Have you heard of the word ‘Metabolic Health’ before?

Metabolic health means all nutrients are used optimally in your body, which will translate into normal blood sugar, lipids (fat), energy levels,  blood pressure, and hormonal regulation. A well-functioning metabolism plays a vital role in maintaining energy balance, which is crucial for metabolic health. In case you’re wondering what metabolism means, metabolism encompasses the processes by which our bodies convert food into energy.

When you are metabolically healthy, all the processes of nutrient use will happen spontaneously and seamlessly, promoting overall well-being and reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase the risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes. Here are 4 signs that you have metabolic syndrome

1. A bigger waistline

Excess fat around the waistline is referred to as abdominal obesity and is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome. Abdominal fat, which is composed mainly of visceral fat, releases inflammatory substances which affect the body’s ability to effectively regulate blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)  emphasizes measuring waist circumference to assess abdominal obesity and metabolic risk.

To assess your risk, measure your waist. Men with a waistline above 40 inches (102 cm) and women with a waist above 35 inches (88 cm) should be cautious and take steps to reduce their risk.

2. Glucose Intolerance

It refers to the body’s inability to use glucose from carbs effectively. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar, but when your body becomes resistant to it, your blood sugar can become unpredictable. You may feel tired often, have increased hunger, and crave sugary foods. A Fasting blood sugar or glucose levels greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL (or being diagnosed with prediabetes) may be a pointer to metabolic syndrome.

3. Unfriendly Cholesterol and Triglycerides level

Abnormal blood lipid/fat may contribute to metabolic syndrome. Both Cholesterol and triglycerides are types of fat in the blood. They are transported in the bloodstream by lipoprotein carriers, including very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Triglycerides carried by VLDL and  LDL cholesterol (also called bad cholesterol) can contribute to plaque formation in blood vessels when in excess in the body. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol (also known as “good” cholesterol) is beneficial as it helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. Triglycerides above 150mg/dl, LDL cholesterol above 130mgl/dl, and HDL cholesterol below 40mg/dl are detrimental to health.

A review of several studies found that metabolic syndrome is associated with higher LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

If you have high blood cholesterol/triglycerides or a family history of this condition, it’s crucial to check your blood lipid level regularly.

4. Elevated Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is defined as having consistently elevated blood pressure readings of 130/85 mmHg or higher. While metabolic syndrome can result in high blood pressure (through obesity, insulin resistance, and high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol),  high blood pressure is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Hypertension can further worsen insulin resistance and dyslipidemia (abnormal blood lipid levels) and contribute to the development of other metabolic abnormalities associated with the syndrome. The American Heart Association states that elevated blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as High blood pressure can damage your heart and blood vessels over time.

General Tips to Prevent and Manage Metabolic Syndrome

  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 4-5times a week
  • Eat whole foods such as whole grains, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Limit saturated fat, salt, and sugar in your diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stop alcohol abuse
  • Avoid smoking


Most people are unaware of the silent threat of metabolic syndrome. It is crucial to go for routine medical tests, especially if you have one or more of the highlighted signs, consult your doctor for treatment options, and work with a registered dietitian for diet and lifestyle management. The good news is with the right help; you can prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome.



  1. Alberti, K. G., Eckel, R. H., Grundy, S. M., Zimmet, P. Z., Cleeman, J. I., Donato, K. A., … & Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome. (2009). International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/risk-factors-type-2-diabetes).
  3. World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Diabetes Care, 32(9), 1761-1768.).
  4. Association between the changes in glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the metabolic syndrome: The Cretan postprandial study. Atherosclerosis, 214(1), 197-203.).
  5. Despres, J. P., & Lemieux, I. (2006). Abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome. Nature, 444(7121), 881-887.).
  6. Definition of metabolic syndrome: Report of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/American Heart Association conference on scientific issues related to definition. Circulation, 109(3), 433-438.).

Consult a Dietitian

Dietary Counselling, Meal Plan, Medical Nutrition Therapy, And many more.

How do you know the best diet for weight loss?

Get this free ebook to find out!

Why is it so Hard to Lose Weight? by Osunsanya Olajumoke RDN, MPH