Cholesterol testing Frequency . . .

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created May 09, 2012 at 5:00 PM

I've been on "paleo" for about 2.5 months.

My doctor gave me a "before" lipid panel the day before I started.

  1. How long should I wait before getting a test?

  2. Is a lipid panel a "point in time" or does it reflect the last X number of days. If the later, what is X?

  3. I heard on Robb's podast that while in the weight loss portion, lipid levels might be higher because fat is being liberated from the fat cells. Once the weight has stabilized, things should settle down.

I'm going to be paying for this out of pocket so I don't need permission from my doctor. RequestAtest.com does a lipid panel for $29.

Thoughts? Thanks, Mike

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on May 09, 2012
at 06:41 PM

Couple thoughts.

A lipid panel is a point in time measurement; however, those different values are a maker of your diet over a period of time. I think the different values respond to dietary changes at different rates. For example, I think many people see a relatively quick decrease in their triglycerides when they cut down on processed carbs and sugar. However, changes in HDL or LDL seem to take longer. At least that was my experience. (You can check my numbers in the ???Cholesterol Poll??? question here on PH.)

A lipid panel is also very much a ???point in time??? measurement because there can be significant variability in one persons markers within a few days or weeks, without any change in diet or lifestyle. Chris Masterjohn and Chris Kresser have a great podcast series (3 podcasts to date) regarding cholesterol on Kresser???s website. In the third podcast (recapping what they covered in the second), C. Masterjohn states the following:

???And then we went through how do I know when my cholesterol is really increased, because there is a lot of variation that we can normally expect. And we said that if we???re just looking at two measurements ??? say, we changed our diet, we measured cholesterol once before and once after the diet ??? if we hadn???t measured our cholesterol very often to get a sense of our own variation, then we should be careful not to assume that it has increased unless we have an increase of at least 35 mg/dL for total cholesterol, about 10 mg/dL increase or decrease for HDL, 30 mg/dL for LDL, and about 40 mg/dL for triglycerides. So, we should be concerned when we see these large increases and they go outside the range of what is considered to be traditional.???


So, it might be worth it to get another test just to try to see where things are headed. But based on the inherent variability of the numbers I wouldn't get too hung up on the results after only 2-3 months.


on May 12, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Found it !!!

(Ironically, it was from the company I first searched; I searched LDL, not lipid).

This test is $110 instead of $30, but appears to offer the detail I want:


The NMR LipoProfile is often used to assess the risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). The NMR LipoProfile test includes total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, insulin markers, lipoprotein particle number, lipoprotein subfractions. Turnaround time for the NMR LipoProfile is typically 1-3 business days.

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