Tip #2: Insulin Resistance and Fat Loss
One of insulin’s main jobs is to get certain body cells to ‘open up’ to take in glucose—or, more accurately, to store the glucose as fat. Insulin resistance happens when the cells essentially don’t open the door when insulin comes knocking. When this happens, the body puts out more insulin to stabilize blood glucose so the cells can use the glucose.
Over time, this results in a condition called hyperinsulinemia, or too much insulin in the blood. Hyperinsulinemia causes other problems, including making it more difficult for the body to use stored fat for energy.
What Causes Insulin Resistance?
We don’t know the whole story, but certainly genetics plays a big part. Some people are actually born insulin resistant. Lack of physical activity causes the cells to be less responsive to insulin. Most experts agree that obesity leads to more insulin resistance.
However, it almost certainly also works the other way around: Insulin resistance promotes weight gain. So a vicious cycle can be set up with insulin resistance promoting weight gain, which promotes more insulin resistance.
What Problems Does This Cause?
Besides general weight gain, insulin resistance is associated with abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL (“good cholesterol”).
These conditions are part of a constellation of problems called metabolic syndrome (also known as insulin resistance syndrome). See the criteria for metabolic syndrome here.
Because this group of symptoms occurs together, it’s hard to know what causes what, but metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
How common is insulin resistance?
It’s becoming more common, and also increases with age, which could be related to the tendency to gain weight in midlife. One study showed that 10 percent of young adults fit the criteria for the full metabolic syndrome, while the figure rose to 44 percent in the over-60 age group.
Presumably, the prevalence of insulin resistance alone (without the full-blown syndrome) is much higher.
How can I tell if I am insulin resistant?
If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to be insulin resistant, especially if you are carrying extra weight in your belly.
If you have any of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome listed above, you are more likely to be insulin resistant.
What happens after insulin resistance?
If the pancreas keeps having to put out high levels of insulin, eventually it can’t keep doing it. The common explanation is that the beta-cells in the pancreas become “exhausted,” but it actually may be that the high insulin and/or even slightly higher blood glucose starts to do damage to the beta cells.
In any case, at that point, blood glucose starts to rise even more, and the path towards Type 2 diabetes is truly begun.
What To Do
It’s a good idea to limit your consumption of food products containing carbohydrates such as sugars and starches. Consuming protein and fats with your carbs will help to neutralize the spike in insulin levels that the body may otherwise experience, and assist the body in maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
Remember vegetables are made up of carbs too, but DO NOT limit your consumption of them as they contain a lot of nutrients and fibre!Fruit contains fructose which is a natural sugar, but do not avoid fruit.
However if fat loss is your primary goal you may want to complete your fruit consumption by 2pm in the afternoon and choose domestic fruits that contain less sugar such as berries or pears instead of tropical fruits like bananas, mango and pineapple.
Yours in health and fitness,
Craig, Pepe & the Precision team