Insulin resistance can cause weight gain and increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Take steps to get your metabolism working as it should.
Insulin: The Doorman
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate your blood glucose. Glucose is your body’s primary source of energy and enters your bloodstream when the food you eat is broken down. This signals your pancreas to send insulin into your bloodstream.
From there, insulin helps glucose enter your body’s cells, where it can be burned for energy or stored for later use. Insulin also tells your liver to store glucose. As glucose is stored and your blood glucose levels drop, so does the amount of insulin in your bloodstream.
Or at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
Too Much Storage
If your body becomes resistant to insulin, glucose stays in your bloodstream, which then causes your pancreas to create more insulin in a vicious cycle.
Once your liver and muscles are full of glucose, the extra glucose in your bloodstream needs to go somewhere. As such, your liver signals the body to store this glucose as body fat, causing you to gain weight. This also increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Correcting the Imbalance
While being overweight or obese can increase your chances of becoming insulin resistant, other factors such as age, ethnicity and family history can also raise your risk. Though you can’t control all of these risk factors, you can help lower your risk of insulin resistance by:
- Eating healthy. Choose a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates over nutrient-poor carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugar.
- Getting active. Physical activity can raise your insulin sensitivity and improve your overall health.
- Losing weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing just 5–10% of your body weight can help reverse insulin resistance and reduce your chance of developing diabetes.
- Sleeping enough. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night to get the slow-wave or deep sleep to maintain blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.