Have You Been Diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome? You Need to Learn How to Lose Belly Fat!

by Cindy

Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is characterized by the combination of abnormal blood sugars, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and central obesity. People with these risk factors are prone to developing heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, breast cancer, and colon cancer.  At your annual physical exams, your physician should check routine blood work and your weight to screen for metabolic syndrome.  If certain tests are abnormal, you could be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. 

Current national guidelines state that patients with 3 out of 5 of the following risk factors will be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome:

  • Abnormal blood glucose levels:  Patients who are treated for elevated blood sugars or have a fasting reading higher than 100 mg/dl
  • High blood pressure: Patients who are treated for high blood pressure or have a BP reading higher than 135/85
  • High Triglycerides: Patients on medications for high cholesterol or fasting triglyceride levels that are greater than 150 mg/dl
  • Low HDL: Patients with an HDL of less than 40 mg/dl if male or less than 50 mg/dl for females
  • Central obesity: Patients with a waist measurement greater than 40 inches in men and greater than 35 inches in women

How is Metabolic Syndrome Treated?

If you have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, it is important to discuss how these abnormalities should be treated to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and cancers.  Your physician should evaluate your individual health to determine how best to improve your sugars, blood pressure, weight and cholesterol.  If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, your treatment goals will be more ambitious.

Condition Treatment Goal Goal if Diabetic Treatment Used
Hyperglycemia Reduce fasting glucose to less than 100 mg/dl Maintain HbA1c < 7% Lifestyle modifications, typically start treatment with Metformin
Hypertension Goal less than 140/90 Goal less than 130/80 Lifestyle modifications,ACE inhibitors or AngiotensinReceptor Blockers, Beta Blockers, Diuretics
Hypertriglyceridemia Goal less than 150 mg/dl Niacin, Fibrates (often meds are combined with statin therapy)
Low HDL Higher than 40 mg/dl (men) or 50 mg/dl (women)  
Central Obesity Weight reduction Lifestyle modifications, exercise

If you have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, weight loss is a corner stone of treatment.  Weight loss should be aimed at reducing central obesity. Click here to use this weight loss calculator to find out how to hit your weight loss goals! Central obesity means that there is a large accumulation of fat around the waist.  Patients with central obesity have both a significant fat layer beneath the skin and too much fat surrounding the internal organs.  This fat, called visceral fat, is particularly troublesome because visceral fat produces hormones that affect cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar metabolism.  Too much visceral fat results in an overproduction of these hormones, in turn causing abnormal blood sugars, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

To reduce central obesity, the patient must learn how to change his diet and how to burn belly fat.  Losing belly fat takes commitment to lifelong diet and exercise changes. It takes incredible patience to not get frustrated if the process is slow.

How do I Target Central Obesity?

Start with good old fashioned exercise! 

  • Patients are strongly encouraged to engage in moderate physical activity for 30-45 minutes per day for at least 5 days per week.
  • Get up and move around often throughout the day to keep the metabolism going.  
  • Combine aerobic exercise with strength training to burn calories and build muscle mass.  Patients with more muscle mass burn calories faster.
  • Always ask your physician if you are healthy enough to start an exercise program. 

Get your fill of H2O!

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your metabolism going.  Studies have shown that people that consume too little water over eat because they sometimes mistake thirst for hunger.

Improve your diet!

  • Enjoy smaller meals more frequently to boost your metabolism
  • Choose foods that are high in fiber.  Fiber-rich foods help you feel full longer. They are slow to digest and limit the amount of fat that the body can absorb.  You can find fiber in whole grain cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Replace foods that increase LDL (bad) cholesterol with better food choices that can reduce cholesterol naturally.
  • Eat protein!  Consume more protein in the form of fish and lean meats, such as chicken or turkey.
  • Give a fat burning food a chance.  Find foods, such as hot peppers, oatmeal and green tea, that boost metabolism.

Lose weight safely!

  • Remember that a loss of 2 pounds per week is considered a safe weight loss
  • Avoid using weight loss supplements or gimmicks to reduce your weight.
  • Always discuss your weight loss plans with your doctor. 
  • Don’t get frustrated!  Even a 5% reduction in weight will improve your blood pressure, sugars and cholesterol!

If you have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome it is important to take control and improve your health to reduce your risk of heart disease, progression to diabetes, stroke and cancer.  Improving your health and losing weight doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes commitment to lifestyle changes and patience to truly improve your health.

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