Many people are probably unaware that they can lose weight by lowering their insulin levels. Revelations about insulin’s role in weight control and overall health have helped many people successfully lose pounds when other methods have failed.
Scientific studies demonstrate that lowering one’s insulin level is not only an effective and safe way to lose weight, but that lower insulin directly contributes to good health in a number of ways.
How insulin works
Insulin is one of the body’s natural hormones that is produced in the pancreas and is used to regulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Stimuli like ingested protein and blood glucose levels cause the pancreas to secrete insulin. The hormone regulates both the rate at which the body stores and burns fat.
By lowering insulin levels, the body stores less fat thus preventing weight gain. Studies also suggest that lower insulin contributes to slower aging, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels along with having other health benefits.
Individuals can control their insulin levels using a holistic approach that involves diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and, in some cases, insulin-regulating drugs.Insulin resistance
Many people develop insulin resistance resulting in higher than normal insulin levels in the system. The cause of elevated insulin levels is often linked with the modern lifestyle in which large amounts of sugar and complex carbohydrates are consumed. Other factors that may contribute to insulin resistance are alcohol consumption, nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise, smoking and stress. Web MD goes into depth on the health issues associated with insulin resistance. It can be read here.
The high rate of obesity in America is often linked with Americans’ high levels of insulin. Many snack foods are loaded with carbohydrates and people are not getting as much exercise as before. Consequently, many become insulin resistant and their bodies produce higher levels of insulin contributing to health-threatening weight gain.
Studies also show that these high insulin levels may be contributing to the widespread incidence of cardiovascular disease. The research shows that people with elevated insulin levels had higher risks of heart disease, hypertension, blocked arteries and high cholesterol.
Cutting insulin levels by lowering intake of carbohydrates
One of the most effective ways to lower insulin in the system is to reduce the amount of high carbohydrate foods in our diet. Traditionally, grains and starches make up a large percentage of the modern person’s diet.
We can safely reduce carbohydrate intake by paying more attention to the food we eat. Some foods more readily stimulate the release of insulin than others. Foods that quickly raise the blood glucose levels are the ones to watch most closely. These foods are said to have a high glycemic index (GI) and include grains like rice, wheat and corn; and starchy foods like potatoes and bananas. One does not have to give up these foods, but it is a good idea to be aware of the glycemic index of foods that you normally eat.
Use whole rather than refined grains and try to reduce consumption of sweet foods like sugar and honey. Most processed snack foods should be avoided if possible.
By eating a more balanced diet not so rich in high glycemic index foods, the body’s insulin levels should begin to normalize. Another method of keeping the blood glucose levels lower is to eat a larger number of smaller meals each day. Instead of eating three “square” meals, for example, you could reduce the size of breakfast, lunch and dinner and add some healthy snacks between these meals. Some experts recommend eating about five or six meals a day to avoid sharp swings in blood sugar.
A more balanced diet will contain a higher percentage of proteins and fatty foods as a source of calories. Contrary to a common belief, fat in food does not automatically translate into body fat. By eating a higher percentage of protein and fat rich foods, the body is able to get sufficient energy without pushing up insulin levels. While some fats may contribute to cardiovascular problems, other fats are much less dangerous and are even beneficial so long as one does not overindulge. Omega fatty acids, for example, found in seafood and various plant sources are thought to contribute significantly to cardiovascular and overall health.
The importance of exercise
In addition to controlling excessive intake of carbohydrates, you can also control insulin levels by maintaining an active lifestyle with plenty of regular exercise. Physical activity helps burn off glucose in the blood reducing the amount of stimulus that causes the pancreas to release insulin. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise and resistance training enhance the body’s insulin sensitivity and also may stimulate sex hormones that refine the body’s insulin response.
Of course, regular exercise can also directly burn off fat and it helps tone up the cardiovascular system.
Using nutritional supplements
Certain minerals are thought to help the body control insulin levels better. Chromium is an important element in the Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), a molecule used to regulate blood sugar. Chromium supplements can help lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. Foods high in chromium include onions, sweet potato, tomatoes and mushrooms.
Vanadium is another important mineral that can help control insulin levels. Vanadium works by performing some of the functions of insulin. Foods high in vanadium include soybeans, mushrooms, black pepper and parsley. Some experts, though, state that foods do not contain enough vanadium to impact glucose levels and that one should instead use nutritional supplements as a source for this mineral.
Controlling insulin with drugs?
Some doctors recommend using drugs like metformin to reduce insulin levels and promote weight loss. Metformin acts in a manner similar to vanadium in that it mimics the action of insulin. Metformin is considered safer than its predecessor, the anti-diabetic drug phenformin. However, metformin is not available over the counter and must be prescribed by a health professional.
Losing weight requires staying the course
Like any weight loss program, a regimen that involves lowering insulin levels will not work overnight and persistence is required. Generally, it is best to consult with a physician before undertaking an insulin-based weight control program.