Cholesterol and Ultra Running

Is Ultra Running the cause of my high cholesterol?
Last week I had a medical check and found my Cholesterol levels were all out of whack. The doctor recommended Lipitor for 5 days to get the numbers under control.

I have jotted down a few notes and quotes from the web. Buyer Beware! They are not thoroughly checked and I am not medically inclined.

Lipitor is a Statin drug which causes fatigue and muscle aches in 50% of users. I certainly fall into that 50%. It can also cause muscle damage. Not something I need since I use all the few muscles I have left.
I am using this 5 day period to rest up and do no running as I am feeling more tired than usual.
Statins are bad news.
A study from Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego reviews the latest data on side effects of statins (The American Journal of Medicine, May 2006). This review found that statin-induced muscle damage is more common in Asians, people who exercise, have had recent surgery, those with kidney, liver or thyroid disease, or with high triglycerides. The incidence of muscle pain and damage from statins is extremely low in non-exercisers, three to ten percent in those who exercise, and very high in competitive athletes.
(Article Source:

So I should find alternate solutions to get my cholesterol under control.
I signed up for Track My Plaque to record my blood numbers. They are found at

Seems like a high total Cholesterol number is not a red flag like it used to be. It is more of a problem if you have Small LDL particle size and low HDL. “Small LDL size occurs often, though not exclusively, along with low HDL (100). Small LDL can occur with any level of LDL cholesterol.” (From Track Your Plaque library)
Lipitor and statin drugs exert no effect on small LDL particles, barely raise HDL cholesterol at all, and have no effect on Lp(a), factors that increase heart scan scores substantially.

Kidney damage can occur from excessive exercise in the form of rhabdomyolisis. According to Ben Greenfield :

“Rhabdomyolisis is basically excessive breakdown of your skeletal muscle tissue. At least that’s the cause of it when the issue is over-exercising and damaging your muscle cells enough to where you literally get little pieces of your muscle, little damaged muscle cells called ‘myoglobin’s’ circulating in your bloodstream and that’s really tough on your kidneys in particular. Your kidneys have to try to filter this myoglobin and it literally like gums up your kidneys so you get an issue with electrolyte imbalances. You get issues with cardiac arrhythmias. You can die from rhabdomyolisis, usually it’s not death that occurs but quite a bit of kidney pain. Lot of difficulty urinating, lot of muscle damage and muscle pain and this is something when it comes to exercise.
The everyday recreational exercise could indeed cause damage to the kidneys from rhabdomyolisis and excessive build-up of muscle-damaged metabolites in the kidney area if they are, for example in pharmaceutical drugs, statins in particular, are really big ones when it comes to those actually accumulating in muscle cells and getting a lot of this myoglobin to build-up and causing that kidney damage.

What can I draw from what I have read this week?

Total Cholesterol, LDL and HDL numbers are too basic for any good analysis. Anyways, the USA advises that above 240 Total Cholesterol is considered high. Indonesia considers 200 high.
I need to get better tests done if I want to know my risk from Cholesterol.
Statins are very bad.
Diet and lifestyle will control Cholesterol.
My occupation puts too much importance on Total cholesterol numbers.

Ultra Running will not  cause High Cholesterol.

As soon as I am off the Lipitor I will be back at my training.

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2 thoughts on “Cholesterol and Ultra Running

  1. flyingkiwi72

    I too sit at the High end of Normal Cholesterol and there is possibly some literature around that suggest long distance runners are more prone to it. A few year ago I was a subject in Masters and PhD studies looking at how Hazelnuts altered cholesterol levels. They were well set up and balanced trials with good number fo subjects. The basic conclusion was “yes” hazelnuts can help with cholesterol level. However 30grams/day of ground nuts could be quite difficult. I always prefered when I got into the whole nut group. I got into the chocloate group once as well. That was fun.

    Good Read.

    • It would be nice if chocolate reduced my cholesterol. I did eat a lot of almonds this last week. Didn’t try hazelnuts though. One thing I tried was Apple Cider Vinegar in Green Tea. Once I got used to the taste, it wasn’t bad. Not sure how much it helped, but my numbers went down and are staying down.

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