High cholesterol is a common concern for those starting a ketogenic diet so it’s no wonder it caught the curiosity of Dave Feldman when his lipid numbers climbed after starting a ketogenic diet to avoid the progression of type 2 diabetes. Along the way, he ran countless experiments on himself (called N1 experiments) to try to truly understand cholesterol and its role in our health and he became hooked on his quest for knowledge in the field oflipidology(the treatment of cholesterol). He shares all of that with us on his website Cholesterol Code, breaking down his research and challenging some of today’s conventional wisdom on cholesterol and lipidology.
I’m about to hit four years this month. I initially became keto to avoid progression toward type 2 diabetes, as I saw my hemoglobin A1C was slowly climbing. Since then, I learned everything I could about it, with special emphasis on cholesterol given my lipid numbers spiked substantially after going on the diet. As an engineer, I spotted a pattern in the lipid system that’s very similar to distributed objects in networks. I’ve since learned quite a bit on the subject both through research and experimentation, which have revealed some very powerful data. With this new general theory, I’ve shifted around my cholesterol more than anyone else in the world without any drugs or special supplements of any kind.
Here are some highlights:
My extreme drop experiment is where I induced a 73 point drop in my LDL-C and a 1115 point drop in my LDL-P. Pretty quickly, I began to notice the less fat I ate, the higher my cholesterol climbed and thus, the more fat I ate, the further it fell. I wanted to understand why, which is what led me to the so called, “Lipid Energy Model” today, which suggests cholesterol is far more influenced by our energy metabolism than is typically believed today. You can read more about the experiment here.
It is a struggle for many to begin thinking of cholesterol markers as dynamic in the first place. This alone is a big challenge, even for those with very advanced knowledge of lipids--and it’s only the first step. This is why I try to put a lot of work into the communication of these concepts with animation and analogies, any way that can help open this door to the new thought process.
There are many misnomers in cholesterol understanding that will take lots of time to unwind, all you can do is touch on them as they arise.
As always, I encourage everyone to research every major side. I’m less concerned about those who are still uncertain but learning daily than I am those who have made up their mind and feel there’s nothing more to bother learning about.
Certainly I’ve come to realize just how powerful HDL cholesterol and triglycerides are when assessing the risk. In every study I’ve found to date that includes a stratification of high HDL and low triglycerides, LDL is nearly irrelevant for heart disease risk, even when extremely high. As always, my opinion will change with the data, but the data seems pretty striking at the moment.
It’s far too challenging to isolate a single takeaway. But if you twisted my arm into choosing just one, it’s the overwhelming evidence of just how dynamic these systems are. In fact, in one of my most recent experiments, I moved my LDL from 296 to 83 in just seven days. Thus, with this in mind, it’s hard for me to imagine prescribing a lifelong therapy from a single cholesterol result.
I take pictures of everything I ingest since November 2015. This provides an auditable trail that can be independently verified. Macros are tracked mainly within experiments, but the photos can always be backtracked to an accurate accounting.
Yes, I get ketone measurements at least every morning, and sometimes several times during the day depending on the experiment.
It’s my own keto pizza.
Blend ingredients together and pour into a pan (9x13in) for the crust. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then bake in a 425°F oven until it’s as brown as a paper bag, about 30 to 40 minutes. Then, top as normal and briefly broil to melt the cheese (I use Rao sauce, as it is low carb)
I listen. Maybe they have something new to say I hadn’t thought of. As always, I try to be a good scientist and keep my ears open.
If you’re interested in more of Dave’s theories and experiments, watch his presentation from Low Carb Breckenridge here.