Sep 09

Energy Status Experiment

Back in May, I wrote on my isocaloric carb swap experiment where I had 3,000 calories/day of keto shakes for five days, then “swapped” out 500 calories of the shakes for 500 calories of bread for the following five days. The first five days I averaged 30g of carbs, but the second five days I averaged around 95g of carbs.

This resulted in a massive drop in my total and LDL cholesterol. In fact, it was much more pronounced than you’d have expected given I had only added a net 65g of carbs, which I go into detail on in the blog post.

So this brings us back to the general theory again: It’s about the energy, not the cholesterol!

The Energy You’re Getting vs The Energy You Have

Okay, so much of what you’ve read on this blog centers around my research regarding the Inversion Pattern. The Inversion Pattern shows the impact of cholesterol numbers in the short term based on diet. And indeed, it has a very significant relevance to what shows up on your cholesterol test.

Yet, what of the “baseline” numbers the Inversion Pattern is starting from? Why would my and many others’ cholesterol go up on a low carb diet to begin with?

While theoretical, I’ve contended for some time that this makes sense on the part of the body when lacking “energy in the tank” of glycogen and adipose stores. If you’re lean and on a low carb diet, the less body fat (adipose) and lower carbs (less relative glycogen stores) may mean the body has reason to mobilize more fat-based energy on hand (LDLp). That appears to get further confirmed by the Lean Mass Hyper-responder pattern.

So how to prove/disprove this? Simple – fill up those glycogen stores!

The Experiment

So again I decided to do the 3,000 calories of shakes per day. These were chocolate Ketolent shakes courtesy of Keto and Co. But this time, I decided to do only two days of swapping bread to spike the glucose (Day 1: 500 calories / 70g net carbs from bread, Day 2: 1,000 calories / 140g net carbs from bread). Then I’d follow up for two days again with the keto shakes and no added carbs.

Obviously, if the drop in cholesterol was only due to the carbs eaten in that short window of time, then it would bounce back in the days afterward. On the other hand, if glycogen was the key and I was topping off its stores above my normal keto diet levels, then we should see the cholesterol drop for much longer, right?

So as you can see, following my intervention days of four and five, days six through ten showed a gradually declining total and LDL cholesterol. Where LDL couldn’t be calculated due to Triglycerides being under 50, we can see Non HDL as a decent surrogate.

I would have continued the keto shakes for days 8 and 9 as well, but travel made it too difficult. That said, I did mean to eat closer to 3,000 calories on both days, but that didn’t end up happening. As an aside, this actually gives even further weight to the energy status theory as we’d expect the Inversion Pattern to increase my total and LDL cholesterol following these days.

Energy Status Change

Since I kept the total calories to 3,000 throughout the seven day period, we can generally rule out overall energy surplus or deficit, which is important for many reasons — particularly regarding the Inversion Pattern itself.

Moreover, the great value of using only the keto shakes and bread on a specific time table means having just two variables to look at. this helps to really confirm the second variable was the key change. Or at least, in this case, the one putting things in motion. (Side note: This highly controlled, only-two-foods for a week on a schedule is very annoying to experience. But such is life as a professional lab rat!)

As mentioned above, it appears a higher energy status (more relative glycogen stores) means the body feels less need to mobilize more energy from fat (triglycerides) in LDL particles. And since cholesterol “ride shares” with triglycerides in the same LDL boat, they don’t circulate as much either – meaning less LDL cholesterol for the blood test to pick up.

Final Thoughts

In my presentation, I got to show off the success of my experiment yielding an LDL of 131, “the lowest I’ve had since starting Keto.” This garnered a big applause. But this was less an accomplishment than a demonstration.

I’m sure many will read this and appreciate it as a possible way to lower their total and LDL cholesterol scores. And to that end, I’m happy to bring more research to give people that option if it can work for them.

But as with before, I don’t assume any specific cholesterol score as optimum. In fact, the dynamism around energy that my research is exposing should be putting this even further in doubt.

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26 Comments on "Energy Status Experiment"

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I am definitely in this category so thanks for offering a simple explanation and a simple test.

Cool Dave. According to my personal data on insulin load, your first carb day pushed you (me) close to the Randle Cycle peak but not over. The second day pushed you (me) over. So my explanation for your results would be: 1. As you say you are building up your glycogen stores so less need for TG. 2. You are switching from fat burning to glucose burning a la the Randle Cycle, albeit the very early stage and you can start to utilize plasma glucose and stored glycogen more avidly. It would have been interesting to see fasting or postprandial… Read more »
Jim Ingram


This is truly fascinating to me as I am in that LMHR category, using low carb to keep my weight down but also noting significant increase in my LDL. I know I see weight increase with increased carbs. What have you seen with your weight with the different experiments?

Carbohydrates serve primarily as a link to synthesis (nucleotides  DNA, RNA, amino acids, fatty acids, cholesterol, pyrimidines, purines) as reducing agent (NADPH2-  thyroid, transport through cholesterol cell membranes – electrons, transport of hydrogen derived from fat). With high energy potential of AMPK cells caused by exogenous or endogenous fats, the cell is closed to cholesterol,oxaloacetate,free fatty acids, etc. It is a natural safeguard mechanism so that people do not harm themselves in cardiovascular, mitochondrial, neurological diseases. Therefore, healthy people with high cholesterol> 300mg / dl (HFLC) should consider increasing carbohydrate and / or reducing fat in order to improve the… Read more »
Your LDL numbers are still way high. I don’t know if you have written about this before, but if you did feel free to link me to that post 🙂 If you are a cholesterol hyperresponder, are you aware of any long-term research showing that you can stay healthy with these elevated numbers? I have a client who experienced a doubling of cholesterol, trigs and LDL numbers on essentially zero carb while losing weight and fat mass – and overall feeling much better. But his resting HR is elevated, his ApoB is elevated, and the doctor wants to put him… Read more »
George Henderson (@puddleg)
Borge, see the Phinney paper about transient LDL rise during weight loss – he saw this on a low fat, low calorie diet. This might help, as the statin question is discussed. https://www.dropbox.com/s/hlh03g24dsjdpe6/Phinney%20-%20high%20cholesterol%20weight%20loss.pdf?dl=0 There is a lot of cholesterol in fat stores, it is released during weight loss and as it can’t all be excreted at once is recycled for a while. Given the higher TGs, you are certainly seeing recycling from adipose through liver and this won’t last once weight is stable. Resting heart rate is probably elevated by sodium loss on keto (this is normal side effect of… Read more »

That’s the essential question of this research overall. If you feel great on low-carb, but have have LDL, are you healthier? I wrote up a bunch of other metrics that try to answer that question. In addition, a CAC score provides great feedback on how much damager your arteries have accumulated.


Hi Dave, did you measure your glycogen levels? How long does it take for it to fall back to keto levels? I have followed and understood all the previous explanations, but I’m unable to follow your explanation for this one.


Direct measurement of glycogen levels requires a tissue sample (from liver or muscle). In this case, I assume Dave is inferring his glycogen storage status because that’s where excess CHO are stored.

Raffy Afarian
Dave, Been reading your blog posts more carefully recently because I also had some weird numbers. I started LCHF a little over 6 months ago. I have been feeling great and have lost 20 pounds from 214 down to 194. When I started on LCHF, I was on trilipix for triglycerides and Lipitor for “cholesterol” prescribed by my doctor 5 or 6 years ago. I stopped both medications after a month on LCHF. My numbers last year, 9/2016, were 157 tot chol, 31 hdl, 182 triglycerides and 90 for ldl. I just had the same blood test done, 9/2017, and… Read more »
George Henderson (@puddleg)

How does the liver know the glycogen status to adjust ApoB and ApoA1 output accordingly?
It can monitor its own status, plausibly, but probably not muscle stores.
A glycogen-full parenchymal cell could well release a marker – or the flux of lactate from glycogenolysis could serve?


So if I’m correct in how I read this there is two ways to drop LDL. 1 is through your inversion pattern where you smash the amount of fat you eat so you create less LDL since your chylomicrons are high due to the fat. Or 2. you are already fat adapted and increase your carb content for a couple of days which puts you in energy surplus meaning you no longer need as many LDL’s right?

I get the 2 methods of reducing the LDL levels; however, I note that your day 10 results show that the TG/HDL-c ratio have risen. Since I think I have just about convinced (or worn down) my doctor that the important metabolic lipid metric is the TG/HDL-c ratio, coaxing him to ignore my ‘suicidal’ 6.4 mmol/l (247mg/dl) total cholesterol . . . I would not like to jeopardise things. So, for my next blood test appointment early next year I am going to go for method 1; I and plan to stack up on fats for 3 days (fortunately I… Read more »

[…] Phase II spans May 2017 to January 2018 where I was focused on Energy Status. […]


what would be the simplest way to drop cholesterol numbers for an Insurance test. I am keto for over a year . should i do stage one of your test or stage 5 ? or something different ? thank you for your help and research . amazing !!!

Siobhan Huggins

The easiest would likely be the Feldman Protocol.