Resistance to Weight Loss, with Upper Body Fat: Syndrome X
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Carla
Posted on: October 2, 2001

I am 29 yrs old, married, with children ages 4 and 2. I work out on a daily basis (40 minute runs; aerobic activity and weightlifting) and am also enrolled to play female hockey this winter.

With being so active, I cannot get rid of this feeling of being and looking 3 months pregnant. I am always bloated and have that "heavy" feeling....With the amount of exercise I do and classes I belong to, I should not have this feeling. I am a large boned, 5’7" and 160 pounds. I have gone up from a size 30 to a size 33 in the last year and am quite upset since all I do is workout....

In the last 2 weeks I have done a liver and kidney cleanse and felt great. In this cleanse, I have noticed greater activity in bowel movements, but since completing the cleanse, I am back to irregular bowel movements.

I have been on herbs before for fibromyalgia (diagnosed 15 yrs ago) and panic attacks, to only be disappointed to the amount of weight I gained from the herbs. With having fibromyalgia, I notice when I put on an extra 5 pounds because I have that "heavy" feeling and I get very painful in all my joints. This is when I do a "soup diet" or "cleanse" to rid the unwanted water retention. I know I also have a problem with water retention as well.

Abdominal obesity is often a symptom of "Syndrome X", the body’s ability to control insulin and blood sugar. The primary markers for Syndrome X are excess weight around the abdominal or chest areas, and high triglycerides. Other symptoms of Syndrome X can include fatigue, hypertension, memory problems and depression. It is treated with a low carbohydrate diet, focussing on foods that have a low glycemic index, daily resistance exercise and an "oil change": increasing the ratio of omega 3 (fish and flax oils) to omega 6 (most other oils) fatty acids. These recommendations are often helpful with fibromyalgia as well.

Now, we’ll discuss briefly each of these treatment recommendations.

Glycemic index:

Foods are considered low on the glycemic index when they release sugars slowly into the blood stream, helping to balance blood sugar, reducing cravings and fatigue. Foods high on the glycemic index release sugar into the blood stream quickly, causing blood-sugar control problems including food cravings and an inability to lose weight.

Minimize foods with a high glycemic index including cooked carrots, cooked parsnips, white rice, baked potato, bread, banana, watermelon, honey

Eat moderate amounts only of foods with a moderate glycemic index including: corn, raisins, cooked beets, oranges, brown rice, basmati rice, green peas, buckwheat, rye

Maximize foods with a low glycemic index including all vegetables except those listed above, barley, oatmeal, lentils, wheat bran, apples, pears, cherries, grapefruit, plums, legumes, unsweetened yogurt.

Low carbohydrate diet:

Refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and white sugar products, are quickly converted by the body into glucose, causing the release of insulin to move the glucose into body cells, where it is either used as energy or stored as fat (triglyceride). Over time, the body responds less efficiently to insulin and becomes unable to deal with all the glucose produced. More insulin is released to deal with this inefficiency. When insulin is dominant, it prevents the breakdown of fat and protein. Fat cells inhibit the transport of insulin into the cells, and so, a vicious cycle is created.

Eliminate refined carbohydrates from the diet, that is, all products made with refined grains or sugars, including pastas, breads, cakes, cereals, unless they are entirely whole grain. Maximize whole vegetables in the diet as a replacement for grains.

Oil Change:

Fat lowers the glycemic index of a meal by delaying stomach emptying. The "essential" fats are Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which should be balanced in the weekly diet. Good sources of omega-3 fats are oily fish (sardines, herring, mackerel, and wild salmon), freshly ground flax seeds and omega-3 enriched eggs (from hens fed on flaxseed). Nuts and seeds and most oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids.

Saturated fats, in animal products including dairy and meats (excluding fish), impede the metabolism of the "good fats", which impedes the blood-sugar mechanism.

A balanced diet is: 15% protein, principally in the form of tofu or a combination of low glycemic legumes (kidney beans, soy products, lentils, mung beans) and grains (oatmeal, barley) and fish; 50-60% carbohydrates principally unrefined vegetables and legumes, with some whole grains; 20-25% fat, principally from nuts, seeds, unrefined, cold-pressed vegetable oils (such as extra-virgin olive oil) and fish.

Resistance exercise:

Regular physical activity helps to burn fat and control blood sugar. Resistance exercise, where the muscles are stressed, helps to increase muscle and decrease fat, benefiting the blood-sugar mechanisms.

Food sensitivities:

No single diet is right for everyone - look at the foods that fulfill you and the foods that cause digestive problems. Some people have food sensitivities to dairy products (milk, cream, butter), gluten (in wheat, rye, barley and oats) or corn. These food sensitivities are common causes of indigestion, bloating and inability to lose weight.


Ensure that your bowels are eliminating waste regularly. Increasing fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds in the diet promotes regular elimination. Adding a tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed to each meal promotes elimination and provides omega-3 fatty acids.

Some good resources for the above approach are the books: "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet", by Elaine Gottschall, Kirkton Press Ltd., Baltimore, Ontario, Canada

"Genetic Nutritioneering", by Jeffery Bland, Keats Publishing

For more information on weight loss, please go to our website at, select the Q&A area, then choose "Search Richters Q and A" and enter the word "weight" for the search.

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