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Metabolic syndrome doesn’t start out as a fat problem
Metabolic troubles and obesity go together…………
Most of the time !
But, there are people who are not obese, but in metabolic trouble. So what is it about them, that puts them at risk ?
At team of researchers in Chile decided to tackle the question.
But it is a toughie…..
The chicken or the egg
You see, metabolic syndrome is really metabolic chaos – pretty much everything is amiss. So, it really is hard to pinpoint, what is causing the problem and what has just gone awry, because some key component is misfiring.
Eager to get to the bottom of the problem, the team turned to a younger generation.
Young’uns will have less collateral damage.
Pure and unbroken
The young’uns they chose, were 16-17 year olds, living in Santiago, Chile. The reason for their choice, these kids had been tracked off and on, since they were very little. They used their assessment at the age of 16, to look at cardiovascular risks.
No…. 16 year olds do NOT have heart attacks.
But, they often already have the bad body chemistry associated with heart attacks.
So this is what the team tracked in these young’uns.
Scoring for broken metabolism
660 teens in total, were assessed. Each teen was scored for metabolic syndrome…..
The criteria used
- Obesity i.e. a waist circumference of ? 80 cm (in girls) and 90 cm (in boys)
- High blood pressure i.e. a systolic level ? 130 mmHg and a diastolic level ? 85 mmHg,
- High fat levels i.e. a triglyceride levels of ?150 mg/dl,
- Low HDL cholesterol levels i.e. ? 50 mg/dL (in girls) and ?40 mg/dL (in boys)
- High sugar levels i.e. a fasing glucose of ?100 mg/dL
If they had 3 or more of these variables, they got the metabolic syndrome “label”.
In addition to this, the team looked very carefully at the teens body composition, among the variables calculated, was total lean tissue i.e. how much of them was muscle.
So what did they find ?
Not a pretty picture
Like me, you might be expecting, the incidence of metabolic syndrome to be quite low……….
Regrettably this was not the case.
28 % of them, had the kind of body chemistry that goes with heart disease.
NOTE : They were on average 16.8 years old.
Eish ! This really is a sign of the times……
Who had metabolic syndrome ?
17.4 % of the teens were classified as obese and they had metabolic syndrome.
NOTE : The team defined obesity as a BMI ? 2.0 standard deviations, using 2007 WHO references.
Nothing surprising or revealing here.
EVERYONE knows, being fat causes metabolic problems.
But, there were 11.7 % of the teens that got a metabolic syndrome label, without the obese label.
These teens can teach us things…………
The analysis revealed, these teens had one thing in common……..
They were slightly muscle deficient.
Now, this was also a problem in the majority of obese teens too – yes, these guys had MORE fat, but they also had, LESS muscle.
When the researchers classified their teens based on low muscle mass, rather than obesity………….a clear pattern emerged.
Bad body chemistry came with low muscle mass.
Is muscle the thing that really matters ?
Quite possibly…………..it makes biological sense.
Muscles are power consumers
Muscles typically take up 75 % of the circulating sugar levels, after a meal and they’re pretty vocal. Muscles send out a myriad of chemicals, nick named, myokines, to communicate their wants and needs to the rest of the body – these influence body chemistry.
So if you have less muscle mass, your first issue, the sugar you consume, has less places to go.
Leaving it with the propensity to wander around, causing trouble.
Muscle talk muffled
Plus, less muscle mass, means you need considerably less fuel, to keep you powered up, on a day to day basis, so your basal metabolic rate ends up being lower.
The odds that, what you eat, is not actually needed, go up.
The way your body deals with this kind of situation, it stores the supplies for a rainy day. But rainy days………………. don’t happen on the couch !
So to protect yourself against bad body chemistry, you need to………..
Now this is something you can do…………although it does become harder, the older you get.
You build more muscle, when you NEED more muscle.
Stronger thumbs are not enough to improve body chemistry – leg muscles are among the most important.
Squats and lunges
Ask your muscles to lift things and push things, preferably HEAVY things, on a regular basis, to build more muscle. This type of exercise, is referred to as resistance training and should be part of your daily routine.
It is important to realize, simply moving more, is not always a muscle building activity.
Cardiovascular training makes your heart muscle strong, but does not necessarily add muscle to your frame.
Burning fat, is by definition an oxidation reaction i.e. it needs OXYGEN. The unpleasant reality, the harder you’re exercising, the less oxygen is available.
Insulin needs wide blood vessels to work, but widening blood vessels causes blood pressure to drop – the carotid body, keeps things in balance. Hopefully.
And muscle flops ……. are on the road to a lifetime of weight troubles, because they hate to move.