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Insulin Resistance

Though it is the precursor to diabetes, whose rates have been on the rise for decades, few people know of insulin resistance, and how it can change their lives. In this section you will find articles that provide an explanation of insulin resistance as well as ways to avoid, or halt, its development.

Insulin Resistance Weight Loss

Insulin resistance makes weight gain seem easy and losing it impossible. BistroMD’s founding physician weighs in on the best diet for insulin resistance and how to reverse it!

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Weight loss is much more than input versus output, as there are additional factors that can impede on results. In fact, hormones play a prominent and active role in metabolic functioning. If left unbalanced, hormones can stop working as efficiently.

Insulin is one of the hormones responsible for maintaining energy balance, in turn influencing weight loss and gain. Losing weight with insulin resistance is common, yet not always an identified culprit for weight issues.

Luckily, Dr. Caroline Cederquist, weight loss physician and founder of bistroMD, has created a diet for insulin resistance. Not only does it lead to weight loss, but keeps it off for good!

What Is Insulin Resistance?

Before exploring insulin resistance, the function of insulin is worth noting. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It helps glucose insulin helps glucose enter the body's cells to use as energy. If insulin resistant, also coined "metabolic dysfunction" (the MD Factor) by Dr. Cederquist, the hormone is unable to be used effectively.

Think of insulin as a key. When glucose from carb sources is ingested, insulin is released and helps unlock cell "doors" for glucose to enter. The glucose is used as fuel for blinking, walking, breathing, and other functions vital to life.

When the cells cannot open and absorb glucose, however, it builds up in the bloodstream. Blood sugar levels start to rise, which increases the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in the future. There are additional risks of heart disease, kidney damage, and other harmful health conditions if left uncontrolled.

In addition to maintaining energy balance, insulin acts as a chemical messenger that signals to the liver to hold onto glucose. The glucose is stored rather than released in the blood. (Remember this concept, as it has a strong tie for the link between insulin resistance and weight loss frustrations.)

Causes and Signs of Insulin Resistance

There is still much to be known regarding what causes insulin resistance. However, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases indicates excess and physical inactivity comes into major play:

• Excess weight: Carrying excess weight makes it more difficult for glucose to reach the cells. Fat tissue also produces hormones and other substances that can contribute to chronic, or long-lasting, inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.

Waist circumference measures waist size just above the belly button and below the rib cage. Men and women are advised to keep waist circumference under 40 and 35 inches, respectively. Like inflammation, exceeding these measurements increases the risk of insulin resistance and other health risks.

• Physical inactivity: Living a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough physical activity increases the risk of insulin resistance and prediabetes. Regular physical activity helps the body utilize glucose and regulate blood sugars.

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 various health conditions, including gestational diabetes, 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 steroids
• Smoking
• Inadequate sleep

Signs of insulin resistance are not always noticed. However, one may experience the following:

• Cravings for carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods
• Elevations in hunger after breakfast and meals
• Feelings of weakness or shakiness, especially if meals are not consistent and balanced
• Difficulties losing weight, and gaining it easily

According to the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, the insulin tolerance test (ITT) is useful for evaluating insulin sensitivity in diabetes. What’s more, taking an insulin tolerance test can offer more objective insight to experienced symptoms. A simple blood glucose test may also be given.

Insulin resistance and prediabetes can be identified with simple blood tests. A fasting blood sugar reading between 100 to 124 mg/dL indicates pre-diabetes. This signals the cells are becoming resistant to insulin.

Making lifestyle changes can reverse insulin resistance and the risk of a diabetes diagnosis.

Weight Loss & Insulin Resistance

The link between insulin resistance and weight is quite complicated as much as it is frustrating. Because while weight loss helps reverse insulin resistance and lessen diabetes risk, losing weight with insulin resistance can be tough.

People with insulin resistance have difficulty shuttling glucose into their cells, which essentially causes the cells to feel deprived and starved. The cells become quite desperate for fuel, which in turn causes them to send "I'm hungry!" signal to the brain.

To fulfill this hunger, food is consumed and increases calorie intake and the risk for added weight gain. To complicate matters, remember insulin signals the liver to hold onto glucose and stores it as fat for later use. This function makes it more difficult to hold onto weight rather than shed it off.

Ultimately, weight loss is a simpler process if hormonal and metabolic processes are running smoothly and efficiently. People without insulin resistance lose weight easily, or at least easier than ones with insulin resistance.

Then how can one lose weight with insulin resistance?
Weight loss might be challenging if insulin resistant, but it is not an endless battle. Besides, one does not have to lose a large amount of weight to improve insulin sensitivity.

Research in the International Journal of Obesity discovered losing 10 percent of body weight can improve insulin sensitivity by 80 percent! To put this in perspective, someone weighing 200 pounds would be encouraged to lose 20 pounds. Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests losing even 5 percent, or 10 pounds, can improve blood glucose levels.

Weight loss is best achieved with the combination of diet and exercise. Additional factors include smoke cessation, vitamin D supplementation, and medications as needed.

But what if one adopts this healthier lifestyle and there are no signs of success and weight gain continues? One may be warranted to an insulin resistance diet.

Insulin Resistance Diet

To burn fat more effectively, the cells need to be supplied with the proper amount of nutrients and energy. A well-balanced meal plan can retrain metabolism to burn excess stored fat, and in exchange, get cells working again.

One of the best ways to get cells back to normal is to adopt a healthier eating pattern. This includes nutrient-dense foods, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources. One should also limit or avoid products laden in refined flour, oil, and added sugar.

Consuming proper portion and serving sizes is also important to moderating calories. Follow these rules to ensure a balanced meal plate:

• Fill half the meal plate with non-starchy veggies, including steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower, or a bed of leafy salad greens.

• A quarter of the meal should consist of a lean protein source, such as a grilled chicken breast or salmon fillet.

• Allot the remaining quarter for a complex veggie or whole grain. This may include a small sweet potato or brown rice.

• Complement the meal plate with a healthy fat source, including a drizzle of olive oil or sliced avocado.

• Satisfy a sweet tooth with a piece of fruit paired with a low-fat dairy product. Combos include Greek yogurt and blueberries or cottage cheese and peaches.

Luckily, too, bistroMD offers insulin resistance diets and balanced meal plans straight to doorsteps!

Balanced Nutrition for Insulin Resistance from BistroMD

Unlike fad diets and other gimmicks often promising extreme results with little effort, bistroMD is based on real science and research. Dr. Cederquist developed bistroMD to effectively help people lose weight and overcome and reverse conditions like insulin resistance.

Dr. Cederquist is a board-certified physician in weight management with over 20 years of medical expertise in her field. So truly, Dr. Cederquist knows there are many ways to lose weight. But without proper nutrition, health can be lost, too. And it is through bistroMD's weight loss program and healthy diet plans that her knowledge and expertise is provided!

What's more, Dr. Cederquist teams with dietitians to ensure nutrient needs for healthy and long-term weight loss are met. Every bite taken follows a proven approach for healthy weight loss. Nutrition plans provide an average of 1,200 to 1,400 calories daily, with 40 to 50 percent total calories from lean protein. Twenty to 25 percent of calories come from healthy fats, and the remaining 30 to 35 percent from complex carbohydrates.

BistroMD also offers 200 recipes and a custom menu, so there is always something to satisfy personal taste buds! Meal options include stuffed French toast, chicken meatball marinara wrap, and sliced ham with mustard maple sauce. (Just to name a nutritious and delicious few!)

Along with supplying nutrients the body needs for losing weight with insulin resistance, bistroMD encourages increasing physical activity. Through personalized programs, members receive informative tips on working out, learning what it takes to effectively incorporate physical activity. Customize a routine through informative webinars, weekly program materials, newsletters, and medical reports.

Truly, losing weight with or to prevent insulin resistance has never been easier, satisfying, or convenient!

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on May 02, 2019.

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