All Weight Loss is Ultimately About Insulin
Every single diet and exercise program that works, even a little, is because of the effect it has on your insulin.
A QUICK PRIMER
- Insulin takes blood sugar (glucose) that you get from eating carbohydrates and distributes it to the cells all over your body.
- More carbs and more food need higher levels of insulin.
- When your insulin is high throughout the day for long periods of time, your cells start to become insulin resistant. That means they resist the effect of insulin and so your body releases more insulin to make sure your cells have the sugar (energy) they need. This creates a negative feedback loop making the problem worse as time goes on.
- As you become more insulin resistant you start to gain weight and become more at risk of cardiovascular diseases, dementia and other complications that are similar to those of a type 2 diabetic.
***Insulin inhibits the breakdown of fat in your cells, so if you constantly have insulin circulating in your bloodstream then there’s no time, or little time in the day, to burn fat tissue and therefore lose weight.
So that’s how insulin works in a nutshell and why you DON’T want to be insulin resistant.
You instead want your cells (body) to be insulin sensitive. That means that they don’t need you to release too much insulin to get the job done. If so then your blood glucose is shunted EASILY into your muscles, liver and brain, all with a smaller amount of insulin.
This has the opposite effect on your body that being insulin resistant has. The word resistant implies that your cells are ‘resisting’ the insulin that’s in your blood and so you need to release MORE to get the job done. So by being insulin sensitive you release less insulin and therefore LOSE weight (for all the reasons stated above), shedding body fat AND enjoying better overall health.
AT THE BAR
To understand this better, let’s use an analogy that involves alcohol, something most people can relate to (at least at one point in their lives anyway.)
An alcohol virgin, someone who never really drank before, would be considered “alcohol sensitive.” That is, it doesn’t take very much alcohol to get them shamefully “sloshed.”
In some cases, it only takes half a beer or a glass of wine. Their cells are very sensitive to alcohol because they’ve never been exposed to it before, which is a good thing health wise but not so great for your social image.
It’s good for your health to be alcohol sensitive because alcohol has detrimental effects on your body, and so needing only a little to feel ‘high’ spares your body those effects. As a person drinks more and more, they get “used to it,” becoming alcohol resistant, and so their body starts to need more alcohol to get the same high. More alcohol means more health problems in the same way that more insulin means more health problems including weight gain.
How does one become more Insulin Sensitive?
VIA 3 MAIN MECHANISMS
1. Eating Less Carbs
2. Eating Less in General
3. Some Type of Fasting
All 3 “levers” if you will, can be pulled to some degree without pain or deprivation. In other words, you don’t need to starve or even eat less (unless you are eating incredibly large quantities, but even then there are ways) to lose weight.
Here are some examples of what it would look like to pull one lever at a time. Know that you can be as creative as you like and pull as many as you like in multiple combinations.
- Eat less food at certain times only, and then a bit more at others (ex: smaller breakfast, larger dinner).
- Eat less overall sugary foods (ex: replace regular chocolate pudding with the diet version which is just as good).
- Eat less carbohydrates in general but more fats (like butter, cream, avocado, natural peanut butter).
- Intermittent Fasting
- Fasting of any kind, any way you want to schedule it (ex: no lunches Mon-Wed-Fri with extra protein (like chicken wings) for dinner on those nights).
- Aerobic exercise; helps somewhat.
- Weights and high intensity exercise (HIIT) like sprints, stairs etc, (helps a lot!).
You can now see the mechanism behind why most traditional (less food) diets worked; eating less. Eating less means less insulin secreted in your body. But as you know they’re hard to stick to and don’t last very long for the majority of people.
THE ULTIMATE COMBINATION
The ultimate combination of the above ways to increase insulin sensitivity is as follows:
1- Adopt a mostly low carb type diet (cheat days allowed).
2- Intermittent Fasting
3- High intensity exercise like HIIT, heavy weights and hill running etc.
*** Mostly #1 and #2
Any variation of those 3 methods is what has been found to quickly and EFFICIENTLY take fat off, and keep it that way.
Low Carb Diets work because when adopting that way of eating you are taking away the type of food in your diet that secretes insulin. So you can eat without worrying about insulin resistance, or about having the fat burning process stopped or interrupted too much. Your metabolism will be in fat burning mode almost 24/7.
Intermittent Fasting works because in doing so you prolong the time, or periods of time (windows) your body goes without food. So there is no insulin released during these windows which again means lots of fat burning, and moving in the direction of insulin sensitivity, and away from insulin resistance. Intermittent Fasting works even better when combined with a low carb diet.
High Intensity Exercise works because that type of exercise takes up lots of blood glucose (sugar/carbs), and so with less circulating glucose there is less need for insulin. Insulin levels drop and again you have the beneficial effects we’ve been talking about, more fat burning etc. There are other reasons why too but it’s not necessary to delve into for this post.
Insulin manipulation has always been the KEY to weight loss, no matter the method.
Control your insulin and you control your weight.
Browse more of the articles here at SolidWeightLoss to absorb this philosophy of losing weight, and in the process build a weight loss mindset.