Cholesterol Code – Part V : More Fat, Less Cholesterol… to The Second Power

For the short version with pictures, see below. For the long version, read on after…


The Plan

A couple months ago I started talking to my sister about taking my data to the next level. But to do so, I’d need someone else’s help — to which she immediately volunteered. (Side note: my sister is uberawesome!)

In fact, my sister was perfect for what I wanted to test specifically. While her cholesterol numbers went up after going low carb last year, they didn’t rise nearly as much as mine. In fact, both her LDL-C and LDL-P were generally half of mine. Thus, we would have different starting points on our cholesterol when we ate, which is the goal.

Light Diet Day

Light Diet Day

I then started planning all our meals to be similar to my prior March week-long solo test. There would be the same day-by-day blood tests during one week. Only this time we’d add one test for the Friday before the week, and the trailing Monday that followed it, seven blood draws in all, each was an the advanced cholesterol test, NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance).

Once started, we had to eat the same food at exactly the same time, no exceptions. Both of us had to take pictures of everything we ate, along with weighing them when possible. Half of the time she was in her state, then flew to me in my state where I’d then on prep, weigh, and cook our duel meals personally.

Generally, I tried to keep our food mostly home-prepared and stay away from processed or fast food. But both before the meal plan and following we ate out a little more. Also, my sister likes Zipfizzes, so we agreed to have one a day through the planned days as well.

Heavy Diet Day

Heavy Diet Day

Overall, the plan worked beautifully! My sister stayed religious to the diet and timing and we didn’t have any sudden surprises that thew us off the rails. I have a few fun stories that I’ll save for in person talks later.

The Comparative Data

Beyond the Total Cholesterol hook above, it’s worth looking closely at the other markers as well.

Our LDL-C was an impressive 88.9% correlative with each other! Did I put only one exclamation mark there? I meant three — 88.9% correlative!!!


And here’s a relative comparison to really see the match up:


This was especially relevant to me given my general theory encompasses energy trafficking as being the primary driver of these LDL cholesterol payloads. If I’m losing you here a little, don’t worry, I’ll cover this in a future post.

Like my own data before this, HDL doesn’t often move too much, but typically tracks with three day dietary fat in a positive correlation. More fat, more HDL. Between the two of us, we correlated a solid 71%.


This next piece of data is extremely relevant to me (which I’ll get into in the theory post). It also tends to have a high standard deviation relative to the other markers from my past tests. However — in this case it was remarkably close in comparison to each other’s at a 77%. Incredible!


So here is where things get interesting. On both LDL-P and Small LDL-P, Darla and I track very closely with the exception of the very last data point (7/18). In fact, the metric is so off course as to be suspicious to me. Up to that test, we had been eating everything identically as with the others, so what happened?

I’m loathe to suggest a lab error, especially since the non-P metrics appear to line up correctly. But unfortunately, there’s no easy way to find out as I have no direct contact with the lab (as it should be). For now, I’ll list both the complete results and what the correlation is without it and you can judge for yourself.



It’s hard to quantify in words how happy I am that we captured this data and confirmed the previous patterns I’ve observed to this point. Our next steps will a new N, Nicole Recine, a Ketogenic Practitioner who has graciously accepted being our #3. We’re currently in the planning phase and hope to set up the next capture in the coming weeks.

I couldn’t end this article without given a very sizable thanks to my sister, Darla, and her contribution to this science.

Cholesterol Code – Part IV : Still Correlating… in the reverse

I just attended Low Carb USA at San Diego where I shared much of the data below. And while I was interested in a possible divergence that seemed to appear at the end of May in Part III, it turned out to be more of a one-off, probably due to a higher percentage of protein and a lower percentage of fat than my usual ratio.

In upcoming Part V, I’ll be revealing some new data on a “second N” to my study. I should have that up within the week.

For now, note that the new 21 to 28 data points include a 9 day period where I once again did a total of 7 days of blood draws. Thus, we again can see this mechanism in nearly real time.

I’ll let the graphs speak for themselves…

Three Day Average of Dietary Fat vs the LDL-C in the resulting blood test. The LDL-C still tracks inversely with total fat. (-81%)

Three Day Average of Dietary Fat in the three days before blood draw vs LDL-C of the resulting test

Same blood tests, same dietary fat, but for HDL-C — which clearly tracks positively higher total fat. (65%)

Three Day Average of Dietary Fat in the three days before blood draw vs HDL-C of the resulting test

Same blood tests, same dietary fat — but with a 2 day gap in between (Days -5, -4, and -3), but for LDL-P — which tracks inversely with higher total fat. (-82%)


And finally, same blood tests, same dietary fat — but with a 2 day gap in between (Days -5, -4, and -3), but for small LDL-P — which tracks inversely with higher total fat. (-72%)


If by this point you don’t see this is a highly regulated, highly responsive network in the lipid system (at least for my N=1), then you think I’m some kind of X-Men mutant. (In which case, I dib the name, Captain Cholesterol)

But seriously…

I now have very high confidence that this regulatory pattern is likely present with virtually everyone who is fat adapted (getting the majority of their energy via fat) without an underlying metabolic condition.

It’s also quite possible this applies to those who are not fat adapted yet still with no underlying metabolic condition. For that, we’d need more study.

Now with 28 NMRs, Low Carb USA, and Upcoming Part IV

Greetings again, my friends! These past four weeks have been pretty packed and my next three weeks will be no different. That said, I’ve managed plug in a lot more NMRs due to the experiment I’ve been conducting which involved another week of successive blood draws, bringing the total to a whopping 28! In so doing, it appears the “diversion” I wondered about in Part III of the series appears to be a one-off. (See graphic below)

Tonight I’ll be flying to San Diego to attend the Low Carb USA conference this weekend. I’m excited to update a number of the doctors I’m typically connecting with over Twitter and email. I already have five meetings and am getting worried about my bandwidth impacting my lecture attendance. It’s gonna be busy!

I have completed a fairly involved experiment a couple weeks ago which I’ll be previewing at the conference to a number of people, and for which I’ll have posted here at the blog before August 8th (as Part IV of the series) to coincide with my discussing it on Jimmy Moore’s Living La Vita Low Carb Show. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited to share the results.


Prediction Contest

Note from Dave: This post is actually a replacement due to the previous Twitter Prediction post being weirdly targeted by spambots.

If you’ve read my series up to this point, you know the pattern being identified should be not only be reproducible, but predictive. So for my 22nd blood test, I decided to have a little fun. Instead of predicting about where it landed myself, I tweeted…

I got three: Raphi Sirt ‏@raphaels7, Richard Morris ‏@khiron, and Jeff Winkler ‏@winkler1. I invited them to a secret page with these instructions:

  1. Review the graph below. It has 21 points plotted in the red line and 22 points plotted in the blue.
  2. Make your best guess as to where the next point will be on the red line.
  3. Tweet a funny sentence about anything that includes:
    1. @DaveKeto
    2. #Predict
    3. (Your predicted number)

Click here for the larger sized graph


They followed up with these tweets:

Reminder — all these tweets are dated July 7, 2016, the night before my blood test.

To replot the graph with their predictions:


The LDL-C result from my July 8th test just came in Friday and is as follows:


And thus, here’s the updated graph with the new 283 result plotted on the red line:


Here’s the close up:


Thus making Jeff Winkler @winkler1 the winner!

If you’re wondering how I could have three total strangers could predict where my cholesterol numbers would be in such a tight range, you haven’t been reading my series! (See Part I, Part II, and Part III)

Cholesterol Code – Part III : The Divergence

In Part I, I shared the data of my first 15 cholesterol blood tests and how closely it correlates with dietary fat. To recap:

  1. My cholesterol baseline jumped after starting a ketogenic diet, which led me to do close blood testing against a theory I had on the lipid system appearing as a network (more on that theory later)
  2. If the theory had merit, there would be two tenants to assume:
    1. The cholesterol transporting lipid system would prove to be agile – much more so than is typically believed (this appears to be accurate).
    2. Discrete patterns should emerge between the diet and serum cholesterol now that disruptive inflammation is lower (this certainly appeared to be the case).
  3. After the testing, my bloodwork showed the following:
    1. The more fat I ate, the lower my Total Cholesterol. (87% inverted correlation)
    2. The more fat I ate, the lower my LDL-C. (90% inverted correlation)
    3. The more fat I ate, the lower my Triglycerides. (61% inverted correlation)
    4. The more fat I ate, the higher my HDL-C. (74% correlation)


In Part II, we moved beyond LDL-C into total and small LDL-P and their differences in the findings.

  1. LDL-P and small LDL-P appeared to have a correlation with a three day average of dietary fat as like LDL-C, but with a key exception of adding a two day gap between the dietary period and the blood test.
  2. Small LDL-P appeared to correlate closely with LDL-P but at a higher gain to loss ratio.
  3. Both LDL-P and small LDL-P proved to be extremely agile and easily ramped up or cleared when observing via daily blood tests (data points 9-14). In fact, shifts in the hundreds of particles per day were easily achieved in either direction.


The Ratio Problem

If I were playing devil’s advocate to my own research up to this point, I could make the case that we can’t be completely certain my LDL cholesterol was inverting with fat, since the same could be said for protein. After all, my protein intake ran very proportional to my fat intake, even if at a smaller fraction. When running Three Day Average Protein against the LDL-C, I also got a significantly close correlation at -0.789




Thus, we need to have at least one experiment to have a lopsided ratio of one against the other relative to the ketogenic ratios.

The Intended Divergence

Me being me, I decided to do two tests: one with a Super High Fat (SHF) ratio 95% fat / 4% protein / 1% net carbs for three days, and one with a Super High Protein (SHP) ratio 50% fat / 45% protein / 3% net carbs for three days. And finally, I added a third test in the following four days at closer to my usual ketogenic ratio with 75% fat / 21% protein / 4% net carbs  to see if my numbers snapped back into the original correlation.


 fat_sprint  protein_sprint  snap_back

To meet the requirements for the Super High Fat sprint, I averaged 293g fat, 31g protein, and 4g net carbs.

Here’s a sampling of the food I was eating over those three days:


Here are the results:




Sure enough, at a preposterously high ratio of fat to protein, my inversion correlation appears to still follow the fat, not the protein. My blood ketone levels (BHB) over these days were 2.1, 2.1, and 1.4 respectively.

Then I switched to Super High Protein. Over these three days I averaged 119g fat, 233g protein, 13g net carbs.

I was actually looking forward to this part of the experiment given I’ve always been a big fan of meat. In fact, I wondered if I wouldn’t get hooked on the higher protein ratio due to how much more meat I was allowed to consume.

Here’s a sampling of the food I ate:


But then something unexpected happened…


In addition to all this biometric data I collect, I also keep regular notes on any unusual aches, nausea, or pretty much anything I feel that seems out of the ordinary. As I was getting to the end of the Super High Protein sprint, it was the only time I felt gastrointestinal distress that I associate with my days before the diet. It was a familiar feeling, but certainly not one I was missing.

I likewise felt heavier and less energetic, taking a nap on two of the three days. While I knew I was generating a higher glucose load via Gluconeogenesis due to all the protein, I actually rechecked all my food labels to make sure I didn’t accidentally eat something high in carbs.

Here are the results:


Inverted with overlays…


No question – we have a clear divergence where LDL-C does not follow dietary protein for the last two data points, Very High Fat (VHF) and and Very High Protein (VHP). Note it didn’t follow the dietary fat for this period either:


It’s worth taking a moment to point out two very important observations.

First, if my only goal was to reduce my “bad cholesterol,” this would appear as good news. Assuming this trend held, having higher protein and less fat would result in lower LDL-C. As you can see from the graph above, were the inverse correlation holding, the lower 119g of fat would likely push up the LDL-C to around 323 rather than the 263 we see instead.

However, the energy level and GI issues I was experiencing were certainly a drawback. It also seemed to fall in line with the second tenet of my theory if it was causing inflammation.

See, here’s where the dark side of my theory comes in. What if there are steps I can take which lower my LDL cholesterol but only because it increases inflammation and/or oxidative stress? I might interpret this as a good outcome when it’s happening because, as everyone well knows, lowering dangerous cholesterol is all that matters.

Yet what if my body is sending me the correct signals in the first place? High Carb = feel slower, with occasional GI issues.  Low Carb, High Fat = feel great with little to no issues. High Protein, Moderate Fat = same as High Carb.

I decided to do my final data point to follow the VHF and VHP, which did snap back to the correlation envelope. I then went on the Low Carb Cruise and connected with a few more doctors to discuss the data. After getting back, I did my 19th and 20th NMR with the intent to bring all my data to this blog by the end of May.

But I was in for one more twist. The biggest yet, in fact.

The Unintended Divergence

Here are all 18 NMRs where I was on the normal ketogenic diet (removing the SHF and SHP data points) with inversion:


Spot anything unusual?

Yes, data point 18 at the far right shows the largest single divergence in the correlation of any other coupling in this graph. Was it a lab error with my blood? Was it something I ate or drank differently?

The only major change I made was cutting out diet soda the week before (primarily Coke Zero). So I first kept to no diet soda for another week and did one more test just to be sure it wasn’t a lab error. The divergence appeared to hold (see below with 19).

After that, I went to town with Coke Zero for three days to see if it would spike the correlation to the other side. It seemed outlandish to think aspartame could have kept my cholesterol artificially high, but I had to be sure. Again, the divergence held (see below with 20).


This new data suggests my LDL-C has been dropping all on its own (and by extension, Total Cholesterol).

But data points 17-20 did not significantly change the correlations of HDL-C, LDL-P, or small LDL-P. In fact, it improved them slightly.

Other Markers Improve Correlation

HDL-C had a -0.733 before, now it is -0.761.


LDL-P had a -0.812 before, now it is -0.845.



LDL-P had a -0.726 before, now it is -0.781.



Next Steps

Will data points 1-16 represent a temporary “phase” of my diet with regard to LDL-C, proving 17-20 as the New Normal? Or is it the other way around? Your guess is as good as mine given the 6/9/16 test was the last one I took as of this posting.

The next blood test I’m taking is this week and it will be a very large combo pack of CMP, CRP, A1C, and other goodies in addition to the NMR. I’ll need to as I’ll be making some large changes to my exercise schedule. Starting next weekend I’ll be training for half marathons in the coming months. Will it start to impact my numbers? Stay tuned…

Coming soon – The Lipid Network Theory (Or “What Led Me Down This Rabbit Hole in the First Place”)