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Is saturated fat for everyone?

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  • Is saturated fat for everyone?

    I have been eating per the paleo/primal guidelines for more than a year and also got my parents into eating so about 6-7 months back and have read every book on paleo and low carb and how fat & cholesterol aren't bad etc. That said, I have the following observations.

    - I was 24 yr old and super sedentary with a bad diet. My blood work was bad (210 TC, 200 TriG, 40 HDL).
    - At 25 I started running and eating a low fat diet. In a year my blood lipids improved (160 TC, 175 TriG, 50 HDL)
    - By 26 I went Primal and started lifting weights. Ate mostly chicken & fish with little beef. Not much Sat Fat intake. ~ 2 eggs per day. High protein diet and lifting + HIT conditioning workouts. My lipids were awesome. (150 TC, 35 TriG, 75 HDL)
    - Then I gained some weight during a strength gain cycle and bad diet. I got back to high fat paleo and added Intermittent Fasting (IF). Ate lots of grass fed beef, coconut, eggs. High Sat Fat. Almost no PUFA. Carbs were minimal with once in 2 week cheat days. I also lost 15 lbs in 10 weeks. My blood lipids were shocking (330 TC, 60 TriG, 80 HDL - Pattern A).
    - From then it hovered around the 280 TC range with HDL steady at 80 while I ate paleo + IF with a mod fat diet (mostly SaFa).
    - I went on a leaning out phase recently for about 2 months and lost 6-7 lbs in 8 weeks. IF. Very high protein (2lbs meat + whey everyday). 25-30% fat per day. All Sat Fat (frass fed beef, coconut, butter). Literally no PUFA. Carbs were ~ 80 gm per day. Blood lipids shocked me again (350 TC, 60 TriG, 80 HDL)

    I am completely at a loss here. I am a 27 yr old male who lifts weights 3 days a week and is very active throughout the day. I eat literally no junk and sugars. Why does my cholesterol go up so much even though I am losing weight? Aren't your lipids expected to get better irrespective of your diet when you lose weight? I am all for high cholesterol and I know my LDL is pattern A. But 350 seems a little too high and I would like to understand why this is happening while everything else (research, fat loss, daily energy) says I'm doing the right thing.

    As a result I am trying a diet which has IF, ~ 1 lbs meat per day (free range poultry, fish, lean beef, lean pork), 2-3 lbs of vegetables, starch PWO only, more MuFas (avocado, olive oil, nuts), very low Sat Fat, minimal fruit, low egg consumption (1 per day) and magnesium+fish oil supplementation.

    I'm starting to wonder if there are some people for whom the increased Sat Fat is more of a bane than a boom? Is that even possible? I have no doubts that grains are bad and real food is awesome. But the only thing that still puzzles me, is the lipid profile! What are your thoughts on this?

    Thank you for reading. Looking forward to some great thoughts.

  • #2
    Cholesterol is a red herring -- as long as your HDL and Trig/HDL are good, you can ignore the rest of the tests unless you got a VAP/GGE/NMR which also shows you what kind of LDL you have, in which case you want pattern A. High total cholesterol has no correlation with heart (or any other) disease, either positive or negative so don't worry about it. Remember that our bodies store saturated fat, and have been doing so for hundreds of thousands of years. We've been eating the same fat from animals for the same amount of time. In fact due to our warm-blooded nature saturated fat is the best form for us to use -- unsaturated fats are more prone to rancidity, especially in the presence of heat and oxygen.

    If you really want to test for a marker that is indicative of health, test for CRP and/or homocysteine -- these are markers for inflammation in the body, which is the real cause of atherosclerosis.

    EDIT: The problem with the cholesterol test is that we don't really know what it means. Some doctors long ago "determined" that people with a certain lipid profile tended to have more heart disease and strokes, but they ignored practically everything else, including lifestyle choices and diet. Plus, the data wasn't complete (or possibly even cherry-picked): Okinawans have very high levels of cholesterol and yet low levels of mortality. In fact, it's increasingly low cholesterol that is being associated with increased risks.
    Last edited by AndreaReina; 02-19-2011, 12:01 PM.


    • #3
      I try to keep a balance of fats but my focus is mainly MUFA's and omega 3's with some saturates and omega 6. I eat mostly fatty fish and chicken with some pork tenderloin, lamb and beef. I eat a lot of eggs. 14-28 per week. I eat a lot of raw nuts and 35-45g fiber daily. Most of my PUFA's come from nuts/seeds. My carb intake ranges from 75-125g coming from digestible carbs. I eat little real sweetener. I don't fast per say but don't typically eat after 7 pm and don't eat again until about 10 am. I'm a jogger and do some strength training. Female mid forties. The liver makes 80-90% of the cholesterol and it uses saturated fat to make it.

      My cholesterol numbers have always been good. The last test:
      Total cholesterol - 4.01 mmol/L (156.39 mg/dL)
      HDL - 2.28 mmol/L (88.92 mg/dL)
      LDL - 1.61 mmol/L (62.79 mg/dL)
      Triglycerides - 0.28g mmol/L 24.92 mg/dL


      • #4
        I agree on the CRP and Homocysteine. Fortunately I have those done too and they are also good.


        • #5
          The quality of our meats is not what is once was and not everyone can get grass fed/finished organic meat.


          • #6
            Coconut is known to drive cholesterol up, so that could be a factor, but I honestly wouldn't worry about it, since your HDL is high and your trigs are still decent. Maybe your body needed to make more to synthesize hormones to support your growth?
            BTW, my holistic doc said that until the 60's, a total cholesterol of 300 was considered normal. That was before Ancel Keyes and statins...


            • #7
              Originally posted by hazyjane View Post
              BTW, my holistic doc said that until the 60's, a total cholesterol of 300 was considered normal. That was before Ancel Keyes and statins...
              Really?? That's interesting. Have you heard that anywhere else besides your doctor?
              "The mountains are calling and I must go."
              --John Muir

              "I don't know what's wrong with me, but I love this shit."
              --Tommy Caldwell

              ‎"Think like a geek. Eat like a hunter. Train like a fighter. Look like a model. Live beyond."


              • #8
                I think LDL is a complete red herring. Your trig and HDL are very good. You are pattern A. Rejoice, you can't do better

                BTW, when your TC was 150 you were at greater risk. Cholesterol is essential
                Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

                Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine


                • #9
                  According to the fifth edition of "Goodman and Gillman's Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics", the pharmacology textbook I used in pharmacy school in 1980, the rule of thumb for total cholesterol was 200 + age. This was before the age of statins.


                  • #10
                    I can totally relate to this, it seems that the higher the fat, the higher my Trigs, TC, LDL,HDL.
                    When I was vegetarian (eewwh.. I know!) my trigs were the lowest with 45, now they climb to 98.
                    My current TC is 277,HDL 69,LDL 175.
                    My panel also showed elevated total protein and urea.
                    I dont think its wise to say "dont worry about TC", even stephan mentioned that traditional cultures didnt showed elevated TC, I know Trigs-HDL ratio is much more important but I think TC is something to take in consideration.
                    I found this blog quite interesting:
                    He also mentions how beef could be problematic for some people. ( maybe me?)
                    Its quite funny how he used to ve vegetarian with high trigs, now paleo took care of that...totally opposite for me!
                    I think we are totally like plants, we all need different kinds of soil in order to thrive.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hazyjane View Post
                      Coconut is known to drive cholesterol up, so that could be a factor, but I honestly wouldn't worry about it, since your HDL is high and your trigs are still decent. Maybe your body needed to make more to synthesize hormones to support your growth?
                      BTW, my holistic doc said that until the 60's, a total cholesterol of 300 was considered normal. That was before Ancel Keyes and statins...
                      ...source on coconut driving cholesterol up?


                      • #12
                        My cholesterol numbers may be considered low to some here (certainly not my HDL at almost 89 mg/dL) but I look at the whole picture.

                        My CRP, homocysteine, fasting glucose, HbA1C are all good. My resting heart rate is 54 bpm. I haven't had the flu or been really sick since 1989. I don't keep the pharmaceutical companies in business not even the over the counter junk. They're so over used and prescribed. I would only take something as a very last resort but I'm anti-pharma.

                        I must be doing something right!
                        Last edited by O_O; 02-20-2011, 09:26 AM.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by confused_monkey View Post
                          ...source on coconut driving cholesterol up?
                          I think that's the old CW creeping in here?


                          • #14
                            It could also be that the liver uses saturated fat to make cholesterol as well.


                            • #15
                              Before blaming the saturated fat, realize you were likely not eating much fiber with your carbs so low during your leaning phases. Try upping the fiber and see if that helps.

                              My MDA journal

                              Primal Ponderings- my blog- finally added some food pron :P

                              And best of all my Body Fat Makeover!!