Medically reviewed on July 13, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Your cholesterol is an essential part of your body’s cells and is critical to your metabolic, hormonal, and cellular functions. However, when too much cholesterol builds up in your blood, the waxy substance can create plaque that clogs your arteries, affecting your heart health.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol levels have little to no symptoms. To gauge your cholesterol levels, you’ll need to take a cholesterol blood test. 
Like many other blood tests, cholesterol tests require a fasting period beforehand. According to the CDC, most cholesterol tests (called “lipid panel” or “lipid profile”) require you to fast for 8 to 12 hours.  However, some tests don’t require fasting, so it’s best to check with your healthcare provider ahead of time.
Simply put, eating and drinking can interfere with your test result. When you consume food and beverages, excess cholesterol can enter the body and skew the number.
What’s more, if you eat or drink within several hours of your test, you risk receiving an incomplete picture of your overall cholesterol numbers, which include HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. If you skip fasting, only your HDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels are usable. 
Wondering what to expect from a cholesterol test and how to understand cholesterol test results? Your experience will depend on the type of test you take. Generally, there are only two types of cholesterol tests:
Furthermore, regardless of how you draw blood, the testing process is the same. In the lab, professionals check your blood for these four cholesterol indicators:
Cholesterol tests are quick and easy by nature. Still, if you take a few minutes to prepare, you can ensure the entire process goes even smoother—from hours before your test to moments after.
If your cholesterol test is of the fasting variety, you may be wondering if there are any loopholes. What about a cup of coffee? A small glass of apple juice? Unfortunately, you cannot consume anything before your cholesterol test.
While some types of fasting—such as intermittent fasting—allow you to drink unsweetened coffee or tea, fasting for a blood test is different. Once you’ve entered the pre-test fasting period, you should only drink water.
Whenever fasting is involved, it’s best to schedule your test first thing in the morning, since you’ll already have a head start on fasting.
Not eating or drinking for eight hours of your day may seem difficult, but remember: You already fast for a third of your day while you sleep. When you plan your cholesterol test for, say, 9 in the morning, all you have to do is stop eating after 9 pm the night before.
Considering that dietitians recommend you avoid eating before bed in all cases , overnight fasting is most likely already a part of your routine.
Sure, you might feel a little hungry ahead of your morning test, but you can reward your patience and iron will with a nutrient-dense brunch afterward.
Aside from understanding how long to fast for cholesterol test results for complete accuracy, there are other steps you can take to make your test as seamless as possible:
Fasting is an essential part of many cholesterol tests, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or uncomfortable. One way to improve the overall experience is to do your cholesterol test at home.
While you’ll still have to fast for 8 to 10 hours before taking an Everlywell Cholesterol & Lipids Test, you won’t have to sit in a waiting room while your stomach rumbles. Plus, as soon as you complete your at-home lipid profile test, you can start making a delicious meal right away.