If you’re not losing weight despite a low calorie diet and exercise, insulin resistance may be to blame. Foreverfit tells you about how to diagnose and treat this common problem.
It’s that time of the year again. You’ve probably made your New Year resolutions and weight loss may very well be on your list. Maybe you’re thinking: Why is it so hard for me to lose weight? I’m doing everything right and still the kilos won’t budge.
Perhaps you’re already on a strict diet, and work out several times a week. Yet you are expanding, and feel hellish about it. Or maybe you are struggling to resign yourself to being overweight. But don’t adopt a defeatist attitude.
Get a medical checkup
If you’re not losing any weight, despite months of exercise and diet, then you should get your blood sugar and insulin levels tested. You may learn that your body isn’t metabolizing carbohydrates effectively. Read on, to learn the reasons why.
It all starts with insulin, the hormone made in our pancreas, that helps move the sugar in our food into our cells. Insulin helps the muscle, brain and liver cells absorb the glucose in your blood, and converts this into energy. But if there’s more sugar than your insulin level can handle, this goes to your fat cells.
Refined foods spike the blood sugar
But when you keep eating refined foods like bread, rice and pasta, cake, these cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar level shoots up, and the insulin in your cells isn’t enough to process this, so it gets stored in your fat cells. The end result? Excess fat, of course.
Eating too many simple, bad carbs leads to weight gain, especially around the middle. But sometimes you may suffer from insulin resistance even if you aren’t overweight.
Other symptoms include afternoon “blahs”, difficulty concentrating, sugar crashes and carbohydrate cravings. All of these are early symptoms of insulin resistance, but we often don’t make the connection.
The cycle is hard to break
Eventually, your body’s response mechanism to carbohydrates goes out of whack. So, you develop insulin resistance, which means your cells lose their ability to respond to insulin. Eventually, you end up producing too much insulin.
Having excess insulin or hyper-insulinemia puts your body at serious risk, since too much insulin disrupts cellular metabolism and creates inflammation. Consequently, your blood sugar rises, and you are a walking time-bomb for many diseases.
Raises your risk to many diseases
When combined with other symptoms, insulin resistance may be referred to as “metabolic syndrome,” a condition that raises your risk of many chronic and serious health problems. These include diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Since insulin is one of the “major” hormones, its dysfunction has a cascading effect on the rest of your hormones, including the “minor” hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. One common problem that arises out of shortage, is polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS.
Risk factors for metabolic syndrome
Why, you may wonder, are some of us more prone to developing diabetes and heart disease, than others? The answer is simpler than you imagine.
While the precise reasons for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are unknown, experts blame it on the lack of exercise and a high carb, high sugar diet.
5 factors that pre-dispose you to metabolic syndrome
#1 Abdominal fat
A waistline equal to or greater than 90 cm in Indian men and equal to or greater than 80 cm in Indian women, is bad news. In general, fatty tissue secretes hormones that interfere with your body’s metabolism. Additionally, fat around the belly is a greater health risk than that around the hips or arms.
#2 High Fasting Blood Sugar: Higher than 100 mg/ dL or previously diagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
#3 High Triglyceride level: Equal to, or higher than 150 mg/ dL or treatment for Hyperlipidemia.
#4 High Blood Pressure: Higher than 130 mm Hg systolic BP or more than 85 mm Hg diastolic BP or previously diagnosed hypertension.
#5 Low HDL Cholesterol level: Lower than 40 mg/dL in males and less than 50 mg/ dL in females.
Ways to tackle metabolic imbalance
#1 Get a medical checkup, specifically to assess your blood sugar level, cholesterol and blood pressure.
#2 Change your diet, to include more carbohydrates from whole foods. Eat vegetables, fruit, and make sure that 50 percent of every meal is made up of proteins.
#3 Go for lean chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, olive oil and olives. The Mediterranean diet is a good option. Ultimately, your meal must slow down the release of glucose into the blood, which will diminish insulin production.