Managing Cholesterol Levels With Weight Loss

Excess weight and cholesterol go hand in hand, so losing weight is often an important part of a cholesterol reduction plan. According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic (2010), losing just five or 10 pounds can lower your total cholesterol. Weight loss can be accomplished through healthy eating and exercise—two things that work alongside weight loss to counteract high cholesterol. Certain strategies can help you control both your weight and cholesterol levels.

Counting Calories: The Basics

You will lose weight when you burn more calories than you take in. Estimating the number of calories your body needs each day to maintain its current weight is easy. After you do that, trimming excess pounds is a matter of consuming fewer or burning more calories.

To estimate the number of calories you need to maintain your weight, you must do a simple calculation. If you are relatively inactive, multiply your weight by 13 if you are male and 10 if you are female, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (2011). If you are moderately active, multiply your weight by 15 if you are male and 12 if you are female. For example, a moderately active woman who weighs 130 pounds needs about 1,560 calories per day to maintain her current weight (130 x 12 = 1,560).

Losing Weight with Calorie Reduction

Safe, permanent weight loss is best accomplished at a rate of only one or two pounds per week. Since one pound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories, you should aim to burn about 3,500 extra calories per week. To do this, plan your diet so that each day you’re taking in 500 fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight. Alternatively, you can consume your maintenance calorie amount each day and exercise enough to burn 500 extra calories, or choose some combination of the two.

As you reduce your caloric intake, you can further help reduce your cholesterol level by cutting out foods that are high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Continue to consume foods with unsaturated fats, lean protein and fiber. You should see your bad cholesterol levels drop as you lose weight, eat right and exercise regularly.

Of course, if you have high cholesterol, a weight loss or exercise plan is best adopted only after you’ve talked to your doctor. She’ll be able to talk to you about safe and healthy ways to lose weight and get your high cholesterol under control.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). High cholesterol. Retrieved January 7, 2011, from

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2006). High cholesterol guide. Retrieved January 7, 2011, from

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). How many calories and fat grams do you need? Retrieved January 7, 2011, from