Is Insulin Bad?
A month ago I shared the importance of lowering your blood sugar because high blood sugar is the major problem in type 2 diabetes and fat gain. BUT what if I told you that eating too many carbs could be causing your health problems even if your blood sugar is normal?
This is where insulin enters the picture. You’re probably used to hearing about insulin as a hormone that helps to lower your blood sugar. In fact, if you use insulin injections for type 2 diabetes, your doctor prescribed these for you for exactly this purpose because if he didn't, you could have dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and it could be fatal.
But what else does insulin do? Hormones almost never have only one job, and insulin is no exception.
One of the major things insulin does besides lowering blood sugar is keeping fat stored in your fat cells. That’s right: insulin helps put fat into your fat cells and then helps it stay there. It basically shuts off lipolysis or fat burning. Think of insulin like a security guard that stands outside your fat cells and makes sure the fat doesn’t escape. Yikes! Definitely don't want that.
What does that mean for you? It means that if you’re trying to lose weight—and remember, that means losing fat—you’ve got to keep your insulin level low. (This could also be why a low-fat diet failed you in the past. Low-fat almost always goes hand-in-hand with high carbs, and if your body releases a flood of insulin when you eat carbs, it’s no wonder you had trouble losing fat that way!)
But it’s not just about weight loss.
Insulin is a jack of all trades. It does even more than influence blood sugar and fat storage. It affects other hormones and systems in your body, including the way you handle sodium. Chronically high insulin is a culprit in hypertension (high blood pressure), gout, PCOS, enlarged prostate, and more—and remember, none of these are diagnosed by looking at blood sugar.
Insulin isn’t automatically a bad thing.
Sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream isn’t a bad thing, either. You do need a little bit of sugar in your blood (~1 tsp.), and you do need a little bit of insulin. Problems come when your blood sugar and insulin are too HIGH, too OFTEN.
Bottom line: This doesn’t change anything. Insulin rises when your blood sugar rises, so the way to keep insulin lower is to keep your blood sugar lower. And the way to do that is…to eat very low carb.
Simple as that!
Gotta love when things are so simple.
Happy fat loss :)