T Nation

Lowering Triglycerides, Raising HDL Cholesterol


I had a slightly high triglyceride and slightly low HDL cholesterol level at my last blood test.

I thought the triglycerides might be from taking 12-18 grams of fish oil a day, but websites out there say that fish oil should lower your triglycerides. Also what about MCTs such as from coconut milk. In general does fish oil and MCT's raise or lower your blood test triglycerides?

Also what works for getting the HDL cholesterol up? It looks like whole eggs and also superfood supplement would be a perfect combo as most of the stuff in superfood is on the list of HDL raising foods.

I also got a slightly high (99) fasted morning glucose. What is the main cause of this? My glucose levels are right aroung 80 1 and 2 hours after a carb meal. They go down to 80 within an hour or so after I wake up, but for some reason they come in high on the morning blood test at the doctor. Could it just be dehydration?


I'm going through this right now.

My LDL is up, HDL is down, Tri's are up for the first time in over 5 years. Fasting glucose was up for the first time in my life that I'm aware of.

Happens to correspond with me getting very lazy with the diet for the better part of this year, while being the heaviest I've ever been (ie. not the 'fattest' I've ever been, but pure bodyweight).

The day I got the results back and discussed with doc's office, I immediately switched back to "Anabolic Diet Mode" and added cardio a few times a week. "AD Carb Ups" won't always be "anything goes". Still staying away from simple sugars (and bread) as much as possible, opting to carb up with potatoes and rice. Calories are only down a little and I've lost 10 lbs in a few weeks (strength still holding). Also dropped stims (caffeine, etc).

I historically haven't done well with high carbs.

When my cholesterol numbers were bad before I did Lipitor for one fill (60 days, no refill) and let the diet/exercise do the rest and held it off until recently. I proved my doctor wrong who said I'd never bring those numbers down without the statins.

Also upped high potency fish oil, added more fish to diet, added cinnamon extract, R-ALA, and berberine.

New bloodwork in a few weeks to see if that did the trick.


Well, actually I have finally resigned myself to a low carb diet for life. I sleep better, train better, don't get inflammation. I used to eat a lot of carbs at night because I had trouble sleeping, but now that I've cut them back I don't have that problem.

I am getting a blood test for life insurance and I was just wanting to make sure that eating fish oil and MCTs such as in coconut milk is not going to give me a high triclyceride level on the blood test, (as they make up a lot of my calories now that I eat low carbs).

I only average around 60 grams of carbs now, 250 protein and about 1000 calories of fat from a mixture of meat, fish, eggs, coconut milk, some nuts, fish oil, olive oil.


2240 kcals per day is pretty low for a man who sticks to a progressive weight training program; maybe add a few carbs (low-fat) a.m. (stay low carb at night) and or a few g's fat afternoon or evenin?

You mentioned coconut milk, but what about coconut oil?

You are taking A LOT of fish oil. If no inflammation, why so much fish oil? I'm thinking here that although omega 3/ omega 6 ratio matters, so does total amount (human body can process only so much omega 3 long term).


Do you increase your salt intake on low carb (training) days ?


I never thought about it. I don't know why I would do that.


I am 5'9" currently 219 pounds and with bodyfat of 18 to 19%. I am trying to eat a little below break even calories. I know I have read on this site that 4-6 grams 2-3 times a day is ideal for fish oil, though if I eat fish I will cut out a serving. Probably I get more like 10 grams on average.

Here is one day's food:

6 oz lean sirloin steak,
3 whole fried eggs,
2 low carb/high fiber tortillas (each has 50 cal, 5 grams protein, 5 carb, 7 fiber, 1 fat)

60 grams whey protein(per serving 30 gram protein, 2 carb, <1 fat)
1 Grapefruit

30 gram whey, 3 scoops superfood
1 cup 2% milk
2 cups cauliflower
10 grams fish oil

4 tablespoons almond butter
2 low carb tortillas

6 oz lean sirloin steak
2 low carb/high fiber tortillas
1 Tomato

I am coming up with 2370 calories, 238 grams protein, 95 grams carbs and the rest from the fat sources mentioned.

So I actually probably get closer to 100 grams of carbs, 250 protein and the other approx 1000 cals from fat. Also getting about 50 grams of fiber.


I found this question interesting. On the reduced carb diet I have found that I do feel a craving for salt, especially after training and if most of my protein is from shakes which are low in salt to begin with. I think that because of dehydration from low carbs there is a sensed need for electrolytes.


One of the best ways to raise HDL cholesterol is to take vitamin D3. You'll want a testing value of at least around 50ng/ml. I personally aim for 60 to 70ng/ml. I take 6000ius of absorbable D3 a day in order to reach this level.

An article that can be of help:

"Vitamin D increased my cholesterol"



"One of the spectacular changes that develops over a year of taking vitamin D is that HDL cholesterol skyrockets. While sensitivity to this effect varies (probably on a genetic basis), HDL increases of 10, 20, even 30 mg/dl are common. A starting HDL, for instance, of 45 mg/dl can jump up to 65 or 70 mg/dl, though the effect requires up to a year, sometimes longer.

Vitamin D can also reduce triglycerides, though the effect is relatively small, usually no more than 20 mg/dl or so. Likewise, the effect on LDL is minor, with a modest reduction in the small type of LDL.

So the dominant effect of vitamin D from a cholesterol standpoint is a substantial increase in HDL. Looking at the equation, you can see that an increase in HDL is accompanied by a commensurate increase in total cholesterol. If HDL goes up 25 mg/dl, total cholesterol goes up 25 mg/dl."


Niacin will also raise your HDL.

Eating lots of eggs can raise your HDL too. I believe that's how eggs first got the bum rap that they raise cholesterol. They do -- the good kind!

As for high triglycerides, as has already been posted -- it really comes down to your carb intake. Fish oil and MCTs are not the problem. My understanding of what happens is that you will store extra glucose first in your liver and muscles (as glycogen). When those tanks are full, all remaining glucose gets converted to triglycerides for storage in fat cells. Lower your blood sugar (glucose) and you will lower your triglycerides. Easiest way to lower your blood sugar is to limit your carb intake, especially when it's not peri-workout.


It has been my expirience as a nutrition counselor, and the research shows this as well, that diet will have a bigger impact on LDL, and aerobic exercise will have a bigger impact on HDL.

In terms of diet, I think Saturated fat has benefits, but I would limit it to 10% of total kcal to be safe. MODOK has a good point about the MCT. I do not have any expirience or research to back it up, but limiting dietary triglycerides to lower blood triglcerides stands to reason. Limiting sugar is important too obviously, but that does not appear to be a problems. I would double check what the trans fat content is on those tortillas.

I am not sure what your training looks like, but I would assess your aerobic work. Some walking or HIIT would certainly help if you are not doing them already. There was a article about walking on this site awhile back.

good luck