T Nation

Interesting Cholesterol Numbers & Course of Action


So I just received a complete male panel from LabCorp, and despite having picture perfect lipid profiles for all of my entire life (and no history of vascular disease or CHD on either side of my family) I am testing really high for total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol for the very first time...most likely due to a significantly increased (saturated and unsaturated) fat diet.

My numbers are as follows:

Total Cholesterol: 285 mg/dL (Range: 100-199)
HDL Cholesterol: 115 mg/dL (Range: > than 39)
LDL Cholesterol: 161 mg/dL (Range: 0-99)
vLDL Cholesterol: 9 mg/dL (Range: 5-40)
Triglycerides: 47 mg/dL (Range: 0-149)
LDL/HDL Ratio: 1.4 (Range units: 0.0-3.6)

So it appears that eating 3-6 whole eggs a day, fattier cuts of steak and chicken, and an overall diet of over 100 grams of fat daily have skewed my numbers and significantly bumped the total and LDL cholesterol up.
(Note: I heavily supplement with fish oil and Omega 3's, olive oil and unsaturated fats as well, and limit carbohydrate intake to or under 100 grams a day for the most part. Protein consumption is usually between 170-230 grams a day as well, mainly from animal sources.)

My question: Does anyone else have similar numbers, and if so, what was your doctor's advice?

It seems that, despite the high LDL and total Cholesterol readings, the major parameters of lipid health (high HDL, low LDL/HDL ratio, as well as very low triglycerides and vLDL) indicate near optimal lipid health and low cardiovascular risk, depending who you talk to and what formula you use.

My previous blood work from a year ago (different doctor) indicated similar numbers, albeit with a total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL and an HDL reading of 111 mg/dL, which my doc said was great and to leave it alone, mainly because the HDL was so absurdly high and triglycerides so low.

But with the added fat in the diet, everything appears to have gone noticeably higher, so now I am planning to cut the total fat (particularly the saturated animal fats) in my diet down substantially.

Any relevant feedback, concerning similar findings and input from members, would be most appreciated.


How long have you been on the higher fat diet? Dairy and beef fat tend to raise both total and HDL cholesterol, because they are a mix of saturated and mono-unsaturated fat. My cholesterol levels went up about 35 points after switching to the anabolic diet (190 to 225), but like you my HDL was high and trigs were very low. Doctor didn't even mention anything.

I wouldn't worry too much about it because of the low trigs. That means your blood is not carrying around a bunch of fat, as high trigs tend to indicate insulin resistance and other metabolic syndrome markers.


I have been on a higher fat diet since about a year ago, but steadily ramped up the fat intake from the year before. Historically, I never had an issue with a moderate amount of fat (around 50-100 grams per day) in my diet, with respect to my lipid profile, and because I was trying to lean out to single digit body fat, I dropped additional carbs and replaced them with more fat.

Also, I eat zero junk food, trans fats, etc. And the only refined carb and sugar in my diet is the occasional treat (usually homemade cake or chocolate), which is so few and far apart it's not even a variable.

Btw, the reason for increasing the fat and cholesterol was to see if it had any beneficial effect on my testosterone production, but it didn't seem to affect it all. (To top it off, my SHBG is slightly past the upper range, leaving less free T but still within a respectable range for my age.)

I would say the biggest difference between this year's fattier diet and the one from last year are the following:

(1) More fattier cuts of red meat; where I usually ate leaner sirloin steak I almost entirely switched to rib eye or porterhouse (yes, eating everything including the fat).

(2) Same with chicken, usually darker meat thighs and drumsticks, instead of just chicken breasts (which I still ate in sufficient quantities). When I ate rotisserie chicken I was not shy about eating the skin also.

(3) A larger amount of sardines, anchovies and fattier fish, with increased fish oil caps daily (anywhere from 8-16 caps a day, each containing 1,000 mg of EPA, DHA and other fatty acids).

(4) Whole egg consumption likewise steadily rose as well, from 3-4 whole eggs for breakfast to as many as 6-8 throughout the day.

(5) More liberal use of butter, coconut oil and whole cream in foods, though nothing major in terms of quantity here.

(6) As for dairy, the only source (other than the occasional cream/sour cream with certain foods) I use is (the Fage brand) Greek yogurt, and I only have the 2% milk fat version, but as many as four servings a day (usually two).

And that's about it.

Question Mr.Muzik: What was you LDL increase from your anabolic diet experiment, did you get this?

Lastly, I'm not panicking about the readings...it's the LDL at 161 that kind of surprised me, and makes me want to get it down to at most 100. My new doc agrees, and told me that although my diet is full of healthy fats, that the additional fat (causing the issue in his assessment) is simply too much of a good thing.


Here was 2013 test:
CHOLESTEROL <200 mg/dL 193
TRIGLYCERIDE <150 mg/dL 78
HDL >/=40 mg/dL 53
LDL CALCULATED <100 mg/dL 124

2014 test (after switching to 60%+ fat diet)
CHOLESTEROL <=199 mg/dL 225
TRIGLYCERIDE <=149 mg/dL 79
HDL >=40 mg/dL 58
LDL CALCULATED <=99 mg/dL 151

Looks like most of my increase was LDL. There is some disagreement about how LDL is calculated. Some think that an "Iranian formula" should be used when triglycerides are lower than 150. Google "Iranian formula for LDL" and use the first link to see if that changes your result much.


Can you confirm with your lab whether those numbers are LDL-C or LDL-P?


The HDL reading is HDL-C, so I'm fairly sure that the the LDL reading is LDL-C as well (calculated, as stated in the report, which I assume is what the "C" stands for).


No, LDL-C is the concentration(cholesterol, etc.) in the particles vs LDL-P is the number of the total particles present.

You might have a high concentration (LDL-C) with a low number of particles (LDL-P) and be reasonably alright, whereas the exact opposite might be true in other cases. I've heard instances, patients having low LDL-C, being told all is good and having a heart attack 5 months later because the LDL-P numbers are very high and not assessed properly.

LDL-P is a better assessment of risk however it is harder & more complex to measure as far as i'm aware, hence the standard test will give you the -C 's. It's hard to have a definite conclusion without knowing both the -P and -C numbers, so don't do anything silly like taking drugs, even if your doctor suggests so.

Also your triglyceride's are low, which is great. Higher trig's are usually associated with smaller LDL size, which poses greater risk compared to bigger particles, if everything else is the same.

Also i'm not a doctor/ someone qualified, just giving advice/brainstorming



I plugged your numbers in to this calculator: http://homepages.slingshot.co.nz/~geoff36/LDL_mg.htm

It gave a calculated LDL of 122, which is quite different than your current result.


You might consider asking your doc to order a high-sensitivity CRP test.


That's what I suspected after further investigation; thanks for the feedback MrMuzik, you've been most helpful and informative.

Be that as it may, 122 is still too high, so it's time to cut back a bit on the saturated animal fats, and see where that takes us.

Btw: I've been in the hospital the past few days, tending to my wife and the arrival of my (first!) baby daughter. Just brought it up because some of the food selections and grub around these places is simply atrocious! Everything is simple sugars, refined carbs and artificial BS. Do people come here to get treated or get even sicker?

It even puts my previous diet in a far different perspective.


My understanding is that high cholesterol numbers are often a thyroid problem(although there are a few people with naturally high numbers who have no associated health probs). Normally consuming large amounts of cholesterol stimulates higher thyroid hormone release, but in many modern people something seems to be going wrong. I cant post a link but i've seen a study where dessicated thyroid vastly reduced high cholesterol(puts statins to shame). Ive also read that polyunsaturateds are extremely unhealthy at least one mechanisms ive found is that they can absorb a high amount of iodine(look up iodine number for fats).

I suspect it may absorb iodine deposited in your kidneys and liver by deiodinases so that you are no longer able to recycle the iodine for thyroid hormone use. Just saw something interesting the other day that was talking about a study where thyroid hormones were the best antioxidant for lipid oxidation..better than glutathione or anything else. Makes all of those artherosclerosis rabbit studies make sense.