Ketofest Cholesterol Experiment – Updates/Progress

This post will be continually amended each day until this coming Monday, July 17th.

In the interest of transparency, I’ll be reporting my notes as the experiment progresses. The exception to this rule are any notes that might impact the outcome of the experiment, such as something I report that could influence the participants significantly.

Day 1

As of this morning, there are 46 who have signed up for the experiment. However, I expect a drop off as many have not checked the box for being present on the Monday following Ketofest. As this is a requirement for the experiment, I sent out emails requesting confirmation, but have gotten back little response thus far.

There were 5 who had signed up who let me know they’d need to drop out.

Overall, there are about 6-8 participants who are now engaged in the Facebook group we are using for active communication. Most have posted photo of their food and drink and are doing an excellent job.

I’ve intend to likewise participate in the experiment, but want to note one possible confounder with the day. I’ve been a bit spread thin lately and haven’t been sleeping very well. I ended up napping for a total of three hours off and on in the afternoon. I then only slept three and a half hours in the evening. While I’m doubtful circadian rhythm will have a meaningful impact on my lipids, it is still worth noting.

Day 2

A couple more participants became active in the FB group. Current active participants were again sharing photos, myself included.

My day was a bit tricky. But to set the context, I need to explain my own diet choice…

I had determined before starting Day 1 that I’d keep my diet simple by only having one keto shake portion and two hard boiled eggs for the first phase of the experiment. Then for the second phase I’d ramp it up to four or five times this amount (depending on what I could handle). I made this decision mainly out of efficiency of time as I won’t have to put much extra work in tracking my diet given the simplicity of this system, thus allowing me more bandwidth for the bigger responsibilities I have in the next several days (conducting the experiment, prepping the presentation, etc).

Of course the downside is that I’ll be missing out on the fantastic food of Ketofest. And believe me, I’m not at all happy about that. But like so many other things in the last couple years, I’m choosing science first. (grumble, grumble)

Which brings me back to the conundrum of Day 2. I’m only allowing to eat one meal in the morning before my series of planes, trains, and automobiles (no really, LAS>PHL, PHL>RI, Uber to Amtrack, Amtrack to NL). The obvious choice was the shake since I definitely won’t find 0 carb heavy cream on the layover in the airport. But perhaps I could find two hardboiled eggs. And indeed I did, just before my connecting flight. Whew! (To be sure, the eggs I found were small, so I got three and tossed half of one to make the correct 110g from the day before. Because accuracy.)

After Carl picked me up from the station, we got to check out his studio downtown where we will be staging for the blood draws.

The building has a very mid-20th century feel to it that showed a little wear, yet lots of charm. Walking through the room, I starting taking stock of where we’d be set up and how the process would go.

I couldn’t help but find his sign outside the door “RECORDING” a bit amusing. This Friday it will have a very different meaning. ๐Ÿ˜€

Day 3

General progress with participants was steady, nothing unusually new to report.

Things were definitely getting busy for me to the point where I missed two of the electrolyte drinks in my usual diet plan day, but otherwise stayed steady with the shake and eggs.

As an interesting aside, Evelyn (Carbsane) was in town and I offered to “reach across the isle” to grab lunch. We chatted about life, personal stories, and a little science. But of course, I could only have the shake and water at the restaurant.

Day 4

I was extremely happy we got a total of 24 confirmed volunteers. As mentioned earlier, I knew it would be less than that 44 who signed up, I just didn’t know by how many.

Things definitely got a bit frantic for me and I now realize I should’ve recruited one or more volunteers to help me with logistics. I was handling all volunteer entry, processing, waiver signing/collection, and trying to fit in Q&A where possible.

To make matters worse, I had a creeping feeling of illness come over me that seemed very odd. I was getting shaky and oddly sensitive to cold, not sure if this was due to being low on blood sugar or what. In a gap between entries I went to get my blood drawn and the phlebotomist (who was a real veteran) had enormous trouble getting my blood flowing. She ultimately tried in three different sites on both arms, but to our surprise, it just wasn’t coming out. We agreed I’d drink more water as I appeared dehydrated before trying again.

Unfortunately, I got concerned enough about how I felt that I decided I’d just go ahead and eat, thus disqualifying myself from the experiment. The phlebotomist happened to have brought bananas, and ultimately I decided to have one in case this was indeed a low blood sugar issue. “This is the only banana I’ve eaten since staring keto.” I laughed.

Eventually after having to make some more water and electrolytes, I felt a little better, or at least enough to finish out the experiment. I then took an Uber to GNC and bought some magnesium and potassium supplements, which I started downing of the next several hours with water spiked in pink salt. This had a very significant effect and I felt a lot better by the evening’s VIP party. I wasn’t yet 100%, but most of the way back.

Moral of the story: ELECTROLYTES!!!

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6 years ago


Just wondered: based on the inversion pattern, why do you think you originally got such a high test result- the one that set off the whole journey? From your data, LCHF should be giving you the lowest possible LDL-C. Had you not done a cholesterol test previously?

Also a note on the protein test- weakness and nausea are expected symptoms of excessive protein. I feed my dog meat and getting his fat percentage right has been a real challenge, so I have seen this up close and personal.

6 years ago


I’m finally getting around to posting my results. My only previous numbers are from 2013, and I neglected to take pics of my food, but I did log everything in MyFitnessPal.

Total – 193
Trig – 182
HDL – 34
LDL – 123

Total – 214
Trig – 124
HDL – 52
LDL – 137


Total Calories – 4,443
Fat Grams – 416
Protein Grams – 132
Carb Grams – 42

Total Calories – 4,563
Fat Grams – 423
Protein Grams – 136
Carb Grams – 41

Total Calories – 4,991
Fat Grams – 452
Protein Grams – 188
Carb Grams – 37


6/12 – I worked out with weights for about 40 mins. I walked to and from work for about 2.5 miles total.
6/13 – I walked to and from work for about 2.5 miles total. I ran 30 second sprints with 1.5 minute rests in between 10 times.
6/14 – I walked to and from work for about 2.5 miles total.

I’m please with these results, especially seeing the trigs go down and the HDL go up. I understand that one test is nothing substantial to go off of, but having this and explaining certain blood panel ratios to my family has put them a bit at ease with this ‘crazy diet’ I’m attempting to make my lifestyle.

I am seeing a functional medicine doc and will be going back for a 6 month checkup. I’m curious to see how numbers will change going in being on what has become my standard diet, which is about 1800-2000 calories per day with a 80%/15%/5% split.

The doc office ran their comprehensive blood panel, which included various other metabolic markers. Some of these numbers came back slightly elevated, but I’m attributing it to possibly being dehydrated a bit and loading my system up with nearly 5k calories per day. The doc then tried to get me on several supplements that he conveniently had for sale there in his office, which was slightly annoying. For the things he was concerned with, there were no mentions of other, natural ways to go about fixing them, such as diet or lifestyle changes.

Anyway, I’m going to follow my typical diet now and would like to be able to get to that ‘sweet spot’ that we’re all searching for. I’d like to have my cholesterol numbers to where I’m comfortable with them, based on the new understandings I’m gaining here, and have my metabolic markers inline with what I find on the interwebs to be optimal.

Has anyone else run across numbers that could indicate slight dehydration when using the protocol before a blood panel?

Also, with a functional doc, has anyone else run into the supplement up-sell discussions? Just curious to see if other docs are the same way and that’s the path functional medicine goes down to make the extra buck, or if this office, in particular, is going that way.

Thanks, Dave, for all your work and self-experimentation you do. I’ve enjoyed when you show up on the keto podcasts that I listen to, especially the most recent ketovagelist podcast I’ve listened to. And thanks to all the other people who comment here. It’s given me what I believe to be a better understanding of my health. ๐Ÿ™‚

PS – Oh man! What chore to eat that much. I used to love to pig out, but I don’t think I’d ever reached the levels I did those three days before my blood test. Whammy! It was exhausting. ๐Ÿ™‚

6 years ago


It is important to realize the effects of PUFA fats – they do reduce cholesterol numbers – but they do it via producing inappropriate insulin sensitivity (and causing obesity) . Be sure to read Pedro’s proton bits where he talks about the F:N ratio.

It is not the insulin level but the combination of insulin and insulin sensitivity at the time.

See the effects of insulin+sensitivity on LPL and HSL that controls the flux of FA into and out of adipose tissue.

I started low-carb about 10 years ago – never could lose the last 10-15Lb – until about 2 years ago, I limited PUFA intake (no chicken, salid dressings or anything cooked in concentrated veg-oils ). The last pounds came off.

There is yet another story where LA(Linoleic Acid) (the most common FA in veg oils) is converted into HNE and produces insulin resistance.

Concentrated vegetable oils are apparently not human foods ( Olive oil is low in LA – and loaded with some polyphenols which I think are responsible for the good reputation)

6 years ago

Regarding you disqualifying yourself from the experiment: well done, you have to always pay attention to the signals your body is sending you. I myself try to do that. For example, when I plan on going on a moderately extended fast (48 to 72 hours) I always pay attention to my body. Sometimes I get a “strong signal” to eat (it’s not just hunger, but an overall feeling) and I just go on an eat. I don’t mind breaking the fast because I assume my body “knows best”. I continue my fast until my body says so.
Again, you did well listening to your body.

6 years ago

Dave, you’re probably right that it was an electrolyte issue that caused your shakiness and generally not feeling well (after all, it’s your body), but FWIW, I wanted to mention another possibility to look at if it ever happens again, and that’s sleep deprivation. As soon as you mentioned your symptoms, it was my first thought because I’ve experienced it many times when I haven’t slept well the night before (or sometimes 2 or more nights in a row).
Best ๐Ÿ™‚

Christopher Robinson
Christopher Robinson
6 years ago


I watched your presentation on the cholesterol experiment and was very intrigued. I have had “high cholesterol” according to my Dr ever since 2014 when i started a primal LCHF eating style. Back then I was doing CrossFit and consuming 150-200g carbs/day. I have since switched to powerlifting, sprinting, plyometrics, and low intensity aerobic exercise. My normal eating is now 60-75% fat and 40-100g carbs most days. I have a cholesterol test through quest diagnostics at the end of the week (particle counts included) and another on monday (particle counts not included). I have been tracking everything I eat and will continue to do so until after the tests. Is this data you would be interested in? possibly including my yearly numbers since 2014. I look forward to hearing back form you, and will be enjoying this experiment regardless of your decision.

6 years ago

Absolutely! I reached out to you in a private email.

Coincidentally, I’m getting my next blood test this Friday, too.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x