Making lifestyle changes can help manage metabolic syndrome. The goal is to control the factors that put you at risk for getting cardiovascular disease. If you are overweight or have diabetes, making small changes can have a big impact. This includes getting some exercise, losing at least 10% of your body weight, and changing your eating habits.

It is important to set reasonable goals you can attain. Start by making small changes. Don't try to change everything all at once. You will be more successful and make better progress.

Changes you can make:

Lose Excess Weight

  • Find a weight loss program that is right for you. Programs with frequent reinforcement may be more helpful.
  • 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.
  • Keep track of your weight.
  • Make better eating choices:
    • Sit down at the table for your meals.
    • Focus on your food. Don't do other activities such as watching TV.
    • Don't wait until you are completely full before you stop eating.
    • Don't 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 Healthful Diet

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Ask your doctor if the Mediterranean diet is right for you.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat.
  • Try to avoid fast food. If you can't, find something on their menu that fits your plan.
  • Bake, broil, or grill your poultry, fish, or meat. Don't fry your food.
  • Don't 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. Choose whole wheat bread or brown rice. Avoid 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, even juice.

Get More Exercise

  • Exercise a little each day. Aim for 30-60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise.
  • Commit yourself to getting more exercise. Join a health club or plan walks with friends.
  • Find ways to get extra exercise in during your day:
    • 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 physicals. You and your doctor should monitor your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels.
  • Ask your doctor for advice on a diet and exercise program that is right for you.

Quit Smoking

Ask your doctor to suggest programs or medicines to help you quit smoking. Quitting will help you attain your goals. It's also the biggest risk factor for most diseases.

Avoid Excess Alcohol Intake

  • Drink alcohol in moderation only. This means:
    • One or less drinks a day for women
    • Two or less drinks a day for men

Control Your Stress Level

Stress can contribute to weight gain and heart disease. Learn how to relax and manage stress to help you feel better.


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Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD  Last Updated: 8/27/2018