Why Insulin Levels Are So Important

Insulin is considered the ‘master hormone’ for its role in facilitating the transport of nutrients and hormones to target organs and storage depots in the body. A healthy level of insulin production allows liver, muscle, and fat cells to repair, regenerate, and store energy for future use.

The growth-promoting properties of insulin (Insulin Growth Factor and Epithelial Growth Factor) play a critical role in health, when present in proper balance.

A high insulin-producing diet results in an excess of growth factors in the bloodstream. This leads to accelerated cell division (accelerated ageing) and a deregulation of healthy cell division (increased cancer risk)

Excess insulin production from a high-carbohydrate diet promotes fat-storage, systemic inflammation, and interferes with healthy immune and hormonal function.

A high insulin-producing diet results in an undesirable feedback loop: increased appetite and increased reliance on dietary carbohydrates to perpetuate this cycle of high carb-intake/high insulin-production. This occurs because high blood insulin levels deplete the bloodstream of energy by driving nutrients into their cellular storage depots.

Instead of supplying a readily available reservoir of fat for energy, a high insulin-producing diet results in an energy rollercoaster:

Here, one quickly burns through ingested carbs, with the excess ushered out of the bloodstream and into storage. This has to happen quickly, because with this pattern of eating, the body has become accustomed to expecting food at regular intervals. It literally becomes ‘trained’ to store fat.

Insulin and Fat Storage:

High insulin levels lock triglycerides into the fat cells, lock amino acids into the muscle cells, and lock glycogen into muscle and liver cells. This inhibits the burning of these ample internal energy stores. Instead, ingested glucose is burned through until blood-glucose levels diminish. Subsequently, low blood-glucose results in fatigue and hunger for quick energy in the form of carbohydrates.

With low blood-glucose levels, your brain thinks you are starving and energy deprived, even though you have plenty of calories available for energy stored in fat, muscle and liver cells. Organs and cells need this stored energy, but they cannot burn it due to elevated insulin levels.

This means you experience diminished energy in general, most likely lack the energy and/or motivation to conduct regular exercise, and are plagued with elevated hunger levels.

A diet that promotes hyperinsulinemia (chronically high insulin levels) promotes a vicious cycle of excess calorie consumption, inhibited energy burning, and excess energy storage.

As Gary Taubes mentions in his book ‘Why We Get Fat’, this means that overeating and inactivity are symptoms of obesity, not the cause.

Understanding the hormonal dysfunction caused by a high-carbohydrate/high-insulin producing diet, allows for the realisation that this situation can be reversed.

When insulin production is elevated, it ceases to work optimally, and the body needs to produce even more just to get the job done. Thus, the body becomes insulin-resistant and the likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes increases.

Restoring Hormonal Balance:

Reducing the level of ingested carbohydrates, also means that less insulin is produced, and the body becomes more sensitive to it; allowing a return to hormonal balance and the body to function optimally.

At the same time, the body’s ability to burn fat is upregulated, and it becomes adept at accessing stores; meaning that energy levels remain constant throughout the day.

When hormonal balance is restored, the body will begin to return to its optimal composition, and fat loss naturally occurs.

Please note: this has nothing to do with starvation, severe calorie-restriction, or deprivation. This is all about returning balance to the body, and optimising nutrient-consumption.

When this occurs: you will feel more energised, your immune system is more effective at dealing with infection and your body will become altogether stronger and more resilient.

 

Read more: Live Stronger for Longer

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