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  1. #1
    adamm's Avatar
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    Cholesterol help?

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    Iím a type 1 diabetic who is eating low-carb Primal diet (hence posting on this forum) with only meat and veg. No fruit (due to diabetes), no grains, no legumes - though a little heavy cream in my morning coffee. I lost 14 kgs in the first three months, then stabalized at around 89 kgs. Granted my fat is going down a wee bit as muscle mass increases - which it is (doing the slow burn exercises, plus HIIT training and martial arts). That is the background.

    The reason Iím posting here is confusion about cholesterol. I just got my latest results back from the lab, and they are the same as they ever have been, despite being Primal/Paleo/whatever for 6 months. While my HbA1C is 5.3 (not bad for a type 1 diabetic), my cholesterol numbers donít look hot. Triglycerides are fine at 29 (as Iíve stopped losing weight quickly), but HDL is low at 39, and LDL (doctor forgot to put in particle size check, but it canít be that good as Iím a diabetic) was 150 on the spot. This was measured, not calculated.

    I take ~7k miligrams (or whatever the measurement is) of fish oil a day. Well, 7k of EHA/DHA, more in total quanity including inert substances. With my exercise, low carb diet, and fish oil supplements, how is it that my HDL are still so low? Any advice? Also take lots of vitamin D (numbers are now ~55).

    Can anyone give me advice on what I need to do to boost HDL and possibly lower LDLs?

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    Dr. Bork Bork's Avatar
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    I'm having the same problems (I'm T2 diabetic), so I'm looking forward to responses
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    adamm's Avatar
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    I hate shamelessly bumping my own thread, but I am concerned and could use some help!

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    Murph's Avatar
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    It's probably from to much PUFA.

    7k milligrams of fish oil sounds like an awful lot. You need n-3 to balance out n-6, but ultimately they are both highly unstable and prone to oxidation.

    If the fish oil is rancid and you don't know it i.e. opting for cheap capsules that have been sitting in some dusty store room for years; well it's going to work against you.

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    Here is my advice:

    1.) Your trigs are wildly low, so it doesn't look like you have a carb issue to say the least. Keep up whatever you're doing on that front. That A1C number is better than some young kids I know you're a Type I? Great job!

    2.) Your issue doesn't look like fish oil supplementation. 7g of fish oil a day is a lot. What I would recommend is that you bite into a fish oil pill and find out if it's rancid. It should be lightly fishy. If it's strong or bitter, it's probably no good. THROW IT AWAY. PUFA's including omega 3 are all highly unstable. Rancid fish oil will cause all kinds of damage in your body, and a surprising amount of fish oil is rancid sitting on the store shelves. If yours is bad, do the following:

    a.) THROW IT OUT!
    b.) Go buy a new bottle and make sure it has Vitamin E in it (it may be listed in the ingredients as "tocopherols"). The Vitamin E helps prevent oxidation.
    c.) Bring it home and bite into it. Make sure it's not rancid already.
    d.) If it passes those two tests, transfer all the capsules into an airtight glass jar and store in your fridge. The cold temperatures, total darkness and airtight jar will help prevent oxidation.

    3.) Keeping a good n3:n6 ratio is important to keep free radical damage to a minimum. Now, we have to start boosting your HDL. What are you cooking your food in? Normally, I disagree with all the "eat crazy amounts of fat" on this site because that'll prevent weight loss - you can't burn stored fat if you're taking in too much dietary fat - but in your case, we have to get you healthy first internally before we get you ripped Here are my recommendations:

    a.) To boost HDL, you need to eat more saturated fat. That doesn't necessarily mean to just start adding in more fat to what you already eat. You want to replace the fats you eat now with better fats.
    b.) Stay away from cooking with animal drippings from pork, poultry and the like. If you're cooking with bacon grease, olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil and the like, don't. Normally, these things are fine, but your cholesterol isn't stable enough to be doing that. You should be cooking in coconut oil (#1 choice), grass fed butter (#2 choice) and beef tallow (#3 choice) only because these three have the highest ratio of saturated fats to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The others have too much monounsaturated and too much polyunsaturated for your condition.
    c.) Eat less chicken and pork, eat more beef and lamb. If you can afford grass fed, go for it where you can, but it's not mandatory. This will boost saturated fat intake while lowering polyunsaturated without significantly increasing total fat.
    d.) Stay away from the cured meats like bacon, pepperoni and cheap sausage. Unless you're making them all yourself from scratch, they're pretty much crap. I know bacon gets the thumbs up around here - people are actually obsessed - but it's truly the junk food of the Primal/Paleo diet and I believe it's a huge crutch and holding a lot of people back. Is it as bad as bread and corn? No, but the high amount of salt and nitrates are of a concern. I personally think it's downplayed around here to get people on the bandwagon. Overall, it's better to be stuffing your face with bacon than SAD garbage, but it's definitely propaganda.

    Those are my recommendations. You could also start taking a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil every day before bed and upon waking if you can afford the extra fat.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 09-21-2011 at 07:14 AM.
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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    adamm's Avatar
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    Thanks for this awesome reply (both of 'em, actually). I can confirm, thankfully, that my fish oil pills are not rancid. I use Nordic Naturals pills (not cheap ones) which have ~1100 mg per pill of DHA/EHA. I take 6 a day (3 in the morning, 3 in the evening).

    I usually cook with grass fed butter (that yummy Irish stuff) or olive oil. I will try switching out the olive oil with coconut oil instead, though I don't know how much difference that will make.

    I eat chicken maybe twice a week, and beef and fish for dinner the rest of the time. I must admit, however, that lunches can often be hot dogs, sausage (I love me some beef polska kilbasa), or even turkey bacon. I also eat lots of DHA enhanced eggs.

    I usually skip breakfast. Today was the first time I ate breakfast in a month, and I had two DHA enhanced eggs. For whatever reason, I woke up early.

    As I said, I'll switch from olive oil to coconut oil. I'll try to cut back on processed meats, but will that alone really make much of a difference in my cholesterol?

    As it is, I already exercise well enough, I think. I do martial arts, weight lift every 5 days (full body, slow burn), and do HIIT training twice a week. I'd be afraid of upping it to more than that.

    I am worried...

    --Me

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    ChocoTaco369's Avatar
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    It sounds like you're doing everything right. Bear in mind, you're trying to correct decades of poor diet choices, so to fix everything in 6 months isn't completely realistic. Don't worry about it because you're doing great! If you know the fish oil is good, I still STRONGLY recommend transferring it to glass in the fridge still. Don't let it sit out on a shelf or drawer in a leaky plastic bottle.

    I still recommend laying off the cured meats and poultry as much as possible, but don't feel 100% obligated to. If you're given the choice and could go for both, pick the red meat over the white meat. Just don't make it feel like you *HAVE* to do it because that'll stress you out. Ask me how I know. If you want bacon wrapped chicken for dinner, eat it!

    I now officially recommend the coconut oil supplementation before bed and after waking, then. It sounds like you don't have all that much room for improvement. Just make sure the coconut oil is virgin and not expeller pressed. These are two fantastic products at fantastic prices:

    Nutiva Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil -- 54 fl oz - Vitacost
    Vitacost Extra Virgin Certified Organic Coconut Oil -- 54 fl oz - Vitacost

    The latter is on special with a 10% off promo code in the corner and ships free with a $49+ order. I have 2 of them sitting in my cabinet as we speak. $18 for 54 fl oz? That is a MEGA deal.

    The last pointer I can give you is to cut nut consumption if you eat them. Nuts are much higher in anti-nutrients than grains and legumes, and they're often loaded with 10+times the omega 6 with not a trace of omega 3 in sight. If you love to pop almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts as a snack or you're addicted to nut butters, this could be what's holding you back. Personally, I'd rather eat CANNED black beans than nuts because they're lower in anti-nutrients, much less calorically dense and have an n3:n6 ratio of roughly 1:1, but that's just my crazy opinion

    Consider dropping HIIT to one day a week and either take the other day off or making it a very slow jog/brisk walk day. You may be making too much cortisol. Sometimes overtraining is worse than not training. I took a week off from the gym and upped my calories by 500 a day and carbs to 200-250g a day, mostly starch. I felt MUCH better and could swear I lost weight during the "deload week." And don't be worried. A smart man once said that worrying is like trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. You'll make yourself sick and fix nothing, thereby making it worse. You're doing very well IMO!
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 09-21-2011 at 08:47 AM.
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    adamm's Avatar
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    Again, you are full of thoughtful and excellent advice, my thanks!

    I'm very careful about over training, and I'm not too worried about two HIIT sessions a week. I don't do any chronic cardio at all (though my wife, kids and I take one hour walks four+ times a week in the evenings). My understanding of HIIT, which for me is a 15 minute session of 30 seconds on, 60 seconds off, does not generate cortisol at all, or at least not significant amounts. Am I mistaken?

    I will definately start supplementing coconut oil as per your recommendations. I had already ordered the Nutiva oil from amazon (free shipping) - I will cook with it, and, ugh, drink teaspoons of it in the morning and evening...

    Hopefully in 3 months my HDLs will show some improvement. If there is any constant improvement I'll be pleased.

    I can't up starch/carbs, though, due to the diabetes.

    --Me

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    ChocoTaco369's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamm View Post
    Again, you are full of thoughtful and excellent advice, my thanks!

    I'm very careful about over training, and I'm not too worried about two HIIT sessions a week. I don't do any chronic cardio at all (though my wife, kids and I take one hour walks four+ times a week in the evenings). My understanding of HIIT, which for me is a 15 minute session of 30 seconds on, 60 seconds off, does not generate cortisol at all, or at least not significant amounts. Am I mistaken?
    Yes. Cortisol is generated in relation to stress. Since sprints stress the central nervous system far more than light jogging, they can produce more cortisol. This is why HIIT can be problematic. The same thing goes for squats and deadlifts. They are essential to get big and strong, but if you overdo them, they'll have the opposite effect. A lot of guys that are really trying to cut remove all cardio and sprinting completely because it's so stressful, do lighter, higher repetition weights (since they stress the central nervous system less) and just diet themselves with severe caloric restriction. You're better off swapping out an HIIT day for nice, long walk. I used to do 3 HIIT sessions a week and I perform better doing only one.

    Quote Originally Posted by adamm View Post
    I will definately start supplementing coconut oil as per your recommendations. I had already ordered the Nutiva oil from amazon (free shipping) - I will cook with it, and, ugh, drink teaspoons of it in the morning and evening...
    Hmm, I like it by the teaspoon. What also works great:

    Heat 1 cup of water over the stove til hot over medium heat.
    Add in 2/3 cup of cocoa powder.
    Slowly reduce over a light boil, whisking the whole time until thick.
    Add stevia to taste. Make it half as sweet as you'd want it because it'll double in sweetness when cool.

    You now have sugar free, natural chocolate syrup. Pour it in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge, stirring before each use.

    Take a glass of almond milk, add in 1 tablespoon of the chocolate syrup, 1 tablespoon of liquid coconut oil (microwave it first) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Stir well. The coconut oil will harden into little chunks and it'll taste like chocolate milk with shredded coconut flakes in it. Delicious and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk only adds 30 calories.

    Quote Originally Posted by adamm View Post
    Hopefully in 3 months my HDLs will show some improvement. If there is any constant improvement I'll be pleased.

    I can't up starch/carbs, though, due to the diabetes.

    --Me
    You'll do better I bet
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

  10. #10
    Scotty's Avatar
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    ChocoTaco - hope you don't mind jumping in here but are you saying that my squatting, deadlifting, and sprinting are working against my efforts to improve my cholesterol numbers?

    Thanks

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