The Truth About Insulin and Weight LossPosted: June 22, 2015 in News by Craig Primack MD FACP
Insulin is one of the most misunderstood hormones. Too much of it can cause weight gain, and too little of it will cause serious health problems. A better understanding of insulin will help you counteract its fat-building effects and achieve successful weight loss.
How Insulin Works
Insulin is produced and stored in the pancreas. When you eat starches, sugars, and other carbohydrates, they’re digested to simple sugars in the intestine. The pancreas senses the sugar and releases insulin into the bloodstream. The job of insulin is to signal the muscle to absorb the sugar. In a perfect world, you eat just enough carbohydrates to meet your body’s needs.
Insulin and Weight Gain
If you eat too many carbs, your pancreas releases loads of insulin that tell your cells lots of sugar is on the way. Sugars that aren’t immediately used are stored for later use. Simply put, eating too many carbs (and not burning them) causes the production of fat in fat cells.
Over time, with repeated overeating of carbohydrates, your cells start to ignore the insulin. And so your body will have to release even more to have the same effect. Known as insulin resistance (and eventually Type 2 Diabetes), this persistent blood sugar elevation can cause blood vessels to clog, leading to strokes, heart attacks, blindness, and kidney failure.
Insulin and Weight Loss
So what does Insulin have to do with losing weight? The key to weight loss success is to control your insulin, specifically, keeping insulin as low as possible. Here are the key points:
- Keep carbohydrates to a minimum. Your body will make and release less insulin, reducing the building of fat. When looking at a food label, anything over 25 grams of carbohydrates per serving is considered too high.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation causes increased blood sugar and results in more insulin secretion.
- Regular cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, biking, etc.) causes your body to use sugars immediately, this bypasses and suppresses insulin and reduces fat storage. Sitting a lot and lack of activity results in the opposite.
- Eating just prior to bedtime, especially carbs, causes you to store fat while sleeping. In general, we burn most of our fat while sleeping, unless we overwhelm our body with sugars. You’ll lose an important opportunity to burn fat.
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