Super high Total cholesterol on Paleo ?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 12, 2011 at 2:03 AM


I was diagnosed as Type 2 diabete on Sept.10th 2010, then went on Paleo since Sept.16th, 2010.

The lipids on Sept.10th 2010 (normal American diet, with lots of carbs):

Total: 231 HDL: 43 Trig: 372 LDL: 114 (calculated I believe) Fasting sugar: 198 A1C: 8.6% Weight: 157 lb

The lipids on Dec 16th, 2010 (3 months on Paleo, less than 20 g carbs per day, 1 egg for breakfirst, lots of cheese, ham, white and red meat, didn't really pay attention to Saturated fat, lots of olive oil, nuts and vegs as well) (40 minutes brisk walking + 20 minutes weight training everyday)

Total : 382 HDL: 60 Trig: 211 LDL: 280 (calculated) Fasting sugar: 90 A1C: 5.6% Weight: 137 lb

As you can see, the only "catch" of the Paleo is that "it increases your total cholesterol !!!". For good or bad, that's another topic.

Now my question is: For the increase of total cholestorel, is it really because of eating less carbs, or is it just because I am eating more egg yolks and saturated fat ?


Some updates on April 28, 2011:

The repeated test on Jan. 6th, 2011: Total : 429 HDL: 77 Trig: 178 Weight: 137 lb

Then test on April 15th, 2011 just came back, and here are the numbers:

Total : 250 HDL: 69 Trig: 104 LDL: 160 Fasting sugar: 98 A1C: 5.4% Weight: 138 lb

During the last 4 month, I was still doing the very low carb < 30gram, all sorts of meat, nuts, tons of vegs, egg whites.

No more cheese and egg yolks though.

Not too sure what has worked here. My doctor took the credit for the Lipitor she gave me, but I didn't tell her I only took Lipitor for 2 days, then stopped because of the muscle weakness.

May be it is simply the fact that everything has settled after 6 month of low carbs ?

I will try to get back to cheese and egg yolks to see what happens next.


Oct. 2nd, 2012

I have tried niacin (flush kind) and it didn't work. And my TC is still around 240 to 280 during the last 4 check ups, everything paleo except egg yorks and cheese.



on April 08, 2011
at 11:01 PM

Yes, the numbers are right there.


on January 12, 2011
at 02:59 AM

One thing you may want to check out is whether your actual LDL cholesterol is in fact that high. I have heard Robb Wolf talk about how you should always go with an actual count of LDL, as well as LDL particle size. However, your tryglycerides are very high, and those are usually a better predictor of problems. You may want to try eliminating the cheese and nuts, making sure your meats are grass-fed/non-processed or supplementing with fish oil, and making sure you get plenty of sleep. A single night of no sleep made healthy individuals as insulin-resistant as a diabetic.



on January 12, 2011
at 02:14 AM

I don't know why this happens but I've heard it from more than one person. From what I've garnered though, since you see a good drop on trigs you're on a good path. Not that im too interested in the hdl and LDL but if you buy into it, you can sleep easy knowing your hdl went up.

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10 Answers



on January 12, 2011
at 02:56 AM

Dr. Harris in the recent interview with Jimmy Moore has posited that neither high 'bad' cholesterol will kill you nor 'good' one will save you, and that overall one should pay little or no attention at all to it if they eat right



on September 28, 2012
at 07:36 AM

I'd be curious to know if the original poster's cholesterol results finally went back to normal? and if he/she worked out the cause. My guess is that it was a fatty liver that was correcting itself since there were originally high triglycerides. I'm going through the same thing with similar numbers. I'm hoping after a retest in a few months things will have settled down.



on January 12, 2011
at 04:15 AM

You are well on your road to better health. Yes, your total went up, but so did your HDL...which is good. Yes your LDL went up...but what this number does not tell you is how much of that LDL is small dense LDL...the bad kind...and how much is large bouyant LDL...the good kind. The goal is to have many more large bouyant than small dense and that is achieved by our paleo diets. To really know the percentage of large bouyant to small dense, you need to get a VAP test or a NMR test. You need to be on the paleo diet for a year and then get tested.

There is no corolation between total C and heart disease. Continue to eat paleo and you will live a long healthy life. Just look, you have a fasting BG of 90 so you probably don't have diabetes anymore...just because you eliminated the culprits that spike your blood sugar...sugar,wheat and corn based products. To really know that your diabetes is in control, get a home blood glucose meter from Walmart and test upon waking in the morning. Then eat your normal paleo breakfast and then 1 hour later retest. Dr Davis wants those two readings to be almost the same. If the post eating is no higher than 125 or so then your pancreas are secreting enough insulin to control you blood sugar. Read this paper: The Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Type 2 Diabetes and Other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. http://www.journalofdst.org/November2009/Articles/VOL-3-6-EDT1-KLONOFF.pdf

To answer your last question: Yes, cutting the wheat, corn, & sugar out of your diet and replacing those calories with meat and fat is why your total is going up. But don't worry, there is no corolation to heart disease and cholesterol. In fact it is known that chronic long distance bicyclists and marathoners who have very low cholesterol die sooner than those people in the 250 to 275 range.

Good job after 3 months paleo. Now keep at it for the rest of your life.

Medium avatar

on January 12, 2011
at 04:13 AM

Looks like you've made great progress in avoiding diabetes. Congratulations; keep up the good work.



on January 12, 2011
at 03:09 PM

Chris Masterjohn wrote a good blog post called "Why is my Cholesterol So High on this Diet?". It seems possible that your liver, with the addition of the choline from the eggs, has gotten better at clearing all of the fat (lipids) that was being produced from a diet rich in carbohydrates. It is quite possible that if you retest in 6 months, things will have settled down and your LDL will have come down...



on January 12, 2011
at 07:23 AM

Weight loss can temporarily spike cholesterol numbers IIRC. Has your weight been decreasing?



on April 08, 2011
at 11:01 PM

Yes, the numbers are right there.


on January 12, 2011
at 04:52 AM

You are doing extremely well on trigs and also on fasting blood sugar. You have also lost weight, and all of these are excellent signs. Your ratio of total cholesterol to hdl is still high, though, therefore you could try to reduce that ratio that, ideally should be less than four.


on October 03, 2012
at 12:31 AM

Interesting that as your triglycerides went down your LDL went up. I've experienced the exact same thing and I've seen this occur with other people's results as well. Perhaps it really is a sign that the liver is healing. Thanks for posting the update.



on January 12, 2011
at 07:06 AM

That's only a 3month change. I'd continue what you're doing and check again in another 3 months and see what direction the numbers are going.


on January 12, 2011
at 04:13 AM

Please see if you can find out the numbers based on particle size. The other consideration for you is life insurance/long term care insurance premiums...because you are diagnosed Type 2, AND these cholesterol numbers are high, you might not find insurance that's affordable. Not saying that should stop you from doing what you are doing; you might find your numbers "improve" and you still look/feel good if you keep track of what you're eating in a FitDay type of system and think about reducing the amount of cheese you eat. Or, look for better types of cheese (think stinky, raw, etc.)

If your other blood markers look good, and your particle sizes look good, worrying about the total number might not be in your best interest.

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