If you have metabolic syndrome, also called syndrome X, losing weight can improve your condition. Metabolic syndrome refers to a collection of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and a waistline measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women. Collectively, these risk factors increase the chances that you will develop heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Obesity is common in those with metabolic syndrome, so weight loss plays a crucial role in reducing these risk factors.
Importance of Weight Loss
Diet and exercise are the foundation for treating metabolic syndrome. Weight loss improves cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and increases insulin sensitivity. Most people with metabolic syndrome have resistance to insulin, which is a blood sugar-regulating hormone. Even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight improves metabolic risk factors. Other lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking also play a role.
Work with your physician to design an individualized meal plan that promotes weight loss. Avoid fad diets that promise unrealistic results. Fad diets rarely provide long-term weight-loss benefits, and some can even harm your health. Avoid overly strict diets that exclude entire food groups; instead, pursue a plan that offers a variety of foods. You must reduce the amount of calories you eat each day in order to lose weight. A balanced, nutritious diet that limits you to 1,200 to 1,400 calories for women and 1,500 to 1,800 calories is a good starting point, according to the University of Chicago Medicine.
Move Your Body
Diet and exercise is typically better at promoting weight loss and improving your body composition than diet alone. Exercise helps you retain lean muscle tissue while losing fat. It boosts your metabolism so that you burn more calories, too. If you're not used to exercise, start with simple activities that get you moving. For example, start slowly by walking 30 minutes a day a few days a week. As you get stronger, aim to walk longer periods most days a week.
If you're in the high-risk category, your physician may recommend drug therapy in addition to a diet and exercise program. Lorcaserin, for example, is a weight-loss drug that helps you feel full so that you eat less. Another drug, orlistat, prevents your body from absorbing some of the fat in the foods that you eat. This action reduces your total fat and total calorie intake, because the unabsorbed fat is excreted in your stool.