A Very Different Path
If you haven’t already, be sure to first read Part 1 of this experiment by Siobhan Huggins.
Originally, Siobhan and I were going to simply do the same protocol at the same time, perhaps something similar to the one I did with my sister two years ago. But it occurred to me that it might be much more interesting if we tested both directions in lowering LDL that would lend further evidence to the Lipid Energy Model.
I began exploring the idea of going carb-centric in order to showcase this shift in energy metabolism having a likewise effect on my cholesterol. But while I’m at it, why not go big? Why not choose foods that would achieve the task yet from a category no one would associate with “healthy” or “whole food”? I settled on white bread and processed meat.
And heck, while I’m at it, I should exceed my prior levels of carb intake to drop below my previous fasting record LDL of 103 mg/dL, courtesy of the Capstone Experiment. In fact, I predicted this outcome and shot a video in advance of the experiment.
Whereas Siobhan was invoking the Inversion Pattern on her end of the experiment, I was straight up changing my metabolic pathway. As mentioned in the video above, I was moving from a fat-based metabolism to a glucose-based metabolism.
I had originally wanted to hold out on the “Peak Levels” until I saw that plateau I mention in the video above. But honestly, the massive levels of glucose throughout this experiment being indicated by my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) was making me very uncomfortable. Thus, once below 100, I found myself ramping down soon (starting at 9/25).
For some perspective, here’s my CGM before this experiment (while keto):
You see that slight rise about 2/3rds of the way in? That’s when my glucose was just 105 mg/dL. Yes, that’s how steady this graph is when I’m fully keto — you can’t even tell when I’ve eaten.
You see that vertical line on the left side? That’s marking that peak at 183 mg/dL (shown in upper left). In other words, I’m clearly riding massive waves of high glucose throughout this experiment. While I expected this going in, it sure doesn’t help the ol’ psyche to see it in real time… although it does make for some good data.
The CardioChek Data
Let’s combine all three cholesterol markers into a single graph:
During the Ramp Up period where my carbs were slowly being increased, we don’t see a big drop in LDL, nor an increase in triglycerides (TG). Yet once entering into the Peak Levels portion, this changes and we observe LDL dropping dramatically while TG rises in kind.
The Lab Data
I took a total of three lab draws. One on the 17th right before the ramp up, one on the 24th which was midway in, and one on the 28th at the very end of the experiment. Ideally, I’d have had even one more at the end of the Peak Levels period, but I just didn’t know for certain when that would be and if I could get into the lab in time.
I actually got quite a bit of data, but I’m going to highlight the most notable ones here:
Certainly the two that most stood out to me were the Ferritin and Glucagon.
The Ferritin dropping to 11 seems like a legit lab error. For context, note that I’m quite experienced with Ferritin as it is the one marker I’ve most worried about. Before Keto it was in the 500s and remained as such into the diet. However, in recent times it was in the 200s (as shown above). I’ve never seen it below 200, much less lower than 20. Thus, lab error is my my top suspect. (But hey, if it wasn’t, that would be quite a find!)
I blame Ben Bikman for the money I’ve been putting out to test Glucagon <shaking fist>. That said, I think I may be getting the value of Glucagon a lot more this time around. Rather than share my own thoughts on this (for now), I’ll let commenters pontificate down below as to why my fasting Glucagon did go down correspondingly with the rise of fasting insulin and why that last score of 80 pg/mL was actually the highest number I’ve gotten to date.
Of all the experiments I’ve done to date, this one was the most mood-altering, hands down. While I’d like to think I’m usually optimistic, fun-loving, and easy-going in most situations, instead I was much more irritable, temperamental, and chronically anxious. I just flat out complained several fold more, even though a lot of it was repetitive. Even more frustrating was that I was self aware of it but couldn’t seem to help myself.
I actually have several anecdotes from that period that are a bit embarrassing to reflect on. But surely the worst was my wanting to post a complaint I had with a company on Twitter. I didn’t ultimately do this, but it’s quite weird that I ever even considered it in the first place. It’s so not me.
I should emphasize that I don’t think this was strictly a carb thing by any means. I’ve done other carb-based experiments that brought me some issues but didn’t always alter my mood appreciably. I don’t think even the most avid high carb low fat advocate would push for an all white bread and lean meat diet.
Yes, while I mainly focus on cholesterol and lipids, I’ve become very aware that certain combinations of diet in these experiments will have profound impacts on my mood in many ways: temperament, irritability, contentment, and even the axis of outlook on life.
(Not So) Final Thoughts
There’s actually a lot more to unpack with this experiment than I’ve laid out here. The key goal was achieved in making for a record change in my LDL cholesterol over seven days. It came at a cost, of course, and I’d never settle for the resulting HDL and triglyceride levels I was observing during the experiment.