Fatigue? Sugar cravings? Midsection weight gain? Struggle losing weight? These are all signs of insulin resistance, and there’s at least a 1 out of 3 chance you have it (higher chance over 50).
Insulin is a hormone, produced in the pancreas, that stimulates cells in the muscle, liver and fat tissue to store sugar. Insulin resistance is simply having chronically elevated levels of insulin (also called hyperinsulinemia). Untreated, it can lead to type 2 diabetes.
The problem isn’t insulin; it’s the body’s response to insulin. Cells in your muscles, body fat and liver stop responding to the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out – which is to take glucose out of the bloodstream and store it in cells.
Besides the day to day annoyance of low energy and weight gain, other symptoms of insulin resistance include high cholesterol, increased blood pressures, thyroid issues and mood disorders. Insulin resistance also increases the risk of more serious ailments such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. Untreated, it can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. There are many effective actions you can take to improve or even reverse insulin resistance. These include:
● Prioritize sleep: Even one night of poor sleep can increase insulin resistance. Prioritize going to bed on time and practice good sleep hygiene.
● Manage stress: Blood sugar increases with stress, and it’s shown that reducing stress can positively affect blood sugar. Incorporate stress-reducing practices such as meditation or deep breathing.
● Eat fewer carbs: Lowering your carbohydrate intake, especially starchy or sugary carbs can help reduce insulin resistance. When having carbohydrates such as potatoes or pasta, eat them with a protein to minimize the blood sugar spike.
● Exercise: Any exercise, such as walking, helps to reduce insulin resistance. Strength training is especially helpful to reduce insulin resistance.
● Lose weight: Weight loss helps insulin resistance, but insulin resistance also makes it harder to lose weight. When losing weight, focus on reducing insulin with the other tips listed here.
● Practice time restricted eating: Simply, eat less often. Give your body at least a 12 hour rest from food each day (for example, eat dinner at 7pm, and eat breakfast at 7am). Throughout the day, eat your planned meals or snacks but avoid grazing in between.
While insulin resistance is common, there is much you can do to take control of your health and to enjoy vibrant energy. In the words of Jim Rohn: Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live.