What Is the Normal Range of Cholesterol in the Carnivore Diet?
Blood cholesterol levels can be influenced by many factors, like genetics, age, sex, and lifestyle choices like diet and exercise, but the normal cholesterol range for individuals over 18 years old is as follows:
- Total cholesterol: 150-200 mg/dL
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: 70-120 mg/dL
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: 40-60 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: 150 mg/dL or less
A 2023 study on the effects of Ketogenic diets on LDL cholesterol levels suggested that on the Carnivore diet, cholesterol levels may increase by 15-30 mg/dL within 3-12 months in some people, mainly because HDL (the good) cholesterol goes up. But this change is not common and may occur rarely as a reaction to the needs of the body .
Also, remember that the body's responses to diets can vary, and these numbers are general guidelines. So, it’s wise to have your cholesterol levels controlled by a healthcare professional  .
In addition to consulting a healthcare professional, there are tips we can follow to keep our bad cholesterol levels down.
The Carnivore Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Optimal Health by Returning to Our Ancestral Diet
What to Do to Lower Cholesterol Levels on the Carnivore Diet?
If you’re experiencing high LDL cholesterol levels, these strategies can help you:
- You can add 50-100 grams of carbohydrates per day to your diet. Although it does not align with the goal of minimizing carbs on the Carnivore diet, it can be an effective short-term solution when done for about 2 months or under specific conditions as advised by a healthcare provider or dietitian .
- Physical activity plays a crucial role in cholesterol management. Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity weekly, along with strength training exercises, can boost HDL and lower LDL.
- Excess weight increases harmful fat, especially around the abdomen, and can raise LDL levels. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help you lose excess weight .
- Alcohol consumption can raise triglyceride levels and increase LDL cholesterol levels. It’s wise to omit or limit alcohol from your diet .
- Smoking is a risk factor for heart disease and can lower HDL cholesterol levels. Try to quit smoking for better cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health .
- Chronic stress can also affect your cholesterol levels. Try to use stress management techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness .
- To manage the Carnivore diet cholesterol levels, you should control the amount of meat you consume. Choosing leaner cuts of meat like skinless chicken breast, turkey, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines can be the best options as they contain lower saturated fat and more omega-3 fatty acids .
But how much meat should we eat to meet the needs of the Carnivore diet yet avoid high cholesterol?
How Much Meat Should You Consume to Avoid High Cholesterol?
Managing Carnivore diet cholesterol depends on both the quantity and the type of meat you consume. Choosing the right meats in the right amounts based on your body's needs and dietary goals can help maintain steady cholesterol levels.
- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) suggests that to maintain better heart health, you should limit the intake of high-saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods like steak. NCOA recommends consuming small portions of such foods, around 3 ounces, no more than once a week .
- Processed meats like salami, hot dogs, sausages, and bologna are also better to be limited or avoided as they are not only high in saturated fats but also in calories and sodium, which can adversely affect cholesterol levels and overall heart health.
- Carnivore diet and cholesterol experts recommend consuming about 2-3 ounces of meat per meal. This provides you with a good amount of protein and healthy fats while minimizing the risk of high cholesterol levels .
The Carnivore diet focuses on high fat intake, which can have an impact on cholesterol levels if you use saturated fat. So, we need to know the types of fat and how they can affect the cholesterol level.
Types of Fat and Their Cholesterol Content
Fats are one of the most important parts of the Carnivore diet and cholesterol, and if you choose the wrong type of fat, you may fall behind your diet goals. There are 3 main types of fat  :
- Unsaturated Fats: They are considered healthy fats and can have a positive effect on heart health and blood cholesterol levels by lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol and increasing "good" HDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are found in plant oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.
- Trans Fats: These fats not only raise LDL cholesterol but also lower HDL cholesterol, so you should avoid them. They are often found in fried foods, baked goods, and processed snacks. Checking food labels and minimizing the consumption of trans fats is a crucial step in cholesterol management .
- Saturated Fats: Commonly found in some animal products like fatty cuts of beef and pork and plants like coconut and palm oils, saturated fats can increase LDL cholesterol levels, which is bad for heart health. It's recommended to limit the intake of saturated fats.
However, the Carnivore diet focuses on increasing the intake of dietary fat and protein to achieve ketosis and reach various health goals. So, how much is ideal to avoid cholesterol increase?
The Carnivore Reset: The Primal Approach to Restoring Your Gut Health, Reducing Inflammation, and Losing Weight
How Much Fat Should You Consume to Avoid Cholesterol Increase?
Managing fat intake is crucial for controlling cholesterol levels and maintaining heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) provides specific guidelines on fat consumption to help avoid increases in cholesterol .
AHA recommends that for a standard 2,000-calorie diet, you should limit saturated fat to no more than 13 grams (or 120 calories) per day to maintain cholesterol levels within a healthy range .
To manage cholesterol effectively, you need to make smart choices in your diet and lifestyle. Buy pasture-raised meats and dairy for better quality, and choose lean cuts of meat over processed ones.
Regularly checking your cholesterol levels helps you stay on track. Remember to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice. Also, staying hydrated and limiting sugar intake are simple but effective steps for better cholesterol control.