Signs and Symptoms of Insulin Resistance
Here is what you should know about insulin resistance, including its signs and symptoms and whether or not it can be reversed.
Insulin resistance and diabetes are metabolic disorders, in which the metabolic process of glucose sourced from carb sources is compromised.
Without careful attention and management, long-term side consequences such as heart disease are at risk.
But exactly what is insulin resistance, its potential signs and symptoms, and can it be reversed? Here is what you should know.
What Is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a fundamental hormone required for glucose utilization, as it assists in glucose's entry into the cells following carbohydrate intake.
Think of insulin is a key: When glucose from carb sources is ingested and absorbed, insulin is released and helps unlock the cells’ “door” for glucose to enter.
Insulin resistance is when cells do not respond well to insulin and cannot sufficiently easily take up glucose the blood, thus leading to high blood sugars.
Individuals with prediabetes, also known as borderline diabetes, already have some degree of insulin resistance. If left uncontrolled, blood sugars start to elevate overtime and raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Resistance & Type II Diabetes
Insulin resistance and diabetes are metabolic disorders, in which the metabolic process of glucose is compromised.
If insulin resistance is left uncontrolled, insulin resistance can result to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes overtime. Insulin resistance can also develop into insulin resistance syndrome, which is linked to diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and other health conditions.
While the exact cause of insulin resistance is not primarily unknown, health experts commonly point to an overweight or obese status, often related to poor diet intake and a sedentary lifestyle.
Additional risk factors for insulin resistance include:
• Aged 45 or older
• Family history of obesity and/or diabetes
• African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American ethnicity
• History of certain health conditions, including gestational diabetes, heart disease or stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and sleep apnea
• Hormonal disorders, including Cushing’s syndrome and acromegaly
• Certain medications such as antipsychotics and glucocorticoids
Physical Symptoms of Insulin Resistance
Some individuals may experience more severe symptoms than others, while many commonly go without.
Nonetheless, the following indicators are mentionable and noteworthy, particularly in the absence of diagnosable lab work from a glucose intolerance, fasting blood glucose, and hemoglobin A1C tests.
• Craving Sugar or Starches
The body may start to crave sugars and starches when they cannot be utilized properly. If glucose never makes it into the cells and stays in the blood, it may feel deprived and accelerate a feeling of sugar deprivation.
• Heightened Hunger Following Breakfast
Commonly, the American breakfast consists of a quick slice of toast, a simple bowl of oatmeal or cereal, or a plate of stacked pancakes drenched in maple syrup. All mentioned items may hold a piece of nutritional value, but the total meal plate is unbalanced and only high in carbohydrate and sugar.
And with heightened levels of insulin leading up to breakfast, the high carb and sugar load spikes blood sugar only to quickly drop. The rapid fall of blood sugar can subsequently increase a persistent, dramatic hunger.
• Weak or Shaky Without Meal Consistency
Without consistent meals, comes unstable blood sugars. Insulin will start to heighten and once a meal is consumed (especially if rich in carbohydrate), blood sugar may plummet. In turn, you may feel weak, shaky, and fatigued.
• Eating Stimulates Hunger
Interestingly, you may wake up or arrive to lunch hours without an appetite. But as the day goes on, you start to build up a hunger, eat, and become even hungrier.
In fact, Dr. Caroline Cederquist, the founding physician of bistroMD, has discovered eating an unmatched balance of foods can actually stimulate appetite.
• Difficulty Losing Weight
This may be the most discouraging consequence of insulin resistance some face. Heightened insulin levels can convince the body to easily store fat, making it difficult to lose weight. Despite increased determinations to lose it, heightened insulin levels may take precedency and hold onto weight.
Reversing Insulin Resistance
Luckily, insulin resistance can be treated and does have the opportunity to reverse itself with simple tips and your efforts. The following recommendations are based on a total lifestyle change, including a healthful diet and consistent exercise.
Consume Well-Balanced Meals
Rather than consuming a meal rich in carbohydrate, balance the meal with lean protein, healthy fat, and complex carb and fiber sources. A well-rounded plate lessens the risk of dropped blood sugar levels, especially following meals.
Additionally, replacing a high carbohydrate snack with a rich in protein source can further reduce unpleasant symptoms.
Do not wait extensive hours at a time to accommodate your hunger. Eating consistent meals and snacks can keep blood sugars stable and reduce dramatic fluctuations.
If feelings of hunger during breakfast and lunch are absent, start working towards their intake to reduce ravenous cravings come afternoon hours.
Exercise & Activities
Along with diet, exercise also fits in the insulin resistance puzzle. During exercise, active muscles help uptake circulating blood sugars to replete energy reserves without a critical need of insulin. With more muscle available, the greater opportunity for blood sugars to stabilize.
Recommendations suggests most individuals participate in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week while incorporating strength-training movements at least two or three times weekly.
Weight loss is considerably valuable for combatting insulin resistance and reducing risk of developing diabetes.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests losing five to seven percent of body weight or 10 to 14 percent if over 200 pounds.
Adhering to and implementing lifestyle changes and guidance above can naturally cause weight loss and help reverse insulin resistance.
Insulin Resistance Treatment – Additional Considerations
Treatment recommendations are similar to preventative measures of insulin resistance, which are particularly related to lifestyle changes.
While medication is not warranted without the presence of a diabetes diagnosis at this time, it is still important to work with a healthcare provider to advise a safe and effective plan.