Why is dieting a never ending story? Part 3 — Is Insulin Your Enemy?
Why is dieting a never ending story? In the previous parts of this series I explained how the body will resist by changing hormones and slowing down the metabolism to either initially prevent you from losing weight or to trigger you to gain it back after losing it. This process is just our body trying to survive, it really doesn’t care how we may look in a certain outfit.
Insulin is another hormone, like leptin and ghrelin, that helps to keep everything in balance. Insulin is crucial for the body, it is synthesized and secreted by beta cells in the pancreas and it regulates metabolism by providing enough glucose (sugar) in the blood to the skeletal muscles, fat cells and liver.
When we eat something the food is broken down into blood sugar that then enters the bloodstream. The sugar travels in our blood to all of our body’s cells, and the pancreas receives a signal and releases insulin to help move the blood sugar into the cells so that it can be used for energy. Excess energy is stored as fat for later use. Insulin also signals the liver to store blood sugar for later use, and it is insulin’s responsibility to keep blood sugar levels within a normal healthy range.
When insulin is doing its job everything should work perfectly — until you start over-consuming sugar (carbohydrates), at which point the pancreas will release more insulin. However, if you are over-consuming too often then over time the cells will stop responding to the insulin and you will become insulin resistant. This condition is also known as being pre-diabetic. The pancreas will still make insulin but when the cells stop answering then blood sugar levels will rise, and this can be very damaging for the body. Too much insulin equals too much blood sugar, which equals weight gain, and then even if you try dieting you will find yourself quitting very quickly because of your body’s hunger signaling.
Chronically elevated insulin levels cause insulin resistance, and once you reach this point weight loss will get much harder. Some of the symptoms of insulin resistance include increased urination, feeling hungry even after meals, extreme thirst, tiredness, brain fog, often getting infections, and a tingling sensation in the hands or feet.
What you can do? Whether or not you already are insulin resistant, it’s important to remember that not all calories will trigger the same response in the body. You can look at two separate plates of food with identical calories, but the levels and quality of the nutrients that you are giving the body from each one can be totally different. You can try adding some protein to each meal, eating whole meals (ideally with single ingredient foods) most of the time, eating fresh fruits, adding an unlimited amount of non-starchy vegetables to satisfy your hunger, and consuming higher fiber content carbohydrates such as old fashion oats, sweet potatoes and high pressure cooked beans.
You just need to remember how the body works and then apply strategies to get what you want. Be aware that losing weight is not a one time job that once done you never need to think of again, so make sure to take your time, increase the quality of the foods and drinks in your diet, and don’t forget to exercise. Remember you have only one body and one life.
“Hypertrophy and/or Hyperplasia: Dynamics of Adipose Tissue Growth”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2653640/
“An overview of insulin”; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323760
“Insulin Resistance and Diabetes”; https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/insulin-resistance.html
“Insulin and Insulin Resistance”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1204764/
“Prediabetes/Insulin Resistance Research”; https://diabetes.org/about-us/research/prediabetesinsulin-resistance-research