Saturated Fat as Heavy Whipping Cream
Heavy whipping cream served as a sort of “baseline” or control and was used twice in the experiment, for the Week 0 “washout” and in Week 2 after the PUFAs. Most of my analysis is based on comparing the other results to HWC.
Saturated fat has been considered “bad” for health since Ancel Keys falsified data in his “Seven Countries” study in 1953. A myriad of Senate committees, USDA policies, and other recommendations have followed – giving us the current common belief that saturated fat will “clog arteries” even though fats can’t traffic through your blood unless they are encased in a lipoprotein.
Despite all that, my blood tests on HWC look quite good; with triglycerides typically near or below 100, relatively normal HDL numbers, and LDL numbers that are irrelevant to all-cause mortality but rather normal as well. =) Given the amount of saturated fat I typically consume via HWC, most diet experts would assume I would be dead already.
Polyunsaturated Fat as Grape Seed Oil
Polyunsaturated fats are highly reactive with multiple double bonds in their molecular structure. They readily oxidize and were simply impossible to manufacture before advances in processing slowed rancidity sufficiently for them last long enough to be sold. Coming into the experiment, I expected PUFAs to increase inflammation and also lower my LDL. The lowering of LDL-C is the primary reason you’ll see “Heart Healthy” seed oils recommended by the American Heart Association and other “health” organizations. The ironic thing about PUFAs is many experts now believe that you may have a lower number of LDL particles because they become damaged by the free radicals associated with PUFA consumption and are removed from circulation by scavengers!
- LDL-Particles (hereafter “LDL-P”) – reduced significantly from 1242 to 849. Small LDL-P (LDL particles that have depleted their payload) also went down slightly
- LDL-Cholesterol (hereafter “LDL-C”) – was indeed reduced as well, from 116 to 72.
- Total Cholesterol went down considerably from 189 to 139. Triglycerides were raised from 104 to 117.
- HDL-P and HDL-C were reduced as well, which is universally considered a very bad result.
- It may be psychosomatic (I expected it to happen and it did) – my plantar fasciitis in my right foot started to return. I hadn’t experienced an issue with it since starting a ketogenic diet over 3 years prior.
In summary: Polyunsaturated fats do indeed appear to lower total cholesterol and LDL in particular. They also lower HDL (which is bad), raise triglycerides (also bad), and increase oxidative stress and inflammation (really bad).
Monounsaturated Fat as Macadamia Nut Oil
Monounsaturated fats are far more stable with a single double-bond in their molecular structure. They do not oxidize as easily (which we recognize as going rancid) which is why oils high in monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil) have been used for thousands of years. I chose Macadamia Nut oil because it has a higher percentage of MUFAs than olive or avocado oils.
- LDL-P increased compared to HWC, LDL-C decreased. Small LDL-P increased significantly from 299 to 519
- HDL-P and HDL-C both came to an all-time low at 27.1 and 40, respectively.
- The big news is that my triglycerides spiked: going from 94 to 148 – not nearly as distinctive as the spike while on avocado oil but definitive enough to safely conclude that the dramatic increase in my triglycerides during the earlier experiment was due to the MUFAs and NOT the PUFAs in the avocado oil.
MUFAs caused an increase in LDL and a decrease in HDL with a major increase in triglycerides.
Saturated Fat and Medium Chain Triglycerides as Liquid Coconut Oil
I wanted to use liquid coconut oil due to its high concentration of medium length fatty acids (MCTs). MCTs are metabolized differently compared to longer chain fats and will cause the production of ketones even in individuals eating higher amounts of carbohydrates than typical in a well-formulated ketogenic diet. MCTs also act as a confounder by skewing lipid profile results, so I was anxious to see how it would compare against the longer saturated fats in HWC. Initially, I used an LCO that was 93% MCT but that came with severe gastrointestinal problems and I switched to a different brand with approximately 50% MCTs. It’s generally recommended to not exceed 45ml of MCTs a day and I was doing 180ml initially with around 80ml thereafter.
- Until this point, there was a distinctive inversion pattern of LDL-C and Triglycerides. One would go up and the other would correspondingly go down – and vice-versa. That ended with LCO/MCTs. My triglycerides went down but so did my LDL-C, it actually reached the lowest level I’ve ever had on a test: 56.
- My LDL-P also decreased, nearly by half: from 996 on MUFAs to 567 which is insanely low and lower than you will typically ever see for a strict vegan. Strangely, my small LDL-P decreased from my MUFA result but it was still higher than my PUFA and HWC results. At 340, my small LDL-P accounted for 60% of all my LDL particles (this made Dave Feldman pretty excited).
- My HDL-C went through the roof, with my highest ever result of 61 (amazing!).
- My triglycerides came back down to 103 (normal)
My results getting most of my calories for a week on Saturated fat in the form of MCTs in LCO are astounding, especially in light of the current recommendations to lower cholesterol by avoiding saturated fat. It’s likely that much of the result came from the Medium Chain Triglycerides being converted into ketone bodies and bypassing the lipid transport system, but my blood ketone levels that week were only slightly higher than my weeks doing PUFAs and MUFAs. My Fasting insulin also increased to 8.4, for which I have no explanation (seriously, it’s just plain weird!).
Would I recommend using LCO/MCTs? Yes, in moderation; but please, please, please! do not attempt to use it exclusively as I did. I was fortunate to have recently installed a bidet. If you want to use MCT oil I would recommend a maximum of 15ml (1 tablespoon) per meal. I also know what I’m going to do next time I apply for a life insurance policy and they want to base my premium and coverage on a cholesterol blood test =)
Sugars and Carbohydrates as Dextrose, Skittles, Sprite, and “M & M’s”
As earlier stated, the main reason for including this was to thoroughly disprove the notion that all calories are equal so far as weight loss is concerned. It also proved interesting to see what it did to my lipid panel.
- My small LDL-P remained constant while my LDL-P went back up to 915.
- My LDL-C went back up to 84 and my total cholesterol went up to 173 (which is about normal for me).
- My triglycerides hit their highest level ever. At 201 they were higher than the level during my week of avocado oil in San Francisco during the prior experiment.
- My HDL-C and HDL-P went back down and my remnant cholesterol increased dramatically.
- My (12-hour fasting) insulin hit 10.1 – the highest number I’ve ever had, and my blood glucose also went up.
It should be noted that before I started Keto, I was not diabetic. My fasting glucose numbers were OK (under 100) so there wasn’t a major heath risk doing this part of the experiment. That said, I WAS insulin resistant, as evidenced by my mass and was likely pre-diabetic. I can’t know for certain as I didn’t test my insulin until recently and never performed a Kraft test.
Aside from the regression in weight loss (which I’ll cover next), my week of doing high carbs and low fat was a train wreck for my overall health and wellness. It’s difficult to express in writing how anxious I was to get back to a ketogenic way of eating and lifestyle. I was fortunate to not have some of the GI problems people have when they “cheat” on Keto, I think it’s likely due to being able to absorb fructose OK and the cessation of the craziness in ingesting that much LCO/MCTs just prior – my body was happy for a reprieve =). It was interesting to go back to burning glucose for the first time in over 3 years. I didn’t really like the way it felt and I have no plan to repeat this kind of experiment on myself.
Analysis of the weight change: