How to fast before a blood cholesterol test

Updated February 21, 2017

It's almost always necessary to fast before a blood cholesterol test. If you're scheduled for a blood cholesterol test, you'll want to make sure you're fasting properly. Both your doctor and the lab where you'll have your blood work drawn are 2 good resources to help you determine how to fast before a blood cholesterol test.

Check with your doctor or the lab where you'll be having blood drawn to find out how long you're required to fast. Sometimes this time frame is 6 to 8 hours and sometimes you might have to fast overnight. In some cases, you'll have to fast for up to 12 hours.

Schedule your blood cholesterol test as early in the morning as possible if you're required to fast for 12 hours. You can stop eating at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. And then wake up the next morning and go right to the lab to have your blood drawn.

Pay attention to what you're eating in the weeks prior to a blood cholesterol test, assuming you have that much advance notice that you'll be getting this test. Avoid red meat, eggs and other high-fat and high-cholesterol foods if you're getting a blood cholesterol test as part of a life insurance exam.

Don't alter your diet too much if you're getting a routine blood cholesterol test since your doctor will want an accurate idea of what your cholesterol is based on your usual diet.

Drink water even after your fast has begun. Most lab facilities still allow patients to drink water and don't consider what to be part of the fast, no matter how many hours you're required to fast.

Check with your doctor or the lab to determine if coffee is allowed. In some cases, you're not required to avoid coffee when you're fasting.

Be honest when you go for your blood cholesterol test. If you were required to fast for 12 hours, and you only fasted for 8 hours because you had a snack before bedtime, let the lab know.

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