You’ve probably heard the term metabolic syndrome before. It gets a lot of press these days. But if you’re confused about what it even is, you’re NOT alone.
The first thing to understand is what metabolic syndrome isn’t. It’s not actually a disease. It’s a group of four factors—closely linked to your family history—that show up together…
- A big belly
- High blood pressure
- Elevated blood sugar
- High cholesterol and/or triglycerides
When clustered together these four conditions cause your risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes to skyrocket. And they earn you a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.
6 tricks to beat metabolic syndrome
But don’t worry, if your numbers are already creeping up there are some things you can do to turn the tide. Following are six easy to implement tricks that could help you avoid metabolic syndrome.
1. Focus on belly fat:
If you’re not just overweight, but specifically carrying extra weight around your middle (an apple shape) your risk for developing metabolic syndrome is much higher. So your focus should be on reducing your waist size rather than worrying about the numbers on the scale.
Abdominal squeezes, pelvic tilts or even cranking up some music and doing the twist for 10 minutes are great ways to whittle down your belly. You’ll also find plenty of free instructional videos for trimming down your waistline on YouTube.
2. Eat breakfast:
Many folks skip breakfast because they’re in too much of a rush in the morning, or because they mistakenly think it will help them lose weight. But skipping can backfire on you.
A recent Swedish study revealed a link between skipping morning meals and developing metabolic syndrome. And if you’re worried about the “extra” calories, stop. A study published in the journal Obesity found that eating a bigger breakfast may actually help you lose weight. So be sure to start your day with a meal.
3. Load up on plant-based fiber:
If you haven’t gone low-carb yet, now’s the time. And while eating a modest amount of whole grains is typically healthy, you should focus on eating more lower-carb fruits (such as berries) and veggies to raise the amount of plant-based fiber in your diet. Studies show diets that are loaded with plant foods reduce your risk for elevated blood sugar and metabolic syndrome.
4. Move your muscles:
A good cardio workout that gets your heart pumping is essential. Just don’t stop there. Be sure to fit in some regular strength training too.
And don’t worry, you don’t have to go to the gym to use complicated machines or bench press 100 pound weights. Hand weights, resistance bands or simply using the weight of your own body while doing things like leg lifts and arm raises will work. (Take a look at our “No Work Workout” for some inspiration.)
5. Stand up more often:
A growing stack of research has revealed that regularly sitting for several hours at a time sends your risk of metabolic syndrome climbing. It doesn’t matter if the sitting is taking place at the office during the day or at night in front of the TV, the result is the same. Commit to getting up and moving around for 10 minutes every hour.
6. Get tested for sleep apnea:
A number of studies have found a link between sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to temporarily stop breathing in your sleep, and metabolic syndrome. In fact, a 2011 study in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that an incredible 70 percent of sleep apnea sufferers go on to develop the syndrome. If you suspect you might have apnea talk with your doctor about getting tested.