Metabolic syndrome is when an individual suffers a combination of diseases that place an extraordinary burden on their metabolism: obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Although any of these conditions may occur as a result of another condition, or as a result of the genetic lottery, this particular combination has never been found to be caused by anything other than poor diet and inactivity. It is one thing to gain weight due to ovarian cysts, to be born a diabetic, or to suffer a heart condition which causes high blood pressure. But where metabolic syndrome is concerned, one or more factors of the condition must be self-inflicted.
Which, on the plus side, means we can protect ourselves against it, and even reverse it, just by eating right. In the case of metabolic syndrome, because obesity is such a major factor in the development and persistence of the other two conditions, it must be noted that any diet that assists in weight loss and weight management is a good diet to protect you against metabolic syndrome. If you find a low carb, high fat diet is too hard to adhere to, then find yourself another one that also works, but which you can stick to. After all, where weight loss is concerned, a great diet you don’t follow is worse than an OK diet you can.
That said, a low carb, high fat diet has many advantages over other weight loss and weight management diets where metabolic syndrome is concerned, in that it tackles all conditions simultaneously. First of all, let us make it clear that here we are referring to a low carb, high fat diet, not sustained ketosis, and not a high protein diet. Both ketosis and high protein diets can be unsustainable or even dangerous for some sufferers of metabolic syndrome. What we are talking about here is consuming 45-60% of your calories from fat, 5-20% from carbs, and no more than 35% from protein. This balance, whatever your calorific intake, will sustain you and keep you healthy.
When tackling obesity, the goal of any diet is to restrict calorie intake. Low carb, high fat diets fight excess calorie intake by promoting satiety. First of all, eating carbs is a vicious cycle for many of us, with high carb days generally driving us to consume more calories and more carbs. This is because carbs cause our insulin to spike, which causes our bodies to store the glucose in our blood, which causes us to feel hungry again. By running more on fat and less on carbs, we fight this cycle of hunger and eat less. Also, fats help us to produce hormones, including the hormones that indicate that we are full. Finally, fats are inherently harder to binge on than proteins or carbs. As they are so rich, we may eat far fewer calories instinctively, despite fats having more calories per gram.
When tackling high blood pressure, what we are doing is softening the arteries and reducing fluid volume in the body. Losing weight in and of itself reduces blood pressure by reducing the distance blood covers in our body, and, therefore, blood volume. Reducing our carb intake helps to cut back on fluid retention. The more carbs we eat, the more glucose we store. And for every gram of glucose stored in our muscles and liver, there will be three grams of water. And eating more healthy fats promotes the production of high density cholesterol, which helps keep arteries healthy and fights high blood pressure.
When tackling diabetes, the goal is to ensure that either our blood sugars are controlled, or our insulin response is. Most medications fight diabetes by artificially increasing our insulin, so that we can fight blood sugar spikes. However, this carries with it the risk of hypoglycemia. On the other hand, if we just avoid eating too many carbs and avoid high glycemic load foods (foods that are high not just in carbs but in fast-release sugars), our blood sugar never goes too high, resulting in a healthy stasis. Note that this will not work for all diabetics, and that you will need to discuss with your doctor before changing your diet too radically.