Ah insulin, how you’ve been villainized like the other misunderstood misfits (cholesterol, fat, inflammation, cortisol) whose names have been drug through the mud. You, like them, are an adaption, something the body needs and uses, but like most things in excess you cause problems. That’s this countries problem-excess. Excess carbs, stress, exercise, etc. We have to have more and thus we get ourselves into trouble and these things, that if balanced can actually benefit us. Insulin (which we’ll get into) actually has an anabolic effect, which means that it has a muscle gaining, anti-aging property. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately most of us don’t take advantage of this, instead we develop diabetes and insulin resistance. Insulin is released by the pancreas anytime sugar is present to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high. What causes sugars presence? Any kind of carbohydrate is broken down into sugar in the body, thus creating an insulin response. Of course the amount of sugar consumed and type of carb is going to control the signaled response. Carbs can be broken down simply or complexly. Simple sugars include monosaccharides and diisaccharides, which can easily be broken down for digestion. Complex carbs are polysaccharides (several sugars) like starches and fiber that must be broken down into monosaccharides (starches only) before they can be digested and absorbed by the body. Also, I would like to note here that protein can create an insulin response as well, but not nearly as much as carbohydrates (which is why overconsumption of proteins is not a good thing, plus your body can only absorb so much protein at a time, so that excess can be converted to fat-see that excess thing strikes again). So what happens when you ingest carbohydrates? Insulin is secreted by the pancreas. It can be used right away as energy, or it accompanies glucose to your muscle and liver storage sites. So what happens when these sites fill up? Well for starters, more glucose is circulating in the blood stream, which your pancreas picks up on and responds by secreting (yes you guessed it!) more insulin. This cycle repeats and repeats, glucose is ever-present, more insulin is secreted and your body responds by craving more sugar (think about how often are you craving hard-boiled eggs?) and a perpetual cycle is created. This excess is eventually converted by the liver to fatty adipose tissue. Make you overweight, heading towards obesity, insulin resistant and pushing diabetes because your cells are full and have nowhere to go. Also, now instead of is anabolic effect and amino acid uptake, the insulin has an actually has an inverse effect on your muscle. Because amino acids can get into your overstuffed cells, your body starts to cannibalize muscle tissue (this means that not only are you gaining fat, but you’re losing muscle and your body composition is actually getting worse). So in order to control this hormone we want to avoid excess carb consumption and stick with choices like fruits and vegetables, that are going to spike your insulin levels or create persistent cravings. This will keep your cells from filling and overflowing with insulin, so that amino acids can enter the cells and they won’t become resistant. Ok, now that we have covered that, let’s move onto insulin’s counterpart glucagon. Again balance is key here because glucagon can have a catabolic effect on the body. It is released by the pancreas in response to low blood sugar. When there is a shortage of glucose the body will either use stored glycogen or breakdown muscle (hence catabolic). However when glycogen stores decrease then the metabolism switches to a fat-burning mode and reliance on sugar decreases. By implementing an eating routine that lowers insulin and raises glucagon (triggered by protein intake), then an imbalance that causes fat storage and blocks fat-burning can reversed. The key to sustained weight-loss is a balance of glucagon and insulin to take advantage of insulin’s anabolic quality, while avoiding glucagon’s catabolic effect. Strategically cycle protein and the types of carbs that you’re eating and you can restore balance (check out the post on hormonal diet from two weeks ago for more). For more on our fat-burning weight loss programs check out our website at bodychange.net
Master Weight Loss Coach
I lost over a 100 lbs a decade ago and I've kept it off. Now I serve others to help them reach their health potential. Follow me and my discoveries.
I'm Susan. I'm a mom, a grandmother, and a Master Kettlebell Trainer.
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