8 tips to lose extra weight and improve your cholesterol

Learn ways to drop extra pounds and help prevent heart problems.


a smiling, overweight woman stands outside holding hands with her partner, who is seated and looking at her
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. Too much can harm blood flow. This can cause heart problems. 

Being overweight tends to increase your cholesterol. But losing weight may improve your cholesterol numbers. This can help you prevent heart problems in the future.  

Keep reading for simple ideas on how to lose weight to benefit your health. 

closeup image of a woman's hand holding a carton of milk at the grocery store
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Eat foods you love

You don’t have to avoid your favorite meals when you are trying to lose weight. Instead, try to reduce the calories and saturated fat in those meals. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood. 

 Here are three tips: 

  • Choose leaner meats, like ground turkey instead of ground beef.  
  • Swap full-fat dairy products for low-fat versions. For example, buy skim milk instead of whole milk.  
  • Using less oil and butter when you cook. You can often cut back without changing your meal’s flavor. 
closeup image of a person's hands around a bowl of oatmeal, blueberries and cut up apple slices
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Don't skip breakfast

Breakfast may be the most important meal for losing weight. Try these tips for a healthier breakfast: 

  • Practice portion control. Eat the right amount of food to stay healthy. 
  • Choose lean proteins. Protein helps build and maintain your body. Leaner proteins contain less saturated fat. Try eggs or low-fat yogurt. 
  • Focus on fiber. It is a nutrient that helps control blood sugar and appetite. Good sources at breakfast are fruits and whole grains like oatmeal. 

Both protein and fiber can help you feel full. This helps you eat less during the day. They can also help lower your cholesterol.  

an overweight young man is outside walking on a path in the woods
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Manage stress

When you’re stressed, you may crave comfort food like pizza or ice cream. This can make healthy eating harder.  

Stress also makes your body release cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that can increase your appetite. It can also trigger cravings for foods that are high in fat and sugar. 

Ask yourself two questions when you are having a craving: 

  • Is this really hunger?  
  • Could it be stress instead?  

If it is stress, there are lots of healthy ways to cope. For example, try taking a walk outside or closing your eyes and breathing deeply. 

two young women are arriving together for an exercise class both holding water bottles
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Seek friends who want to be healthy

Spending time with people who have poor health habits can make it harder to lose weight.  

So, make sure to seek out friends who share your healthy goals. This can include exercising and being more aware of what you eat. Doing so can help you manage your weight. 

That doesn't mean you should dump your other friends. Just make sure to build relationships with people who support positive changes in your life. 

paper bags full of healthy fresh produce and other groceries sit on the kitchen counter
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Restock your kitchen

Check your kitchen for foods that may harm your weight-loss plans. These may include: 

  • Snack foods like potato chips and candy 
  • Baked goods like brownies and cookies 
  • Packaged foods like frozen pizza 

Instead, stock your kitchen with healthier items. Consider these for snacks: 

  • Fruit like apples, bananas, and oranges 
  • Nuts like peanuts and almonds 
  • Vegetables like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and pepper strips 
  • Popcorn 

Eating healthier snacks can help you feel full for a long time. It may also improve your cholesterol levels. 

a man sleeps peacefully in his bed at home
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Sleep well

Poor sleep can make it harder to lose weight. When you sleep less than six to eight hours a night, it may: 

  • Increase your appetite 
  • Make you too tired to exercise 
  • Slow your metabolism 

Metabolism is how your body gets energy through food. When it is slowed down, your body uses fewer calories. This can lead to weight gain. 

The good news: Getting good sleep can help you lose weight. Try different things to improve your sleep. They might include: 

  • Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet 
  • Turning your electronics off 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime 
  • Going to sleep at the same time each night 
  • Waking up at the same time each morning 
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Get moving

Exercise can help you control your cholesterol and lose weight. Make sure to get some activity every day. This can include: 

  • Aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, or biking 
  • Strength training like lifting weights 

Body weight exercises are another type of strength training. These moves use your own body weight to strengthen your muscles. Lunges and squats are good examples. 

Gardening and doing everyday chores also count as exercise.  

closeup image of a hand holding a pen and writing something at a desk
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Keep a journal

Want more motivation to lose weight? Keep track of your progress. Tracking what you eat can help you spot unhealthy habits. It can also help you make better choices in the future. 

You can use an app, your phone, or paper and pen to track. Write down: 

  • What you ate 
  • The calories you consumed 
  • How you felt 

It is an affordable, quick way to help keep yourself on track and reach your weight-loss goals. 

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

American Heart Association. The skinny on fats. Last reviewed November 11, 2020.
Chao AM, Jastreboff AM, White MA, Grilo CM, Sinha R. Stress, cortisol, and other appetite-related hormones: Prospective prediction of 6-month changes in food cravings and weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017 Apr;25(4):713-720.
Robertson MC, Raber M, Liao Y, et al. Patterns of self-monitoring technology use and weight loss in people with overweight or obesity. Transl Behav Med. 2021;11(8):1537-1547.

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