Cholesterol levels have gone up

This topic contains 21 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  sanjay_ahl 5 years, 3 months ago.

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  • Hi
    I began the 5:2 diet 3 months ago, except that I have been doing 4 days of fasting (600 or less on each of those days) – and less than 1000 on the non fast days.
    I no longer eat meat and I am cycling 30km a day.
    So far, I have lost 13 kgs and I feel much healthier.
    I now regularly eat nuts, fruits, legumes, oats and fresh vegetables.
    I recently had a lipid test and while my Triglycerides have dropped slightly, my LDL levels have shot UP to 4.68.

    How can this be? I am doing everything I was told to do to bring down the LDL levels, and instead they have increased.

    The only thing that I can think of is – and it is my only vice (I do not smoke or drink) – I like to have coffee in the morning with milk and sugar. IS this alone making my LDL levels rise so much?

    My doctor wants to put me on statins but I prefer my diet to do the same job – but it isn’t and I am really concerned.

    Hi quiet:

    There is cholesterol in fat cells. When you lose weight, cholesterol is released into the blood. So your cholesterol can go up as a result of your losing weight, especially when you lose a lot of weight quickly.

    If you want to know more about cholesterol, the first 10 minutes of this lecture is interesting:

    Good Luck!

    Thanks ever so much for your feedback. I will continue eating healthily and exercising and will check my levels again in 3 or 4 months.


    Wow – what an informative video. But why, then, are doctors telling people about the need to reduce cholesterol, when it seems that raised cholesterol levels are actually NOT a bad thing?

    Hi quiet:

    The concern about human cholesterol levels came about as a direct result of the adoption of the low fat diet. Before the low fat diet became a requirement for heart health and long life, and at a time when heart disease was almost non existent, doctors were entirely unconcerned with human cholesterol levels. But because cholesterol is fat, and fat was by definition bad if you believed in the low fat mantra, you had to do anything possible to reduce the fat in the bloodstream. It was believed, wrongly, that cholesterol in the diet increased cholesterol in the blood, and that fat in the diet increased cholesterol in the blood, and so by fiat cholesterol in the blood was bad. But there was not and still is not any research supporting that belief. But most doctors still are not aware of the research debunking the low fat diet, and remain unaware of the research showing cholesterol is actually good. They seem to forget, if they ever really knew, that cholesterol is so important for human life that the body actually manufactures it for fear of dying if it does not have enough.

    Some point to statins as evidence that low cholesterol levels are good. That is because people that take statins have fewer heart attacks, and, of course, statins reduce cholesterol levels. But while there is a correlation, causation has never been proven. Research is now showing that statins are extremely potent and operate in many ways (good and bad) on the cellular level. It now appears that the heart attack benefit received from taking statins is not a result of the lower cholesterol levels caused by the statins but of something else the statins do to the body. And it remains unclear whether the lower heart attack rate gained from taking statins is offset by a higher death rate from other causes that result from lower cholesterol levels.

    Even though my cholesterol levels are ‘normal’, current medical practice would have me taking statins anyway. Personally, as the research shows the more cholesterol I have the longer I live, I prefer to not take any potent drugs that may cause my limited lifespan to be reduced even further!

    Thank you for such a detailed response. It was very interesting watching the video link you shared. However, one aspect still concerns me: if there is not direct correlation between heart disease and cholesterol – is there a causal link between high LDL and strokes?
    In other words, will elevated cholesterol levels lead to having a stroke?

    Hi quiet:

    I can’t answer that because I am aware of no on point research. It is sort of like splitting hairs. Heart disease and stroke are often lumped together in the literature. The general answer is that both heart disease and strokes increased with the advent of the low fat diet. As research on high fat diets has been ‘discouraged’ for decades, it will take some time to get the research machine to focus on the benefits or shortcomings of a high fat diet. Here is an article posted on another thread that may explain a little more:

    The general advice is to do what you think appropriate for you. 5:2 works regardless of the food you eat because it focuses on calories.

    Good Luck!

    In Dr. Fung’s lecture # 6 he does show the evidence that higher cholesterol reduced stroke and fatal heart events. At least that’s how I recall it. It’s a long lecture. But it is what made me think and research and I did stop taking Lipitor one of the strongest Statins though they did lower my LDL the side effects were horrid.

    If you have no history of early death by stroke or heart events, and don’t presently show signs of atherosclerosis. I’d give it sometime and see what occurs. I would get tested monthly if you can afford to, in some countries that isn’t an option due to cost.

    A stress test and a CT heart scan and/or angiogram to check for atherosclerosis might not be a bad idea either. But then I’m not you, nor am I a Dr. or play one on TV. Your mileage may vary

    You didn’t mention what had happened to your HDL. It’s all about the ratios!if your tri’s have decreased your HDL increased, it might well negate the rise in LDL. You can’t look at any of these 3 figures in isolation, they have to be taken as a whole and the ratios of good to bad fats considered.

    Hi Westi:

    I’m afraid the doctors really have no idea what cholesterol is good and what is bad. Or even if good or bad can apply, much less a ratio of one to the other. It seems that people with a lot of ‘good’ cholesterol have a much higher risk of heart attack.

    I’ll stick with the old fashioned research, that simply says more total cholesterol is good, less is bad.

    Hi Sim, the link shows that high HDL is bad for people with a ‘rare genetic mutation’, in other words, not the general population. I’m not sure I can agree with your last sentence that more total cholesterol is better than less either.

    Research is always bringing about changes and that’s why science is so amazing, it’s not afraid to say it’s wrong. So from my point of view, I’m happy to go with the whole ratio idea with regard to cholesterol. I’m a bit of a convert to the high fat low carb diet and so am not someone who sees fats as all bad, in other words, I’m not a cholesterol worrier, after all, it’s essential for life, I just don’t want LDL that’s way out of proportion to the other lipids.

    Hi Westi:

    The ‘rare genetic disorder’ causes high good cholesterol. So they had more of the good stuff than the average person. And they had a much higher risk of heart attack.

    I’ll stick with more total is better, and not worry about which kind or what ratio.

    Hi Sim,

    It’s certainly an interesting study as I have just had a quick look at it, although to me it seems more about certain receptors not functioning because of the rare mutation, that then has the effect we are discussing. However, I do take your point that high HDL probably doesn’t automatically mean ‘good’, it’s more about how the body uses the HDL more than the actual amount.

    Have a look at this:

    On a separate note, how are you getting on with the 5:2? I’m in my 3rd or 4th week but can’t remember which!!

    Hi Westi:

    Three years plus in and I’m doing fine. After experimenting with maintenance last year and coming in one pound different than when I started the year, I’m on track to lose another 20 pounds this year.

    If people would just do 5:2 and not worry about everything else, they would do just fine!

    Hi Sim, you are doing fantastically; well done!

    I want to lose weight but I am also drawn to the 5:2 because of the other benefits it brings with regard to allowing the body to repair itself; I found Michael Moseley’s documentary fascinating.

    Speak soon


    I’m age 58, male, from Minnesota. I started doing 5-2 as a way of eating back in April, after seeing a national news report on the diet on NBC news.

    My results on 5-2 have been awesome, as I have lost 23 pounds (about 10% of total body weight) in just over 3 months, and am currently at 221 pounds. My goal is 7 more pounds and then I’ll switch to 6-1 for maintenance.

    With the weight loss and new way of eating, I was looking forward to my annual physical exam last week, especially regarding what the blood work would show.

    I was surprised to see that my cholesterol (for the first time ever) was unacceptable according the American Heart Association guidelines. My doctor recommended that I begin taking a statin drug to correct it. Also, my blood pressure was borderline unacceptable on the high side.

    This didn’t make any sense to me, so I’m glad I found this topic addressed here on the 5-2 blog.

    I searched the internet and found an article by Dr. William Davis (dated June 5, 2012), and learned this info below (in quotations):

    “When you lose weight, you are mobilizing energy stored as fat. That fat is mobilized as fatty acids and triglycerides into the bloodstream. 10 pounds lost, for instance, means the equivalent of 35,000 calories of fat released into the bloodstream.
    These fatty acids are not alone. They interact with the other elements in the bloodstream. In particular, this flood of fatty acids:
    —Block insulin–and thereby increase blood sugar. A non-diabetic can even become transiently diabetic during weight loss.
    —Increase triglycerides–A starting triglyceride level of, say, 120 mg/dl, can increase to 180 mg/dl during active weight loss. (Triglycerides contain fatty acids.)
    —Decreased HDL–Excess fatty acids and triglycerides modify HDL particles, causing their degradation and elimination. A starting HDL of 45 mg/dl can drop to 28 mg/dl, for example.
    —LDL measures go haywire–The conventional calculated LDL cholesterol, or even generally superior measures like apoprotein B or NMR LDL particle number, can go in any direction rather unpredictably: They can go up, down, or sideways. Likewise, the (miserably useless) total cholesterol value can go up, down, or sideways.
    —Increased blood pressure–This is likely due to the enhanced artery constriction that occurs due to increased endothelial dysfunction, i.e., dysfunction of the normal relaxation mechanisms of arteries.

    The key is to recognize these phenomena as nothing more than part of weight loss and the inevitable mobilization of fatty acids into the bloodstream. Accordingly, decisions should not be made based on these values, since they are transient. Your doctor will likely try to push hypertension medication, statin drugs, fibrate drugs, diabetes drugs.

    As a practical matter, avoid having blood drawn until weight has plateaued for at least 4 weeks and these changes are allowed to reverse. Only then will you know what you have achieved.”

    I wanted to share the above info with others who might be wondering why their cholesterol and BP might appear to be off after they have lost weight.

    My personal plan is to wait another 6 months, when my new weight will be stabilized and consistent, and then I shall have my blood work done again. I anticipate the results will be within normal, acceptable ranges. Cheers…….

    Hi mnman58 . Thanks for your post! I was about to arrange for a cholestrol test as I’ve lost 9kg since May on 5.2. My cholestrol is high, last total at 9 in Dec but After suffering severe side effects when on statins (brought it down to 5.6 in 3weeks!) I took myself off them and determined to eat a healthy mediterranean diet and lose weight. This with increased exercise, I feel great! I really could do with losing another 7/8kg, I’m focused and on track!

    I think I will have BP and cholestrol levels checked, it’ll be interesting!

    I have tried IF and my cholesterol reading went up! So, fasting doesn’t work for me. I believe fasting may help with the cholesterol levels of someone who is overweight and has an unhealthy lifestyle and then loses a lot of weight. I am slim with high cholesterol. I cannot tolerate statins, so will have to soldier on alone, eating healthy and exercising. I did lose a little weight on the fasting diet.

    Thanks everyone for posting! I have just had my first cholesterol test for many years, and came in at 8.1, which was a big surprise to me. I have lost a stone since March this year, on the 5:2, and we have cut down a lot on eating full-fat cheese, and on our calories in general. We eat red meat only about once a month, and I almost never drink alcohol. The GP is keep to put me on statins, but I am not going down that route. there is no history of Heart disease or stroke in my family, and I alway react badly to prescribed drugs. So I will get tested again in six months or so. And try and take a bit more exercise, and cut down on sugar a bit more. The body is such a complicated organism, and I believe mine will find the best balance for me if I take good care of it. 5:2 works so well for me. I have learned so much about myself while on the diet – both mentally and physically.

    Hi all,
    Such an interesting thread, after my last post I tried to have my bloods done but they zaid it was too soon after my one earlier in the year!
    However I have just had one and wasn’t happy! Total 9.3 HDL – 2.13 – LDL 6.2 trigs 2.1 Ratio 4.4.

    Mnman58 thankyou for that article It does make sense! I’ve gone from BMI of 28.5 down to 23.5 since May this year.

    Sim thanks for you posts – very helpful as always!

    I think I’ll carry on to goal, just 10lbs to lose. Then maintain for 6months before persuading the Dr to do another test!

    I know my diet is good and healthy but I need to up my exercise.

    I’ve been doing alternate day fasting for 16 weeks and have dropped 15kg, and am now 1 kg off my football playing weight. So am really pleased with that.

    Prior to fasting I was diagnosed with dyslipidemia with both total (5.8) and LDL (3.6) cholesterol above the recommended range, and triglycerides (2.6) well above the recommended range. So I was put on a minimum dose of statins.

    Post fasting (and statins) these blood results have totally reversed, and the dyslipidemia has disappeared. The total cholesterol (3.5) has fallen BELOW the minimum recommended level, so I’ve come off the statins. The LDL cholesterol (1.8) has dropped to the bottom of the recommended range, HDL cholesterol (1.3) has increased to near the top of the recommended range. And the triglycerides (0.9) have plummeted towards the bottom of the recommended range. All outstanding results according to conventional medical dogma, but is that dogma right?

    Have a details discussion with your doctor. Ask him what are the risks you face if you take the statins vs if you don’t take them. I would stick to the format of the 5:2 diet instead of reducing your calories on all days which makes it the 7/7 diet.

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