Insulin sensitivity is a very important whether your goal is to lose fat, gain muscle or just have overall energy from the food you eat. The more insulin sensitive you are the more food gets converted to energy and taken up by the cells, especially when you eat a healthy dose of carbs.
If you are insulin resistant the opposite happens and fat takes up more of the nutrients. This leaves the person low on energy, makes the person get hungry soon after eating and results in no muscle gain, but a lot of fat gain. The best example of someone who is insulin resistant is an overweight diabetic person on a high carb diet. The easiest way to explain what happened is this person eats way too many carbs for what he/she needs for the day, their glycogen stores (muscles) are always full because they are sedentary and eventually the muscles become desensitized to insulin’s effects and there is nowhere left for insulin to go, but the person’s enormous potential fat pool storage.
But stay on a low carb diet (under 50 grams) for too long and your body also becomes insulin resistant because it forgets how to process carbohydrates. (not good) So essentially a very thin person could be insulin resistant as well.
Also, very low carb diets are used to treat overweight people with insulin resistance and initially they work very well. By giving their body a break from all of the insulin, their body learns to appreciate it again. But, they must be careful and increase the carbohydrates back to the appropriate level or insulin resistance will develop again.
As I stated in my article (Carbohydrates in the Diet), the best way to avoid getting too fat with too much insulin and going too low with carbs is to eat around (100-150 grams a day). Now if your very active you will need more, but most people live in this range.
So we know how to become insulin resistant, but how do we become more insulin sensitive? TIPS:
- Lift Weights and Exercise with some intensity – this is probably the easiest way, but basically when muscles work hard they deplete carbs from stoarge. This teaches the body to refill muscle’s that have been depleted making them sensitive to its effects again.
- Eat Carbs directly after a workout – This goes with the above point, but eating carbs right after exercise ensures that muscles will soak them up rather than fat. This is very important if your insulin resistant, because your basically reteaching the body to react favorably to carb intake.
- Keep Carbs in the sweet spot – Above I stated why too many and too little carbs are bad. Eat around 100-150 grams a day to keep your body sensitive to insulin.
- Don’t eat carbs alone – always eat a balanced diet with protein, carbs and fat in each meal. This will keep insulin and blood sugar spikes down and will allow your body time to get the proper nourishment out of food.
- Drink Caffeine – Technically caffeine makes your muscles and fat cells more insulin resistant, but throw in some exercise and muscles become sensitive while fat cells remain resistant. (pretty nice combo)
- Improve your body’s fat balance – Eat more saturated, monounsaturated and fish oils. Leave out polyunsaturated vegetable oil and trans fat as these cause many more problems then just insulin resistance.
- Eat more fiber – this slows down blood sugar spikes.
- Eat Cinnamon – a true superfood that I will do a post on in the future. Increases blood glucose metabolism by 20 times its normal rate.
- Eat Blueberries – A study was shown to improve insulin sensitivity by up to 10% in 6 weeks while regularly consuming blueberry shakes.
These are the most effective tips to increase insulin sensitivity and they do work well. Doing the above tips should greatly improve energy levels and body composition.
Try this recipe for an awesome way to improve your insulin sensitivity. It includes many of the tips above including healthy fat, fibrous carbs, protein, blueberries, cinnamon, and some caffeine from coffee. Throw in a workout and you should be set.
- The Insulin Tamer
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 3/4 cup of blueberries
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1 instant coffee pack
- 1/2 -1 scoop of vanilla protein
- 1tsp – 1tsp almond butter (optional)