Insulin and weight loss; what exactly makes these two so dependent on each other? If you go through a little bit of fat loss research, you’ll see right away that insulin is very closely connected with burning fat and losing weight. In fact, without reducing insulin, there’s almost no way we could burn a substantial amount of fat, no matter how hard we exercise and diet. Even though most people have heard about insulin spikes not being good for weight loss, the average person still doesn’t truly understand why.
Well my hope is that, today, I explain this in a way that anybody can understand. It all starts with you eating food. When you eat food, the chewed-up food particles get broken down further in your stomach into very small parts and then they pass through your intestines, at which point your body absorbs and breaks down those nutrients and calories again and dumps them into your bloodstream. These broken down nutrients can’t just jump into the cells that need them for their daily functions without some kind of help. That’s where insulin comes in.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas and it gets released into your bloodstream when your body senses that blood sugar has increased. Very high blood sugar levels are not good for you and your body knows this. Insulin acts as a bridge between your cells and the sugar found floating around in your bloodstream. Without insulin, your blood sugar would be very high because your body wouldn’t be able to get that sugar into the cells.
This is actually pretty much what type-2 diabetes is. When people are insulin resistant, which means that insulin isn’t doing its job, they usually wind up being labeled as a type-2 diabetic, which means that they need an external source of insulin, a pill for example, to get that blood sugar down. So what does all this have to do with fat loss and weight loss?
Well whether you eat pasta, brown rice or drink soda, all of it will eventually be broken down and it will be blood sugar floating around in your bloodstream. The only difference is that whole high-fiber carbs, like brown rice, will take a lot longer to digest. Which means that the sugar will be released into your bloodstream at a much slower pace while in a carbonated drink, this broken sugar will pretty much be released all at once. When it’s released into your bloodstream slowly, you give your body a chance to actually use it over time.
So, you won’t require quite as much insulin, which leads to less of it being stored as fat, before the body starts storing blood glucose into fat cells, it will first store as much of it as possible into your liver for later use. Unfortunately, the liver can only hold a limited amount of blood sugar and then the excess starts to get dumped off into your muscle cells. Your muscle cells can hold more of this glucose than your liver can, however, they also have their limit. By building more muscle you’re going to be able to increase this limit and use more of this blood sugar for your muscles rather than storing it as fat. However, again, even the most muscular person in the face of this planet is going to have limit of how much of this blood glucose can actually be sued by the muscle cells. Once that limit is reached, we hit a point called spillover where the sugars that came from mostly carbohydrates in your diet, will begin to be stored in fat cells in order to lower the sugar, found in your bloodstream, back down to normal levels.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone that causes weight gain and growth. The opposite of hormone insulin is a catabolic hormone known as glucagon, which is released when your blood sugar drops too low. Glucagon, just like insulin, goes in and acts as a bridge between the stored energy in your cells and your bloodstream, except it has the inverse effect. Glucagon pulls energy from your cells and dumps it into the bloodstream before your body will start pulling fat cells for energy. It will first pull stored glucose from your liver and your muscle cells.
This is why so many low carb diets work. When you don’t have that many carbs, it’s easy for body to use up the carbs stored in your muscles, in your liver and then proceed straight to burning more fat for energy. This is the same reason why Ketogenic diets work, except an added benefit to the Ketogenic diet is that your body becomes more efficient at using fat for energy, which means, more fat will be burnt now.
Another thing that you have to know is that while insulin is up, glucagon is always down and the same thing goes vice versa. That means when insulin levels are elevated, you’re not going to be burning any fat. In fact, insulin will block you form doing that. Insulin has shown to also block lepton, which is a hormone that lets your body know that you’re full.
Consistently high levels of insulin are usually associated with less body resistance, which means that your body is going to become resistant to the hormone that’s supposed to signal to your brain that you’re full and that you should stop eating. So, as you can see, by having high blood sugar levels and high insulin levels, it’s a vicious cycle that usually results in weight gain.
Hopefully you understand that by now but now you’re probably wondering, well what do I do to lower insulin and blood glucose levels to burn more fat and the number one thing that you could do is limit your carbohydrate intake and your food intake in general. Fat and proteins won’t spike insulin quite as much as carbs but even though it’s less, they’ll still spike insulin levels. Low glycemic carbohydrates or slow digesting carbohydrates have always been suggested as alternatives to refine simple carbohydrates that are fast digesting.
Something you have to understand is that simple carbohydrates like soda will give you a much higher insulin spike however your insulin and blood sugar will come crashing down a lot faster after the digestion process than something like brown rice. After the crash, glucagon will be released to pull energy back out to normalize your blood sugar levels. Brown rice won’t spike your insulin quite as much however; your insulin levels and blood sugar levels will remain at a moderate level for a lot longer. In a way you’re getting the same amount of insulin anyway. This is why you can still gain fat eating healthy foods and that’s why portion control and limiting your total daily calories and your total carbohydrates to burn fat is very important.