How do I prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?

Since physical inactivity and excess weight are the main underlying contributors to the development of metabolic syndrome, exercising, eating healthy and, if you are currently overweight or obese, attempting to lose weight can help reduce or prevent the complications associated with this condition. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to manage some aspects of your problems associated with the metabolic syndrome. Some of the ways to reduce your risk:

  • Healthy eating and attempting to lose weight if currently overweight or obese: Healthy eating and moderate weight loss, in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight, can help restore your body’s ability to recognize insulin and greatly reduce the chance that the syndrome will become a more serious illness. This can be done through diet, exercise, or even with help from weight-loss medications if recommended by your doctor.
  • Exercise: Increased activity alone can improve your insulin sensitivity. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can promote weight loss, improved blood pressure and triglycerides levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Most healthcare providers recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise may reduce the risk for heart disease even without accompanying weight loss. Any increase in physical activity is helpful, even for those unable to perform 150 minutes of activity per week.
  • Dietary changes: Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50 percent of total calories. The source of carbohydrates should be from whole grains (complex carbohydrates), such as whole grain bread (instead of white) and brown rice (instead of white). Whole grain products along with legumes (for example, beans), fruits and vegetables allow you to have a higher dietary fiber. Eat less red meats and poultry. Instead, eat more fish (without the skin and not fried). Thirty percent of your daily calories should come from fat. Consume healthy fats such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and tree nuts.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy