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Lose weight and HDL goes . . . down

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:17pm

Steve started with a miserable HDL cholesterol of 27 mg/dl. As expected, the low HDL was associated with all its evil friends: small LDL, deficiency of healthy, large HDL, high triglycerides, VLDL, and a pre-diabetic blood sugar.

Steve committed to a strict diet of reduced processed carbohydrates like wheat products, reduced meat and saturated fats. He relied on vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and healthy oils. Over a 6 month period, he lost an impressive 39 lbs. He proclaimed that he hadn't felt this good in 30 years.

We rechecked his HDL: 25 mg/dl.

"I don't get it!" Steve declared, understandably.

There's a curious phenomenon with HDL. If you lose weight, HDL goes up--but not right away. Steve had lost a substantial quantity of weight and was continuing to lose weight when the blood work was obtained. While HDL does indeed rise with weight loss, it doesn't do so immediately. In fact, in the first two or so months after significant weight lost, HDL goes down .

Why? I don't really have an explanation, but it is a very consistent effect.

Losing weight towards ideal weight is truly an effective strategy for raising HDL. But we need to be patient. If you've lost many pounds like Steve did, then waiting at least two months after weight has stabilized may be necessary to fully gauge the effect on raising HDL.

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