Blood sugar and insulin problems are some of the most common issues affecting modern Americans. Many don’t realize they even have a problem!
Insulin Resistance is when cells in the body become resistant to the signals of insulin. In the body, insulin acts as a transporter for glucose. When a person without these issues consumes a meal with starch or sugar, insulin is secreted in response and it signals to the cells to open the door so that they can use the glucose for energy. However, when someone becomes insulin resistant, the cells don’t want to open and more and more insulin is produced in response to meals.
Insulin Resistance is a difficult issue that makes maintaining proper blood sugar levels difficult. It can wreak havoc on your energy, hormones, and general well being and puts you at greater risk for developing type II diabetes. If you’ve been told you have insulin resistance, there are some things you can do nutritionally to support yourself.
The best way to determine you have insulin resistance is to speak to a doctor and have lab work done. A clinical nutritionist can help interpret what that lab work means for your diet. Regardless, there are some symptoms of insulin resistance that are quite common:
Feeling weak, shaky, extremely tired, sweaty or irritable between meals
Feeling better after eating
Gaining weight around primarily the midsection
Having a condition like prediabetes, PCOS, or being told you’ve had hypoglycemia
If you have insulin resistance and want to start changing your diet to help, here are a few great tips.
A low carbohydrate diet helps support proper insulin function. Since insulin is primarily released in response to starches, sugars, and other carbohydrates, it is important to reduce these so that the body can heal.
Carbohydrate tolerance is individual to each person, and to find out how much you can eat, you’ll need the help of a professional. Robb Wolf’s new book also has an at home challenge you can try and I like his recommendations. Find it here.
Try eating as little refined carbohydrate as possible, along with only a moderate amount of starch from potatoes. Always eat balanced meals and snacks with protein, fats, and carbohydrates for better blood sugar health, and eat 3 solid meals with a meal-like snack in the middle of the day.
Don’t skimp on vegetables either. Though they are technically carbohydrates, non-starchy vegetables are packed with fiber and will keep you feeling full and keep your body healthy. Fiber has also been shown to be beneficial for blood sugar regulation. Eat as many veggies as you can manage!
To increase insulin sensitivity in the body, we have to increase it in the muscles. That means exercise.
Even with a great diet, poor exercise habits are going to make it difficult to get past insulin resistance.
A nice long walk everyday is a good idea, with weight lifting 2-3 times a week. Stay moving as much as you can throughout the day, but there’s no need to fill your days with endless cardio. Try lifting weights and doing yoga and walking instead.
Several supplements have been shown to improve insulin resistance. One I recommend often is Diabenil by Thorne which contains botanicals and nutrients shown to improve blood sugar balance. It’s also really important to look at gut health since an unhealthy or imbalanced microbiome can cause insulin resistance in the body. A good probiotic and prebiotic can help improve issues here along with customized nutrition help.
Changes in diet and exercise alone have the power to rapidly improve your blood sugar and insulin function as well so don’t skimp there!