If you’re successful at managing your weight, you might assume that your metabolism is healthy. However, a recent study found that only 12% of American adults meet the ideal standards for 5 key indicators.
Health experts now advise that it’s important to pay attention to blood sugar and other traits even if you’re not overweight.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focused on factors that can affect your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. In addition to blood sugar levels, that included triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist measurements.
They found that less than a third of participants with normal weights had optimal metabolic health.
Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect. Run down this list of things you can do to keep your metabolism in top shape.
Diet and Exercise for Metabolic Health:
1. Lose weight. Being overweight puts you at a much higher risk for metabolic disorders. If shedding 20 pounds or more seems overwhelming, remember that even 5 pounds can make a big difference. For example, systolic blood pressure decreases one point for each 2 pounds of weight loss on average.
2. Take measurements. You probably watch your bathroom scale when you’re dieting, but a tape measure may be more helpful. Visceral fat that gathers near your waist tends to cause more insulin resistance, inflammation, and other complications.
3. Eat your vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are usually high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. They also provide fiber. Aim for at least 5 servings a day.
4. Cut back on sugar. Artificial sweeteners and sugar can interfere with your metabolism. Drink plain water or tea instead of soda and similar beverages. Put a little less sugar in your coffee each day or try other flavorings like cinnamon or cardamom.
5. Limit saturated fat. You need some fat in your diet, but too much saturated fat can increase your cholesterol. Switch to no fat or low-fat dairy products. Serve fish for dinner instead of beef.
6. Exercise regularly. Moderate exercise can help prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome and other conditions. Spend at least 150 minutes a week on activities like cycling or brisk walking. Some additional vigorous exercise will produce even greater results.
7. Sit less. Stay active in between workouts. Stand up and stretch at least once each hour when you’re driving or working at your desk.
Other Suggestions for Metabolic Health:
1. Sleep well. Managing stress and getting adequate sleep contribute to a healthy metabolism. Go to bed early so you can get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
2. Quit smoking. Do you want to stop smoking? Your heart rate and blood pressure will be lower just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, according to the American Heart Association.
3. Understand the numbers. You may have noticed that blood pressure and other standards have grown stricter over the years. The tighter guidelines can help you and your doctor identify and treat your risk factors.
4. Schedule screenings. You may not experience any noticeable symptoms, so it’s important to get tested for blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Ask your doctor about making them part of your annual physical.
5. Track your test results. Keep copies of your lab results. You may need them if you switch doctors, and they’ll help you to evaluate your progress.
6. Know your family history. Gathering your family medical history can provide insight into what conditions you need to watch out for. If possible, try to go back 3 generations.
Talk with your doctor about any medications you may need to protect your metabolic health. Otherwise, a balanced diet and other positive lifestyle habits usually suffice to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk for diabetes and stroke.