Return to Index
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Metabolic Syndrome
Making lifestyle changes can help manage metabolic syndrome. The goal is to control the underlying factors that put you at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. If you are overweight or have diabetes, moderately increasing physical activity, losing 10% of your weight or more, and changing your eating habits can all have a significant impact.
It is important to set modest, attainable goals for yourself. Start by making small changes instead of trying to change everything all at once. You will be more successful and will continue to progress more easily.
Lifestyle changes you can make include:
Lower Your Weight
- Find a weight loss program that is right for you. Programs with frequent reinforcement may be particularly effective.
- Lose weight slowly and steadily. Plan ways to maintain the weight loss. Aim to lose approximately 10% of the original weight in the next 6-12 months.
- Monitor your weight.
Improve your eating habits:
- Sit down at the table for your meals.
- Focus on your food. Do not do other activities, such as watching TV, while you are eating.
- Do not wait until you are completely full before you stop eating.
- Do not eat because you are bored, tired, stressed, or sad.
- When eating out, ask for half of your portion to be packed before your meal is served.
Eat a Healthy Diet
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Ask your doctor if the Mediterranean diet is right for you.
- Choose lean cuts of meat.
- Avoid fast foods.
- Bake, broil, or grill your poultry, fish, or meat. Do not fry your food.
- Do not add salt to your food.
- Cut down on saturated fats. Fats are usually found in animal products. They can raise your cholesterol levels.
- Choose whole-grain foods. For example, choose whole wheat bread or brown rice instead of refined or processed foods like white bread or white rice.
- Eat more fiber-rich foods, such as beans, fruits, vegetables.
- Eat less sugar.
- Limit or eliminate soda and other sugary drinks including juice.
Increase Your Physical Activity
- Exercise a little each day. Aim for 30-60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise.
- Commit yourself to more physical activity. Join a health club or plan walks with friends.
Incorporate increased activity into your daily habits:
- Park further away from your destination.
- Use the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Get up to turn the TV channel rather than using the remote control.
- Do small exercises, such as leg lifts or stomach tucks, while sitting or lying in bed.
See Your Doctor
- Get regular physical check-ups. You and your doctor should monitor your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
- Ask your doctor for advice on a diet and exercise program that is right for you.
Ask your doctor to suggest programs and/or medicines to help you quit smoking. This is extremely important.
Avoid Excess Alcohol Intake
Drink alcohol in moderation only.
- 1 alcoholic drink per day for women
- 2 alcoholic drinks per day for men
Control Your Stress Level
Stress can contribute to weight gain and heart disease. Learn relaxation and stress management techniques.
Chan DC, Watts, et al. Effect of weight loss on markers of triglyceride-rich lipoprotein metabolism in the metabolic syndrome. Eur J Clin Invest. 2008;38:743-751.
Cornier MA, Dabelea D, et al. The metabolic syndrome. Endocr Rev. 2008;29:777-822.
Deen D. Metabolic Syndrome: time for action. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69:2875-2882.
Ford ES, Giles WH, et al. Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA. 2002;287:356-359.
Gami AS, Witt BJ, et al. Metabolic syndrome and risk of incident cardiovascular events and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;49:403-414.
Grundy SM. Metabolic Syndrome: a multiplex cardiovascular risk factor. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92:399-404.
Metabolic syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 9, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2013.
NCEP issues major new cholesterol guidelines. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/new/press/01-05-15.htm. Accessed February 22. 2013.
Orchar TJ, Temprosa M, et al. The effect of diet and exercise or metformin on the metabolic syndrome: The diabetes prevention program randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2005;142:611-619.
Pescatello LS, Blanchard BE, et al. The metabolic syndrome and the immediate antihypertensive effects of aerobic exercise: a randomized control design. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2008;8:12
Rosenzweig JL, Ferrannini E, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in patients at metabolic risk: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93:3671-2689
Steinberger J, Daniels SR, Eckel RH, et al. AHA Scientific Statement: Progress and Challenges in Metabolic Syndrome in Children and Adolescents. Circulation. 2009;119:628-647.
Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III): Executive Summary. National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/atp3xsum.pdf. Accessed February 22, 2013.
Tjonna Ae, Lee SJ, et al. Aerobic interval training versus continuous moderate exercise as a treatment for the metabolic syndrome: a pilot study. Circulation. 2008; 118:346-354
1/13/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Salas-Salvadó J, Fernández-Ballart J, Ros E, et al. Effect of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts on metabolic syndrome status: one-year results of the PREDIMED randomized trial. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:2449-2458.
3/30/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Babio N, Toledo E, et al. Mediterranean diets and metabolic syndrome status in the PREDIMED randomized trial. CMAJ. 2014 Nov 18;186(17):E649-E657.
- Reviewer: Kim A. Carmichael, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 05/2015
- Update Date: 05/20/2015