Metabolic Syndrome: What?
Struggling with weight loss or reduction of bodyfat regardless of how hard you are working and how many changes to your diet you have made? There is a new sheriff in town! It’s called Metabolic Syndrome and is also known as Insulin Resistance. This condition will determine how well you respond to diet and exercise. There are ways to predetermine if you are in a battle with the bulge due to your age, heredity, body type and various health issues that you may be in the dark about.
If you are an apple shape with a waist measuring more than 35 inches as a woman or 40 inches as a man, you’re already considered high risk for what is now a well known condition The most common nationalities with the highest risk factors are South Asian, Mexican, or Native American descent. If you have health risks such as diabetes in the family, you also are at greater risk. With age your chances of acquiring this syndrome becomes greater for reasons that make a lot of sense already to body builders.
Although Metabolic Syndrome can strike in childhood, it is most common after 60 and strikes only about 10% in their 20’s. With age, we understand that we are at risk for many conditions and diseases and that our hormonal imbalances go hand in hand. As we age, we are more susceptible to various risks and conditions because our metabolism slows down and our hormones change causing us to lose muscle and increase body fat. There are a cluster of conditions that can set a person up for this, such as:
- High blood sugar levels
- Excess body fat, especially around the waist
- Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
- High stress levels
- Yo-yo dieting
- Loss of lean muscle mass and an increase in body fat
Just because you are guilty of having one of these conditions does not mean you have metabolic syndrome. The more conditions you have in combination, however, the greater you are at risk for it. You also become at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
With age, the metabolism begins to slow down automatically due to the natural aging process. Our bodies change and although we can change a lot cosmetically on the outside, what we can not control what nature intends. It is a fact that with age, we experience a loss of muscle mass that begins as early as in your 20’s. Between the ages of 20-90 years old, you will have lost approximately 50% of your muscle mass. Our energy decreases with the loss of muscle. It’s a tricky thing to defy nature and try to maintain your muscle. It requires a lot of hard work in the gym, eating foods that trigger hormones in the right way and ensuring that you keep your cortisol levels in check by reducing stress and getting enough sleep. When you have muscle, you are full of energy and your body works more efficiently. You are a natural thermogenic and a well-oiled machine. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Automatically, when you lose muscle you begin to lose your ability burn off as many calories and in turn, your body fat increases. The more body fat you have the more you will lean muscle mass you will lose. Menopause can really slow down a woman’s metabolism due to various hormonal shifts, as well. As we age, are energy levels do shift.
Along with age related muscle loss, here is the scoop on what happens with our hormones and this can also contribute to metabolic shifts. Most often a sign of aging for men involves lower testosterone levels, which leads to loss of muscle and also an increase in body fat that may contribute to metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Developing insulin resistance often occurs when you have high blood sugar and you don’t know how to manage your sugar levels. So much of this is related directly to diet and the timing of your meals. A lot can be prevented in this case with proper diet and exercise. Eating nutrients that trigger testosterone is the way of the wise and something body builders are already doing as a part of their contest prep.
Some examples are:
- Eating foods high in garlic and coupling it with high protein. Allicin in garlic and onions will inhibit cortisol, which inhibits testosterone.
- Getting plenty of B Vitamins in cereals, beans, meat, poultry and fish.
- Caffeine may surprise you, but coupled with exercise, may boost your levels, as well, but only stick with 1-2 beverages per day.
- Niacin can help with you boost your HDL levels. You can find this in dairy, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts and eggs. Some breads and cereals also have niacin in them.
- Zinc has been proven to double testosterone in those who have used it as a supplement. Zinc is found in oysters, crabs, meats, dark meat poultry, cheddar cheese, yogurt, almonds, cashews, baked beans and garbanzos.
Metabolic syndrome is linked to your body’s metabolism, and often with a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps control the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. When it is higher than normal levels in your blood, it leads to diabetes because your body can no longer control the blood glucose levels. It is common with age if you are an apple type (a person who carries most body fat in the abdomen area) to acquire these two conditions together.
In order to improve this condition aggressive lifestyle changes must be in order. In some cases, medication can improve all of the metabolic syndrome components. Getting more physical activity, losing weight and quitting smoking help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. We can’t prevent aging, but we can age in a way that is healthy. These changes are key to reducing your risk.
Exercise: Weight training and vigorous exercise, like HITT Training are great ways to stimulate the hormones needed to keep those muscles in check. Doctors recommend getting 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, every day.
-Lose weight – Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce insulin levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of diabetes. It also is anti-aging and puts less wear and tear on your muscular skeletal system and cortisol levels are not stimulated as easily as they are when you are not in good condition.
-Eat clean and time your meals – Limit unhealthy fats and emphasize fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. Eating foods rich in fiber can help you lower your insulin levels.
Get More Sleep & Manage Stress Better: Stress is linked to an increase in body fat. Your stomach has more receptors for cortisol. Reducing your stress level can automatically shrink your waist and lessen the amount of dangerous visceral fat, which is linked to the systemic inflammation and increased insulin sensitivity. Overtraining can also cause you to release cortisol and stimulate your body in a negative way. Pace yourself and work according to your conditioning levels. Take time to recover and do get at least 7 hours of sleep at night, you will lower your hunger hormones cortisol and ghrelin, making it easier to stick to a healthy, low-crap diet.
We can’t control aging, as much as we would like, but we can do some homework and educate ourselves on how to prevent the onset of conditions like Metabolic Syndrome and do things to keep our insulin levels in check. We can’t compete with nature, but we can approach our lives more strategically and make significant adjustments that can make all the difference. Once we know what to expect naturally, we can develop an understanding and “accept the things we can not change and change the things we can”. Continue to eat clean and train hard!
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