Insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity are one of the crucial keys to weight loss.

Definitions: 

Insulin Sensitivity: when the cells of the body respond to the hormone insulin secreted by the pancreas to take up glucose (sugar) from the blood for fuel/energy.

Insulin Resistance: the reduced ability of the body’s cells to respond normally to the hormone insulin which causes blood sugar levels to rise, fatigue and fat storage.

If you’re experiencing weight gain that just won’t shift one of the contributors may be insulin resistance. I’ve said before that weight gain can be a sign of hormone imbalance and, as you head into perimenopause and beyond, it’s not just about the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Cortisol, thyroid and insulin all play a big part as well.

Today we’re going to talk about insulin.

What Is Insulin?

Insulin’s main job is to regulate how our body processes carbohydrates. When we eat carbs our bodies convert them to a type of sugar known as glucose which is the main source of energy for every cell in our body.

Tip: that’s why I recommend cutting out both refined carbohydrates and sugar when it comes to losing weight because carbohydrates convert to sugar.

How Does Insulin Work?

When we eat food the glucose/sugar levels in the blood rise. This causes the pancreas – an organ that sits behind the stomach – to produce the hormone insulin to help lower the blood sugar. Insulin’s role is to take the sugar from the blood and carry it to our cells where it’s used as fuel for energy. As the cells begin to use the glucose/sugar the amounts in our bloodstream go back to normal and the pancreas stops secreting insulin.

When this system is working optimally blood sugar remains nice and stable and we are sensitive to insulin. This is a good thing.

However, if the need for the pancreas to secrete insulin happens continually – as can happen when we eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars – our cells become resistant to the insulin and won’t allow it in. This means our muscles, liver and fat cells can’t use glucose for energy and our blood sugar levels remain high. When this happens the pancreas keeps producing more and more insulin to try and bring it back down. This is insulin resistance and it’s not a good thing.

What Happens During Insulin Resistance?

During insulin resistance, the cells are starved of glucose which can cause cravings for carbs and sugar. It can also lead to an increase in appetite because it’s believed insulin regulates leptin (the satiety hormone). And because the sugar/glucose can’t get into the cells but is roaming around the bloodstream unable to be used for energy insulin begins to convert it to fat. This is why insulin is known as the fat-storage hormone.

In a nutshell, if insulin’s work is impeded it will store fat. Another side effect is fatigue (because the cells don’t have the fuel to convert to energy) and accelerated ageing.

Can you now see why insulin resistance causes weight gain that’s difficult to shift?

Being insulin resistant also makes us high risk for prediabetes or Type-2 diabetes.

Insulin is sooooo important to our wellness (and weight) and it’s crucial we care for and nurture it.

Research:

  • Obesity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4038351/

 

What can you do?

 

Diet

  1. The secret to balanced blood sugar is PFF. Protein, fat and fibre. Eat them at every meal and you’re halfway there.
  2. Ensure your diet consists of as much unprocessed food as possible. Whole foods are rich in fibre which insulin loves and it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as highly processed foods do. Slow and steady wins the race.
  3. Embrace good fats and high-quality proteins. Omega 3, for example, helps the body’s response to insulin. You’ll find it in walnuts, flax and chia seeds, fatty fish (salmon and sardines), and oysters.
  4. Dose up on the mighty mineral magnesium. It can act as both a preventer and a reverser to insulin resistance. This is because it’s crucial to the permeability of cell membranes thereby assisting the glucose into the cell.
  5. Ditch white bread, white pasta, cakes, pastries etc. They will raise your blood sugar and we’re going for stability.

Research:

  • Carbohydrates: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11584106/
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12079860/

Sleep

You may have heard it being bandied about that sleep has been associated with weight gain and obesity and many studies back this up.

Sleep deprivation can also impact insulin sensitivity. One study showed a whopping 44% reduction in insulin sensitivity after just 12 days of shortened sleep.

As an aside to insulin resistance but a nod to post-40 hormones some research found that disrupted sleep can affect our hormones and increase our appetite.

There are plenty of other studies too and I’ll link to a couple of them below so you can understand why sleep is crucial if you want to get your weight under control.

Research:

  • One night sleep deprivation: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20371664/
  • Sleep, appetite, weight gain: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/
  • Sleep and obesity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632337/

Exercise

I know we read and hear it countless times every day but it’s so true. Exercise helps insulin do its job and increases insulin sensitivity, keeps hormones nice and balanced and increases metabolism. As with anything after 40 don’t overdo it – moderate intensity for about 30 minutes most days of the week is great.

The beauty of regular exercise is that it can offset the weight gain brought on by Insulin resistance and get fat stores moving, encouraging it into the cells to produce energy.

  • Exercise: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12133893/

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

  • Fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Cravings for refined sugar and carbs
  • Tiredness after eating sugar and/or carbs
  • Weight gain around the waist
  • Brain fog
  • Rising blood pressure

Hope that helps.

 

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY! 
YOURS IN HEALTH & HAPPINESS 😀 

 

 

 

 

 

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