by Dr. Charles Cavo, DO, FACOG
Insulin is a hormone that has many important roles in the body, one of which is to promote the storage of energy as fat.
If you are trying to lose weight, if you have cholesterol issues, hypertension, diabetes, elevated liver enzymes, fatty liver, or just about any other chronic medical condition you need to be aware of insulin.
One of the most under-discussed hormones affecting our health is insulin. Most people hear the word insulin and jump to thinking about glucose and diabetes. Hopefully, this information will expand your thoughts and understanding of insulin.
The lower your insulin level is in your blood, the higher the likelihood you will lose weight. Understanding how to reduce your insulin does not come from counting calories. It comes from understanding what foods, medications and lifestyles can be altered to maximize your ability to control your insulin from being too high.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and is released in the presence of carbohydrates/sugar. Proteins are also capable of stimulating insulin but not to the same degree as carbohydrates. Fat does not stimulate the secretion of insulin. Worth repeating….Eating fat does NOT increase insulin secretion.
Insulin travels throughout your body and pushes glucose out of the blood and into the cells. The insulin pushes the glucose into the cells in your body and converts the glucose into fat which is stored energy.
Elevated insulin levels will stop cells from breaking down fat. Your body cannot use fat for energy and weight loss is much more challenging, even if you are counting your calories.
Not only does insulin tell your body to store fat and prevent fat from being broken down, but it also stimulates your appetite. Think of it as a poor feedback loop where you store fat because of high insulin levels and your appetite is stimulated to eat more because your cells cannot access that fat for energy.
With chronically elevated levels of insulin, we are seeing people develop insulin resistance. The results of insulin resistance can lead to diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome greatly increases your risks for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, fatty liver, diabetes, etc.
Our goal is to reduce the overall secretion of insulin through dietary modifications. A lower carbohydrate diet is a great place to start to assist with insulin reduction. There is no “one size fits all,” so we will have to work together to determine how many carbohydrates you can eat while maintaining good insulin control.