“Overconsumption of food with such eating patterns often leads to metabolic morbidities (insulin resistance, excessive accumulation of visceral fat, etc.), particularly when associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Because animals, including humans, evolved in environments where food was relatively scarce, they developed numerous adaptations that enabled them to function at a high level, both physically and cognitively, when in a food-deprived/fasted state.”
Having constantly elevated insulin levels is NOT natural for the body and is highly undesirable and toxic.
Coupled with constant inflammation, our lipids get thrown into chaos and this environment within our body wreaks havoc on the cardiovascular system (atherosclerosis and “hardening” of the arteries.)
Multiply this by 10-20 years of damage, and the stage is set for all things bad.
But I do recommend reading the whole article to get a full picture of the problem and solution.
I’ve searched through research and listened to many experts who are on the cutting edge of this topic.
I’ve also experimented on myself after discovering my lipids were a mess.
This article is what I’ve discovered to be most useful and important.
*Note, I am not a doctor. This article is my opinion based on what I’ve seen and experienced and is not medical advice. You should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements, making dietary changes, or analyzing lab results.
There are some affiliate links in this article. All are products I’ve tried and believe can benefit you
Ok, that’s out of the way. Now let’s move on.
Why I’m Passionate About this Topic
A while back, I got some deep bloodwork done through a company called Marek Health.
I’d never really paid much attention to my cholesterol before, and assumed I was in great health.
I eat well (I thought), work out all the time, and feel good.
By outward appearances, I looked perfectly healthy and strong.
The results from the bloodwork shocked me.
My lipids (cholesterol) were a mess, my glucose levels were high and by all measures I was at a high risk for cardiovascular disease and pre-diabetes.
This led me down a path of getting as much information as I could to fix the problem asap.
And that’s exactly what I did.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is essentially a type of lipid (fat). It is a waxy substance that is made by the liver.
Cholesterol is made by the body because it is extremely important.
It is used by the body for everything from making hormones, to creating new cells.
The first thing to understand is that cholesterol is not “bad.”
It is actually vital, and you literally could not survive without it.
In fact, there are studies showing that certain types of cholesterol can be protective against diseases like Alzheimers.
The Framingham Study
Most of the current beliefs surrounding Cholesterol come from what is known as the Framingham Study.
The conclusion of this study was essentially that high cholesterol is bad and is predictor of heart disease.
This is known as the “lipid hypothesis” of heart disease.
The study further divided cholesterol into “good” HDL cholesterol, and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Major Flaws and Ulterior Motives
As with any study, it is very important not to just take its conclusions as objective truth.
The Framingham study has many flaws.
A great critique of it can be found here in more depth if you want to go deep down the rabbit hole.
From how it was funded, to the bias of those carrying out the study, to the fact that it’s a purely observational study (which can never be used to prove causation).
Despite many shortcomings, this study is still the reason your doctor will put you on statin drugs with an outdated and misinterpreted cholesterol test.
Statin drugs are one of the best-selling drugs on the market, and one of the biggest money-makers for pharmaceutical companies.
So obviously, contradicting the notion that cholesterol is the boogey-man is going to be bad for business…
Unfortunately, statin drugs come with a host of undesirable side effects, such as:
CoQ10 Depletion, which can damage heart function (see here)
Neurophathy (weakness, tingling, pain in the hands/feet)
The point of this first section is to highlight two important things:
Cholesterol is not in itself bad and has to be analyzed deeper. Traditional tests do NOT do this.
Statins are handed out like candy to anyone with even moderate cholesterol levels. This is more due to profits and ignorance than actual benefit to a given individual.
Logic and Reason
When I say that cholesterol is not “bad,” what I mean is this:
First, your body would not produce something and place such a high priority on it, with such complex mechanisms, if it was not extremely important and beneficial.
Second, we need to look deeper into our cholesterol to understand which parts are actually harming us and which are beneficial or benign.
And last, it is our diet and lifestyle that cause our cholesterol to become problematic, and it is probably fixable for most people without prescription medication.
This is where an advanced lipid panel comes in.
Before we discuss diet to lower cholesterol, we need to get an accurate picture of what our cholesterol profile looks like.
Below is my original lipid panel done through Marek Health. It was not pretty, as I said.
Advanced Lipid Panel.
To get an accurate picture of your lipids, you have to get an advanced panel.
The way most doctors are using the old method is unacceptable, as we know that we can easily get a much more accurate picture with additional measurements.
In my opinion, the old panel is used as it continues to allow the prescribing of the statin drugs. It’s part of the profit machine.
Most doctors are probably just taking the safe route and following the “standard of care,” in which case they are free from liability by prescribing statins for “high” cholesterol, as it is the accepted norm.
They should be discussing a diet to lower cholesterol, including lifestyle changes, before handing out medications.
The Real Cause of Heart Disease
While we’ve allowed cholesterol to be deemed the boogeyman in relation to heart disease, there’s another monster lurking in the shadows.
That monster is insulin resistance.
It is estimated that over 10% of the US population is diabetic, and up to 2/3 are pre-diabetic.
This is NOT natural. It’s a symptom of a massive problem in our society.
At the end of 12 weeks, their lipid panels were dramatically improved.
The Large LDL particles (good) increased in size and number, and the small (harmful) LDL particles decreased.
This has incredibly powerful implications for improving your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Avocados are naturally full of monounsaturated fats.
Eating about 1 avocado a day (along with avoiding processed foods and sugar) can help raise your HDL cholesterol.
Avocados are one solid way you can replace carbs/sugars with healthy fats and see progress.
This discussion would not be complete without at least mentioning this.
Studies show that increasing cardiovascular fitness has a positive effect on lipid profiles.
It also has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality (higher cardiovascular fitness means you’re less likely to die from just about everything.)
By combining increased cardiovascular fitness with an improved diet, you’ll have a very solid plan of attack.
Final Thoughts on how to lower cholesterol naturally.
The overarching theme of this article is pretty clear.
Profits often dictate a lot in our current world. Reliance on pharmaceutical products and the widespread consuming of garbage foods is a symptom of that fact.
The root of much of our cholesterol and heart problems lies in what we eat.
Insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress are wreaking havoc on our bodies.
But, we can take steps to combat the problem.
Through eating the right foods, taking the right supplements, avoiding processed foods, sugar and chemicals, you can see dramatic improvements in health, which are likely to be reflected on your lipid panels.
For some people who have genetic disorders and simply cannot control their cholesterol, statins may provide enormous benefit.
But for the majority of us, it’s lifestyle changes that are long overdue.
Hope you enjoyed this one, leave a comment and let me know!
Mix all the ingredients together really good. It may take a minute or two.
Add another splash of milk if you’re having trouble or if the mixture is too dry.
Once mixed, use your hands to form the protein bites, rolling them into balls. Shoot to make 8-10.
Put them in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them up.
Try adding Cinnamon, chopped up peanuts or almonds or anything else you think sounds good.
Benefits of a High Protein Snack
The benefits of having a high protein snack option are many.
It can be a struggle to get enough protein throughout the day.
Studies show that the optimal amount of protein for muscle building and recovery is somewhere around 0.7 grams per pound of body weight.
It’s a long-standing myth that you need 1 gram of protein per pound.
This means that if you weigh 185 pounds, you’ll need around 130 grams of protein each day.
The extra calories and protein you can get between meals with a calorie dense, high protein snack can fill the gap and make a big difference in building muscle and recovering from workouts.
Some additional benefits are:
You won’t eat other, less nutritious snacks
You’ll keep a steady flow of muscle building amino acids in the body
Helps curb your appetite for other sweets that are nothing but sugar
These high protein snack bites are a great option to help you get enough protein each day to build muscle and recover from your workouts.
They can help keep you away from other garbage snack foods and are simple and easy to make.
It usually takes us about 5-10 minutes.
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As always, I hope this article helps get you just a little bit closer to that best version of you!
*Note: This article contains affiliate links. Anything purchased comes at no additional cost to you
ISSA Tactical Conditioning Specialist. Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Former Army 11B Infantryman. Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Friend, Coach.
Pre workout supplements have come a long way since the first product, “Ultimate Orange,” was formulated in 1982. Today, the pre workout market is a billion dollar industry, and it’s only getting bigger.
And it’s no surprise. Products like Red Bull and other energy drinks have also become massively popular, displaying the need most of us have to get a boost of energy to get through the day, or a workout.
What Are Pre Workout Supplements?
Pre workout supplements are a mix of ingredients specifically designed to:
Stimulate the nervous system (mobilize energy)
Increase blood flow to active muscles (give you a “pump”)
Delay Fatigue (let you work out harder, longer)
Make you stronger/more powerful
Help gain lean mass/lose fat
Do They Work?
The short answer is, yes, they work.. and we’ll discuss the specifics later. The problem is that they only work if the correct ingredients are present, and at clinically relevant doses.
Many supplement companies list a “proprietary blend” of ingredients. This allows them to not disclose how much of each ingredient is present. So, they can say: “Proprietary blend: Caffeine, Creatine, Taurine, Beta Alanine.”
These ingredients can all have beneficial effects, but only if enough of the ingredient is present. Without the amount being listed on the label, you have no way of knowing exactly what you’re taking.
I currently use bulk supplements. They send you pure ingredients, in much larger amounts at a much better price. This way I know exactly what I’m taking and how much.
How Do Pre Workout Supplements Work?
Below are the ingredientsshown by research to have a positive effect on your body and your performance, along with the minimum amount needed to create a training effect (clinical dose).
Improves Cognition and performance during endurance, power and resistance training
Improves muscular endurance during resistance training. Longer term use improves endurance performance.
Studies show little performance or muscle building enhancement. Can help spare muscle tissue during intense/longer duration training.
Precursor to Nitric Oxide Increased blood flow to active muscles. Increase vasodilation, improved performance in both endurance and high intensity training.
Increase intramuscular phosphocreatine levels by 30%. Improved high intensity exercise performance. Improved strength/power. Improved gains in lean muscle mass Proven safe, best taken after workout.
Increased rate of creatine synthesis Elevated Nitric Oxide levels (improved blood flow, vasodilation, pump). Enhances repetitions to fatigue (can do more work).
Precursor to Carnosine Improves high intensity exercise performance. Acts as a buffer, clearing out acidic byproducts of intense exercise, delaying fatigue.
4-6g/day for at least 2 weeks
You’ll notice, if you compare these doses to most pre workout supplements, that the only ingredient they’re usually giving you enough of is caffeine. You get the energy boost, but never really experience the true benefit of all the other scientifically proven performance boosters.
So, Is Pre Workout Bad For You?
What Research says
Research has been somewhat limited in scope. The FDA does not require studies on the safety of these products to go beyond 8-12 weeks.
There is still plenty of research to look at. Here is what studies say about long term use of pre workout supplements (> 10 weeks).
Greater increases in fat-free mass
improved aerobic performance among sedentary and fit individuals.
Improved force production
Increased Growth Hormone and Testosterone during training.
Some may experience side effects (headache, jitters, anxiety, upset stomach.
Studies have not found a link to kidney or heart problems. Keep in mind the limited scope of current research due to the low level of regulations and safety requirements by the FDA.
Caffeine and other stimulants do speed up heart rate. This can place extra stress on the heart during endurance type training.
The other dark side of long term pre workout use
Research aside, I think it’s important to logically take a look at the potential for harmful effects of chronic pre workout use. There are several reasons why I feel it can definitely be bad for you. Let me explain:
Taking heavy stimulants causes a massive release of stress hormones in the body, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are responsible for releasing energy. It’s a survival response.
This causes the body to be in a sympathetic (fight or flight) state. This is more commonly referred to as, “stress.” Constantly taking pre workout and other high stimulant energy drinks keeps your body in a sympathetic state.
It is impossible for the body to build muscle, recover or improve while in this state. As a result, I suspect the long term implications can be very negative. Check out this video below by Christian Thibaudeau, one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the world.
The Real Problem: Why Do You Need Pre Workout?
The root problem to look at with pre workout use is, why do you need it? If you’re using it for long periods of time, why do you not have the energy to work out without it?
The fact that your energy is lagging is a symptom of a bigger problem, and taking energy supplements is masking that problem. You could be training too hard and/or too often. Maybe You’re not be sleeping enough. Perhaps you may have too much stress in your life, or are simply not recovering properly.
Either way, masking the problem with stimulants is causing a massive debt to be incurred over time, and sooner or later you’re going to have to pay up. Energy will be borrowed from other systems, such as the immune system, your organs, your cognitive function. It’s worth taking a look at, and with the right interventions, you may not need the stimulants as often. As a result, you can then use them more strategically for your most intense sessions.
Research clearly shows many benefits to taking properly dosed pre workout supplements, and they aren’t inherently dangerous in the short term. However, if you’re taking them because you NEED them to work out, then I would definitely recommend taking a step back an analyzing why your energy is so low. There are most likely issues that need to be addressed, and failing to do so may have consequences in the long term.
Thanks for reading! Here are some other articles you may find helpful. Till next time, keep moving towards that best version of you.
Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.