Insulin Resistance – Is it holding you back?

Feeling sluggish? Having trouble concentrating? Always irritable? ALWAYS HUNGRY??? To a struggling dieter, these feelings might seem quite ordinary, but for a person carrying around more weight than they should, they could also be signs of something more serious. These feelings could be caused by spikes and plunges in your blood sugar, which could be warning signs for various types of illnesses associated with Diabetes. For someone trying to lose weight, uncontrolled blood sugar can be a serious road block. High blood sugar makes it harder to shed pounds because it prompts the body to store fat.

Diabetes is on the rise in the United States, and particularly in the African-American and Latino populations. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are approximately 24 million Americans currently living with some form of Diabetes, with Type 2 Diabetes being the most prevalent. While genetics does play a role in determining one’s likelihood of developing this disease, it is not the only predictor. Studies have shown that overweight people with excess belly fat (a waist circumference of 35 inches or more for women, 40 inches or more for men) are at a much higher risk for developing Diabetes, as well as a myriad of other health problems.

For many Diabetics, an early warning sign that often goes undiagnosed is a condition called Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a pre-diabetic condition that can sometimes be reversed before it progresses into something more serious. Depending on the levels of glucose found in a person’s blood, a doctor might prescribe oral medications to help control the level of insulin production, but in many cases, diet and exercise are the most effective ways to correct the issue before it becomes more serious.

So what is Insulin Resistance and how does it work? When a person is discovered to be Insulin resistant, it means that the Insulin produced by their body isn’t being properly used by their muscle, liver and fat cells. Normally, when you eat, your body converts the sugars in your food into glucose. Your pancreas then produce Insulin, which is a hormone that helps guide the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel and converted to energy.


Well, that is how it is supposed to work. With Insulin resistance, however, the glucose taken from food isn’t sent into the bloodstream properly, so it never gets converted into energy for the body to use. The glucose begins to build up in the blood, but the cells still aren’t getting the fuel they need to function properly. Because the body’s cells are lacking the energy needed to carry on basic life functions, it signals the pancreas to secrete more Insulin to try and force the glucose into the cells. The presence of all that extra Insulin in the body brings more of the fatty acids out of food, which ends up getting stored in fat cells, causing weight gain. Trying to shed those pounds later on becomes more difficult as this cycle continues.

Eventually, the pancreas can’t keep up the high level of insulin production, and begin to slow down. When this happens, blood sugar rises to dangerous and uncontrollable levels, and that is usually when Type 2 Diabetes in diagnosed. And, as if all that wasn’t bad enough, a 2008 medical study found that overweight, Insulin resistant women are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with advance stage breast cancer.

Diabetes runs in my family, and I found out I was Insulin resistant a few years ago. I have been taking an oral medication called Glucophage since I was diagnosed. For a long time, I didn’t really take it seriously, and was very nonchalant about taking my medicine, or doing the right thing as far as dieting and exercise were concerned. As I have gotten older, I have seen how Diabetes can ravage and destroy the body, and am finally trying to educate myself and get a better handle on how to undo the damage I have already done, before it is too late.

My battle with my blood sugar is definitely a key factor in why I am finding it so hard to move past the current plateau I have hit in my dieting efforts. I have begun instituting small changes in my diet to try and control some of those spikes and plunges that often lead to me overeating or succumbing to cravings that sabotage my weight loss efforts. I’m hoping that in time, I will be able to stop using the medication and control my blood sugar levels on my own – before I become one of the 24 million Americans living with this disease.

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  1. I’m glad you’re giving this warning about insulin resistance. Many people could avoid the experience of diabetes if they reverse IR now, with proper diet, excercise and supplements.

  2. andy bargeNo Gravatar says:

    Hey amazing article. The above is me I think. I am 6,4 slim but with a very large belly- at 29!!! I look like a lemon on 2 sticks.

    What kind of suppliments would be the best to help IR would you say?

  3. MandyNo Gravatar says:

    @andy barge – “a lemon on two sticks” might be the funniest thing I have heard all day.

    If you think you really might be insulin resistant, have your doctor do some blood work. If you do fall into this category, you really do need to see a professional (I am not a doctor, LOL). In the meantime, watch your diet. Stay away from the refined sugars and carbs. For a lot of people small changes to their diet and exercise routine is all they need.

    (FYI – Insulin Resistance is sometimes called “Metabolic Syndrome X” in case you want to do some research on your own).

  4. andy bargeNo Gravatar says:

    Cheers Mandy.

    I had some blood work done a couple of years ago which was full blood work to check for diabetes but that came back “normal”. Is that blood test the same or is there another one?

  5. MandyNo Gravatar says:

    Again, I’m not a doctor, but I do think the blood tests you had might be the same. However, a few years might be enough time to ask to have them redone. Definitely talk to your doctor about your concerns. Assuming that you are trying to do the right thing as far as diet and exercise are concerned, and your blood work is normal, you might need to look into a new set of “belly-flattening” exercises to try and get rid of the excess belly fat.

    Sorry I don’t have more sound medical advice to offer you. I’m still learning a lot about this myself (after years of already having it!).

  6. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    This is a very important post. I hope this site continues to bring this to peoples attention. We are all pretty thick head-ed sometimes. We need this reminder over and over again. Thanks.

  7. Tom RooneyNo Gravatar says:

    Israel, This is a very good post. I was diagnosed last year with type II diabetes and have worked to control it through diet and exercise. I’m very careful with checking my blood sugar daily, watching the types and how much food I eat and mostly ramp up the exercise to include aerobic and core work. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. akavarNo Gravatar says:

    Im glad i dont have diabetes…yet (knocks on wood). I do eat a lot of sweets so i guess i should cut back :/

  9. DawnNo Gravatar says:

    Being proactive is key when faced with obstacles like these. My friend, who is in her 50s, was diagnosed last year with Diabetes and she “deals” with her weight and the intake issues all of the time due to it. Se has recently lost 17 pounds and is on her way to a healthier lifestyle with food! Keep up the excellent writing Mandy. Your topics are not only important, but are engaging.

  10. A good way to overcome those common problems is to eat 3-4 small means during the day to keep your metabolism high. Don’t leave your stomach empty until the evening, and then eat a huge supper. Snacks are great!

  11. High insulin levels mean more body fat, while low insulin levels mean less body fat. Every individual have different baseline levels of insulin coz of their genetic. Some normally have higher levels of insulin than others so, fat storing occurs faster for them. It also called hyperinsulinemia or commonly known as insulin resistance.

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