1

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Cholesterol significantly higher after eating Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 19, 2011 at 11:06 PM

I have been doing Paleo for 3 months now. Avoiding all grains, dairy and legumes. I feel great and look even better - in fact I lost 35 pounds in 3 months... I get consistent energy all day and can even skip meals without even noticing.

When I started Paleo, I made sure to get my blood work taken and the results were:

  • Cholesterol total: 249 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: 73 mg/dL
  • HDL Cholesterol: 70 mg/dL
  • VLDL Cholesterol: 15 mg/dL
  • LDL Cholesterol: 164 mg/dL

I just got re-tested and my cholesterol levels were higher (much to my surprise):

  • Cholesterol total: 272 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: 76 mg/dL
  • HDL Cholesterol: 56 mg/dL
  • VLDL Cholesterol: 15 mg/dL
  • LDL Cholesterol: 201 mg/dL

My doctor did mention my Vitamin D was low and I should be taking 2,000 IU per day of Vitamin D3. I should say that during the last 3 months I have not exercised at ALL (I actually tried not to exercise so I can separate my weight loss through diet from exercise).

I was really expecting better lipid results than I got... Should I be worried?

My plan is to start taking Vitamin D and get cardio exercise at least 3 times a week.

Couple of facts that may help - I am male, 31 and weigh 171 lb at 5'9"

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 14, 2011
at 08:39 PM

Tone is obnoxious, Nikolas. Having said, I up-voted because the issues here are life-and-death, for us and for our dependents (e.g. children). wjones' glibness is overconfident given such stakes, and Nikolas' response is, tone aside, the more prudent.

C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on April 08, 2011
at 11:25 PM

(and yes, I'm aware this is evidently a new user created for this troll; the point remains)

C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on April 08, 2011
at 11:21 PM

I agree re the tone of the editorial commentary, however citing many useful references is a far better response than the bare question-as-answer this is quoting. It's sad that this has been voted down, while the glib and unqualified non-answer has been voted up. Normally, this would be a wash for me and I wouldn't vote this answer either way, but +1 from me for providing links and meritorious content, despite the tone. Net result of +1 for facts, -1 for tone, seems fair.

C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on April 08, 2011
at 11:07 PM

This looks a lot more like a question than an answer.

39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on February 23, 2011
at 05:26 AM

I think the tone of this response is prejorative and argumentative. I think folks can disagree without being disagreeable.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 10:50 PM

Chris' stuff is excellent and I'm just just saying that because I'm his girlfriend. Even before we started dating, it was a paradigm shift to realize because of his work that while the lipid hypothesis is bunk, high cholesterol does indicate something is wrong. It means cholesterol isn't being processed properly, not that your dietary cho is too high. Improving thyroid function is a big part of solving this.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 02:11 PM

P.S. Congrats on the weight loss! That is fantastic, especially without exercise. You'll see even better results and great body comp changes once you add the exercise component.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 02:11 PM

The numbers really don't seem that different to me, most likely your LDL is "calculated" too and that is not your actual number. When you see your doctor in a week, if you are concerned, ask him for a calculated test and a particle size test.

E2e98b9f5f16d9408f75c3ec67e52b16

(5)

on January 20, 2011
at 01:45 PM

I have limited my fruit consumption to no more than 1 serving a day.

E2e98b9f5f16d9408f75c3ec67e52b16

(5)

on January 20, 2011
at 01:44 PM

We did not discuss the diet. I got results over the phone. I am seeing him in a week to go over.

E2e98b9f5f16d9408f75c3ec67e52b16

(5)

on January 20, 2011
at 01:43 PM

Yes. A total of 35 lbs.

286a4ff7c362241c5c4b020df4972212

(1288)

on January 20, 2011
at 01:36 PM

Did you lose weight in the last 3 months ?

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11 Answers

best answer

5
0b2182c5e61bf67f83b9c32de86d8d3d

(250)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:46 AM

To me, these two sets of numbers seem about the same (LDL maybe up a bit), but sometimes lipid panels do show increases when eating a paleo diet at least initially. Take a look at this post by Chris Masterjohn explaining "Why Is My Cholesterol So High On This Diet."

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 11, 2011
at 10:50 PM

Chris' stuff is excellent and I'm just just saying that because I'm his girlfriend. Even before we started dating, it was a paradigm shift to realize because of his work that while the lipid hypothesis is bunk, high cholesterol does indicate something is wrong. It means cholesterol isn't being processed properly, not that your dietary cho is too high. Improving thyroid function is a big part of solving this.

best answer

7
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 20, 2011
at 05:04 AM

Also could just be natural variation between tests. Those tests are not super accurate and your lipids will vary from one day to another as well. Studies have shown that the same sample of blood tested multiple times will yield a fairly large variation between labs and between individual tests. I personally would not worry about a small variation like that.

Also to consider, most paleo eaters do not necesarily agree that cholesterol should be as low as the pill selling big pharma companies like to tell you it should be. That, of course, is a whole nother subject but one you should spend some time researching if you are interested in your health. Consider that high cholesterol is only associated with heart disease in the class of middle aged men with existing heart disease and even then, the association is mild. Why does high cholesterol not associate with illness in women and the elderly? In fact, LOW cholesterol is correlated with increased risk of cancer and in the elderly it is correlated with increased chance of death. One might begin to realize that perhaps cholesterol is not the big bugaboo one might be lead to believe. Research is even beginning to show that cholesterol is an important aspect of proper immune functioning.

Most paleo eaters like to instead look at other numbers to gauge health. One of those is keeping triglycerides at good levels, which looks like you already have. Another is blood pressure not being high and keeping overall decent weight and fitness levels. Maker sure you are getting all needed nutrients by using fitday.com to check your intake (paleo eaters don't blindly follow the RDAs but the RDAs for some nutrients are probably worth tracking at least) Get high quality and proper amounts of sleep. Try to keep stress in your life down as much as possible by both avoiding it at times as well as learning how to deal with problems without stressing. And of course, how you feel overall is also a good gauge of health. I will assume you are already eating healthy so I won't mention that one. I would be concerned with all those things as being much more important than just having mildly elevated cholesterol levels, which are only weakly correlated with problems and even then in only one subset of the population.

4
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on January 20, 2011
at 12:30 AM

Why do these numbers matter again?

C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on April 08, 2011
at 11:07 PM

This looks a lot more like a question than an answer.

3
C7e03ff9966940760f0b148fcc3afd81

on February 04, 2011
at 01:54 PM

"Why do these numbers matter again?"

http://heart.bmj.com/content/96/Suppl_3/A95.3

http://tinyurl.com/4k5frgh

http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/18/1837

http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/abstract/27/1/1

http://tinyurl.com/46hbdf6

http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v40/n2/abs/ng.76.html

http://tinyurl.com/4qw3xy6

http://tinyurl.com/4zmllg2

If you don't think that there is some level of association between those numbers and relative CHD risks, then you're knowingly sticking your head in the ground. So many of you guys WANT things to be a certain way and WANT for your conspiracy theories to be 100% correct and don't have the courage to admit that you don't know anywhere near as much as you think you do.

39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on February 23, 2011
at 05:26 AM

I think the tone of this response is prejorative and argumentative. I think folks can disagree without being disagreeable.

C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on April 08, 2011
at 11:25 PM

(and yes, I'm aware this is evidently a new user created for this troll; the point remains)

C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on April 08, 2011
at 11:21 PM

I agree re the tone of the editorial commentary, however citing many useful references is a far better response than the bare question-as-answer this is quoting. It's sad that this has been voted down, while the glib and unqualified non-answer has been voted up. Normally, this would be a wash for me and I wouldn't vote this answer either way, but +1 from me for providing links and meritorious content, despite the tone. Net result of +1 for facts, -1 for tone, seems fair.

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 14, 2011
at 08:39 PM

Tone is obnoxious, Nikolas. Having said, I up-voted because the issues here are life-and-death, for us and for our dependents (e.g. children). wjones' glibness is overconfident given such stakes, and Nikolas' response is, tone aside, the more prudent.

2
9f187c931f7ce55d375ed5806e254aaf

(820)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:16 AM

Well, I'm no expert, but there seems to be plenty of evidence to suggest that total serum cholesterol is unrelated to heart disease. That being said, I wouldn't worry. Especially since it looks like your VLDL is still very low and that's the stuff that can get trapped in cracks caused by inflammation. But as long as you are avoiding inflammation you should be fine.

This is the short answer. I'm sure someone else can provide a longer one with references.

1
Aff05dc7809a0df7ff1fc20917ddc3d3

on February 11, 2011
at 10:15 PM

If YOU think that you can understand the cholesterol issue by picking out a few research abstracts, then I am not sure where your head is.

Anyway, a few things to think about:

1) Correlation is not cause 2) Relative Risk is a far cry from Absolute Risk 3) Not all of the studies you selected related to the issue at hand which is elevated LDL (at least two were talking about HDL, Triglycerides, and various ratios). 4) You seem to have ignored any research to the contrary of which there is much.

1
Medium avatar

on January 20, 2011
at 07:01 PM

I would have expected TGs to drop and HDL to rise, so that's a little weird, but 3 months is kind of a short period of time.

You should read this cardiologist's blog for how to improve your values: http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/

He's fixed the lipid panels of thousands of people. His recommendations are usually to cut out wheat, cornstarch etc. as we do, add D3 and omega 3s and lose weight. You're on the right track, it would seem.

Personally, I take 5000IU of D3 on days when I don't go shirtless in the sun, which is more than half the year at this latitude. 2000 may be conservative, especially if you are currently low.

1
6371f0ae0c075ded1b8cd30aafd4bf16

on January 20, 2011
at 01:26 PM

I have a theory that I am not sure holds water. My theory is that people who are "100%" paleo and experience elevated Lipid panels may be consuming too much fructose. Fruit is good way to replete liver glycogen, but once the liver's glycogen levels are full then the liver starts turning fructose into free floating fat i the blood stream. You mentioned that you are purposely refraining from exercise so glycogen demand for you is pretty low. So that's my theory and I'm interested to see if anyone agrees?

E2e98b9f5f16d9408f75c3ec67e52b16

(5)

on January 20, 2011
at 01:45 PM

I have limited my fruit consumption to no more than 1 serving a day.

0
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on December 09, 2011
at 04:49 AM

cholesterol is an acute phase reactant and is a zero predictor of impending cardiac death. the measurement of cholesterol was a test in need of a disease. the cholesterol story is one of clever marketing rather than science. cholesterol will wildly fluctuate irrespective of diet because thats what all acute phase reactants do. In the rat aspirin will increase cholesterol by 30 percent, i cant tell you what aspirin will do in man because no such research exist. you can imagine why no research was done cant you? stop testing your blood take some Vitamin C and enjoy your healthy life. if you have adopted a paleo diet you are already doing everything you need to increase your lifespan while at the same time reduce the ageing process

most people dont want to hear this, because they feel the need to have control in their life. they require absolutes like numbers. that ok because you have plenty of company, in fact most drug companies and laboratories count on it for monetary livelihood

0
5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on February 04, 2011
at 12:54 PM

When you do get to the exercising part, which you should have been doing all along, forget all about cardio and concentrate on weighted resistance training. Even bodyweight exercises are better than pointless cardio.

0
461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:28 AM

I don't have answers but am curious to see if anyone else has similar results. Did your doctor say you should be worried? And does he know of your current diet?

E2e98b9f5f16d9408f75c3ec67e52b16

(5)

on January 20, 2011
at 01:44 PM

We did not discuss the diet. I got results over the phone. I am seeing him in a week to go over.

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