01 Mar The Skinny on Insulin Resistance
For years we’ve been told to eat low fat foods, count our calories, to eat less and exercise more in order to lose weight. At Prolean Wellness, we hear over and over again from clients who have tried this – and it’s not working for them. Some of them are actually eating less and seeing fewer results.
What is NOT taken into consideration with calorie-counting weight loss programs is that the TYPE of food we eat makes a huge difference in our ability to lose weight. Many of the low fat foods we are eating to keep us thin have replace fat with sugar to make them taste better. When we eat foods with added sugars or high glycemic foods, they are broken down into glucose (or fructose, another subject altogether), which then travels in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. Glucose in the blood, or blood sugar, triggers a release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is necessary to help our cells take in the glucose and use it for energy. So insulin is a GOOD THING right? Right!
The problem comes when we put so much sugar into our body –glucose, fructose, or any of those OSE’s that taste so good- we are telling our body to produce more and more insulin. Soon our muscle, fat and liver cells stop responding to insulin. They become insulin resistant, and the little bit of insulin we should need doesn’t do the job of getting the glucose into the cells, so the pancreas produces more. If the pancreas just can’t cope with the demand, excess glucose builds up in the blood stream and we’ve just set the stage for diabetes. Many people with insulin resistance have high levels of both glucose and insulin circulating in the blood at the same time. Their pancreas is doing all it can to produce enough insulin to utilize the glucose for energy …it just can’t keep up.
The reason we test fasting insulin levels for our clients at Prolean Wellness before they start our weight loss programs is because of the way that insulin resistance can inhibit weight loss. When insulin levels are high, they block the receptor that allows fat out of its cell. So when you go on a low carb diet (or a low sugar diet (remember carbohydrates break down to glucose), your body naturally wants to burn fat for a fuel source, but when you have high insulin levels, it can’t! You’ll feel low energy (you can’t have energy without fuel, just like a car can’t run without gas) and you’ll crave those foods that your body knows will immediately put some sugar back into your blood – bread, chips, crackers, candy, soda, ice cream… the list could go on forever.
So when you start our weight loss program and we check your fasting insulin levels and we see that you may be insulin resistant, we will restrict the foods that will cause your body to produce too much insulin (fruits, breads etc.). We will retest until we can see that your pancreas isn’t working too hard anymore. Then we will talk to you about how to make changes in your lifestyle to reverse your insulin resistance – or in some cases – get you off type 2 diabetes medications forever.
Insulin Resistance doesn’t have to lead to diabetes – but if left unchecked that is very likely the path. It can be reversed through weight loss, physical activity and food choices that don’t require as much insulin.