For 6 months straight I have started my day with 3-4 eggs (which if scrambled or made as an omelette will have cheese, avocado and sour cream added), 5-7 pieces of bacon, and a cup of coffee with coconut oil added. I have also consumed 65-70% of my calories from fat.
Before I get to my cholesterol test results after 6 month of eating this way – here is a bit of my back story as to why I changed my diet: (or skip to the results)
Why I went Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) –
6 months ago, I made the decision to start a Low Carb High Fat diet. I made this decision because after 2 1/2 years of eating a “healthy”, balanced, low fat (high carb) diet, I saw no change in my cholesterol numbers. My cholesterol numbers remained the same as they were in the days of a diet that included a huge amount of Big Macs, French Fries, Soft Drinks and lot’s of beer. While I had lost weight, a “healthy” diet hadn’t appeared to make me any more healthy.
Sure I was lighter, leaner, and on the surface appeared to be healthier, but lurking beneath my outward healthy appearance, my incredibly high cholesterol remained.
In addition to my high cholesterol, my good cholesterol (HDL) was low, my “bad” cholesterol (LDL) was high, and my Triglycerides were through the roof!
Jimmy Moore – “Cholesterol Clarity, what the HDL is wrong with my numbers?”
I started researching, and at the advice of a friend (Jo the Stalker), I purchased Jimmy Moore’s book “Cholesterol Clarity – what the HDL is wrong with my numbers?”
This book (along with additional followup and researching the relationship between diet and cholesterol) changed my beliefs about cholesterol and the relationship it has to heart disease (and risk for a heart attack.) My concern about my risk for a heart attack is what motivated me to lose weight, get in better shape, and change my diet. I had this concern because both my father and my grandfather had their first heart attacks in their 40’s.
With my new found knowledge of cholesterol, I was no longer worried about my total cholesterol or my “bad” cholesterol levels. I was however very alarmed at my Triglyceride to HDL ratio (4.26) and was determined to improve my numbers.
So on 12/26, in an effort to improve my Triglyceride to HDL ratio, I started my new LCHF diet.
CT Heart Calcium Scan
In Jimmy’s Book, I also learned about a CT heart calcium scan. This is a test that “looks for specks of calcium in the walls of the coronary (heart) arteries.” These specks of calcium are an early warning sign of Coronary Heart Disease, and can be associated with a higher risk of heart attack (or stroke) which my grandfather had several. (Source)
According to information in Jimmy’s book (from what I remember) – if you have high cholesterol, but have a ZERO heart calcium score, (meaning no calcium buildup in your arteries) your high cholesterol really doesn’t matter. A Zero calcium score would indicate no inflammation.
So on 1/20/14 – I had a CT Heart Calcium Test done. The results of that test were not favorable. It turns out that my score of 287.1 put me in the 90th percentile for men my age, meaning less than 10% of men my age would score higher!
This bit of information only reinforced my decision to go LCHF, as clearly eating a “healthy” diet (and going from being a couch potato to being physically fit enough to complete and Ironman Distance Triathlon) were not enough to lower my risk for that heart attack I’d been trying to avoid.
My Cholesterol Numbers (after 6 months of lchf) –
|Cholesterol / HDL Ratio||9.1||6||-34.07%|
I AM ECSTATIC ABOUT THESE NUMBERS! My doctor however is “alarmed” at my high cholesterol and still recommending that I take a stating drug to lower my cholesterol. I politely refused (and I am looking for a new doctor that is more “Paleo”/”LCFH” friendly).
Why am I ecstatic? Because I see a minimal increase in my total cholesterol and my “bad” cholesterol (12.5% & 11.3% respectively) while I decreased my Triglycerides by 45% and increased my HDL (good cholesterol) by a whopping 68% (Both sides of the cholesterol debate agree that HDL is good, that’s why I don’t put “Good”in quotes). My Tryglycerid to HDL ratio dropped from a dangerous 4.3 to a healthy 1.4.
On the surface, at least for my body (which I realize does not make this conclusive scientific evidence), there seems to be some validity to Jimmy’s argument that eating cholesterol (and fat) does not increase your cholesterol. To me, eating as much fat (and cholesterol) as I have for 6 months, a 12.5% increase in total cholesterol is very small (especially when you balance that with the massive decrease in triglycerides and the even greater percentage increase in HDL).
Remember, I no longer believe that total cholesterol is relevant in my risk for Coronary Heart Disease, and I definitely don’t believe that LDL is “bad” cholesterol (even though I believe there is such a thing as bad LDL, but the standard blood test does not measure LDL particle size, so the number on this test is irrelevant).
I can’t wait for my follow up CT Heart Calcium Scan. I haven’t decided if I will get that done in the near future, or wait until the 1 year mark. I am almost more excited for those results than I was for this blood work.
As a footnote – my sports performance has not suffered at all on this diet. I have actually gotten faster this year, and while I can’t say it’s a result of switching from carbs as a fuel source to fat as a fuel source, I can say that I don’t think being fat adapted has hampered my performance at all.