Triglycerides: Diet and Activity

By Courtney Laymon PTA

Triglycerides: Diet and Activity

Triglycerides are the major dietary fat found in the blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The storage for triglycerides is in your fat cells. Adipose tissue triglyceride represents the major energy storage of the body. Fatty acids for energy use are mobilized from adipose tissue triglycerides by the action of hormone-sensitive lipase, which is activated by glucagon and adrenaline (epinephrine) and inhibited by insulin. These hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.

Triglycerides are lipids that can be burned for energy. JOI Rehab


If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods, you may have high triglycerides, hypertriglyceridemia. The performance of blood lipid panels are to evaluate triglyceride levels for monitoring disease risk and processes. Normal triglyceride levels in healthy adults are <150 mg/dL. Triglyceride levels are considered high when > 200 mg/dL.  Often, this is checked routinely by your physician as part of a blood test for cholesterol.

What is Dyslipidemia?

Dyslipidemia is an abnormal amount of lipids (e.g., cholesterol) in the blood. It is further defined by the presence of elevated levels of total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C), elevated levels of triglycerides (TG), or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C). Nearly 30% of people in the United States have dyslipidemia, a major risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Additionally, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. high-density lipoprotein, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides, which make up the blood lipid profile, are predictors of cardiovascular disease. Physical inactivity is linked to lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides, both of which lead to an increased risk of atherosclerotic disease.

According to the report of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017, cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity. It is known that exercise reduces body weight and fat stores. At the same time, it is observed that exercise causes moderate decreases in blood total cholesterol, total lipid levels, serum triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein, and increases in high-density lipoprotein.

Exercise and Triglycerides

Burning Triglycerides for energy. JOI Rehab

Triglycerides for Energy

Exercise prescription for individuals with elevated blood lipid panels (including elevated triglycerides) should emphasize weight maintenance. Accordingly, aerobic exercise for the purpose of maximizing energy expenditure for weight loss becomes the foundation. The American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM, provides research-based FITT (frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise) recommendations consistent with the recommendations for healthy weight loss and maintenance. Additionally, The ACSM recommends participating in 250–300 minutes of exercise per week. This can easily be achieved through 30-60 minutes of exercise 5-7 days per week.


Types of Exercise to Decrease Triglycerides

Anaerobic, aerobic, and resistance exercise have shown to significantly decrease triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein, and total cholesterol levels. Aerobic exercise includes traditional cardio training like walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, or swimming. Interval training programs containing alternating intervals of exertional activity and periods of rest is another way to achieve aerobic exercise. Although beneficial for general health, resistance and flexibility exercises should be considered adjuncts to an aerobic training program because these modes of exercise have less consistent beneficial effects. There is limited research showing exercise to increase high-density lipoprotein, or healthy cholesterol, levels. Also, flexibility training is recommended for general health benefits only.

Written By: Courtney Laymon PTA

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