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Weight Loss for People with Insulin Resistance

Updated on March 14, 2011

Metabolic syndrome, which was formerly referred to as syndrome x, may also be called insulin resistance syndrome. Insulin resistance syndrome refers to a specific set of characteristics that define an individual’s risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. One of the main characteristics of metabolic syndrome is excess weight around the waist or abdominal area. More specifically, a waist measurement of more than 35 inches for women and more than 40 inches for men is one of the most obvious indicators of insulin resistance syndrome. Another characteristic of metabolic syndrome that can be detected with routine blood tests is a triglyceride level of more than 150 milligrams per deciliter. Low HDL cholesterol levels are also commonly present in people with metabolic syndrome. Ideal levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, are above 40 milligrams per deciliter for men and above 50 milligrams per deciliter for women. High blood pressure is also another defining characteristic of metabolic syndrome, as well as high fasting blood glucose levels.

Treatment of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are often one in the same. Medications can be prescribed for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but losing weight is often one of the most recommended and advantageous things that a person with insulin resistance can do to reduce their risk of developing heart disease and type II diabetes. Losing weight is often more difficult for people with insulin resistance, but experts recommend reducing consumption of refined carbohydrates.

Low carb diets have been proven to be very effective for people with insulin resistance. Reducing consumption of other processed foods may also be beneficial. There is still considerable debate among health professionals concerning the health benefits of organic foods versus non-organic foods, but some researchers agree that pesticides in fruits and vegetables and growth hormones that are present in some dairy and meat products may cause hormone disruption, especially in women, which can in turn affect insulin production. While it is unclear how this may influence insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, some dieticians recommend that those with insulin resistance avoid consuming excessive amounts of dairy and opt for organic fruits and vegetables. Free-range dairy products and meat from grain-fed animals that are not injected with growth hormones are preferred.

Since the body’s ability to process glucose from carbohydrates is minimized in people with insulin resistance, consumption of these types of foods should be reduced as much as possible. In people with insulin resistance, excessive amounts of carbohydrates turn into waste products and excess fat rather than usable energy.

Daily physical exercise is also recommended as a form of treatment for those with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. Exercise of moderate intensity, such as walking, for 30 minutes a day is the most effective for reducing the symptoms of insulin resistance as well as achieving weight loss. Routine exercise is also effective at lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol both in the absence of and in conjunction with prescription medications.

Smoking also poses a major health risk to people with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. Smoking increases the risk of atherosclerosis and the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Smoking can also increase triglycerides in the blood stream, and is one of the leading causes of heart disease later in life. The risks posed by smoking only compound the risks posed by metabolic syndrome, making heart disease and stroke even more likely. People with insulin resistance who smoke should try to stop or reduce the amount of cigarettes smoked daily.


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  • L.L. Woodard profile image

    L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

    You've written about important health topics in metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. So many of us, myself included, need to take more personal responsibility for our health.

  • ChrisLincoln profile image

    ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


    A well writen article, very appropos as I suffer from this issue. I have replaced breads/rice/pasta/potatoes with beans, and I'm seeing some extraordinary results in both my blood work and general well being.

    Exercise is key... as is finding what works for you.

    Thanks for the follow,