1

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Worried. Having been on a keto diet for the last 1.5 months, why is my HDL worse?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 17, 2011 at 12:11 AM

I've been on a ketogenic diet for the last 2 months and my blood report seems just as bad, if no worse. I'm a 25 yr old male, at 6ft tall.

I've had good blood reports all my life. Then, 8 months ago, I decided to gain a lot of weight and work out a lot. I gained 60 pounds in 6 months eating about 4,000-6,000 calories daily consisting of whole foods: steak, a gallon of whole milk, oatmeal, protein shakes, lentils, sometimes cookies. Because of that, I got my first bad blood report. This was in May.

So I cut that stuff out and started a ketogenic diet, eating at a caloric deficit, about 1k calories/day. On days after I lift, I will eat chili with 40g of carbs so that is a cheat day for me. I've also eaten 3 apples in the last 2 months as well. These are the only sources of carbs I can think of eating. Otherwise, I eat less than 10g of carbs per day. I've lost about 25-30 pounds. My diet consists of: cheddar cheese, whey/casein shakes, bratwursts, chicken, cashews, fish oil, peppers, alfredo sauce. Now, two months later, my blood report seems actually worse than before.

EAT EVERYTHING DIET (May 2011) ---> KETO DIET of 1,000 calories (July 2011)

weight : 195lb/170lb

total cholesterol: 230/201

triglycerides : 78/82

LDL (calculated): 159/152

HDL : 55/33

I know LDL is more informative when having figured out the VLDL/non-VLDL numbers directly. However, I don't have that. My HDL, having cut carbs out almost totally, is actually lower by a lot! Could someone please help me figure out what's going on here? I have another blood test scheduled in 3 weeks (I got this blood test free so I said "what the hay"). I'm terribly annoyed, frustrated, and even scared about this. I need a low-carb diet because I respond terribly to carbs (so happy I have been able to pinpoint this), and yet it seems that the low-carb ketogenic diet is killing me. I'm lost here. I'd love to hear from you. Why am I at such a dismal state?

22424c9eef944ade83d4e4ffda907056

(1402)

on July 17, 2011
at 07:52 AM

Also, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you meant a 1000 calorie deficit, not a 1000 calorie diet. If you are on a 1000 calorie diet, take everything I said as a second priority and eat more food. Chicken is okay, but it's still the fat-phobic's meat of choice, it seems. Give beef a try, maybe? Really, nutrition is far from a science at this point, so trying anything and seeing where it gets you is a good idea.

22424c9eef944ade83d4e4ffda907056

(1402)

on July 17, 2011
at 07:47 AM

I'd consider that maybe it's a certain type of carbohydrate that has the negative effect on you, or possibly even some other type of nutrient. I don't necessarily think the processed foods are directly effecting your HDL, but they may be hindering your body's regular functioning in a way that ends up effecting your HDL. Ultimately, regardless of cause and effect, the best thing you can do is attack the least healthy aspects of your diet first to eliminate them as a cause. The local butcher doesn't necessarily use health-friendly ingredients, especially in processed foods (not cuts of meat).

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:59 AM

and other organs like heart and egg yolks and boom, you got a better diet. I am 21 year old student feeding myself while working a job, doing school, and an internship that a 2 hour drive away as well as feeding my significant other... There is always time to cook.

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:58 AM

Well now would be the time to switch to that healthy diet. Your HDL is low cause your hormones are probably super low. Better hormonal profile = better HDL. Stress = low HDL. 1000 calorie diet = stress. Poor diet = stress. Get a crock pot with a timer , slow cook meat in it, get tuberware. Put time aside to make meals for the week. Get chuck roasts, pork legs, brisket, ribs. Cook them in the crock. Boil some sweet taters or wahtever and throw them in the fridge and take 1 or 2 out a day if you want to stay low carb. Throw in some raw veggies for salad, eat liver once a week

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Hey Bill, I'm eating so little because I'm take a ridiculously hard course that requires I study until 9pm every day. This leaves me with 1 meal. I am not starving at all, since Im eating fat-rich meats so I stay satiated. For snacks, I have nuts and a protein shake. Yes, my strength gains have decreased but I am sure that once I return to a healthy diet, I'll be able to return to my lifting prime with some hard work. I am resolved to get a more rich/diverse diet that thanks to you all. But I would be obliged if someone could explain how diversity in nutrients/diet can actually affect HDL.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 03:38 AM

I am working out 1.5 times per week, doing weight lifting, particularly squats, bench press, etc.

A1a4882d31414600b2cab395a5b17161

(699)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Have you actually tested your urine to determine whether your in ketosis? I also agree with what's been said in the answer section: your diet is pretty crappy. Try to eat like a hunter-gatherer for a month and see how your blood tests look then.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:05 AM

I should add, also, that I must stay on a low-carb diet. Carbohydrates slam me with achiness, sleepiness, and general daze. In a way, I have no choice but to go on a low carb diet. I say this in response to your suggestion that keto diets aren't for everyone. Which leaves me in a bind. On the one hand, I feel the best when I'm eating very low carbs, i.e. less than 70g/day. And yet, this has really tainted my lipid scores. : /

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:02 AM

Joshua!, That's an interesting idea another poster has also forwarded. I suppose it's obvious that low-calories stress the body, but does this translate to higher HDL? I feel quite good, by the way, eating such little food, and have steady energy throughout the day. It really does beat my old carb-rich diet. Nevertheless, I am definitely heeding your advice.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:00 AM

I've already bought some carrots, asparagus, and have some kale in the fridge. So, as days go on, I'll be handling more non-starchy vegetables. But from what I'm gathering from you, the main problematic factors are the following: serious caloric restriction processed foods I do get my brats and meat from a local butcher, but I grant for the sake of your point that it is indeed heavily processed. Nevertheless, I'm startled to find out that processed foods, even if fresh and locally made, can have such an effect on one's HDL. P.S. buying a quarter of a grass-fed cow in the Fall. Can't wait.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:51 AM

Yes. I've always been skinny so I just ate and worked out like crazy and had fun being a somewhat tubby but hell-of-a-lot stronger dude. Then, after the sobering blood test, I decided to go keto and lose the fat. Moreover, I just do a lot better without the carbs. Carbs really make me sleepy, achy, tired, and bleh.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:37 AM

When you gained the 60 was it weight that you didn't want? You say you purposefully gained so I don't get it. Too much body fat with the muscle or what? What spurred you to do the keto route?

D5e5788865a3d9a17a729097186e465f

on July 17, 2011
at 12:33 AM

Essentially everything I was going to say, especially with the alfredo sauce.

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4 Answers

5
22424c9eef944ade83d4e4ffda907056

(1402)

on July 17, 2011
at 12:25 AM

I know we like to say cholesterol doesn't matter because it is certainly overemphasized, but your HDL was already low at 55. If I had these results, I'd most certainly get off the diet you are on. It looks like you are still eating a lot of processed foods (protein shakes, bratwurst, fish oil, alfredo sauce if it's not home-made, chicken can go either way) and while processed foods aren't necessarily horrible, if you're not eating any fresh food it could be contributing to the problem. I could give a lot of suggestions about food but I don't want to assume that you're approaching it from an uneducated angle. Some veggies might be a good idea though.

Remember that ketogenic diets (like any diet.. or any anything) don't work for everyone. Caloric restriction might be doing you harm, causing your body stress. And I wouldn't even pay any attention to your LDL, I don't think it's much of a concern unless you find out something startling with particle size information.

And your triglycerides are at a decent level, no worries there.

D5e5788865a3d9a17a729097186e465f

on July 17, 2011
at 12:33 AM

Essentially everything I was going to say, especially with the alfredo sauce.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:05 AM

I should add, also, that I must stay on a low-carb diet. Carbohydrates slam me with achiness, sleepiness, and general daze. In a way, I have no choice but to go on a low carb diet. I say this in response to your suggestion that keto diets aren't for everyone. Which leaves me in a bind. On the one hand, I feel the best when I'm eating very low carbs, i.e. less than 70g/day. And yet, this has really tainted my lipid scores. : /

22424c9eef944ade83d4e4ffda907056

(1402)

on July 17, 2011
at 07:52 AM

Also, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you meant a 1000 calorie deficit, not a 1000 calorie diet. If you are on a 1000 calorie diet, take everything I said as a second priority and eat more food. Chicken is okay, but it's still the fat-phobic's meat of choice, it seems. Give beef a try, maybe? Really, nutrition is far from a science at this point, so trying anything and seeing where it gets you is a good idea.

22424c9eef944ade83d4e4ffda907056

(1402)

on July 17, 2011
at 07:47 AM

I'd consider that maybe it's a certain type of carbohydrate that has the negative effect on you, or possibly even some other type of nutrient. I don't necessarily think the processed foods are directly effecting your HDL, but they may be hindering your body's regular functioning in a way that ends up effecting your HDL. Ultimately, regardless of cause and effect, the best thing you can do is attack the least healthy aspects of your diet first to eliminate them as a cause. The local butcher doesn't necessarily use health-friendly ingredients, especially in processed foods (not cuts of meat).

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:00 AM

I've already bought some carrots, asparagus, and have some kale in the fridge. So, as days go on, I'll be handling more non-starchy vegetables. But from what I'm gathering from you, the main problematic factors are the following: serious caloric restriction processed foods I do get my brats and meat from a local butcher, but I grant for the sake of your point that it is indeed heavily processed. Nevertheless, I'm startled to find out that processed foods, even if fresh and locally made, can have such an effect on one's HDL. P.S. buying a quarter of a grass-fed cow in the Fall. Can't wait.

3
Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:27 AM

First off.... why are the heck are you only eating 1000 calories? That is a recipe for disaster. I am betting your Testorterone and thyroid suck right now. I suggest either eating way more in your keto diet or changing up your macros a bit. Thyroid and testosterone hormones are positively correlated with HDL... when T is high, so is HDL and when T is low, so is HDL. Maybe more HDL = more T or visa versa, either way, such extreme calorie restriction is harmful for both so you need to quit that now. How are you surviving on just 1000 calories? Please tell me I am reading this wrong. You are 6ft and 25! I am 22 and only 5'8 and I can tell you right now at 1,000 calories I would be dying after a few days... much less a month!

I am not a fan of keto but there is no way to pin this on keto when you eat such a poor, undivirse, low calorie pretty much starvation diet. Fix that, then test your HDL. Eat REAL FOOD. Ditch the cheese, alfredo, whey, brats, cashews.... add in lots of red meat, heart, liver, wild fish, whole eggs and raw egg yolks (lots), dark greens, tomatoes, avocados, more veggies, etc etc... perhaps try some yams for a tiny bit of starch. You can do low carb without doing keto.

Sorry to be harsh but your nuts doing such a restrictive diet dude. Did you loose alot of your muscle and strength?

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Hey Bill, I'm eating so little because I'm take a ridiculously hard course that requires I study until 9pm every day. This leaves me with 1 meal. I am not starving at all, since Im eating fat-rich meats so I stay satiated. For snacks, I have nuts and a protein shake. Yes, my strength gains have decreased but I am sure that once I return to a healthy diet, I'll be able to return to my lifting prime with some hard work. I am resolved to get a more rich/diverse diet that thanks to you all. But I would be obliged if someone could explain how diversity in nutrients/diet can actually affect HDL.

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:59 AM

and other organs like heart and egg yolks and boom, you got a better diet. I am 21 year old student feeding myself while working a job, doing school, and an internship that a 2 hour drive away as well as feeding my significant other... There is always time to cook.

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9

(2539)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:58 AM

Well now would be the time to switch to that healthy diet. Your HDL is low cause your hormones are probably super low. Better hormonal profile = better HDL. Stress = low HDL. 1000 calorie diet = stress. Poor diet = stress. Get a crock pot with a timer , slow cook meat in it, get tuberware. Put time aside to make meals for the week. Get chuck roasts, pork legs, brisket, ribs. Cook them in the crock. Boil some sweet taters or wahtever and throw them in the fridge and take 1 or 2 out a day if you want to stay low carb. Throw in some raw veggies for salad, eat liver once a week

2
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on July 17, 2011
at 12:46 AM

Did you say you were eating a keto diet with 1000 daily calories?

I'd say that's probably more (much more) stressful than ketosis.

If you were in the "eat everything" camp you were probably never hungry, never stressed (over food), and felt great...

Now you are in the "eat like a bird" camp, hungry, grumpy, on top of carb depleted... no wonder.

Eat moar. Really.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:02 AM

Joshua!, That's an interesting idea another poster has also forwarded. I suppose it's obvious that low-calories stress the body, but does this translate to higher HDL? I feel quite good, by the way, eating such little food, and have steady energy throughout the day. It really does beat my old carb-rich diet. Nevertheless, I am definitely heeding your advice.

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:34 AM

Your high LDL/HDL ratio is worrisome. Are you still exercising much? I'd suggest adding 700 calories to your diet, along with a matching low intensity burn like biking or walking. High miles was the only thing I found that boosted my HDL. I took it from 35 up to 65-70 doing that.

7a200761a48be9c66b9714cdb3b7cad1

(5)

on July 17, 2011
at 03:38 AM

I am working out 1.5 times per week, doing weight lifting, particularly squats, bench press, etc.

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