      Hi Mihir. Thanks for commenting.

      I haven’t had any tests done since last Summer (2012), when I got them done through my employer’s “Health Day” where they bring in some technicians to give lipid tests and other things on the spot. My HDL when tested then was up higher, into the 70s (can’t remember the exact number). I do plan on getting a lab lipid panel done soon but I’ve avoided it because the only test/number that I am really interested in is C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test, which measures inflammation in the body. Latest research shows that that is the number to key on. Without inflammation it is not possible to have heart disease.

      Problem is, I am battling a painful achilles tendon issue and I am concerned that a CRP test would come back high because of the inflammation caused by the tendon injury. I’m hoping to be healed up within a couple of months.

      I highly recommend you check out Jimmy Moore’s latest book. Look for it on Amazon. It details everything you would want/need to know about LDL, HDL, CRP, etc. and what is important and what is not.

      mark

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