If you are dieting (or thinking about dieting), you need to be aware of insulin resistance. The bottom line? Insulin resistance is bad news. It has seriously bad effects on your health. Know what it is and be aware of your options. Insulin resistance (‘IR’) happens when your body’s cells no longer respond to insulin in a healthy way.
Insulin, produced by your pancreas, acts a ‘key’ that unlocks your cells so glucose, a sugar-based nutrient extracted from food you eat and broken down by your digestive system, can no longer be processed by your cells. Glucose is your cells’ fuel. Your cells need glucose to ‘burn’ and turn into energy. When you have IR, most of your glucose piles up outside of your cells. This can lead to serious health issues.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your body experiences chronic insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes leads to a long laundry list of health problems.
First, Type 2 diabetes leads to the constriction of your circulatory system. This constriction can result in strokes, high blood pressure, and other problems.
Second, Type 2 diabetes can lead to nerve damage which can result in amputation. With advanced diabetes, you might be unable to feel pain when your foot is wounded. Infection sets in and many diabetics often have to have limbs amputated due to gangrene.
Finally, Type 2 diabetes causes pressure build-up in the fine blood cells in the eye which can lead to blindness.
Insulin Resistance Causes Belly Fat
When glucose-lowering insulin isn’t let into your cells, glucose builds up in your blood stream and in your digestive system. Not all of this material is dumped out by your system. Instead, the extra sugar in your system is stored in the form of abdominal fat.
That’s right – one of the insulin resistance symptoms is belly fat. With IR, your chances of developing “love handles” or a “spare tire” increase, and it’s very hard to get rid of existing abdominal fat if an underlying IR issue isn’t addressed by appropriate lifestyle change.
What Can You Do About IR?
Your diet plays a major role in insulin resistance. Diets that are heavy in highly-refined simple carbohydrates like sugar-rich foods increase your insulin resistance. One of the most obvious ways you can manage IR without medication is to switch to a low-carb diet that is high in healthy forms of fat like olive oil or coconut oil.
This is a great move in terms of your diet because you will have dealt effectively with the hunger signals sent by your brain to your body. If you respond to these signals by eating lots of sugary snacks or high carb meals, it will aggravate existing insulin resistance… or can lead to it if you’re not there yet.
Instead, choose to eat a protein-rich, high-fiber diet which includes plant-based oils, or a 30 percent fat (low-fat) animal protein diet, and you can take care of your cravings without promoting IR.
Make no mistake about it, insulin resistance is a serious health problem. The good news is that you have a lot more control over IR than you realize. By focusing on low-carb food items with healthy fats, high protein, and supplemented by healthy portions of dietary fiber, you can satisfy your hunger pangs without putting your long-term health in jeopardy.