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cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), heart health, gym performance

Cholesterol as a biomarker for performance in the gym

Written by: Kiara Lipschitz

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Time to read 5 min

Keywords: cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), heart health, gym performance

Cholesterol plays a complex role in the body and understanding its impact on your fitness is key to optimising your workouts. How does it impact gym performance? Let's break down the good, the bad, and how to work with cholesterol for peak workouts in the gym.

1. Good and Bad Cholesterol


High-density lipoprotein  (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein  (LDL) are the two primary types of cholesterol.


LDL cholesterol, often referred to as 'bad' cholesterol , contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke .


On the other hand, HDL cholesterol, known as 'good' cholesterol , plays a crucial role in removing LDL cholesterol  from the arteries, thereby promoting heart health.


Therefore, maintaining a balance between these two types of cholesterol is essential for overall health.


If you would like to have a more detailed look at cholesterol and learn more about the topic, have a look at our detailed article on it here .

cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), heart health, gym performance

2. Natural Ways to Influence Cholesterol


To naturally improve your cholesterol profile, consider the following lifestyle changes.


Firstly, adjust your diet to emphasise healthy fats , such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts, along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats , commonly found in fried foods and processed meats.


Secondly, incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, as it promotes HDL production and improves overall cardiovascular health.


Thirdly, manage your weight, as losing excess weight can positively impact  cholesterol levels.


Finally, manage stress effectively. Chronic stress can worsen cholesterol levels , so consider relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. 

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3. Cholesterol's Impact on Gym Performance: Endurance Training

In the context of gym performance, particularly endurance training, maintaining sufficient levels of HDL cholesterol is crucial.


HDL cholesterol plays a pivotal role in transporting necessary oxygen and nutrients to muscles during prolonged physical activities. Its levels increase significantly with prolonged exercise, which, in turn, can enhance endurance performance further.


Interestingly, moderate exercise intensity alone seems to not have an effect on managing the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. However, moderate exercise, paired with a good diet, seems to lead to a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels  and overall improvement in performance.


Therefore, a balanced cholesterol profile, characterised by high HDL and low LDL levels, is not only beneficial for heart health but also for optimizing gym performance, especially in endurance training.

cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), heart health, gym performance

4. Cholesterol's Role in Strength Training and Weightlifting


Cholesterol’s role in strength training and weightlifting is similar to that in endurance training.


It serves as a precursor for testosterone production , a hormone essential for muscle growth and strength, with some studies going as far as to claim that high testosterone production could be associated with cardiovascular disease .


Overconsumption of cholesterol-rich foods could potentially lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol in people who are sensitive towards cholesterol changes, also known as “responders”.


High levels of LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries , increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke


This potential negative impact on overall health can outweigh any benefits cholesterol might provide for muscle building.


Therefore, while cholesterol plays a crucial role in muscle growth, maintaining a balanced cholesterol profile remains paramount for both health and fitness performance.

5. Why Does Cholesterol Have A Bad Reputation?

Cholesterol is essential for building healthy cells but it has garnered a negative reputation due to its association with heart disease .


When cholesterol levels are high, fatty deposits can develop in your blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease.


According to Harvard Health Publishing , lipoproteins, tiny particles composed of lipids and proteins, transport cholesterol and other fats throughout the body.


High levels of HDL cholesterol , often referred to as 'good' cholesterol, can actually lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.


As we mentioned before, high levels of ' bad' cholesterol , or LDL cholesterol, can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis , a condition characterized by the accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries.


It's important to note that high cholesterol can be inherited, but it's often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, making it preventable and treatable with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and sometimes medication.

cholesterol, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), heart health, gym performance

6.The Impact of Exercise on Cholesterol Levels


Regular physical activity  is a proven strategy to lower LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol.


The American Heart Association suggests that high cholesterol levels are often caused by a lack of exercise and being overweight , among others.


According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the desirable level of total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dl, with the optimum level of HDL cholesterol being greater than or equal to 4 0 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women .


Regular exercise not only helps in maintaining these desirable cholesterol levels but also contributes to weight loss, which further increases HDL cholesterol levels.


7. Why Can Fit Individuals Have High Cholesterol?


Despite regular exercise, some fit individuals may still have high cholesterol levels.


This can be attributed to factors such as genetics, diet, and age.


Genetics  can predispose certain individuals to produce more LDL cholesterol, regardless of their fitness level.


Additionally, a diet high in saturated and trans fats  can raise cholesterol levels, even in those who exercise regularly.


Age is another factor, as cholesterol levels tend to rise with age .


Lastly, it's worth noting that while exercise alone can raise HDL cholesterol levels, it doesn't significantly lower LDL cholesterol

8. Worried about your heart health?

The traditional cholesterol test only tells part of the story.  OptimallyMe Cholesterol Plus Test  goes deeper. This comprehensive at-home test unveils vital information about your heart's well-being, empowering you to take proactive steps towards a healthier future.


Here's what sets  OptimallyMe Cholesterol Plus Test  apart:


  • Beyond the Basics: It measures not just your total cholesterol, but also the critical breakdown between HDL ("good") and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Knowing this ratio is essential for understanding your true heart disease risk.

  • Inflammation Fighter: This test goes a step further by analysing hs-CRP, a key marker of inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation is a major contributor to heart disease, and early detection is crucial.

  • Actionable Insights: With clear, easy-to-understand results, you'll gain valuable insights into your heart health. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about your diet, exercise routine, and potentially, discussions with your doctor.

  • Convenience at its Finest: Skip the clinic visit! The OptimallyMe Cholesterol Plus Test allows you to conveniently test from the comfort of your own home. Get the information you need, on your terms.


The  OptimallyMe Cholesterol Plus Test  is the ultimate deep dive into your heart health . Don't wait, take control of your well-being today! 

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