If you’re having trouble losing weight, one of the important things for you to understand is how insulin can make you fat – or keep you from losing weight. The good news is that controlling your insulin is simple with proper nutrition.
What Is Insulin?
Here’s a quick lesson on insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. Its job is to remove glucose (sugar) from the blood and deposit it in various places around the body. That’s a good thing – if there’s too much sugar in your blood, it will cause a lot of damage to blood vessels and nerves.
When you eat carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks them down into the simplest of sugars, glucose. Glucose is the primary fuel for all cellular functions. Without glucose, your muscles, organs, and brain couldn’t function. But too much glucose will lead to excess body fat…
How insulin can make you fat
You need glucose to survive, but if too much glucose gets into the blood, your body will over-produce insulin to try to control the surge of blood sugar. Excess insulin causes body fat storage, and eventually a condition called insulin resistance or Type II diabetes. When you become insulin-resistant, your cells are less responsive to insulin, so your body has to put out more and more insulin to try to lower the blood sugar levels. More insulin triggers more body fat storage, and messes up the hormones that regulate whether you’re hungry or full. In a nutshell, that’s how insulin can make you fat.
How to control insulin with diet
Insulin is pretty easy to control with nutrition. The key is to make sure that you don’t cause big spikes of blood sugar. Here’s how to control your insulin with diet:
- Always eat protein with carbohydrates. Protein and fat slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. If you eat an all-carb snack – crackers, cookies, grapes, cereal – you are causing glucose to enter the blood quickly. This will result in greater insulin production. Combine protein and/or fat with carbs every time you eat.
- Choose low-glycemic carbs. Glycemic load is a measure of how much glucose a serving of a particular food will dump into your bloodstream (on average). In general, carbohydrates that are high in fiber (vegetables, high-fiber fruits, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa) will break down slower
- Don’t eat too many carbs at one time. The more carbs you put into your mouth, the more glucose you’re eventually putting into your blood. Even if you add protein or fat, too many total carbs will result in too much insulin.
Good carbs vs bad carbs
Most of your carbohydrates should come from low-calorie, high-nutrient foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Stay away from processed carbs – they are stripped of nutrients, enzymes, and fiber. Bad carbs just provide empty calories. They are quickly digested, and give you an instant blast of sugar into the bloodstream. This causes an insulin spike that will quickly drop your blood sugar level, leaving you worn out and craving more sugar. It will also cause fat storage!
Bad carbs are in soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, white flour, potato chips, cakes, pastries, and candy. Eat real food instead. Stay away from foods that list fructose, sucrose, corn sugar, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, cane syrup, or high-fructose corn syrup on the list of ingredients.
If you’d like some personal help with nutrition and healthier lifestyle habits, contact Dan to schedule a time to talk about what kind of help would work best for you. Dan can work with clients by phone and online!