Connection Between Insulin and Weight Loss

While diet and exercise are the main components of weight loss, there can be slight changes to hormones or metabolism that can wreak havoc on weight loss attempts.  Most of the talk surrounding diets has to do with what you choose to put into your mouth, as well as how much exercise you do per day.  What happens when the scale refuses to budge, though?  You might be looking at a problem with the hormones in your body, specifically insulin.

What is Insulin?

This is the hormone that helps the body absorb the nutrients in foods.  When you eat carbs, the body changes those carbs to sugar.  The pancreas is the organ that helps filter sugar out of the bloodstream.  From there, it’s delivered to organs like the liver, as well as to muscles where the body uses it for energy.

In some people, the pancreas doesn’t release insulin properly, which results in sugar in the blood that isn’t delivered to the organs.  When sugar sits in the blood without the correct levels of insulin,  serious long term problems, like diabetes, can result.

Its Relation to Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes, which are a result of problems with the sugar levels in the blood.  The first kind is Type 1, which is when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to deal with sugar.  Type 2 is when insulin is produced, but that body doesn’t respond correctly to the insulin. Type 2 is a preventable type of diabetes.

Insulin Sensitivity and Resistance

Consuming a lot of alcohol lessens its impact over time, so the person needs to drink more to become drunk.  The same process happens with insulin.  Over time, eating too many carbs lessens the body’s ability to deal with the sugars.  When a person eats too many simple carbs, they become sensitive to insulin or insulin resistant.  The body has to produce more in order to deal effectively with the overload of sugars.

This leads to trouble digesting simple carbs and absorbing the nutrients the body needs.  When it’s bad for a long time, the pancreas isn’t able to keep up with the amount of insulin required, and ceases to provide the right levels of insulin.  That’s when Type 2 diabetes occurs.

The interval between the development of insulin sensitivity and diabetes, is a time when the body will have difficulty digesting foods.  You can get tested for sensitivity, as well as diabetes itself.

Ways to Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Exercise a Few Times a Week

While you might believe you’re exercising enough, you should increase your workouts to 3 or 4 times a week or more.  Exercising at least 30 minutes each day helps to level out your blood sugar levels.

Increase Your Sleep

The body works at peak performance when you’re able to get enough sleep at night.  This should be at least 7 hours per night. This can help level out hormone production.

Reduce Simple Carbs

This includes foods made with white flour like white bread and pasta.  Soda, candy, cookies, and cakes are all carbs, but they’re also junk food that you should reduce completely from your diet for weight loss anyway.  Keep away from bananas, potatoes, and corn, too.

Increase Complex Carbs

Whole grains and foods high in fiber are terrific sources of carbs for your body.  Brown rice, whole wheat, and oatmeal are things you should add to your diet.  They’re digested slowly over time, which has a few benefits like thermogenesis, and feelings of fullness,  that last until the next meal.

Combine Carbs with Protein

The best way to keep an even blood sugar level is to eat carbs with protein at the same meal.  Whether it’s simple carbs, or more complex carbs, you can limit the impact of sugar on the system by combining them with protein from lean meats.

Steady Meals

Each day, you should eat at the same time.  It helps to avoid  feelings of starvation that can lead to bad choices.  It’ll keep the blood sugar at the same level throughout the day, too.

Getting Tested

If you eat the right kinds of carbs and exercise regularly without losing weight, you should have your doctor test you for insulin sensitivity.  When blood sugar remains in the blood and isn’t introduced into the proper organs to use for energy, the body will store them as fat for later.

After being tested, your doctor can discuss the right diet for you, as well as sending you to a nutritionist for proper weight loss management.  If diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll need to monitor your insulin levels throughout the day.  For those with a sensitivity, a change in diet and exercise can make an enormous difference in weight loss.

Jeanette Kierstead

About the Author

Jeanette Kierstead