One mystery that comes from cleaning up your diet and following a keto lifestyle (high animal protein, moderate fat, low carb — consumed intermittently) is the often-reported rise in LDL cholesterol. I experienced this myself. While keto increases your “bad” cholesterol, it also improves all markers of insulin sensitivity: your HbA1c decreases, your fasted insulin level falls, your ratio of triglycerides to HDL drops (your HDL goes up and your triglycerides go down). The root cause of heart disease, like all metabolic dysfunction, is insulin resistance. Why would a diet that improves your metabolic health cause your LDL to go up?
On Twitter, I follow a heart surgeon who says half the patients on his operating table have cholesterol scores that fall within the normal range. He feels bamboozled by mainstream medical guidance and uses his account to share the reality of his professional experience.
One of this doctor’s most important tweets said: “Cholesterol is part of the repair mechanism for the damage that is done by poor metabolic health.” I replied in a way that shortened his message: “Heart disease causes cholesterol.”
Public health charlatans have embedded the cholesterol myth so deeply in our culture that simple questions about biology become profound insights. One individual watching this Twitter thread jumped in and asked: “Does it matter if the cholesterol involved in the repair process is HDL or LDL?” In essence, he’s asking — what is it exactly that makes HDL good and LDL bad?
Does one in a thousand laypeople know? One in a thousand doctors?
Here is some fitness alpha: HDL and LDL are lipoproteins that transport cholesterol around the body. LDL is responsible for transporting cholesterol to the cells that need it — the site of injury. HDL transports cholesterol back to the liver. If you point the heart disease/cholesterol causation arrow in the right direction, LDL is neither good nor bad, but rather part of an incredibly important healing process.
So why does LDL go up when your metabolic health improves? My theory is that your body starts to heal itself with greater intensity and efficiency, sending MORE cholesterol to the places that need it. In fact, LDL cholesterol scores are inversely associated with a wide range of diseases including lung cancer, sleep disorders, depression, and osteoporosis.
Additionally, part of the LDL hoax comes from blood test clinics collaborating with Big Pharma to devise LDL ranges. On my most recent Quest Diagnostics test, it said the desirable LDL range is <100. (Mine was 140.) As a result, every patient eating an ancestral diet who has lost weight and improved insulin sensitivity gets flagged with a red HIGH warning. You’ve just become a candidate for statins, and your doctor has the results to prove it. What a scam.
It’s worth noting that an extreme low carb diet for a long period of time can cause your LDL to rise because your thyroid is broken. You need some insulin to activate your thyroid hormone. When thyroid hormone levels are low, your body doesn’t remove LDL cholesterol as efficiently. If you’re suffering from actual hypothyroidism and not health propaganda, you’d know it.