Cholesterol Has Doubled Within Six Weeks

Hey folks

I have been following the bulletproof diet for about 6 weeks now. Prior to starting on the diet my total cholesterol was 120mg/dL and it is now 236mg/dL. LDL is 151mg/dL, HDL 62mg/dL.

However, my serum triglycerides are 115 mg/dL which I understand is pretty good.

My doctor has asked to see me next week (probably to ask what the hell is going on!). I’m 31 with 10% body fat and train with weights five days a week; HIIT twice a week. I haven’t noticed much of a drop in body fat yet so I don’t think that accounts for the increased cholesterol (and doesn’t explain why the triglycerides are ok).

I wanted to rip up a bit more and have been eating the following each day:
  • 7am Bulletproof coffee with 80g of grass-fed butter and 30g MCT oil.
  • 1pm tuna or chicken (I know not ideal) with bok choi and fennel, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and some MCT oil.
  • 2pm whey protein shake / bar (very low carb).
  • 3pm ¼ of a coconut
  • 3:30pm handful of raw almonds, cashews or brazil nuts
  • 4pm an apple (not always)
  • 4:30pm workout
  • 6pm postworkout shake made with organic raw milk (pint) and whey protein isolate
  • 7pm dinner of either 5 whole pastured eggs scrambled with some grass-fed butter, or grass-fed beef / wild caught salmon, and broccoli.
  • 9pm full fat raw greek yoghurt with coconut oil.

As you can see, my diet is very low carb (too low?). I was wondering if the lack of glucose might be contributing to the cholesterol increase?

I don’t know whether to give it another couple of months to see if it stabilises or whether to reduce the amount of fat I’m consuming.

Are plant sterols bulletproof and if so would it be worth taking them?

Any advice greatly appreciated.




  • When you had lower cholesterol what was the breakdown of HDL/LDL and Triglycerides?

    Do you know how many calories you are consuming in that above breakdown? And have you compared it to what you were eating before?
  • I have experienced much the same.

    My lipid panel was awesome on a paleo/low carb diet, then my lipid panel started going off the chart. The only real change was the addition of BPC with butter and MCT oil.

    I have now cut way back on the butter (only use as a more butter in my coffee....) to see if that's the culprit.

    I did find some research that suggests MCT oil does not really affect lipid levels, whereas butter maybe it's that simple. I feel mentally better on the MCT oil, so decided to continue that, at least during this test period, and just cut out the butter...

    I will give it a couple of months and retest to see how my lipids respond.

    I'm very interested in what you find out about your situation.

    It would be great to hear from Dave on this one.

    And to hear from others who can actually compare their lipids pre and post BPC/butter/MCT oil
  • Hi Earlyriser

    I cannot remember the breakdown - I will get the details when I see the doctor on Tuesday and then let you know. I haven't calculated the calories but my current diet will be much more calorific than my previous diet (which was low carb and low fat). Is that significant?

    Hi Larry

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I wonder how many people have actually had their lipids tested whilst on the bulletproof diet. In his study on ketogenic diets, Lyle McDonald found that the overall effects on blood cholesterol levels are far from established. Early short-term studies showed a large increase in blood lipid levels. However, later studies have shown either no change or a decrease in cholesterol levels. One problem is that few long term studies are available on the ketogenic diet, except in epileptic children. In this population, who are kept in deep ketosis for periods up to three years, blood lipid levels do increase. However, the ketogenic diet is not thought to be atherogenic due to the fact that any negative effects induced by three years in ketosis will be corrected when the diet is ended.

    I can't help but wonder if many people following this diet will have increased cholesterol but are just (blissfully) unaware of it. I think I'll set up a new topic to ask people.

    I will keep you posted on what happens when I see the doctor next week (I'm guessing she will give me a bollocking as all saturated fat is evil ... gotta love the National Health Service). It's good to know that it's not just me.
  • edited July 2012
    I think you may be consuming too many calories. Personally my BPC only contains half that much butter and MCT and I am 240lbs. I also wonder how necessary your eating from 2pm to 4pm actually is. There are a lot of benefits from working out without food in the previous two hours. Perhaps Carb Back Loading with BP foods would be something you would enjoy. Are you trying to gain muscle mass or maintain a large amount of muscle that you already have?
  • I am 205 and have a large amount of muscle mass to maintain. Although I am hoping to rip up a bit, I would also like to continue gaining muscle mass if possible (which I know is difficult on a cut).

    I think you're probably right - I have been eating a lot of high fat (and therefore high calorie) foods. Maybe I'll start by reducing the fat in my BPC. What do you reckon, 40g butter and 20g MCT?

    When you say carb backloading, what do you mean exactly (sorry, not au fait with all the terms yet!). Presumably it means eating carbs post workout - sweet potatoe perhaps?

    How much saturated fat do you consume each day in terms of butter and MCT?

    Thanks for your help fella image/icon_razz.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':-P' />
  • Don't freak yet. Your numbers are still quite good. Wnen transitioning your diet, there is often a spike in cholesterol as your body adjusts. That said, even if your numbers stayed exactly as they are, I wouldn't worry.

    I recently had my lipids done and I was concerned that I was too low at 170 total 130 LDL and 40 HDL so I have UPPED my fat intake.

    Your triglycerides at 115 are still a wee bit high which means fat is lining up waiting to get stored. You should see your number drop quite a bit below 100. If your triglycerides stay above 100, you may want to look at cutting back a bit more on the carbs. You are getting plenty of carbs in your diet and while you have restricted your carb intake, I would not classify the diet you listed above as "low carb."

    Congrats on the switch to a healthier diet.

    BTW. There is tons of info about the misinformation about cholesterol at
  • Hi Mackay

    Thanks for the advice and the reassurance.

    How long do you think I should give my body to adjust to the new diet. I was thinking about getting my lipids done again in two months time to see if they have stabilised. My doctor is very keen for me to get this sorted out as I have a lot of heart disease in the family (all grandparents died of stroke / heart attacks, both parents had TIAs). As much as I realise that high cholesterol isn't the sole cause of heart disease, it still concerns me. That being said, I have an anxiety disorder which has been much better since being on a high fat diet - I think my brain was starved of fat so I have to give that equal consideration.

    In terms of reducing my carb intake further, other than cutting out veg and perhaps nuts, I'm not sure how to strip it down any more. I've always been told that my diet is very low carb (much too low). I guess theres there lactose in the raw milk- is that what you were thinking of? I still want to eat plenty of vegetables for the health benefits if possible. Do you have any suggestions for my diet?

    I have reduced the butter in my BPC to 50g - perhaps that will help.

    Thanks so much for everyone's advice - you guys are really kind, I really appreciate you all taking time to help me.
  • It might be worth taking nuts out just because of possibel oxidized PUFA.

    Also, nothing looks to bad, except for triglycerides are a bit high.

    I wouldn't freak without knowing the LDL partical size, if most of the LDL is large LDL, they are pretty much totally benign.

    And anyway, you levels before hand were way to low, low cholesterol tends to have just as much of a risk for heart disease.
  • Hi Mackay

    I just read the articles you recommended on cholesterol - very interesting and made me feel a lot better! Thanks

    Hi Trevor

    Thanks for your interest. How do i go about reducing my triglycerides? From what I know, triglycerides are formed from excess calories so perhaps I should reduce my overall caloric intake? I have an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday so I'm going to ask for an LDL-P test. However, I live in the UK and this is via the NHS so they will probably refuse image/icon_e_sad.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':sad:' />

    Since starting on the BP diet I sometimes feel light-headed which I think is due to lack of carbs. I had been thinking about adding some sweet potatoe every other day but in light of my lipids do you think i should rethink this?

    Cheers guys.
  • I'd maybe decrese the dairy, mostly remove the yogurt at night.

    Someone mentioned backloading and what the basics of it are is that you eat ultra low carb (under 30 usable grams) during the day until after a workout (assuming you work out late afternoon evening, which you do) and then afterwords you eat tons of carbs, I've used it to great effects with body comp, and a few other people here have as well.

    I'd recommend trying it and using just glucosed based carb sources to do it. You might try some glutathione supplemention either with NAC+ALA or the stuff Dave sells for liver cleansing and I'd also cut out they whey shake pre-workout, mostly because I don't see a point in having liquid protein outside of postworkout.

    Also, I'd lower your training volume. Maybe resistance train 3-4 days a week and 1 day of HIIT.
  • Although I'm rather new to this site and diet, have been reading a lot about it, as am mystified about how a diet that's so contrary to what I've learned by some very smart people (Dr. Hyman, Dr. Weil, Dr. Ornish) can be healthy.

    One thing I can suggest, however, is to underscore those who have suggested carb backloading after your workouts. Doing this enables the protein to be quickly synthesized by the body cause the carbs help deliver them into the bloodstream.

    This is strange territory... good luck to all.

  • I stopped counting carbs in your diet example at 60. So there may be 10 more in the nuts and the protein bar??? If a truly low carb diet is below 20, you have a lot of room to play with. Try cutting out the apple, maybe substitute avocado or berries with cream instead if you must have a snack. I find with more fat, I don't need a snack.
  • Hey Paul,

    You will probably find this post informative, from MDA:

    It should give you some possible leads at the least. It seems plausible to me that given your activity levels you fall under the "not matching your carb intake to activity levels" category.

    As a potentially relevant anecdote, I have managed to completely remove the cardiovascular symptoms that you were helping me figure out by removing added salt and stopping my consumption of Bulletproof coffee. (I cannot be certain whether one, the other, or both were the primary cause, but I did not experience real relief until I removed both. The conclusion is by no means ironclad, but the removal of both was sufficient for me, at the least.) I still eat 1-2 tbs of butter a day and 1-3 tbs of coconut oil--so my fat intake is about as high as it was--so I think you might want to consider coffee as a possibility. Now that I've gone back to regular old intermittent fasting with straight green tea and water I feel much better overall, my blood pressure is within the normal range again, and I don't have the heart palpitations anymore. Unfortunately I don't have any blood work to know my cholesterol and triglycerides, so this may be largely irrelevant to your case. Just some food for thought.

    Good luck!
  • Lot's of good suggestions here.

    I will go back to the beginning and just say again that your cholesterol isn't all that high (unless you are a doc pushing drugs), your HDL number is fabulous, and your triglycerides are slightly high.
  • edited July 2012
    Thanks to everyone for the advice.

    My new diet looks like this:
    • 7am Bulletproof coffee with 40g of grass-fed butter and 20g MCT oil.
    • 1pm tuna or chicken with bok choi and fennel, with extra virgin olive oil.
    • 2pm whey protein isolate shake / bar (very low carb).
    • 4:30pm workout
    • 6pm postworkout shake made with organic raw milk (pint) and whey protein isolate
    • 7pm dinner of either 4 whole pastured eggs scrambled with some grass-fed butter, or grass-fed beef / wild caught salmon, and broccoli.
    • 100g Quark with greek yoghurt and stevia. (can anyone suggest a better alternative?)

    As you can see I'm eating a bit less as I think that might have been knocking the triglycerides up (I just worked out that I have about 230g protein per day so can afford to cut back there).

    This should make my daily calorie intake approx 2300 - 2400 so I'll see how it goes.

    I've always been scared of losing my muscle mass so tend to eat whenever I feel hungry (even if I wake in the night!). Looking at my diet though, I should have plenty of calories and protein to tide me over, even if i do feel hungry so i'll just go with it.

    I'll keep you all updated and thanks again for your help.
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