How To Fight Insulin Resistance - The Solution
The Solution: How We Can Fight IR?
Are you ready for a happy ending? In the last two weeks, we learned what insulin resistance is and its causes. Now comes the exciting part from Dr. Ben Bikman’s book “Why We Get Sick” - The Solution! There are multiple ways to prevent and even reverse insulin resistance. Committing to learning these ways now can address the origins that cause IR in the first place rather than treat it with drugs or surgery. You may be surprised at what you learn!
You don’t need to run a marathon to get moving! Any movement counts because exercise helps remove glucose from the blood without involving insulin. Even without any weight loss, activity helps our bodies become insulin sensitive because when we move, our muscles contract taking in glucose. Minute for minute, resistance training seems to increase insulin sensitivity over aerobic exercise. For anyone new to low carb, reduce your exercise intensity until your body adapts. Research shows exercise alone doesn’t equate to weight loss, but it has several tangible benefits, including:
- Stronger muscles and bones
- Improved heart and lung function
- Exercise is affective no matter your age or sex
- Increased insulin sensitivity
Coaching Tips: The best exercise is the one you know you will DO. Just do it harder! And for maximum insulin sensitivity benefit, avoid sugary drinks and food for as long as you are comfortable after exercise.
This section packs the biggest punch but can also be the most difficult to change. Over the decades, whether it was influenced by politics, science, or the food industry, dietary fat was associated with heart disease, and low fat became the answer. The most common approach to weight loss is calorie restriction. However, you can’t control where you lose it, which can result in muscle and bone loss. The less lean mass you have, the less insulin-sensitive tissue there is to clear glucose from the blood. Severe caloric restriction, such as anorexia, can cause insulin resistance. How can we eat smarter to become or remain insulin sensitive? Dr. Bikman says the key contributors include fasting, protein/low-carb, circadian rhythm, and ketones. Here they are in further detail:
- Intermittent fasting isn’t about calorie restriction. It's about eating the right kinds of foods for satiety at the right times.
- Intermittent fasting works because it helps keep insulin levels low and helps maintain insulin sensitivity.
- To maximize the benefits of fasting, it’s important to end your fast with healthy fats and proteins versus insulin-spiking sweats and carbs.
- With prolonged fasting, hydration and minerals can be important.
- Carb restriction has various benefits on IR, including lowering insulin levels, triglycerides, and saturated fat in the blood (ironically, eating more saturated fat does this as well).
- If you’re someone who eats a lot of carbs, protein raises insulin more, so eating your protein before your carbs can help. The evidence for limiting carbs is so overwhelming that the ADA finally added it as an option.
- Circadian rhythm can disrupt insulin levels. Common causes include sleep disorders and exposure to artificial light.
- Insulin levels are higher in the morning due to cortisol, GH, etc. therefore, eating starchy foods in the morning is a bad idea.
- A reason to skip breakfast versus dinner is that fat cells are more insulin sensitive in the morning, which means you may store less fat by eating in the evening.
- There is some ambiguity surrounding studies about skipping breakfast. Dr. Bikman says it depends on what foods you eat for breakfast. Most people eat foods high in sugar and starch.
- Ketones used to be considered metabolic waste, but now we understand that they’re a vital energy alternative
- They increase mitochondria and reduce inflammation
- They also let energy escape through breath and urine, which is good if you’re trying to burn more calories.
Conventional Drugs & Treatments
High insulin levels wreak havoc on our hormones in so many ways! Moodiness, unexplained weight gain, infertility, skin issues, and hot flashes. All of these can be signs that your hormones are off. Here are just a few:
- High IR leads to increased testosterone which creates an estrogen imbalance in women.
- IR leads to increased epinephrine and cortisol.
- With low thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, your fat cells won’t take up as much glucose, but insulin will prevent them from burning fat and shrinking.
- Overweight people have more thyroid hormone, a type of thyroid resistance that goes down if they lose weight.
- A study of over 3,000 women for eight years found hot flashes associated with higher insulin resistance and fasting glucose levels.
Hormones are a force to be reckoned with, but there is hope! I’ve helped countless clients connect their hormones and metabolic health with excellent results.
The Plan: How to Fix IR?
Plain and simple, insulin prevents fat burning. What’s not simple is how elevated insulin levels impact our weight! Insulin levels fall when we’re not eating, but if insulin levels remain high, our bodies don’t get the signal that they should be burning fat storage.
What pays a price for high IR? Our liver. When your liver begins storing excess fat, it can lead to chronic liver inflammation and damage. Fatty liver from fructose or alcohol creates insulin resistance, which means the liver breaks down glycogen and keeps pumping glucose into the bloodstream despite hyperglycemia and elevated insulin. This results in persistent hyperglycemia, leading to insulin resistance in other body areas. Check your waist-to-hip ratio. Less than 0.9 in men and 0.8 in women is a good measurement.
- Don’t miss our next blog where we’ll discuss the effects of alcohol!
Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Inflammation and oxidative stress tend to go hand in hand. Inflammation suppresses insulin-signaling pathways making our bodies less responsive to insulin. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between your body's free radicals and antioxidants. It is both a precursor and a result of constant inflammation in the body. Ways to keep inflammation at bay include eating smarter, moving, and solving the mind math!
Dr. Bikman has a laundry list of lifestyle factors linked to insulin resistance. Let’s test your knowledge of the following things that increase IR and see how you measure up!
- Air pollution
- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd hand smoke
- MSG consumption
- Petrochemicals found in BPA
- Sugar, especially fructose
- IR and DM2 artificial sweeteners (Stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit have less of an effect)
- Starvation vs. fasting (does this need an explanation?)
- Being sedentary, even for a short time
- Sleep deprivation
Like Dr. Bikman, our coaching program also embraces data over dogma. So whether you start fasting through breakfast tomorrow or join a pickleball league, we hope this information inspires you to take action! Stay tuned for next week’s blog, where we’ll knock your socks off with some eye-opening information about the effects of alcohol on insulin!
Ready to give your mind and body what it deserves? Check out our Self-Made Mind & Body Taste Test. This 4 week program teaches you the steps to building weight loss protocols and offers 4 weeks of LIVE group coaching on how to solve the Mind Math.