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Testimonial: The Paleo Diet Lowers Cholesterol for Athlete

By The Paleo Diet Team
April 26, 2012

Dr. Cordain,

Hello my name is Chris and I am a recent convert to the Paleo approach to food. I came to The Paleo Diet via your book with Joe Friel, The Paleo Diet for Athletes and look forward to the updated version you mentioned on the Paleo-Solutions podcast. Having also just read your book The Paleo Answer I wanted to share my story with you as others have done.

I’m 37 and an avid cyclist, husband and father of two (or will be come December). In 2006, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol after having some erectile issues. My primary care physician of Wells Family Practice in Wells, Maine is such a great doctor in that he has never ever put me on cholesterol lowering medication. His approach is to allow me to moderate it with diet and exercise. As a cyclist, I ride or have ridden on average around 4,000+ miles per year and hit the gym at least 5 days a week. My doctor knew this - and when I explained at the time that my diet wasn’t that great, or as good as it could be, he trusted that I would correct my cholesterol levels. So at that time I went cold turkey on fast food and stayed that way for over 3 years. (A nasty post wedding hangover eventually ended that streak.)

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Some slips here and there meant that my cholesterol values would go up and down during check-ups. In fact at one point a bad relationship caused my values to label me as a category 4 risk for cardiac issues. But again, even at that point he didn’t prescribe meds.

Fast forward to the fall of 2009, at a health open house near where I work I had a spinal alignment check done. I followed up with the chiropractor by making an appointment to get a consult. Had they been in-network I’d still be going to see them. She cued me into an anti-inflammatory approach to eating that focused on Paleo foods. I believe it was she who told me about the The Paleo Diet for Athletes.

I picked up that book on the way to a charity cycling event that I was participating in and read the book quite quickly. Actually, devoured it is probably a better description. However, it was a lot to process and come to terms with, much like when I found out about my cholesterol. I have a B.A. in Anthropology and a M.A. in Historic Archaeology so Paleo was like a cartoon light bulb going off above my head , a "well duh" moment. It made sense to me, but I don’t think I was ready to fully commit.

At that time I adapted or tried to adapt to the Paleo approach for athletes, however it didn’t work quite that well. And eventually it fell by the wayside. Then my cholesterol numbers, especially my triglycerides went up again due to a miscalculation on carbohydrate intake post workout. In other words I was eating way more macaroni than I ought to be. I made a new effort to only eat grains in a very limited amount and also limited my sugar intake. This had a big effect, my weight and cholesterol dropped and my performance on the bike went up.

I saw your new book at a Barnes & Noble, picked it up, flipped through it and suddenly what had seemed overwhelming a few years back, no longer felt that way. When I explained it to my wife, she got on board too and off we went. We bought the cook book as well and have been enjoying its recipes. I found Robb Wolf’s podcast and while the weight training/ cross fit stuff isn’t of much interest, the nutritional information is.

Since going Paleo I’ve lost 21 lbs. My wife has had a bit more of a struggle owing to the near constant temptations that await her at her job – she is a nanny. She has lost weight and no longer has constant headaches/ migraines though and thus understands the value of it. Her headaches had been so bad in the past that she saw specialists, but they never were able to alleviate them completely. Paleo removed her headaches and brought her down to a weight she hadn’t been to in years and was less than when she got pregnant with our first son.

I’m on board for life; Paleo not only is easy to follow but fits into the lifestyle that my wife & I want to live.

In January of this year, owing to the holidays and some stress, I’d eaten poorly just before my yearly blood tests and so my numbers were again not that great. My doctor said he’d see me in April and by then hopefully they’d be better. Soon after that I got your new book & went strictly Paleo, with a few slips here and there, intentional and accidental. The results have been phenomenal:

Cholesterol Blood Test

Totals Jan 2012/ April 2012

Triglycerides 249/ 56

HDL 41/ 49

LDL 105/ 127

VLDL 50/11

Weight January 2012 – 208lbs/ April 2012 187 lbs

The weekend before my test on a Monday saw me eat at a Five Guys Burger joint, have some cupcakes as well as some other non paleo stuff, which is probably why the LDL was higher. Suffice to say those results along with my weight literally floored my doctor. I told him how great I felt and how during Easter weekend I’d had some chocolate and other non paleo stuff, which had been intentional and then caught the bug my wife & son had. She is still nursing our son and can’t take cold meds and she’d been cheating a bit more than I so she was susceptible to the cold bug. Anyway, once I got back to Paleo again, the cold never got beyond a stuffy nose and slight throat tickle - thus proving that my immune system was cranking. I’ve seen big improvements on my bike in the form of double digit time improvements on previously ridden routes.

Thank you for your work and for helping me make my life better. My son is 16 months old and isn’t Paleo yet, we are still trying to figure out how to get him to eat more Paleo, but as he has a mind of his own, etc. It is a bit of a struggle. I’m on board for life; Paleo not only is easy to follow but fits into the lifestyle that my wife & I want to live.

Sincerely,

Chris

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