February 8

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Does insulin resistance cause weight gain or does weight gain cause insulin resistance?

Over the last 50 years the changes in physical activity, what we eat, how we work, reduced quality of sleep and socialization have all contributed to an increasing global epidemic of people struggling with their weight. 

The outcome has been a rapid rise in Type 2 diabetes, and other related co-morbidities like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, PCOS, certain forms of cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and sleep apnea just to name a few.

What is the role of insulin?

Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is stimulated by foods and drinks elevating blood glucose. So it’s important to understand that if you eat foods that stimulate blood sugar and blood glucose then your body will produce more insulin. 

All carbohydrates you eat (or drink) are broken down into glucose and passed into the bloodstream. The pancreas detects this rise in blood glucose and starts to secrete insulin to normalise blood glucose.

Insulin works with another balancing hormone glucagon to maintain normal ranges of blood sugar. Insulin allows the cells to absorb glucose from the blood, while glucagon triggers the release of stored glucose from the liver. 

Insulin is a hormone that maintains normal blood glucose levels by regulating carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism. The hormone works by helping the body’s cells to absorb glucose. Insulin stimulates muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose as energy with excess glucose converted and stored in the tissues as fat. 

Excess insulin causes weight gain when the cells absorb too much glucose and the body converts this excess into fat.

With dietary patterns that trigger greater insulin levels, more people are developing insulin resistance, which often goes undiagnosed.

What causes insulin resistance?

  1. Regularly consuming high quantities of high-carbohydrate foods and drinks over time slowly builds an underlying level of insulin resistance (even if you’re slim).
  2. Once this insulin resistance hits a certain threshold, it makes it incredibly easy to put on weight, and more difficult to lose weight.
  3. People become overweight or obese with little or no change to their diets.

Insulin resistance or excess insulin can promote weight gain and an increased waist circumference. That’s why the simple waist-to-height ratio is a great indicator of potential insulin resistance. 

If your waist measurement is more than half your height, it’s likely that you have (undiagnosed) insulin resistance.

Any excess glucose not used as energy will be stored as fat and insulin resistance typically precedes the onset of diabetes. 

But is there is a way to reduce the fat around your tummy and waist? No. Is there a drug your doctor can prescribe to treat and reverse insulin resistance? No.

It’s caused by the wrong eating pattern for your body at your age, and the only solution is to adopt the eating pattern that suits your body now.

Insulin Resistance or Metabolic Syndrome are associated with many genetic disorders and elevated inflammatory markers, increased levels of intra-abdominal fat around the intestines and correlates with fatty liver as well.

Common factors include:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excess energy consumption
  • Chronic stress
  • Lower restorative sleep

Glucose is the principal stimulus for insulin secretion. Chronic excess energy consumption promotes hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.

Glucose is one part of the sugar molecule. The other half is fructose which further complicates the problems. Avoid or minimise sugar!

All sources of carbohydrate including juice, sweet fruits, dried fruit, starchy vegetables and packaged and processed foods (and drinks) stimulate your blood sugar levels when digested. 

Ask yourself: Is insulin a growth factor for chronic disease?

What is the treatment?

Drug treatments have not been particularly successful and many are not that good for long-term health. Type 2 diabetes is a common example.

  • Insulin resistance and being overweight are both characteristics of type 2 diabetes, and even slim people can have these issues.
  • Eating an excessive amount of carbohydrate can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain and precedes type 2 diabetes.

Let’s look at how to reduce insulin without medication. 

It’s so simple to reduce insulin by adjusting what you eat and drink. Focus on good sources of protein and naturally occurring fat will keep insulin in control. 

Avoid foods and drinks that spike insulin, so be careful of sweet and starchy carbs. By keeping insulin levels low on a daily basis you help your body to burn fat. 

Having a healthy mitochondria also helps to burn fat, and regular exercise can help a good diet be more effective. Do not think that you can lose weight with exercise alone.

*Low carb diets reduce carbohydrates which reduces the release of blood sugar which reduces insulin stimulation. 

Prioritise protein, healthy fats and loads of colourful, leafy vegetables in each meal. Aim to eat high-fibre carbohydrates as they are slower release. This leads to a decreased glucose and insulin response, lower triglycerides and better HDL, an increase in satiety and reduce fat storage.

*Keto or very low carb diets (less than 30gm carbs per day) can work very well. 

Some people have a low carb tolerance so knowing your body’s individual carb tolerance is essential.

Our 8 week online program is a keto diet where we focus on clients getting their bodies into a fat burning mode.

*Include some short chain fats like organic apple cider vinegar daily in water or with your protein shake. It may help blood sugar regulation.

*Extending your fasting window is also a great way to reduce your insulin levels as well. We encourage a minimum 12 hour “fast” between the last meal of the day and the first meal the next day. 

Some feel comfortable extending this timeframe to 14-16 hours, but a minimum 12 hour fast helps the body to reset and start to utilise excess fat stores as your energy source.

Be aware of stimulation of the Vagus nerve resulting in pancreatic insulin secretion. This is when food is seen or smelled – so stay away from bakeries or food outlets where your nose and eyes work overtime.

If you would like to get started Click on the Lose Weight Now button at the top of the page.


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