Jan 20

START HERE (Pinned)

Please consider supporting my Patreon. All funding for my research and this site come solely from individuals like you. Thank you!

  • If you know little to nothing about cholesterol->
    • And you want to learn the basics->
      • You can check out my Simple Guide to Cholesterol series. It’s full of illustrations and is written for laypeople. Enjoy!
      • Likewise, I have this video that goes over the basic markers for cholesterol while on a low carb diet. (Pictured to the right)
    • You can enter your cholesterol numbers into our popular Report tool to check them against many risk calculations at the same time.
  • If you’re wanting to know about my research->
    • You want an overview->
    • You want the most recent breakthroughs->
      • 1/2/2018: In this latest video, I demonstrate massive changes to my LDL Cholesterol over 5 stages in a matter of days. LDL 207 to 103 mg/dL in seven days with high carb, up again to 146 on mixed, down again to 113 on high fat. (Pictured to the right)
  • If you have seen your cholesterol rise considerably on a low-carb high-fat diet (like myself):
    • You may want to first visit the FAQ.
    • I would strongly encourage you to read through this blog and my own journey revealing the Inversion Pattern. Key moments were the Identical Diet experiment and the Extreme Cholesterol Drop experiment that I wrapped around the first presentation of my data for the Ketogains Seminar.

Apr 16

The Next Chapter

Something amazing has happened.

For the first time in two and a half years, I won’t be running a deficit with this research. In other words, funding from individuals has now reached a point where I won’t need to draw from my savings next month. I should be able to cover my expenses — including the lab tests for the current experiments.

And it’s all thanks to YOU!

I was pretty adamant about being “only funded by individuals” and keeping the research from ever needing money from product placement or affiliates on the site or really anything that could impact the integrity of the data. And that’s exactly what you made happen, Patreon and donations, large and small.

I am truly humbled this day has come and I can’t thank you all enough for your direct support of this research. Truly, it wouldn’t be possible without you.

Welcome the Amazing Siobhan – Full Time!

Siobhan has taken the extraordinary step of leaving her job to work for CholesterolCode.com and this research full time. She’ll not only be helping to advance the research and spread this critical knowledge, she’ll be key to the coming lab testing service we want to have in the future.

I can’t emphasize just how much I’ve come to rely on Siobhan for her tenacity in researching the many papers around cholesterol and particularly her focus on its involvement with the immune response. She’ll be able to provide us more of her wonderful articles on this and many other topics around lipids as well.

Hiatus

As I’ve been emphasizing for several months now, I’ve had a long-standing agreement with the Mrs for our 10 year anniversary that we’d take two weeks off. Exactly what we’re doing is still being determined, but the key is she’ll be off from work and alas, I’ll be drawing down on the research and social media (how will I survive?).

Needless to say, I won’t be very present online for the next couple weeks until the beginning of May. As a result, Siobhan will be handling comments on the website to make up for the absence. If there are any questions she can answer while I’m away, she will do her best to answer them.

The Current Weight Gain Experiment

Obviously, I’ll be likewise gaining weight through the vacation period as intended, which shouldn’t be hard to do. Then I’ll be immediately testing on my return and — provided I gained the goal weight — returning to keto and trying to test my lipids while maintaining it. More on that later.

Next Steps

In the meantime, I’ll have a rare moment to ruminate on the Big Picture during the Hiatus. Certainly hitting this financial milestone allows for a better assessment of what is possible and how best to make it happen.

Apr 12

Gaining Weight for Science

Here’s an experiment I never thought I’d do — and post I never thought I’d be writing!

As I’ve complained about a few times, my Capstone and Added Sugar experiments both put on belly fat and subq. Immediately after going back to keto, about 70% appeared to go away within days (much of that was likely water weight), but that remaining 30% took its sweet time. This likewise isn’t helped by my appetite always being higher in the wake of these experiments (shocker!). Put a pin in that for a moment…

The Road Ahead

For over two years, my wife and I planned to have a two-week hiatus from both her job and my research for our 10 year anniversary. We might travel, we might not — all the details aren’t fully worked out. But that’s not really the larger point for us.

Following this hiatus, I’ll have the biggest and busiest summer yet with no less than five speaking engagements over just three months! I also plan to expand our CC video library as well to provide better tools for beginners. Moreover, I have a lot of research and study behind-the-scenes that I hope to reveal to you soon. Stay tuned.

So needless to say, this hiatus is a kind of calm before the storm. Which led me to an idea.

Okay, pretend I truly do have the most wonderful wife in the world. Put yourself in her shoes as I ask, “Hey honey, would you mind if gain a lot of weight on our hiatus? It might help my research tremendously!” Pretty hot, huh?

The Unanswered Question

For those first seven and a half months I was on keto I gathered no bloodwork. Did my cholesterol change immediately or take a few months? As I built muscle and dropped adipose mass, were my lipoproteins moving into higher circulation? More to the point, did my LDL cholesterol track upward with my body fat going down on this low carb diet?

Those who follow my work know that is this is a common thing I identify as relevant with regard to whether you end up with higher cholesterol. It’s literally the “Lean” part of the Lean Mass Hyper-responder profile.

Originally, I felt this was pretty much the one part of my research I wouldn’t be willing to go. Regain the 35lbs I lost just to see what happens with my lipids? C’mon!

Nevermind. I guess I’ll continue to surprise myself with what I’m willing to do to get even more quality data.

The Experiment

So for the next few weeks, I’m planning to get myself north of 200lbs, preferably 205-210lbs. At 6’3, that will put me at a BMI of 25.6-26.2. And yes, I’m actually shooting more for fat, not muscle.

Once I get there, I will do the following:

  1. Take wide spectrum blood tests (Lab and CardioChek)
  2. Go back on keto and do frequent lipid tests for the following weeks (CardioChek) with some blood tests (Lab and CardioChek)
    1. I plan to have a diet high enough in calories that I don’t lose weight too quickly, lest that confound my lipid numbers.
    2. I may do a more restrictive meal plan for even better variable isolation, but I’m not committing to that yet.
    3. Depending on my existing funds, I may be taking dexa scans throughout as well.
  3. Once I’ve dropped down to mid 180s in weight or lower, I’ll do further wide spectrum testing (Lab and CardioChek) to determine if the relative difference is shown post-experiment as well.

Even if Small, This is a Risk

Let me be very clear about this: I DO NOT recommend anyone else do this. Indeed, in order for me to accomplish this, I’ll be intentionally having large amounts of carbs and fat together, spiking my insulin and attempting to keep it at a higher basal level to ensure greater fat storage. In other words, I’m inducing a certain degree of the very thing I associate with modern western disease: hyperinsulinemia.

Obviously, this is a short-term experiment and I don’t consider this a serious enough risk or I wouldn’t do it. But that isn’t to say I think of it as risk-free. I may find it much harder to return to the previous weight and/or body composition. I may build worse health or eating habits than I had before. And as always, there could be any number of other variables I’m not accounting for because I just don’t know about them.

Testing the Bodyfat Hypothesis

I hypothesize that once I’ve returned to the keto diet my relative LDL cholesterol will be lower when compared to my lower weight and less overall adipose mass. The longer explanation for that I’ll leave to my other posts for now.

 

Apr 06

A #LoveLetterAroundTheWorld to my Wife on our 10 Year Anniversary

[WARNING: This post and the grand romantic gesture described within has nothing to do with cholesterol or my research, so feel free to skip in its entirety if you have any allergies to shmaltz]

My wife and I sitting in the theater

Exactly 10 years ago this day, April 6th, 2008, I met my amazing partner, Sharon. We fell in love and married soon after.

Whenever we traveled, I would sneak off at different moments to capture a few clips of video with my lip-syncing her favorite song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons.

I had no audio aid, was often unshaven & in “vacation mode”, and pretty much never knew just when I’d have a moment alone while she wasn’t looking. But I was very determined to make this happen and show her just how much I loved her with something truly grand and methodical.

I should also note my wife is extremely perceptive whereas I am often clumsy and disorganized. So I considered it a high personal triumph if I could keep this secret for the many, many years I was performing this task — and indeed I did… albeit with a few close calls!

This morning started as I drove Sharon to Town Square early to be sure we made our 12:15pm reservation for lunch. Indeed, we made very good time and got there at 11:45am — plenty of time to spare. As I well knew, we would be passing our favorite AMC theater on the way to the restaurant.

Outside the theater, we were approached by a uniformed attendant inviting us to a screening of “The Love Letter” by Disney Animation Studios. He had a stack of fliers that showed the details: it was a “Short Animation” with a “Running time of 7 minutes”. As my wife is a fan and alum of Disney, I knew well she would take the bait.

“Oh,” she turned to me as I was eyeing the same flier, “that will be perfect. We can catch this before we head to the Yard House since we have plenty of time.” I nodded, “Sounds like a good idea.” And I’m quite happy she thought it was hers.

After we sat down in the empty theater, there were several minutes that passed where I knew they were queuing the video. I tried to stall as long as I could, but I knew she’d eventually notice I was missing my iPhone if they didn’t start soon — the same iPhone I handed off for them to use in videoing her reactions as we watched.

Finally the “short” came on screen and — as designed — it opened with the animated Disney Animation Studios logo for 15 seconds. What followed after you can see in the video below.

However, what you can’t see is the tears of joy from the wife as I serenaded her from the Big Screen while holding her hand in the seat by her side. It all came together like the fairy tale I wanted to give her all along.

Mar 26

Who Gets 67 C-Reactive Protein Tests? I do!

 

My very first C-Reactive Protein test was from a blood draw taken November 20th, 2015. It was in bold and made clear I was in deep, deep trouble. Here were the reference ranges:

My score? 14.3!!!

Ironically, this was also when I got my first NMR as well.

After some panicky message passing to my doctor, I found he wasn’t quite as worried once I gave the context. It has been two days after (1) I had finished a half marathon and (2) gotten terribly sick afterward (nausea, vomiting, etc). He said this can happen with runners and wanted to test again in three months.

Eff that, I thought. I’m going to pay out of pocket and test in two weeks, along with getting another NMR.

You already know about this two week period from many of my podcast interviews and presentations, but you’ve never heard me talk about CRP before. The reason for that is simple — my doctor was right — my next CRP was just 0.63. And for the next eight tests afterward, it would be under 1.0.

Sedentary Phase December 2015 to July 2016

During this period I was intentionally avoiding any intensive exercise. I typically fit in a walk of around 2-3 miles a day, but would otherwise keep from anything very exhaustive. This was due to my wanting to control this variable for my research.

Of the nine CRPs from that period, five took place over the Identical Diet Experiment I took with my sister that summer.

I was impressed at just how consistent they were. Not only were each under 1.0, but the marker was 0.31 at the lowest, 0.69 at the highest for just a 0.38 delta. That’s pretty small.

Overall, I was pretty happy to see the consistently low numbers, further emphasizing the original 14.3 was indeed related to both the exercise and getting sick. Little did I know I was about to confirm each would boost this number independently. That… and that this would actually be my third highest score!

Exercise Phase August 2016 to January 2017

Things changed quite a bit when I added exercise back in. Remember, I had quite a schedule of races during that period:

  • August 22nd – Training and exercise phase starts
  • Sept 24th, 25th – 10k and half marathon – Couldn’t do blood tests as we were in Paris
  • November 5th-6th – 10k and half marathon
  • November 12th-13th – 10k and half marathon
  • January 4th-8th – 5k, 10k, half marathon (canceled), full marathon

Knowing in advance what the previous half marathon did with my CRP, I was especially curious what my numbers would look like when taken 24 hours after a race.

Needless to say, we have plenty of confirmation these running phases certainly had an impact on my markers.

Sedentary January to August 2017

Generally, I was focusing on many experiments over this period of time. Starting at around April, most of the experiments involved various versions of carb-swapping, so I wasn’t sure what effect it might have on my CRP. But overall it appeared to hold pretty steady.

However, I did have one period of time where I got sick during an experiment in February. My CRP happened to reflect this with a sustained bump over that period of time quite prominently (although nowhere near as dramatically as the distance running.

As I’ve talked about with Siobhan many times over, I’ll try to be mindful to get regular blood testing the next time I get sick as I’m very interested in having that data for further comparison.

 

One Last Half Marathon

My wife and I did one more 10k followed by a half marathon on November 11th and 12th, respectively.

Without surprise, I saw my CRP rise in the test taken 24 hours after, then return to baseline as I expected.

The Mysterious September 12th

Okay, so we have a seemingly strong narrative that explains every bump in CRP to be sickness and/or exercise. But what about September 12th? I didn’t mark it for either.

As it happens, that’s when I was doing my first additive carb experiment (which I haven’t had a chance to do a post on). However, the test the morning of the 12th was the baseline. In other words, I hadn’t yet ingested any carbs by that point, so carbs can’t be suspected.

There was one thing that stood out about that time: stress.

Just before that, I was in the process of launching the Patreon. At my current rate of savings depletion I was going to be in bad shape were I not to do something soon. So I was finally taking the advice I was given countless times before after reaching a bit of a stretch point.

So in a sense, it wasn’t just money stress by itself, it was also the stress of hurriedly putting together the Patreon and getting it ready to launch. But moreover, I’ll concede it was actually difficult for me to request the help. I’ll have more about this fateful time in my book. But needless to say, it was a challenging period of time in my life and I wouldn’t be surprised if my stress levels were at much higher than normal levels.

Was that the real reason? Your guess is as good as mine.

Mar 20

London Trip, Social & Comments Growth, and Even More Shawn Baker

I had one helluva whirlwind trip to London. I don’t have time to discuss it in detail, so here’s the short version… (1) Nick Mailer tweeted about an upcoming event in London I didn’t know about just a week and a half ago. (2) After seeing the people who’d be there, I decided to jump on a plane at the last minute to attend. (3) I got to get in a couple meal chats with two key people I’ve never met in person before, Dr. Aseem Malhotra and Dr. Malcolm Kendrick. Both are well known in the low carb community, but don’t often attend or speak at conferences in “The States”.

On top of that, I got to connect with many of my favs like Ivor Cummins, Dr. Zoe Harcombe, and of course, Gary Taubes. As a final surprise, they invited me to join the panel discussion on the final Sunday.

Social & Comments Growth

Yes, I know I have a big backlog of comments to respond to. Yes, I know I haven’t been as responsive on Twitter as I “normally” am. But please note:

  • I just got back from the trip to London (above) and always have a number of post-conference connections I have to work through afterward.
  • And more importantly, I’m now getting way, way more comments here and on social media than even a couple months ago — much less a year ago!

Meanwhile, my twitter following had crossed the 10k last week and is already up another 300. Are you kidding me? At the beginning of last year, I didn’t even have 1000.

I don’t say this to brag — quite the contrary — I’m telling you this in order to explain why I haven’t been able to get to everyone’s comments like I once could.

Bill Murray illustrates the feeling I have at times in the movie Lost in Translation…

 

Even More Shawn Baker

It’s been less than a week since my original post on this and the internet has been on fire over the numbers. Many like The Woo expressed grave concern in her very wry prose while others like Peter of Hyperlipid were breaking down the deeper biochem pathways involved (something he’s exceptionally good at).

I got some criticism lobbed my way as though my prior post was an endorsement of ignoring higher glucose and A1c. To be honest, I found that kind of amusing. But perhaps it will be helpful to really hammer home what my current position is on both the general and specific.

  • If you have a Fasting Glucose of 126 mg/dL, an A1c of 6.3, and an unknown insulin — you likely have a high fasting insulin and are at risk for diabetic complications.
  • If you have a Fasting Glucose of 126 mg/dL, an A1c of 6.3, and a high insulin level — you likely are at risk for diabetic complications.
  • If you have a Fasting Glucose of 126 mg/dL, an A1c of 6.3, and a low insulin level — …I have no idea what you are at risk for.

I spent about two hours looking for any studies with a focus on heightened glucose with low insulin that includes no genetic abnormalities – and (…prepare to be shocked…) I came up empty. Yes, this is an extremely unusual circumstance around an unusual individual. Would you believe Shawn Baker at 50+ setting athletic records while only eating meat would be a corner case?

So to get this on the record with extra emphasis: I have no worldly idea of what the long-term health ramifications are for Shawn Baker. But I haven’t heard a compelling case in either direction to sway me yet. It’s just a lot of unknowns… and that’s okay!

Maybe I’m the odd one out here, but I expect lots of uncertainty and appreciate the opportunity to tackle it.

 

 

Older posts «