Hormones – Insulin

Hormones – Insulin

Insulin! You hear that word and think diabetes, but we ALL produce it! Where? The pancreas, Why? In response to blood sugar levels.

When our blood sugars increase, insulin is released and it’s job is to tell the body to store the sugar in our muscles and liver. In order for us to have steady energy levels throughout the day and be able to burn body fat, we need to manage our insulin levels properly. Oh yes, or else it has nowhere to go but to the fat tissue I am afraid to tell you!

We can do this by controlling the amount and type of carbohydrates we consume.  This doesn’t necessarily mean eating a low carbohydrate diet all of the time (although that might work for some people), it means that we avoid the overconsumption of foods with lots of added sugars. Bummer I know, but it’s fact!

After eating a sugary snack you may have experienced an energy spike whoop!…followed by an energy crash..ugh!  This happens because blood sugar levels increase rapidly, prompting the release of insulin to lower blood sugars, since high blood sugar is toxic. We can then be left with blood sugar levels that are too low. This can make us feel tired and hungry, and what do you do? Reach for more high sugar, carb rich foods to remove that slump and get the whoop back in your system! This causes us to experience “peaks and troughs” in our energy levels, leaving your body working hard to get you back on an even level.

The ideal scenario, both from an energy perspective and for us to get the results we want, is to consume the right nutrients that will allow us to have stable, steady blood sugars and well regulated insulin levels throughout the day.

These nutrients include:

  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Fibre-rich complex carbohydrates

Fats and proteins do not cause insulin levels to increase anywhere near as much as carbohydrates do, that’s why it’s essential that we eat proteins and healthy fats. By doing this we can feel full and avoid those awful energy slumps!

Insulin resistance – what is that?

This is when the body produces insulin but the cells aren’t ilstening. Imagine an 18 year old having their first alcoholic drink, they’d probably get drunk quite quickly. Next imagine a 30 year old who has been binge drinking most weekends, it probably takes a lot more alcohol for them to get drunk. It’s similar with insulin, and after years of eating too many sugary carbohydrates, our cells can become resistant to insulin. We then need our pancreas to produce more insulin to shift the same amount of sugar out of the blood and into storage. This can be the beginning of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes…and you just don’t want that to happen because everything you once thought you could have any time becomes OFF limits…permanently!

The two main culprits behind insulin resistance are a lack of exercise and a hyper-caloric diet high in refined carbohydrates, so basically pastries, pies, cakes, sweets, white bread, pasta, and rice, and a lot of breakfast cereals, there is more but this is the main list!  The good news is that insulin sensitivity can be regained with the right combination of diet and exercise, and it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sweet stuff or the refined carbs…just not EVERYDAY, remember…moderation!

Glucagon (Glucawhat) coming next…