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Here’s Why You Want To Be Insulin Sensitive

Recently I discussed in a post here that insulin is not going to make you fat in and of itself. Consuming sugar in any form (biscuits, pasta, spinach, broccoli Coke) will not make you fat if calories are controlled for.

If calories are controlled for, you will lose body fat, irrespective of whether you release insulin into your bloodstream or not. I would recommend going back and reading that post if you are unsure of the science behind this hormone.

So now we understand sugar, insulin and the energy equation – should we completely disregard insulin if it is irrelevant for fat loss?

No. And here’s why.

Focusing too much on your body composition goals

As a coach, It’s a beautiful thing to see the penny drop as the client begins to understand daily energy balance.

I’m happy because the coaching process has become easier. The client is happy because they are progressing toward their goals. And the client-coach relationship is successful because we are both in a win-win situation.

However – it’s at this stage that the focus can shift too closely to calories, and the client forgets about the health aspect of their lifestyle.

“I don’t need to worry about cardio. If I’m in a deficit I’ll lose fat. Nothing else matters.”

“I used to go on 3-4 runs per week. Not anymore...now I understand energy in versus energy out I can just sit at home, eat less and get to my goals.”

Both of these statements are 100% accurate. There’s no denying it.

But you gotta exercise for OTHER reasons:

· Improve your cardiovascular health

· Improve your bone density

· Reduce your risk for disease states like Type II Diabetes and certain cancers

· Strengthen your muscles

· Boost your mental well-being and mood

and the topic of today’s discussion - it’s great at keeping you insulin sensitive.

What is insulin sensitivity?

This is when your pancreas only needs to secrete a small amount of insulin to correctly deal with the rise in glucose in your bloodstream. You are said to be insulin resistant if your pancreas needs to secrete lots of insulin to round up the same amount of glucose. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type II diabetes.

Therefore being insulin resistant is bad news.

So how can we be insulin sensitive?

Well for starters, if you are very overweight or obese and have not really ever trained before – getting to a normal range on the BMI scale is going to be a great idea. Getting to a sensible body composition and a lower body fat percentage is going to be high your list of priorities.

Enter a calorie deficit. I’ve discussed this quite a lot and have multiple resources for helping to lose fat. So check out the blog for these types of posts.

So, first, we need to lose some fat. Great. What else?

Avoid being a couch potato!

If you are not very active this could be a big problem.

If you are an individual that sits in a car to get to work, then sits a desk for 8 hours, then comes home and sits down to watch TV until you wind down for bed; it may be that a sedentary lifestyle could lead to insulin sensitivity. [1]

you don’t even need to be overweight or obese to be insulin resistant! Even if you’re at a sensible weight but don’t really move that much, you could still be prone to insulin resistance [2].Worryingly

So we know we have to get off our ass and do some moving. But what should we be doing?

Aerobic exercise

Moving for an extended period of time could increase glucose uptake into cells.

One study in which 65 men and women cycled in a gym 3-5 times per week for 16 weeks showed improvements in insulin sensitivity, as well as a reduction in abdominal fat, increase of good HDL cholesterol and a decrease of bad LDL cholesterol. [3]

A couple of sessions per week of 25 – 60 minutes would be a great place to start if you are currently inactive.

Resistance training could help too

A study in which 15 individuals completed 4 separate bouts of exercise (65% of 1 rep max or 85% of 1 rep max) under single set or multiple set protocols showed that all groups improved their insulin sensitivity, with multiple sets being more effective than single sets and a higher intensity better over moderate intensity. [4]

Possibly because “depleted muscle glycogen stores […] initiates increased glucose uptake in the skeletal muscle, resulting in enhanced insulin sensitivity.”

What it all comes down to

Lose some fat and exercise more if you want to be insulin sensitive and reduce your risk for disease states like Type II Diabetes. It’s not rocket science!

Ensure that you are exercising regularly, through either aerobic training or resistance training and opt for vegetables over the more processed carbohydrates just as an easy calorie substitute.

For more optimal hormone loving tips and advice head over to:

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1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19808855

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20044474

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12882902

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20093961

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