It is totally possible to lower your cholesterol, naturally and quickly, without having to go on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
You heard me right.
I’ve recently had a client lower their cholesterol nearly 40 points and their triglycerides 50 points in the first 2 months of working together.
The beautiful thing was he did it without going on any cholesterol-lowering medications or supplements, and actually increased his consumption of meat and butter.
This post and YouTube video will breakdown what we did to achieve these fantastic results.
- What lab marker I consider to be a better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol.
- The actionable steps we took to lower my client’s cholesterol that you can start implementing today.
- My ultimate tip for long-term success.
It’s a common misconception that you NEED to avoid animal products to lower cholesterol.
Can it help? Sure.
But is it necessary most of the time? No.
I’ve said this before, but in my clinical experience I’ve rarely seen a totally “healthy” vegetarian or vegan long term. We’ve evolved to eat some level of meat, and it can be super challenging getting all the nutrients your body needs from a 100% plant-based diet.
This is not to say plants aren’t an integral part of a healthy diet – I truly believe they are in almost everyone and perhaps should be a decent percentage of the calories you eat.
What’s interesting is that this client had actually been trying to lower his cholesterol by eating a plant-based diet for over a year when he came to me, with very few results.
It was actually to the point where this person’s doctor wanted to put him on cholesterol lowering medication, which he was hesitant to go on because of the numerous side effects, such as fatigue, muscle pain, liver damage, and lowering of CoQ10 levels.
Some background about this client:
He was a 48-year-old male, and his main goals in working with me were to achieve optimal labs and to lose a minimum of 15 pounds.
Upon getting his baseline labs, his cholesterol and triglycerides were both elevated, as was his Apo B.
Apo B (Apolipoprotein B) is an advanced heart disease risk marker and it is a much better marker for stratifying risk for heart disease than the standard cholesterol markers.
This client rode his bike a few times per week, but otherwise was fairly inactive and had a sedentary desk job.
His diet was mostly plant based and included a lot of meat substitutes and fake cheeses. He did eat some egg whites, fish, vegetables, bread, beans, and pasta. He also ate out about twice a week.
So what did we change?
1. He began following a personalized calorie/macro plan.
We entered his height, diet, activity level, fat percentage, and current and goal weights into a specific calculator and came up with his appropriate caloric and macro intake.
His target intake came out to 1700 calories a day, 35% protein, 35% carbs, and 30% fat.
The protein intake was to come from lean sources, because while studies show that cholesterol intake does not increase cholesterol levels in most people, the consumption of saturated fats does.
We also emphasized a variety of fruits and non-starchy vegetables due to their high fiber and plant sterol content which has been shown to improve cholesterol markers.
We also used some advanced nutritional panels to further tailor his food based on his own specific bodily needs.
2. He cut out processed foods, including the Beyond Burgers and fake cheese substitutes.
As I said, this client was eating a lot of processed foods when we started working together, which is typical for a vegetarian or vegan. I had him cut out all of the fake meat and cheese products, as well as bread and vegetable oils.
Instead, we relied on a well-varied and diverse diet of whole foods.
3. He increased his activity level.
Research has shown that aerobic exercise, as well as resistance training, lower cholesterol, independent of weight loss.
This client began a regimen of getting either 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, or 45 minutes of Zone 2 cardio training on his bike.
Walking is a great way to burn calories without losing muscle, and Zone 2 training is the zone in which your body burns the highest percentage of fat for fuel.
4. He optimized his environmental inputs.
The first environmental change we made was to increase his water intake. We also made sure that he was adding the right mineral balance back into the water he was drinking.
The second change was to increase his light exposure. This client was low in vitamin D, and the way the body makes vitamin D is by getting UV B rays from the sun, which convert cholesterol to vitamin D. This is literally killing two birds with one stone!
The increased time in the sun also helped reset his circadian rhythm, which in turn aids in getting better quality sleep. And since poor sleep is associated with food cravings and weight gain, this was a great benefit.
We added a few more changes along the way, but those were some of the more important ones.
So how did all this play out in this client’s labs?
Well, see for yourself.
His total cholesterol dropped almost 40 points. His triglycerides dropped by about 50 points.
His LDL decreased by 34 points, and his Apo B fell by 22 points, and is no longer considered high.
He also lost over 10 pounds.
And remember, this was all within the first two months of making some simple and sustainable changes!
The best part is, this client is nowhere even close to needing cholesterol medication now.
While this is a case study of a single person, and some of these recommendations were specific to him, many of these changes can be helpful to just about anyone in terms of lowering cholesterol.
- If you have a sedentary desk job, get in the habit of getting 10,000 steps in a day.
- If you never get outside, start getting 20-30 minutes of sun exposure, two times a day (while you’re getting your 10,000 steps!).
- Cut out processed foods and refined carbs and oils where you can. No matter what your diet, they aren’t doing you any good.
And one thing I want to emphasize is this person wasn’t perfect.
He still had some snacks. He ate out a few times per week. He even had junk food like pizza on occasion.
My tip for longterm success: Don’t let the idea of perfection get in the way of doing your best.
Sometimes good is enough to make amazing things happen.
The people who do the best aren’t those who never fall off the wagon; they are the ones who get back on the wagon soon afterwards.