How Does Insulin Affect Your Weight?

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in the presence of high blood sugars after eating. Different insulin spikes occur for different types of food. It’s purpose is to regulate the flow of fat and sugar into and out of your cells. Both fat and sugar are used by your cells for immediate energy use as well as for long term energy storage.

How does insulin relate to fat storage?

Insulin is a hormone that triggers the storage of both fat and sugar into your cells. As discussed above, different foods trigger different insulin responses. It’s not just carbs. All food triggers an insulin response because insulin is your body’s way of moving energy into and out of your cells. It’s when you are pulling in more energy than your cells require that your cells start to store the free floating energy in your blood as either fat in your fat cells or glycogen in your muscle cells, glycogen being just a form of glucose storage for quick energy.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance occurs when your cells stop responding to the insulin released by your pancreas. It happens gradually over time. Slowly but surely the cells stop letting in glucose and fats in the presence of insulin. In response, your pancreas just releases more insulin to get the job done. This overworking of the pancreas over years and years is what eventually leads to metabolic disease (pre-diabetes) then eventually full diabetes type II.

Does insulin make you gain weight?

No. Insulin does not actually make you gain weight. Insulin’s job is to store the fat that you eat for later, but the amount stored depends on what you eat. If you have a balanced diet and don’t overeat in comparison to the fat you burn everyday, the fat stored will be used as fuel. Insulin is not the bad guy here, overeating is usually to blame.

Keep in mind also that energy is stored in two different ways, either as fat or as glycogen. Of the two, glycogen is what is used by your muscle cells for quick energy and is the preferred energy source on a day to day basis. Dr. Fung, a kidney specialist from Canada, compares it to food storage. Fat storage is similar to your freezer – it’s for long term storage and in order to access it you have to warm it up and cook it.

Glycogen storage is like keeping food in your fridge. It’s easy to access and often ready to eat.

If you store too much food in your freezer it builds up over time never getting used, similar to how fat builds up on the body. What you want is to move food from the freezer into the fridge. When used properly, insulin is the tool that helps you do that.

Can you lose weight if you take insulin?

Yes. If you are a Type I diabetic and take insulin it in no way guarantees gaining weight. There are other choices that directly affect this which will be discussed below.

How does insulin affect your metabolism?

Metabolism is a short term for the sum of chemicals reactions that happen in your body to keep it functioning. Insulin has a role in metabolism. When functioning properly it moves energy (fat and sugar) from your blood into your cells, your cells use that energy for many different things, and the use of energy by your cells is what metabolism roughly is.

The problem is when your body isn’t responding to the insulin produced by your pancreas. Your cells then can’t access that energy and it changes your metabolism.

How do carbs affect your insulin levels?

Carbs are just one of the macros in your food that trigger an insulin response. Different carbs create different responses. Some like baked potatoes produce a huge spike in blood sugar. Others like berries and grains with fiber cause much smaller blood sugar increases.

Can you lose weight even eating pure carbs ? Absolutely.  The Kempner diet, also called the rice diet, has proven that carbs taken in high quantity could reduce fat storage, blood pressure levels, and blood sugar levels. Study subjects would eat white rice and up to a pound of sugar a day and still drop massive amounts of weight.

What foods raise insulin?

Some foods raise insulin more than others. That is the case of high-glycemic carbs, such as table sugar, cakes, jams…everything that contains high levels of refined sugar.

What foods lower insulin?

However, all the carbs are not equal. Some will keep a good insulin balance and keep you fueled and healthy. Foods which don’t cause a large insulin response are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Also, animal proteins will typically not raise your insulin level too much. However, they have other cons so eat them reasonably.

How does fasting affect insulin levels?

Fasting does not trigger insulin secretion, which means the part of your body that triggers it will be able to rest and become more efficient and sensitive when new carbs are absorbed. Indeed, fasting allows the body to burn the fat stored by insulin, as you will need it to stay alive when no nutrients enter the body. Fasting has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance.

How to control your insulin levels to loss weight and fat?

Insulin might be the hormone that stores body fat, but it isn’t responsible for your weight gain. If you want to keep your insulin levels low and ensure that not too much fat is stored, avoid triggering it with carbs that contain a lot of sugar, eat more beans and foods with fiber preferably at each meal, and find a form of intermittent fasting that works for you. The more fiber you eat and the more you use fasting to improve your insulin response, the less your body will store fat.

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