If you are noticing that it’s become rather easy for you to gain weight and almost impossible to lose that extra weight with your usual diet changes, chances are that you may have insulin resistance. Often an undiagnosed issue, insulin resistance causes metabolic changes in your body, making it very hard to shed those excess pounds. What’s worse, insulin resistance is the precursor to various other health issues like the metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, type 2-diabetes, PCOS and even cardiovascular disease. Let’s look at why losing weight with insulin resistance is so difficult and how to win this battle.
Losing Weight With Insulin Resistance: Why Is It So Hard?
All carbohydrates break down into simple sugars upon digestion. Insulin is necessary to push sugars we ingest through diet into our cells to be used up for energy. When the body is unable to use this insulin efficiently, as is the case with insulin resistance, blood sugar levels spike. With nowhere to go, the body converts these extra sugars into fat and stores it to be used up later. Most of this fat is concentrated around the abdomen.
In a nutshell, losing weight with insulin resistance is difficult because cells are starved of fuel when they’re unable to absorb sugar and nutrients from the blood. This leads to metabolic changes and disturbed appetite regulation, which only adds to your weight loss woes. Ghrelin is a ‘hunger hormone’ that stimulates appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage. Research has found that insulin resistance is linked to decreased plasma levels of active ghrelin and increased belly fat.
Scientists from University of Pittsburgh found that insulin resistance causes triglyceride accumulation in skeletal muscle, leading to obesity. Their findings suggest that the underlying cause was reduced capacity for fat oxidation and not fatty acid uptake. It has also been found that abdominal fat has a significantly stronger relationship with insulin sensitivity than fat gained anywhere else on the body.
So don’t be disheartened if you can’t seem to lose weight despite exercising regularly and eating healthy. It’s these metabolic changes in your body that are responsible for lack of results, not your lack of effort.
8 Tips For Losing Weight With Insulin Resistance
As you can imagine, traditional weight loss strategies don’t work here, because your weight gain is not a result of overeating and undereating. A crash diet or over-exercising will not work here. In truth, you need to treat your insulin resistance to start shedding those pounds, and also prevent the risk of serious health conditions like diabetes, PCOS and heart disease. Thankfully, with the right combination of diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, you can lose weight and reverse insulin resistance for good.
Make The Right Dietary Changes
The right diet for insulin resistance can alter insulin signaling pathways to improve blood sugar control, help you lose weight, and also make you feel more energetic. A very low-calorie diet is not the best diet for insulin resistance. Because of your body’s inability to use insulin effectively to convert sugars into energy, your best bet is a low-carb diet. We do recommend a LCHF or Low Carb-High Fat diet to reverse insulin resistance. With this diet, your body starts to use dietary fats to feed the cells and become the primary source of energy, and the limited carbs ensure your blood sugar levels stay stabilized. Focus on eating more whole foods – plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with quality fats and proteins. Go easy on wholesome grains — after all, they are carbohydrates. Here is an elaborate article on our tips for the right diet for insulin resistance.
Give Intermittent Fasting A Try
Intermittent fasting is an effective method to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels naturally. Besides what you eat, “when” you eat it is just as significant for losing weight with insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting is a simple strategy – eat during a 10-12 hour window, and fast during the remaining 12-14 hours. Eating this way follows the natural body rhythms of the human body and helps your cells get more sensitized to insulin during the ‘eating window.’
Over-exercising is not the best way to lose weight with insulin resistance. In fact, over-exercising coupled with under-eating puts your body into “stress”. When the body is under stress, it has a natural built-in mechanism to hold on to weight, rendering all your weight-loss efforts futile. Instead, aim for gentle exercise for 30-45 minutes, 5 days a week. Regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity and helps lose weight. Any kind of a gentle workout will assist you in your weight-loss journey. Walking, cycling, dancing, swimming and yoga are all good options. In fact, researchers have now found that something as simple as walking, which can be safely performed by people of all ages and easily incorporated into daily life, works as an adjunct therapy to diet treatment to reduce body weight and increase insulin sensitivity.
Get Control Of Your Stress Levels
No amount of healthy dieting and exercising will help you lose weight if you are constantly under stress. Stress contributes to a pro-inflammatory state which induces insulin resistance, obesity and blood sugar dysfunction. Try different stress management techniques to get your stress levels under control. Indulge in a hobby few times a week to unwind, try deep breathing and yoga, or enroll in a meditation course to learn how to better manage your stress levels.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep is another stressor that could be worsening your insulin resistance, rendering your weight loss efforts futile. It also wreaks havoc on hormones and disrupts appetite regulation. Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night. A relaxing sleep-time routine will go a long way towards training your mind and body to ‘switch off’ sensory overload and drift off. In addition, avoid all blue light from devices a couple of hours before bedtime to get your body in sync with the natural rhythm.
Correct Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies fuel weight gain, and aid the progression of insulin resistance to diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease. For example, vitamin D can affect insulin sensitivity. You could also unknowingly have deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, manganese, chromium, copper, B vitamins and essential fatty acids because of your previous attempts with a restricted diet, which can all aid insulin resistance. Correct these nutritional imbalances with the right foods, and don’t be afraid to resort to supplements.
Tap Into The Power Of Herbs and Spices
Some herbs and spices are known to improve insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. Other good options are cloves, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, sage, marjoram, ginseng, and fenugreek. Bonus: These herbs and spices add great flavor and versatility to food, and make cooking at home a joy!
Dietary Supplements Can Do Wonders
They support your body’s ability to use insulin and can help reverse insulin resistance naturally. Besides vitamins, herbs, and spices that are good to increase insulin sensitivity, we also highly recommend Magnesium Citrate, CoQ10 supplementation, D-Chiro inositol, chromium, ALA, green tea extract and pomegranate extract.
Have you tried other methods for losing weight with insulin resistance? Share your stories with us in the comments below!