Four Steps for Reducing Your Triglycerides

What, Why and How.

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My father and I got a blood test done about 3 weeks ago. When the test results came back, I was pleasantly surprised because everything was normal, including my cholesterol. For a chubby kid growing up this was a huge deal. All my work in the past year was paying off.

But then I saw it. I saw an "l" meaning low. What was this? I looked at the number 39, then googled TRIG and came across triglycerides. I did not know what these were at the time, but I could tell that 39 was a good number for your TRIG's to be at.

Then I opened up my father's blood test. He had a few things that were high including cholesterol. Right underneath the cholesterol figures was his TRIG number: 416. The range given beside that number was 50-200, meaning that my fathers TRIG levels were twice as high as average!

When we talked to the doctor, the doctor said that my father had nothing to worry about. But, you know what, I don't trust doctors. Doctors today wait for a problem to happen before giving you a solution. And even that solution is a band aid solution such as increased medication. I don't want my dad to be taking any sort of medication ten years from now.

I did not know what triglycerides were exactly and what health risks they posed to you if they were high. So I decided to go and do my own research.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and the body. They are found in plasma and are derived from fats that we eat, or from food made from other energy sources such as carbohydrates. You've all heard that any calorie that we do not burn off we store as fat. Well, before this fat can be stored, the calories are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored.

Extremely high triglycerides (500mg/dl or higher) in plasma is known as hypertriglyceridemia and is often linked to coronary artery disease. According to The National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, my father's TRIG levels are high (200 - 499 mg/dl). Once he breaks the 500 mark, he officially has hypertiglyceridemia.

I personally believe that my low TRIG levels come from my style of exercise and diet. According to my research, in order to lower your TRIG levels, you need to change your lifestyle habits and substitute them for healthier ones.

I once trained my father with my brand of exercise: heavy weight training performed at a high intensity with a fast pace. He lost 7 pounds in two weeks, and has kept the weight off. However, one day his only employee at his convenience store quit, leaving him to work 6 days a week. I have been trying to get him back under the weights ever since, but he just does not seem motivated to get back to working out. He claims that heavy weights are not good for him and he just needs to diet. Well, we can see how the diet only protocol is working out for him.

Since diet is a very important aspect of the problem, lets go over what I believe is the best way of lowering your TRIG levels. Many resources tell you to first cut your calories. However, I think it is more important to learn how to eat healthy. If I tell my father to cut calories, he'll just end up eating 1500 calories worth of junk food. That is not the solution to the problem. Instead, learn to eat the right foods first.

What are the right foods? Surprisingly the right foods are the same type of foods you would be eating if you want to lose weight. Start eating more fruits and veggies and make these your primary source of carbs. In addition, replace all your saturated and trans fat with healthy fats and Omega 3's.

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The following is a basic blueprint to get you started:

Step One : Learn to eat better

Do not worry about how many carbs, protein, or fat you are eating. You do not need to start calculating specific macronutrients and calories just yet, however you do need to start tracking what you eat. Track your food intake for three days, then organize all the food that you eat into three lists: Bad Food, Good Food, and OK food. Strive to eliminate the bad foods, increase good foods, and replace OK foods.

Step Two : Adjust calories

The main point here is that you may need to increase your caloric intake, keep it the same, or lower it. This depends on the results you have been getting. If are noticing steady weight loss without extreme hunger pangs, then chances are that you are on the right track. At that point, start tracking your calories and keep records of how you feel and how much weight you have lost. Weight loss is a good indicator of lowering TRIG levels.

Step Three : Find the right macronutritient ratio

Now we get to the fun part! It's time to start counting up exactly how much protien, carbohydrates and fats you are eating. I personally take in about 40-50% of my calories from healthy fats, 30% from carbohydrates, and the rest from protein. This took me approximately a year's worth of experimentation to figure out.

Everyone has their own way of dieting. Some people may need to drop their carbohydrates below 100 grams, and others can get away with eating as many as they wish. Experiment on your own. Try different combinations of ratios and sources of food. This takes great practice and patience, but the end result will be well worth it.

Step Four : Supplementation/Medication

These are the band aid solutions I was referring to earlier. I feel that too many people use a plan completely opposite of what I have outlined. They go for the supplements and medications first, regardless of their goals (fat loss, muscle gain, general health, cure food-related disease), and then start aggressively cutting carbs, calories, and everything in between. This is your fast track to failure.

Supplements should come last because they are a "supplement" to your efforts. They will help you speed up the process, not take care of the process.

I suggest everyone get a blood test every few years to assess the situation. If you read this blog, then you're relatively healthy. But you may be surprised at what you find. If you have a problem with TRIG levels, or even if you just want to drop some weight, then I suggest you try out my four-point plan outlined above.

Now if only I could get my father to start following the plan.

Parth Shah

Parth Shah is a Strength Consultant based in New Hyde Park, New York and is currently going through his own personal physique transformation. Find out more at Shah Training.

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