You might have heard the term metabolic syndrome and how it’s on the rise in the United States. What exactly is this condition, and what can you do about it? How does this condition affect your health? How does the ketogenic diet impact metabolic syndrome?
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome refers to five risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The group of risk factors is as follows:
- High blood sugar levels, including high fasting glucose levels (insulin resistance)
- High triglyceride levels
- Excess fat in the abdominal area (around the waist)
- Low levels of good HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure (greater than 130/85 mmHg)
If you have one of these risk factors, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have metabolic syndrome; however, it does increase your risk of getting the associated diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. If you have three or more of these factors, you have a higher risk of health complications, and you might be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
According to the American Heart Association, around 23% of adults have metabolic syndrome . Risk factors for this syndrome are also linked to obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the two most important risk factors are:
Central or abdominal obesity (excess fat around the middle and upper areas of the body)
Insulin resistance (making it difficult for the body to properly use sugar) .
Other factors that can increase your risk of this syndrome include:
- Not getting sufficient physical activity
- Women who have been diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Family history
Your doctor can perform several different tests to determine if you have this condition, such as checking your waist circumference, fasting blood triglycerides, fasting glucose level, and blood pressure. Abnormalities on three or more of these tests suggest metabolic syndrome.
What are the Complications of this Condition?
Complications of this syndrome can be serious and chronic. Some of the complications include:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Kidney disease
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Peripheral artery disease
What is the Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome?
Fortunately, the outlook for those with this syndrome can be positive if symptoms are properly managed. The best idea is to try to prevent metabolic syndrome before it occurs by maintaining a healthy waist circumference and blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
If you have this condition, the goal is typically to make lifestyle changes that can help you improve your risk factors, such as weight loss and blood pressure regulation. Some doctors recommend certain medications for treatment, while others focus more on lifestyle modifications. Your doctor or health professional might suggest quitting smoking and certain dietary and exercise changes to improve your symptoms and general health.
Many doctors are now recommending the ketogenic diet for metabolic syndrome. Use our keto doctor finder to help you find a keto-friendly doctor. It’s important you talk to your healthcare provider before making dietary changes.
The Ketogenic Diet for Metabolic Syndrome
Research shows the ketogenic diet can be beneficial for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Lowering your carbs on keto also lowers your need for insulin, which can help insulin resistance. A lot of metabolic problems have to do with insulin resistance, and the body no longer responding properly to insulin, which is released when glucose enters your bloodstream .
If you’re constantly eating high carbohydrate foods, you’re constantly spiking insulin, alas, the blood sugar rollercoaster comes to fruition. Research reveals consuming a ketogenic diet is more effective at improving factors like triglyceride levels, fasting insulin levels, metabolic syndrome, and more, especially when compared to a low-fat diet [4,5].
Are You Going Keto to Help Your Metabolic Syndrome?
How has the ketogenic diet shifted your metabolism and positively affected your quality of life?
1. American Heart Association. About Metabolic Syndrome. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome
2. Beilby, J. (2004). Definition of metabolic syndrome: Report of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute / American Heart Association Conference on scientific issues related to definition. Clin Biochem Rev, 25(3), 195-198.
3. Gershuni, V. M., Yan, S. L., & Medici, V. (2018). Nutritional ketosis for weight management and reversal of metabolic syndrome. Curr Nutr Rep. 7(3), 97-106. DOI: 10.1007/s13668-018-0235-0
4. Volek, J. S., Phinney, S. D., Forsythe, C. E., Quann, E. E., Wood, R. J., Puglisi, M. J., Kraemer, W. J., Bibus, D. M., Fernandez, M. L., & Feinman, R. D. (2009). Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low-fat diet. Lipids, 44(4), 297-309. DOI: 10.1007/s11745-008-3274-2
5. Yancy Jr, W. S., Westman, E. C., McDuffie, J. R., Grambow, S. C., Jeffreys, A. S., Bolton, J., Chalecki, A., & Oddone, E. Z. (2010). A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet vs orlistat plus a low-fat diet for weight loss. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170(2)m 136-145. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.492
6. Nakao, R., Shimba, S., & Oishi, K. (2017). Ketogenic diet induces expression of the muscle circadian gene Slc25a25 via neural pathway that might be involved in muscle thermogenesis. Science Reports, 7(1), 2885. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03119-8
7. Hutfles, L. J., Wilkins, H. M., Koppel, S. J., Weidling, I. W., Selfridge, J. E., Tan, E., Thyfault, J. P., Slawson, C., Fenton, A. W., Zhu, H., & Swerdlow, R. H. (2017). A bioenergetics systems evaluation of ketogenic diet liver effects. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, & Metabolism, 42(9), 955-962. DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0068
8. Stafford, P., Abdelwahab, M. G., Kim, D. Y., Preul, M. C., Rho, J. M., & Scheck, A. C. (2010). The ketogenic diet reverses gene expression patterns and reduces reactive oxygen species levels when used as an adjuvant therapy for glioma. Nutrition & Metabolism, DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-74
Steph Green is a writer, researcher, and singer/songwriter with a passion for all things wellness. In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.