What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a Hormone. It affects many other Hormones, metabolism, digestion, and blood sugar.
Insulin is the escort that carries glucose into our cells for fuel.
- We make and release Insulin as we consume starch, sugar and other carbohydrates including bread, juice, fructose corn syrup, alcohol, beans, chips, corn, potato, sodas and dessert.
- Most of us eat more starch/sugar than we can use.
- The pancreas makes more and more insulin trying to deliver that glucose and get it out of circulation.
Eventually, our cells (Liver, Brain and Muscles especially) become unable to process any more insulin and shut their doors – they “resist” insulin.
Result? Blood sugar climbs, insulin climbs, and a dangerous chain of hormonal metabolic dysfunction and weight gain occurs.
What is Insulin Resistant weight gain?
If insulin can’t get into the cell to deliver glucose, the sugar is stored (“for later”) as FAT. You now have elevated Triglycerides, elevated glucose, and are heading towards pre-diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance. And possibly to Polycystic Ovaries.
Warning Signs of Insulin Resistance
- Obesity – especially weight gain around the waist
- High Blood Pressure
- High Blood Sugar
- Elevated HbA1C (3-month glucose average)
- Fatty Liver disorder
- PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes and the many symptoms they can include
- Elevated insulin after eating carbohydrates or even when fasting
- All of which can be known as Metabolic Syndrome
Causes of Insulin Resistance
- Too much carbohydrate for too long a time
- Inadequate exercise to use up glucose in the muscles
- Inadequate Vitamin D – In my Clinic I prefer Vitamin D tested twice a year and kept between 60 -70. D3 Complete is our favorite.
- Chronic stress and elevated Cortisol
- Estrogen Dominance, low Progesterone (Salivary testing is excellent for testing FREE hormones. Blood tests BOUND).
- Poor mineral reserves, especially Zinc, Chromium and Magnesium. Note: these are easily bound up by the Phytic Acid in grains – another reason I ask Clients to go grain-free for life. See my Diet For Human Beings DVD).
- Insufficient sleep: poor quality and poor quantity of sleep affect Insulin regulation
- Obstructed breathing during sleep – this article and Podcast talk about mouth taping for CPAP wearers and snorers
- Inflammation and toxicity
Traditional Testing for Insulin Resistance
Most resources say either “we really don’t have a good way to test”, or “blood tests for glucose tolerance over several hours” or “a glucose tolerance and insulin test”.
These last two involve drinking a big dose of glucose and drawing blood before drinking and over regular periods afterward to see what glucose and maybe insulin do.
I had a glucose tolerance test in my youth and passed out from it. I was told my results were “normal”. Except for the passing out part…..
Many doctors, if they test at all, only test fasting or random non-fasting insulin.
This does not give the correct context — you need before and after a carb challenge. The elevated insulin usually shows up AFTER consuming carbs, not on fasting.
But the sugary drink and multiple blood draws are not popular so are seldom done.
A Better Way to Test for Insulin Resistance
To understand how insulin resistant you are and if that might be contributing to your weight gain, PCOS (polycystic ovaries), high Triglycerides, elevated A1C, etc., a simple at-home Salivary Test can give straight forward answers and an EASY to read graph. With no blood tests or blood sugar crash from drinking a sugar drink.
I use Diagnostechs Salivary Testing for Adrenals, Cortisol, the Male and Female Hormones, Gluten Antibodies, AND Insulin before and after a carb challenge with lunch. Easy to do and results are clear.
This chart shows Salivary insulin before and after eating a carb challenge meal, and again after 4 months with improved diet, and Systemic Formulas Synulin.
See my Consult page for more on this process.
Steps to Reverse Insulin Resistant Weight Gain
1). I offer weight management Consults with at-home Salivary Testing and Blood Spot testing for thyroid, Hashimoto’s, insulin, cortisol, estrogen dominance, gluten and more. Here is one of two Weight Management Consults I offer with two at-home test kits and at hour to review them with me.
2). Exercise! The Ancestral/Paleo Diet will quickly jump-start weight loss but exercise is required to burn glucose in muscles. Any amount of effort helps, but don’t OVER exercise. “Chronic Cardio” has been shown to raise Cortisol and inhibit weight loss. Don’t spend your energy in marathon treadmill sessions.
3). Add Systemic Formulas Synulin, 1 – 2 capsules twice daily, for at least 3 months. It’s in my Online Store in the Blood Sugar/Weight category. Synulin works to help restore insulin sensitivity when combined with the correct Paleo Diet (animals, fats and vegetables) and appropriate exercise. Get rid of random “weight loss” or blood sugar products not professionally researched.
4). Have your Thyroid properly checked. Insist on having the correct tests run or run them yourself through consumer labs such as Life Extension. This article tells how to test your thyroid correctly. If needed, ask for Natural Dessicated Thyroid rather than synthetic T4. Many cannot convert T4 to T3.
5). Metformin is often prescribed for insulin sensitivity, but this drug can have serious side effects and it’s not really for insulin sensitivity. As this post from Johns Hopkins states, Metformin is primarily used to stop the Liver from producing glucose. Side effects are not pleasant – nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, etc. It’s the only tool most providers know however other than the “eat right and exercise” mantra.
6). I am not a fan of the Keto Diet for more than a month or two as it has too many definitions. Mostly I find it an excuse to not eat vegetables. I agree that eliminating MOST starchy food is important and that NO GRAINS is a requirement of any diet I endorse. Here’s my article on “Pros and Cons of Keto”.
7). Intermittent Fasting is also confusing, depending on what book or social media post you’re reading. Be cautious whose “rules” you follow and don’t restrict food for too long. Women, especially, I find do better with eating 3 meals a day on time.
8). I coach ALL Clients (since 1985) to eat the way we ate historically – foods we are biologically suited for.
Avoiding grains is #1 – wheat, corn, rice, oats – as grains are simply grass seed. As Hunter-Gatherers, we did not bend over to graze on grass. We hunted the animals that grazed on grass.
Pastured grass-fed animal protein, wild seafood, organic produce and plenty of fats. (Avoid Canola, Corn Oil, Soy Oil, margarine). Choose ghee, organic butter, coconut oil, real olive oil (not cut with Canola Oil), avocado oil and the fat from pastured meat. Add some tubers, nuts/seeds, spices, a little fruit, some eggs.