Recently I hosted a workshop on ‘How to Reverse Insulin Resistance’ for our SHIFT Community. I always find it invigorating to be in company with others who know a thing or two about blood sugar and insulin.
If you are seeking to learn how to reverse insulin resistance, it requires your knowing the two key players, blood sugar and insulin. They are intimately related and at the very heart of every metabolic condition.
Blood sugar and insulin are the cause of too much unnecessary suffering.
It’s my mission to end that suffering by getting this critical message out.
The Insulin Resistance Solution
The health directive of this new decade is acknowledging the powerful influence of insulin and implementing insulin suppression. This is the only way how to reverse insulin resistance. Let me repeat that. Insulin suppression is the answer for how to reverse insulin resistance.
Getting this information out to the masses is beyond challenging.
What is insulin suppression?
What does it mean to suppress insulin?
What does blood sugar have to do with insulin?
All these questions and many more will be thoroughly addressed in this article.
FYI… Much of what I cover below I shared in a recent seminar. So if you prefer to watch rather than read, click the below video…
Watch: 5 Ways To Beat Insulin Resistance
We Are ALL Insulin Resistant To Some Degree
Most people are completely unaware of insulin and view blood sugar as something only someone with diabetes has to pay attention to.
Surface swimming requires less thinking and overall effort than deep diving.
And so, when it comes to advice regarding resolving insulin resistance, which is the underlying cause of chronic weight gain and the entire spectrum of metabolic syndrome, we often receive the brush off.
Platitudes like ‘just eat morally and consciously’ or pretense like “just eat real, organic, and whole’ or popular opinion like ‘love and nourish yourself with pretty foods, journal, uploads to instagram, and walk 10,000 steps daily’.
We’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t been chided to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, apply the worn out, “All things in moderation” and just clock some more exercise.
Insulin Is The Only Thing That Matters
If your insulin levels are elevated, none of those directives, including more exercise, is going break your insulin resistance.
Nor will they reduce your waistline.
During the workshop a few of my members shared some of the platitudes they’ve been subjected to….
‘Just get off processed foods, eat real foods.’
And this one, ‘Just go without meat once a week.’
Go Meatless or Wheatless?
Are we really to believe that ‘just going once a week without meat’ is going to change our lives?
I say, go without wheat once a week. Try that one. Why?
Because wheat becomes blood glucose/sugar and stimulates insulin. Wheat stimulates and contributes to insulin resistance.
Meat doesn’t stimulate insulin. Eating meat supports insulin suppression. The ‘Go Meatless’ is a whole other mixed bag of nutritional fanfare.
We Have The Power To Control Insulin
So, in the workshop, the focus was on the power each of us can take advantage of by quieting the insulin response in our body. Quieting insulin is another way of saying ‘suppress insulin’.
Quieting Insulin Is… How To Reverse Insulin Resistance
If we’re fortunate enough to have our pancreas fully functioning, we know it is performing its duty of releasing insulin in the exact right amount, at the exact right time, as it responds, moment-to-moment, to our blood sugar. Non-stop 24-7.
That’s a luxury type 1 diabetics go without.
However, knowing how to reverse insulin resistance begins with knowing insulin’s role in our body and knowing the cause for insulin’s overactivity in our lives.
If You Are Insulin Resistant There’s Too Much Insulin Circulating In Your Body
It’s important to understand that if you are insulin resistant it means your body is releasing insulin quite persistently. You have high amounts of insulin. Too much insulin. An overabundance of insulin.
What Triggers Your Body To Release Insulin?
Insulin is released whenever blood sugar increases above approximately 4 grams.
That’s roughly a one teaspoon amount.
What Causes a Blood Sugar Increase?
The greatest influence on blood sugar increase is food.
Other factors that influence a blood sugar rise include our emotional state, the time of day, level of stress, and even temperature.
Your liver deposits some of its stored sugar into your blood in response to certain internal and external signals. Whenever your body senses a need for quick, at-the-ready fuel, your liver helps out.
However, the variable with the greatest impact, which is also the one you have complete control over, is food.
Your pancreas responds to any blood sugar increase and releases a quite exact proportionate amount of insulin.
So, If We’re Eating a Lot of Glucose Food (Carbohydrate) We Generate Lots of Circulating Insulin
Less glucose (carbohydrate) foods? Less circulating insulin.
Insulin is the blood sugar distribution hormone. Cells of the body receive the insulin message: ‘open up and allow the blood sugar to go into the cell to be used for fuel.’
How Insulin Resistance Develops
Unfortunately, cells grow resistant to any overly present stimuli or signal.
Insulin resistance develops when your cells are at glucose fuel capacity. Insulin resistance grows as blood sugar is in surplus of cell energy requirements.
Too much glucose (blood sugar) too often. That’s why insulin resistance develops. Too much blood sugar and too much blood sugar too frequently.
Let’s Simplify The Science:
Blood sugar is glucose traveling around in your bloodstream.
Your bloodstream is the ‘glucose delivery system’ to all cells of your body in need of fuel. That’s what blood sugar is, fuel in your blood.
You eat. The carbohydrate portion of your meal digests to glucose and quickly deposits into your blood.
Your blood has just received an influx of sugar fuel.
(Side Note: What other fuel does your body utilize? Body Fat. Problem is, your body fat has probably been trapped. You haven’t been able to access it. That’s why you can’t ‘lose weight’. It’s been trapped because of blood sugar and insulin. Insulin disables body fat burning.)
So, your blood sugar ‘rises’.
This blood sugar rise is the pancreas’ cue to release insulin. Insulin is known as the blood sugar lowering hormone. What we don’t usually hear is that insulin is also your fat storage hormone.
Elevated Insulin Drives An Expanding Waistline
Are you walking around with a spare tire around your middle? That despite diet and exercise, the belly fat won’t budge?
Chances are you have an insulin situation.
But My Blood Sugar Levels Are Normal… Hyperinsulinemia
You might have what is called hyperinsulinemia which means high amounts of insulin in your blood.
Your blood glucose values can still be within normal range. You may be relieved to see from the lab report that you don’t have a blood sugar problem.
But you do have a downstream consequential blood sugar problem because you’re wearing it, your blood sugar, around your waist. And your body has been putting out lots of insulin to move your blood sugar out of your blood and into other parts of your body.
Belly Fat Accumulates Because Of, And From, Blood Sugar And Insulin.
Excess blood sugar is shuttled into adipose tissue generally around your waist.
This is why we say, “Waist weight is from the carbohydrate you ate.”
Carbohydrate breaks down to molecules of glucose. Glucose is deposited into your blood. Insulin is released to assist the transfer of sugar from your blood into the rest of your body.
If your cells need fuel, they get first dibs.
If there is more sugar fuel than current energy needs dictate, the extra will be stored as waist weight.
Body Fat Is Stored Fuel
When insulin is elevated you can be exercising and exercising, but your body fat will be trapped.
Talk about being stuck on an endless treadmill. Let’s look at why so you can avoid this all-too-common weight loss wasteland.
The Missing Weight Loss Link – Lipase
You can be dieting. You can be trying everything to lose weight and your body won’t release it.
You see, when insulin levels are elevated, a fat burning enzyme, lipase, isn’t produced. You cannot burn body fat without lipase and lipase production ceases when insulin levels are elevated.
The Insulin and Cancer Connection
Now another thing about insulin most people don’t know is that it supports cancer cells. Especially glucose-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer.
Cancer Cells, Unlike Healthy and Normal Functioning Cells, Have An Insatiable Appetite For Glucose
Healthy cells have a sugar fuel threshold and when it is reached the cell ignores insulin’s signal to allow more sugar in.
No More Sugar Allowed.
Cancer Cells Never Ignore Insulin
They always allow more sugar in. They have no sugar fuel threshold.
Cancer cells are malfunctioning cells in unchecked growth mode. In fact, cancer cells have far more insulin receptors than a healthy cell. This ensures they can take full advantage of any incoming glucose surge.
Even the ‘good’ carbs glucose surges. Organic quinoa salad? Glucose surge. Steel cut organic oatmeal topped with fruit? Glucose surge.
Any incoming carbohydrate will be greedily consumed by non-prejudiced cancer cells. Whether superior organic carbohydrate or inferior conventional processed carbohydrate, cancer cells are fueled on both versions and every other degree of carbohydrate quality in-between.
Cancer Cells Are Designed To Take Advantage Of ANY Glucose Influx
And the subsequent insulin release not only allows the blood sugar entrance into the cancer cells but also stimulates those cancer cells.
Insulin assists with the fueling aspect and also a specific growth aspect.
Insulin stimulates a cancer cell to release what is called TAF. Tumor Angiogenesis Factor.
Insulin stimulates a cancer cell’s ability to grow a more vast blood supply network. Angiogenesis: The creation of new, fuel delivering, blood vessels. And a farther reaching blood supply network means more opportunity to increase fuel intake. Increased nourishment.
This is why I cringe when I hear health communities like Breast Cancer support groups advocating nourishing yourself with organic complex carbs, superfoods and pure foods will help you defeat cancer simply by their wholesomeness.
Well, that’s exactly what a cancer, like breast cancer…if it were able to communicate…would like its host to think. To believe she is doing all she can and hoping she beats cancer.
But unknowingly she is not doing all she can and instead is giving more ‘eats’ to cancer.
The tumor angiogenesis activity is what gives cancer its reference to a crab. All those tentacle-like blood vessels resemble the legs of a crab with the body being the growing mass of cancer cells.
Okay….we strayed a bit off course but it’s powerful to connect blood sugar and insulin to other conditions beyond diabetes and weight gain.
The Insulin and Alzheimer’s Connection
So, diabetes, obesity and cancer are related and alleviated through insulin suppression and blood sugar regulation. What other conditions develop at the hands of these two?
It’s not just type 2 diabetes. Alzheimer’s is being called type 3 diabetes for a reason. Blood sugar corrodes tissue and plaque builds up on brain cells.
The Rate of Alzheimer’s Disease Increases In Sync With Type 2 Diabetes
Alzheimer’s and Diabetes: How many of us in our late 50s and 60s see couples who represent both of these epidemics?
Perhaps the weight-gain struggling husband is suffering with type 2 diabetes and the heart disease and neuropathy complications that come with it, while the slimmer, nutritionally-conscientious wife has just finished breast cancer treatment but is now experiencing chronic pain or fading into Alzheimer’s.
How many of our young people battle aggression and harbor anger?
Depression Is ‘Fear and Anger Directed Inward’
Certainly depression and every variety of mood disorder is on the rise.
Of course, there’s attention deficit and behavioral outburst disorders in every classroom in America. Our children are also subjected to the consequences of blood sugar and insulin. No one isn’t.
Carbohydrate-focused eating generates blood sugar surges that elevate insulin which drives inflammation.
Insulin is one of the most important, and powerful, biological substances for cellular metabolism.
Because insulin is a life sustaining hormone, its power trumps other hormones. In fact, other hormones and health support players get sidelined in insulin’s domineering presence, while health degrading substances are stimulated by its presence.
Epilepsy, autism, Parkinson’s, M.S. and every other high-inflammation driven condition can be softened significantly, reclaiming control and raising quality of life by implementing glucose-awareness and insulin suppression.
Blood Sugar and Insulin Fuel The Pain-Filled Existence That Is Life With Fibromyalgia and Overall Chronic Pain
Vulnerable nerves sustain sugar crusting damage. Ouch.
Plus as insulin rises so too does glutamate, the body’s most inflammatory excitotoxin.
Heart disease occurs because blood sugar corrodes your delicate blood vessels and then insulin responding to the blood sugar ensures that the blood vessel actually gets thicker or grows over the sugar-damaged area.
Cholesterol gets involved as it simply tries its best to patch any compromised vessel wall areas. It’s not the cholesterol that is to blame for heart disease. Its the carbohydrate-generated blood sugar.
Learning How To Reverse Insulin Resistance Is A Straightforward Dual Process
Here Is The Two-Sided Approach
1.) Adhere to a Low Insulin Diet
Choose fat and protein foods over carbohydrate foods.
2.) Allow for extended Low Insulin Periods
Implement intermittent fasting, extended fasting, time restricted eating or shortened eating windows.
The awesome things is, once you implement a low-insulin diet, intermittent fasting begins to happen naturally.
To Learn More Watch, Is a Low Insulin Diet For You?
Knowing how to reverse insulin resistance we can finally quiet our insulin riot. You can downgrade your body’s ability to accumulate and store fat. Let me repeat that.
You can downgrade your body’s inclination to accumulate and store fat.
And you can upgrade your ability to release unwanted body fat. That’s also worth repeating.
You CAN upgrade your ability to release unwanted body fat.
Along the way, whether you realize or not, you will also be thwarting cancer, avoiding Alzheimer’s, resolving any heart disease plaque, and many more powerful positive consequences as were mentioned earlier.
Okay, we discussed the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of insulin resistance. Now let’s focus on the how. How to do the actual reversing of insulin resistance.
How to Reverse Insulin Resistance With These 5 Insulin Lowering Strategies
Consider these five simple directives as an insulin management tool.
And use the letter M to make the directives easy to remember. Our level of circulating insulin is managed by our 1.) Mouth, 2.) Measure, 3.) Movement, 4.) Muscle, and 5.) Mind.
What you put in your mouth really matters.
Most lectures on ‘you are what you eat’ have to do with a purity and nutritional aspect or quality. I urge you to consider food choices by their influence on your body’s ability to store fat or burn fat.
We’d prefer the latter, correct?
Burning sugar is free-radical generating (excitatory) with just a quick burst of short-lasting energy.
Burning fat is clean, no free-radical generation, steady strong long-lasting energy.
Enable Body Fat Burning! It Is Your Ticket Out Of Health Chaos
To enable body fat burning your fat storage hormone must be quiet. Therefore, choose foods that least stimulate insulin.
The foods that least stimulate insulin are the foods that don’t end up as sugar in your blood. Foods that don’t end up as blood sugar are foods that are solely fat or are a combination of fat and protein.
Coconuts and olives and butter and eggs and salmon and grass-fed beef. These are some of the foods that don’t increase blood sugar and therefore don’t stimulate insulin.
This is where some food directives can leave us defeated.
For example, a popular opinion, which was mentioned earlier, is to implement a ‘Meatless Monday’ for health and moral high road reasons. However, metabolic principles are unaffected by moral principles.
Instead of calling it “Meatless Monday” perhaps more accurately we should think of it as “Wheat-fest Monday” because most folks replace the meat with some form of wheat. Wheat is one of our food staples that is the absolute highest in blood sugar-generating carbohydrate.
Eating wheat, like mountain climbing, snow boarding, and bungee jumping, is an extreme sport. It is the only common food that carries its own long-term mortality rate.
Yet, wheat is the food our own USDA encourages us to eat.
Meat is fat and protein. Meat has no carbohydrate.
Fat doesn’t increase blood sugar or initiate an insulin response.
Protein does just a bit.
But carbohydrate does 100% because carbohydrate is blood sugar. You see, the carbohydrate on your table, once it’s inside of your body, becomes the sugar in your bloodstream.
Just two slices of whole wheat bread will propel your blood sugar from it’s optimal 83 mg/dl up into the 150 mg/dl range.
Carbohydrate Is Blood Sugar and Carbohydrate Greatly Stimulates Insulin Release
And wheat is one of the highest density boons of glucose-sugar-blood sugar that there is.
So instead of a Meatless Monday, I would urge you to consider a ‘Wheatless Monday’ and see how that works out. A Wheatless Monday will do far more for your health and waistline than a Meatless Monday.
Your blood sugar will stay steadier and your insulin – fat storage hormone would stay quieter. You benefit when insulin is a way less part of your life.
Become Glucose Aware
Deciding what to ‘put in your mouth’ is best viewed from the place of glucose awareness. “How much glucose/blood sugar do I choose to take in and how much insulin do I choose to have acting inside me?”
Want to ‘lose a few pounds’ which translates to use up some body fat? You’ve got to know how to keep insulin low.
Every single one of us has blood sugar.
Every single one of us, every time we eat has an elevation in blood sugar.
Every single one of us who eats glucose-rich foods has an elevation in blood sugar and an insulin response.
You will know insulin by one of its best known signature marks …. an expanded waistline. I call that your insulin belt.
Belly fat brought to you by insulin. It was your blood sugar. Now it’s been converted to belly fat. Fuel stored for later use.
Reduce Insulin Persistance
To reverse insulin resistance you must reduce insulin persistence.
Choosing foods that don’t stimulate an insulin release or choosing foods that create the least of insulin releases is fully in your control.
This may sound unpleasant at first. However, when you start to become glucose aware and eat less glucose heavy foods, there’s more space in your diet for flavorful, filling fat- focused foods.
And when you start strategically eating more fat focused which is what SHIFT teaches, a wonderful thing starts to happen. You start to forget to eat.
The second M for how to reverse insulin resistance is Measure.
You want to measure the amount of time between your meals. It needs to widen. It must get longer. When you eat SHIFTed, this happens naturally.
Forced fasting can be downright lousy and if you are stressed when fasting insulin levels may not even quiet, due to the cortisol-glucagon action.
But, if you shift your food focus from carbohydrate to fat, you will have more periods of not being hungry. I can’t stress enough how freeing that is. I hear it all the time from my clients and all those in our SHIFT community.
How would that feel for you? That first time it happens is powerful.
It happened to me. You glance at the clock and realize it’s two hours later than when you normally eat lunch or crave that snack or make that break room visit.
For many of us, that was something that we thought couldn’t even be possible. But when insulin levels stay quiet, you do forget to eat.
The simple answer is… When your insulin levels are down, your body can ‘dine in’ on the fuel you’ve been carrying. You start using up your body fat.
You Shift From Burning Sugar From Your Blood To Burning Fat From Your Belly
Your body fat, as a fuel, is clean burning and long lasting. When you are tapping into your fat stores your appetite fades because your energy needs are met. You forget to eat.
So, you end up naturally eating less often than you used to and Fasting happens without you even realizing it.
Isn’t that the best way to fast? Without knowing you’re doing it? I say hot damn and halleluhia!
Another action that is part of the ‘how to reverse insulin resistance’ formula is Movement.
Here is where the merits of exercise become clear. Pleasant activities like walking or bike riding are excellent for sweeping up the sugar in your blood.
Movement Can Intercept Blood Sugar From Going Straight To Belly Fat
Lunch break walks. Taking the stairs. Parking further from the entrance.
And walking after meals is especially beneficial. All that sugar from your meal is still in your blood. Use it up before you end up wearing it!
No activity is ever a waste. Exercise is more for avoiding weight gain than for actual weight loss.
However, when you know how to shift insulin down you can fuel your walks on your body fat. That is the winning move.
Setting up your internal environment so that you’re operating on your body fat more often is the big win.
And the next M action for how to reverse insulin resistance is Muscle.
Stimulated muscles improve your body’s overall sensitivity to insulin so your body can release less insulin.
Less insulin is the ‘win’.
Muscles demand quick, easy fuel which is glucose. And so, a muscle that is regularly performing energy work will adapt by its cells establishing more insulin receptors which enables the muscles to take in glucose as easily as possible.
Worked muscles are more sensitive to insulin and quite good at burning through blood sugar.
How Do We Define ‘Worked Muscles’?
Muscles performing resistance work. Weight Lifting or any activity that pushes against an opposing force. How to reverse insulin resistance through exercise would be intervals of cardio with weight lifting.
Okay. Wrapping up this how to reverse insulin resistance lecture. We covered four of the five Ms so far.
What we put in our Mouth, the Measure of time between our feedings, Movement and Muscle work. The final ‘how to reverse insulin resistance’ action has to do with your Mind.
Specifically, the thoughts you think. Deepak Chopra reminds us, “Every cell in your body is eves dropping on your thoughts.”
Deepak Chopra M.D. Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine
And the Bible encourages us to ‘Take captive every thought.”
2 Corinthians 10:5
Thoughts do indeed determine your reality and influence your health on a bio-chemical level.
Do Your Thoughts Influence Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels?
What you think about comes about. Right?
But does your mind actually influence blood sugar and insulin? Let’s investigate with a fairly common example.
If you have an emotional rise or engage in a heated reaction to a perceived crisis at work you unknowingly initiate your fight or flight response.
Even though the ‘crisis’ isn’t life threatening, your body responds as if you’re going to fight it or take flight/ run from it.
Your body immediately demands instant energy.
So what does your body do for you? Even though you’re sitting at your desk and you don’t need to fight. Nor do you need to flee, your body is still reacting to your emotional response to the situation.
Your brain, via cortisol and other stress-response hormones signals your liver to release sugar.
Your liver keeps a reservoir of glycogen, stored glucose, for at-the-ready fuel emergencies like this.
The liver’s sugar is immediately dumped into your blood stream to serve your fighting or fleeing. So, now you have a blood sugar rise and you haven’t even eaten anything.
This is when I really feel for our friends with diabetes, type 2 and type 1. You have a blood sugar rise just because you ‘got emotional’.
And you’re also going to have an insulin release or need to inject insulin. More fat storage hormone circulating.
Can you see why chronic stress, long-standing anger, grievances, and being emotionally volatile or ‘high strung’ works to make us fatter and sicker?
Just by the thoughts you think you can have a rise of insulin, which means body fat burning is turned off. It also means you accelerate aging.
You know, blood sugar ends up as belly fat that we carry around. And, unlike fat deposits in other areas of your body, belly fat isn’t benign fat. It releases inflammatory compounds, tumor signals, and hormones such as estrogen.
Here is the connection between man boobs and belly fat, and breast cancer and belly fat. And besides ending up as fat, blood sugar is broken down by your body and ends up sticking to proteins all over the inside of us.
Our body tissues degrade, kind of like rusting. Proteins become sticky and gummy. Amyloid plaque of Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis of heart disease, neuropathy of diabetes or hyperinsulinemia.
People dying because they can’t feel the bottom of their feet and don’t realize they have an open wound that becomes infected and sepsis takes their life. True story. Truly devastating. It happens. Every day. To good people who didn’t know how to reverse insulin resistance or just didn’t know that they could.
Think of the suffocating emotions of loved ones watching their seemingly robust father die of sepsis.
Sure. He had diabetes. But he was taking care of it.
Dr. Perlmutter writes about watching his father wither away with Alzheimer’s. It’s the same. “There is frustration fused with helplessness, and anguish mingled with regret.”
The haunting energy of denial, turning a blind eye, and brushing off.
If you seek to avoid regret, to understand the science, if you’re confused about all the food directives out there, SHIFT is a safe haven. It is certainty. Sanity. And it is solution.
You don’t have to suffer from cravings. You don’t have to carry a spare tire around your waist. You don’t have to endure restless leg.
You no longer need fear Alzheimer’s or heart disease. You don’t have to play victim to cancer.
You can soften the edges of life with chronic degenerative diseases. You have the right to feel younger than you have in years.
Your children and grandchildren deserve vibrant, unencumbered lives. You know how to reverse insulin resistance and you know how to restore your health, vitality and zest for living once and for all.