Insulin resistance may be the most common medical problem, even though most people with insulin resistance don’t know it. Depending on the definition, from 50% to 90% of adults have insulin resistance
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone that we need to live – it gets energy into our muscles and critical organs so they can do their job, but it also is our fat storage hormone.
Insulin resistance is a negative feedback loop that occurs when your body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, which leads to higher levels of insulin, which leads to more insulin resistance.
It’s critically important to understand three things about insulin resistance if you are struggling with weight loss.
- If your insulin levels are high, it’s impossible to lose fat.
- Insulin resistance means your insulin levels are too high.
- You can’t lose fat until you do two things:
- Lower your insulin levels
- Fix your insulin resistance
How to know if you have insulin resistance?
If you have ANY of the following, you almost certainly have insulin resistance:
- You have too much fat – either overall body fat or carrying too much fat around your belly.
- You have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
- You have low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
- You have high blood pressure
- You’re not physically active
- You eat a typical diet of highly processed foods
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome
- You have a history of gestational diabetes
But if you have one of these things, yet your blood sugar (glucose) and hemoglobin A1c are normal? Unfortunately, you’re still likely insulin resistant. An excellent way to test this is to do a “sugar stress test” called an oral glucose tolerance test. You may find that while your blood sugar levels are normal, your body must generate a lot of insulin to keep the blood sugars in the normal range.
In other words, you are insulin resistant.
What causes insulin resistance?
There are seven common causes of insulin resistance:
Some people have a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance.
- Insulin levels too high
This is the negative feedback loop that keeps people from losing fat. High insulin levels lead to insulin resistance. More insulin resistance leads to higher insulin levels until the body can’t produce enough insulin, and the person develops diabetes.
- Too much body fat – particularly visceral fat
Another negative feedback loop. Insulin resistance leads to fat accumulation, and fat leads to insulin resistance.
- Too many calories
Energy excess (eating and drinking too many calories) is the most significant contributor to insulin resistance.
- The wrong calories
Highly processed foods – high in added sugars or refined grains like white flour spike insulin AND lead to too many calories – a double whammy. But even healthier carbs can drive insulin in many people.
- Too little activity
Muscle is the preferred “sink” for the carbohydrates we eat. Regular exercise improves the efficiency of how our muscles take in and burn these calories.
- Too little sleep
Sleep deprivation leads to our cells being more insulin resistant.
- Too much stress
Chronic stress sets us up for insulin resistance.
What to do if you are insulin resistant?
Understanding you’re insulin resistant is critically important because it tells you exactly what you need to do to lose weight (fat), transform your health, improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers, and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and dementia.
You need to:
- Lower insulin
- Make your body more sensitive to insulin
You can get help reversing your insulin resistance with HealthspanMD™ in Phoenix, Arizona. Call us to arrange your initial examination today!
Dr. Robert Todd Hurst, MD, FACC, FASE has extensive experience in treating patients who want the best treatment to lower the risk of complications from insulin resistance and get the best chance to reverse insulin resistance. He established HealthspanMD™ to help patients live long, healthy, and vital lives. He brings over 25 years of experience at respected institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and the Banner Heart Institute. With over 50 peer-reviewed publications and over 100 educational presentations, he continues to be active in advancing heart health and providing leading-edge care for his patients.