Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've searched for questions about cholesterol before, and haven't found a satisfactory answer; most seemed to be all speculation and little fact. I was wondering whether the generally accepted strict limits on dietary cholesterol should always apply to everyone, or whether people on intensive exercise regimes could safely consider a different amount of dietary cholesterol to be safe. The basic distinction which occurs to me is:

  • Cardio athletes, such as runners, cyclists, swimmers and so on;
  • Hypertrophy athletes, such as bodybuilders and powerlifters

Do either of these exercise regimes either consume extra cholesterol, perhaps specifically in the recovery stage, destroy it such that it is no longer a problem, or emit some sort of enzymes or hormones that render it irrelevant?

As a layman I would expect hypertrophic exercises to consume extra cholesterol, since they promote the creation of extra tissue, of which cholesterol is an essential component. However, I realise that dietary cholesterol and cellular cholesterol are quite different, and consumption of one does not necessarily correlate with the presence of the other.

Is there any quality scientific literature on this topic, or does anybody have an educated view on the matter?

share|improve this question
Which type of cholesterol are you referring to? HDL, LDL, VLDL, total? –  JohnP Sep 18 '13 at 16:33
Any or all of them; but particularly interested in whatever type is in excess in a fatty diet. –  Tom W Sep 18 '13 at 16:49
Hrm. I thought I had seen something on this, but I can't find any studies relating effects of exercise to effectively raising the "ceiling" of recommended cholesterol consumption. Plenty showing the beneficial effect on HDL (Including an interesting one that shows HDL response is also tied to triglyceride levels), but I can't find any specifically addressing being able to eat more cholesterol due to exercise habits. –  JohnP Sep 18 '13 at 22:09
While not an answer to you question, the "generally accepted strict limits on dietary cholesterol" are being reconsidered by some researchers and public health experts. A number of recent studies indicated that the relationship between dietary cholesterol intake, serum lipid levels, and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk is not nearly as strong as reported previously. –  BackInShapeBuddy May 6 at 16:03

1 Answer 1

HIIT has a positive impact on cholesterol, the full text is at NIH.gov study. The abstract, with some sections highlighted is below:

This study examined the impact of an 8-week program of high-intensity interval training on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), total cholesterol (TC), and the atherogenic index (TC/HDL-C) in 36 untrained men ages 21-36 years. Participants were randomly assigned to an interval training group (n = 20) or a control group (n = 16). Participants in the experimental group performed 3.2 km of interval running (1:1 work:rest ratio) 3 times a week for 8 weeks at an intensity of 90% of maximal heart rate ( approximately 423 kcal per session). Results indicated significant pre- to posttraining changes in HDL-C (1.1 vs. 1.3 mmolxL, p < 0.0001) and TC/HDL-C (3.8 vs. 3.1, p < 0.0001) but no significant changes in TC (3.9 vs. 3.8 mmolxL, p > 0.05) with interval training. It was concluded that an 8-week program of high-intensity interval training is effective in eliciting favorable changes in HDL-C and TC/HDL-C but not TC in young adult men with normal TC levels. Our findings support the recommendations of high-intensity interval training as an alternative mode of exercise to improve blood lipid profiles for individuals with acceptable physical fitness levels.

share|improve this answer
This is an interesting study, and does confirm the beneficial effect of exercise on cholesterol levels, but it does not answer the OP's question. The question is whether or not exercise changes the recommendations for daily consumption, not whether or not exercise lowers cholesterol (Which has been proven many times over). –  JohnP Nov 22 '13 at 15:57

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.