Triglycerides (TGs) are effectively fat-based energy. And if you’re on a low carb, high fat diet (LCHF), you are likely eating them every day, along with storing them as such in your own fat cells. The “tri” is for the three fatty acids grouped in each one to a glycerol backbone.
So a common question I get is, “Hey, if we’re powered by triglycerides on LCHF/Keto — then why do my blood tests show my triglycerides have gone down since I started?”
Simple… your usage has gone up. Way up! And that’s a good thing!
Generally speaking, you want to aim for having your triglycerides below 150 mg/dL at a minimum, and preferably below 100 mg/dL for optimum health. I consider this universal, by the way. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a LCHF/Keto, Vegan, Paleo, Mediterranean, or Bob’s Special Custom Juice and Burger Diet. If you have high triglycerides, it suggests a problem — and certainly a problem I pay attention to more than any other marker.
Possible Reasons for High TG
Here is our general checklist of considerations:
- Confirm you water-only fasted for 12-14 hours before your cholesterol test. (No food, no coffee, just water) The more outside that window you are, the more it can increase your TGs (especially if near a fatty meal).
- You may have a coffee sensitivity. I know, I know, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But we’ve found a surprisingly large number of low carbers who see their triglycerides stubbornly high from what appears to be coffee alone. Note this is just a fraction of the coffee drinkers as most of them appear to be doing fine. A great N=1 study was performed by Sean Brennan showing this possible sensitivity in action.
- You may have “carb leaks”. Get serious about tracking your food. Be really, truly, absolutely sure you’ve accounted for all carbs in the diet. Common unaccounted-for leaks include sauces, spices, beverages, alcohol, and many things labeled “0g Carb” that actually aren’t (rounded down in some nutrition labels) such as some brands of Heavy Whipping Cream. Sometimes you want to use a glucometer to detect what is actually higher carb than you thought. Bottom line: many who have even moderate carbs while on a LCHF diet can see their TGs spike because it’s still too much of an energy surplus.
- Cut out refined/liquid/concentrated forms of fat. Drop bulletproof coffee, oils, fat shakes, fat bombs, etc. Move toward as much fat from real food sources as possible.
While this is by no means a complete list, these four have been the most common associations we’ve seen to date.
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