Can Losing Weight Make Your Cholesterol Go Up?

Why Is Your Cholesterol Going Up?

Recently I’ve seen some weight loss experts and doctors say that it’s normal for your bad cholesterol to go up transiently when you lose weight. The reason this may happen is if you’re on a ketogenic or similar low carb high-fat diet.

I did some research to see if there any studies to support this. Only a couple of small studies showed that your bad cholesterol going up could be normal for some people. Most large studies show that when people lose weight, their bad cholesterol levels do go down. This is what you’d expect because they’re eating healthier +/- exercising.

Why Is This Important to You?

The reason this could be important to you is that if your bad cholesterol levels are going up even transiently, you could be potentially forming cholesterol build up or blockages in the arteries of your heart. Your cholesterol levels that you get checked on blood tests are not the best way to tell if there are cholesterol blockages or build up forming in your heart. The best way is testing that look at the arteries of your heart. These are tests like a cardiac catheterization, a cardiac CT or even a calcium score. You’re probably not going to get these tests for many years or until you have other health problems.

Given that you may not need to get any of those tests anytime soon, the next best test for you probably is going to be the cholesterol levels that you get checked with your regular blood work. Since that’s the only test you may get to see if you’re at risk for forming cholesterol build up or blockages in the arteries of your heart, then it’s important to you if those levels are going up even transiently. Especially if you diet on and off a lot then your bad cholesterol levels could be going up and down and up and down. When they’re up you’re at risk for forming cholesterol build up or blockages in the arteries of your heart. Over time will increase your risk of having a heart attack long term.

What Should You Do?

If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked recently, it’s definitely worth checking at least once. Especially if you’ve changed the way you’re eating, you’re trying a new diet, or once a year if you’re not sure if you changed anything. You want to make sure that you’re not doing anything that’s negatively affecting your cholesterol.

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Originally published on If We Were Family.

I’m a cardiologist, consulting and providing advisory services in health tech.