• Joshua Li

Want Faster Results? Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin is a hormone produced in the body from the pancreas, its main role is to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. When you consume nutrients during a meal your blood glucose level rises after you digest food, this is where insulin kicks in from the pancreas to bind with your cells to absorb the sugar, so that the energy can be stored either in the muscles as glycogen or in the liver for future use when blood sugar levels are lower than normal (in-between meals or during physical activity). The main purpose of insulin is to keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycaemia) or too low (hypoglycaemia).

The problem when insulin levels rise above the normal level, insulin resistance occurs which is problematic as the body is much more likely to store food as fat and the cells aren’t able to bind to insulin efficiently, causing the pancreas to over produce insulin which leads to increased fat storage, which is highly associated to diabetes. Furthermore insulin resistance also produces inflammation in the body which is linked to many more health problems, such as reduced performance, sleep quality, recovery, increased heart disease risk. Hence the importance of improving insulin sensitivity for muscle growth and fat loss. Below are some of the simplest and most effective ways of improving insulin sensitivity.

Besides the many health benefits of regular exercise, strength training and other anaerobic activities have shown to be the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity by building lean tissue, therefore leading to increased energy demands. It also helps transport sugar into the muscles for fuel storage more efficiently and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, which lasts for 2-48 hours depending on the type of exercise. Studies from consistent strength training have shown for every 10 percent increase in muscle mass, insulin resistance decreases by 11 percent. Furthermore besides anaerobic training, aerobic training can also provide health benefits and improve insulin sensitivity in especially someone who’s well-trained. Therefore we recommend a combined approach, incorporating resistance and aerobic training for improving insulin sensitivity to a greater extent.

Being aware of your diet and optimising your carbohydrate intake are also crucial for improving insulin sensitivity, this is where the importance of knowing your body and educating yourself play a role. For example, a person with a sedentary lifestyle is going to have completely lower carb needs compared to someone who has a very active lifestyle. Research from the past few years have shown that a low-carb, high protein, low-glycemic diet has far more benefits to sedentary people with insulin resistance or diabetes, as it is more effective in reducing body fat and improving insulin sensitivity. In addition to these benefits it also reduces systemic inflammation which is vital for internal health and body composition. Apart from watching the amount of carbs you intake on a daily basis it it also wise to pair foods that improve insulin sensitivity with higher carb foods, e.g. vinegar, green tea, spices and nuts as they all act as an insulin sensitiser by improving the bodies ability to store carbs as muscle glycogen for energy and not fat. Besides your food intake, eliminating ‘liquid fructose’ such as sodas, fruit juices or sport drinks is also beneficial for insulin sensitivity as mass consumption of these liquids can cause metabolic problems which leads to an increase in fat storage, in particular around the waist.

The bottom line is that you should aim to improve your insulin sensitivity through a well-balanced diet that consists of minimal sugar, colourful vegetables, fruits, whole foods and unprocessed carbohydrates. Adding herbs and spices to your cooking is also a clever way to add more flavour to your meals and at the same time improving insulin sensitivity. Finally finding time to take part in regular resistance and aerobic exercise, reduce stress and improve sleep quality through personal preference, e.g. stretching, meditation, reading or supplementation (omega 3’s, probiotics, magnesium) can all reduce the risk of insulin resistance and improve overall health by allowing the body to recover optimally and build more lean tissue mass can all contribute to a decrease in the risk of infections, heart disease and diabetes.

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