Insulin and Weight Gain (Reprinted from Aug 2016)

The connection between insulin and weight gain is well understood and acknowledged. From the Mayo Clinic website.

When you take insulin, glucose is able to enter your cells, and glucose levels in your blood drop. This is the desired therapeutic goal. But if you take in more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight — given your level of activity — your cells will get more glucose than they need. Glucose that your cells don’t use accumulates as fat.

So what is their advice for avoiding this situation? Summarized as

  1. Count Calories
  2. Don’t skip meals
  3. Get aerobic activity
  4. See your doctor about getting on [more] medications
  5. Don’t skip taking your insulin

They pulled out the old tried-and-believed-to-be-true words. That don’t work at all. Nothing makes you feel deprived more than counting your calories. Skipping meals allows your insulin levels to drop. Exercise sounds good in theory but rarely ever gets put into practice. Get more meds which are going to push harder to get the glucose out of the blood into your cells? Sounds like the kind of advice you’d give someone for weight gain, not loss. Finally, don’t go off your insulin for weight loss purposes.

Most of what they say is well-intentioned but completely wrong. All of this explains why we got fat but doesn’t really help us get control of our insulin resistance. Why not tell people that they can skip meals as a way of getting their insulin resistance to improve? Are they so afraid someone will go too low that they don’t want to see people improve their core issue?

Here’s what the advice should be when targeted towards improving insulin resistance.

  1. Don’t count calories. Nothing makes you feel more deprived than counting calories and nothing sets you up for feeling more like a failure. Restricted calorie diets lower your metabolism and you will be worse off for years after the diet since your set point will then be lowered.
  2. Skip meals. At the very least don’t eat just because it’s time to eat. Eat because you are actually hungry. Understand that the fast you did from 7 PM to 7 AM could be stretched out till noon without harming you.
  3. Exercise is always good. If you fast you get more energy and more active naturally. Exercise has lasting effects on blood sugar levels.
  4. Find a doctor who is willing to work with you and explore options that he may not have learned about in medical school. At the very least one that understands what the meds she prescribes to you do and their effects on insulin resistance. At least find a doctor that acknowledges your problem is insulin resistance. (Added List of Low Carb Doctors).
  5. All other things being equal, you can only reduce your insulin needs by lowering your insulin resistance. The goal, therefore, is to figure out how to reduce your insulin usage. Don’t just stop taking insulin and let your insulin levels get really high. I’ve lost a friend recently to DKA so I take this very seriously. She was an undiagnosed T2D but in retrospect she had all of the external markers of a T2D adult.

It might be beneficial to do a post on each of the above treatment points but focus the points on the treatment I am doing now, 18/6 Intermittent Fasting.

Author: Doug

I'm an Engineer who is also a science geek. I was pre-diabetic in 1996 and became a diabetic in 2003. I decided to figure out how to hack my diabetes and in 2016 found the ketogetic diet which reversed my diabetes.

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