A Winning Plan to Defeat Metabolic Syndrome

A Winning Plan to Defeat Metabolic Syndrome

Sometimes, you’re too busy to prepare healthy meals, or don’t have time to exercise. Pretty soon, your clothes feel tight, and when you get your physical your blood pressure is up and your triglycerides are through the roof. You have reached the tipping point. Along with millions of other Americans, you now have metabolic syndrome. Be afraid! Be very afraid!

What is metabolic syndrome, clinically speaking?            

The American Heart Association identifies five risk factors for metabolic syndrome:

  1. A waist 35 inches or larger for women, 40 inches or larger for men
  2. Triglycerides 150 mg/dL or more, or already taking cholesterol meds
  3. Blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg or more, or taking blood pressure meds
  4. Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or more
  5. Low HDL cholesterol (below 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women)

If you meet three of these criteria, you already have metabolic syndrome along with nearly 50 million other Americans! Although everyone should be concerned about it, metabolic syndrome runs in families and becomes more common with age. It is also more prevalent in some ethnic groups.

What happens if I ignore it or I’m not aware of it?

Pretty soon, you’ll have a host of complications, and it will be very hard to reverse. Your rate of atherosclerosis will increase. You’ll be at elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. Your likelihood of diabetes will increase five-fold. Do blindness and amputation scare you? Then let’s learn what it takes to tame this monster, or better yet avoid ever getting it!

How do I defeat metabolic syndrome?

Start early! If you are being treated for hypertension or have diabetes, you will need to consult with your physician before undertaking any exercise program or making substantial dietary modifications. If you are very deconditioned, your doctor may recommend walking briskly for 30 minutes, 4-5 times per week. You will need to reduce calories and achieve a desirable weight. Current recommendations are the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet.

What if I’m concerned but still healthy?

You have an excellent chance to avoid metabolic syndrome forever, improve your health, and extend your life. The best plan, based on current evidence, would include all the following:

  • Strength training, with a metabolic component, three times weekly, 45-60 minutes each time. Think heavy kettlebell swings, sandbag complexes, deadlifts, chins, and landmine thrusters with minimum rest and you have the picture.
  • Two HIIT sessions per week (think Peak 8 or Tabata).
  • Walk briskly, some of it on hills, for at least 150 minutes per week, in addition to your incidental walking.
  • Eat a portion-controlled Mediterranean, DASH, or MIND diet and follow it closely. Keep track of your glycemic load and aim for 100 or less daily.
  • Weigh yourself weekly and record your readings. Get a blood pressure monitor and take a reading once per week; record your readings with date and time. Also, you must purchase a slide-and-click caliper and learn how to measure your skinfolds accurately, which you will also record. Do this monthly and observe trends.
  • Optionally, try intermittent fasting at least three days per week, and make a six-week trial commitment if you choose this.

Begin today and never stop. There is nothing more important than your health. Nothing!