Obesity is on the rise in the U.S with numbers at 20% on the west coast in 2012 and now over 25%. The west coast is in much better shape then some of the other states. With that diabetes has been skyrocketing since the 50s. In 1958 1.58 million people in the U.S had diabetes in 2015 23 million, and this year looking at over 100 million people who have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition (here is more about how to reverse diabetes) caused by insulin resistance, being overweight, toxic burden, and a diet high in carbohydrates, sugar, and refined foods. There is strong link between insulin resistance and obesity, and difficulty losing weight. Today we will discuss how to identify if you have insulin resistance, if it’s interfering with your weight and what you can do about it.
What is Insulin
Insulin is a metabolic hormone released from the pancreas into the bloodstream where it binds to muscle, fat, liver, and other cells to activated a variety of functions in the body such as:
- Signals muscle to to take up sugar for energy to build protein
- Signals the liver to store sugar as glycogen for use later
- Signals adipose cells (fat cells) to take up sugar and make fat
- Signals adipose cell to keep fat as storage
- Once glycogen stores in the liver are full, it signals the liver to make fat to be stored in adipose cells
Essentially when you eat carbohydrates & sugar your body releases insulin which tells your body to store fat and keep fat. Resulting in your body being primed to increase your weight and becomes a barrier to losing weight. Once insulin resistance sets in, it will be very hard to lose weight until you address this underlying cause.
What is insulin resistance?
Well as I often say we are adaptable creatures, and when our body is exposed to a stimulus over and over and over it adapts by turning down the volume. The example I often use with my patients is; imaging you have a neighbor who comes over, knocks on your door and says “hey can you watch my kid for an hour?” It’s the first time this has happened so sure why no?! Then the next day he comes over knocking, and again a few hours later, then again the next day. Eventually you might find yourself closing the blinds and ignoring the knock on the door, so he knocks even harder.
This is what happens with insulin and high carb/sugar diets. This is you:
- AM: you have your coffee with sugar > insulin is released moves sugar from the blood into the cells.
- Breakfast: you have OJ and a bagel > insulin is released and moves sugar from the blood into the cells
- Lunch: you have pasta > insulin is released and moves sugar into the cells
- Afternoon crash: pick-me-up time comes and you’re drinking your double mocha frappinccino, and a whole lot more sugar is dumped into the blood and more insulin is released to move sugar into cells
- Dinner, dessert.…you get the idea.
This goes on day after day and your cells are getting really tired of insulin, so the cells start to ignore insulin, and sugar starts to rise in the blood, so your poor pancreas pumps out more insulin to do the same job. Eventually the cells are so tired of insulin, it barely works. Insulin is rising, the cells are not responding, as a result sugar is stuck in the blood. And insulin resistance has arrived!
How to tell if you have insulin resistance?
- Do you have belly fat? Not sure? If you walk up to a wall does your belly touch before your nose?
- Do you feel tired or sleepy after meals?
- Does your energy drop after lunch?
- Are you a snacker?
- Do you get hangry between meals? Not sure ? ask your partner, friends or colleges 😉
- Do you consume high fructose corn syrup? are you sure? go read the label of your ketchup bottle!
- Are you experiencing increased thirst and urination?
- Darkening of the skin around the neck, groin or armpits
- Skin tags
- Weight gain, difficulty losing weight (approx 70% of people with a BMI >30 have insulin resistance and 10% of people with normal BMI)
What to do
Lab Tests: (Optimal levels):
- Fasting lipid panel – elevated Triglycerides (<100) and low HDLs (>55)
- Fasting insulin (5-10) and C-peptide
- HbA1C (<5.6)
- Fasting glucose (80-95)
- TSH (1.50-2.00), Free T3 (3.0-3.4), Free T4 (1.1-1.4)
- Blood pressure (120/60)
- Body temperature (98.0F-98.6F)
Foods to Avoid
- Fruit juice and dried fruit
- High fructose corn syrup
- Refined foods – pasta, bread, cereal, baked goods, pastries, packaged food
- White foods – white rice, white bread, white potatoes, white sugar
Foods to Enjoy:
- All vegetables (except white potatoes)
- Free range chicken, fish- salmon, grass fed lean meats 1-3x week, eggs.
- Fresh or frozen Berries, bananas, apples in moderation 1 serving 3-6xwk
- Good fats: olives, olive oil, avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds, nut butters like almond butter.
- Fermented foods- like Kimchi
- Make breakfast and lunch your largest meal
- Keep dinner light
- Intermittent fasting: 12-16hrs of fasting in 5 days per week, this can be done by not eating after dinner, and keeping dinner 12hrs before breakfast. Or fast 12hrs once per week skip breakfast & lunch, fast from dinner to dinner.
- Avoid snacking
- Eat protein and good fat with every meal
- Avoid carbs and sugar for breakfast, trade in the cereal, bagels and oatmeal for eggs, Chia seed pudding, protein shake, bulletproof latte.
- Under qualified practitioner starting a Ketogenic diet
- Try herbs like:
- Berberine – studies have shown it to be as effective as Meformin at lowering blood sugar, improving lipid profiles, and helping with weight loss. Berberine has low toxicity and other benefits to your health.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an anti-oxidant that helps to protect the insulin receptors
- Optimize your microbiome with probiotics especially: Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Lactobacillus casei
- Optimize thyroid function, it controls your metabolism, if your thyroid is functioning optimally (not just “normal”) you burn sugar and fat more efficiently. (Go here to learn more about thyroid & weight).
- Cut out toxins: Phthalate, BPA, Perflurooctane-s/f (flame retardant found in cloths, baby carriages, non stick pans- teflon), PCP, arsenic (high in rice and shrimp), Mercury (high in large fish). To learn about how to clean toxins from your life see the EWG website here.
If you suspect you have insulin resistance, are struggling with your weight or maintaining a healthy shape, Dr. Escobedo can help. She has a wonderful Shape Up program that will identify what’s holding you back, address those barriers and help you get the weight off all in 8 weeks! For more information see her GeOMetric Shape Program or book your free 15 minute phone consult here to learn more.