by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Making lifestyle changes can help manage metabolic syndrome. The goal is to control things that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Making small changes can have a big impact—especially for those who are overweight or have diabetes. These changes include exercise, losing at least 10% of body weight, and changing eating habits.

Setting reasonable goals is important. Making small changes is a good place to start. Trying to change everything all at once can be too much.

Some habits that can help are:

Losing Excess Weight

This includes:

  • A weight loss program that includes healthful eating and exercise. It should focus on making long-term habit changes. It should also focus on reaching and keeping a healthful weight.
  • Losing weight slowly and steadily—about 10% of the original weight in the first year
  • Making better eating choices such as:
    • Having meals at the table
    • Focusing on food and not doing other activities while eating
    • Stopping eating before feeling completely full
    • Finding ways to cope with feeling bored, stressed, sad, or tired—other than eating
    • Controlling portions
Eating a Healthful Diet
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Asking the doctor if the Mediterranean diet would be an option
  • Choosing lean cuts of meat
  • Limiting fast food—and looking for more healthful options
  • Baking, broiling, or grilling poultry, fish, or meat—rather than frying
  • Limiting salt and sugar
  • Cutting down on saturated fats (found in animal products)
  • Choosing whole-grain foods, such as:
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Whole oats
  • Avoiding refined or processed foods like white bread or white rice
  • Eating more fiber-rich foods, such as beans, fruits, vegetables
  • Limiting or not drinking soda and other sugary drinks—even juice
Getting More Exercise
  • Aiming for 30 to 60 minutes a day of physical activity
  • Commiting to more exercise, such as health club or plan walks with friends
  • Finding ways to increase movement in during the day, such as:
    • Parking the car further away from the destination
    • Using the stairs rather than the elevator
    • Doing small exercises, such as leg lifts, while sitting or lying in bed
Getting Regular Checkups

This should include:

  • Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose level checks
  • Guidance on weight control and physical activity
Quitting Smoking

Those who smoke should ask the doctor about ways to quit . Smoking is the biggest risk for most diseases.

Avoiding Excess Alcohol Intake
  • Light to moderate alcohol intake means:
    • One or less drinks a day for women
    • Two or less drinks a day for men
Lowering Stress Levels

Stress can contribute to weight gain and heart disease. It is important to learn how to relax and ease stress.


Metabolic syndrome in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 8, 2022.

Metabolic syndrome. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: April 8, 2022.

Metabolic syndrome. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed April 8, 2022.

Myers J, Kokkinos P, et al. Physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the metabolic syndrome. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1652.

Prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome. American Heart Association website. Available at: Accessed April 8, 2022.

Rosenzweig JL, Bakris GL, et al. Primary prevention of ASCVD and T2DM in patients at metabolic risk: an Endocrine Society* Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019:jc.2019-01338.

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