What is Insulin Resistance and How do I know if I have it?
You have probably heard of Insulin Resistance. It is essentially a pre-diabetic state. Your pancreas is becoming worn out from the demand placed on it to keep producing insulin in response to the foods you are eating. Over time, you become less sensitive. That, in a nutshell, is Insulin resistance.
Why is that important? Because insulin resistance is one of the major reasons people struggle to lose weight. This is a BIG deal! What happens is that your body can can get glucose into the cells where it can be used. When it floats around in the bloodstream. You can see a pattern on blood tests if you know what to look for and include the right markers. More on that in a minute.
Back to insulin resistance... This elevated blood sugar signals the body to store fat. That is exactly what you don’t want to be happening. You essentially have an issue with metabolism. We all know that metabolism has a huge impact on your weight.
So, if you are struggling to lose weight and really feel like you have tried, but not seen progress, you are probably wondering how you would know if this an issue for you. Maybe you have had a blood glucose test on your recent lab work and were told “Things look fine”. But, what does that one number really tell you. Basically, a fasting blood glucose is one snapshot in time that tells what your blood glucose is RIGHT NOW. There in no indication of how it looks over a time period. That is where something called a Hemoglobin A1C comes in. That looks at an average of your blood sugar over a 3 month period. You can convert that number to something called an Estimated Average Glucose or EAG, to see how your blood sugar looks over the past 3 months. Now, you are starting to get a good picture of how your body is doing. I also like to look at fasting insulin. This tells how much insulin is in your bloodstream. The more insulin, the more demand on your pancreas. Ideally, you want this number to be less than 5. I have only seen a handful of my clients be in this ideal range. Most are very high. Like 15 or 20 or more. This indicates a huge storm brewing in the metabolic dysfunction category.
So, what do we do with this data? I take a fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin and calculate something called a HOMA-IR score, which stands for Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance. That’s a big, fancy way to tell whether or not you are insulin resistance and if so, how big is the issue. If your HOMA-IR score is 1 or below, you have optimum insulin sensitivity. At 1.9, you are mildly insulin resistant. At 2.9, you are severely insulin resistant. If you are in that highest category, it will be very difficult to lose weight without addressing the root cause. (1)
The problem is that most Physicians don’t run an A1c until someone is already pre-diabetic. At that point, it’s much harder to reverse the damage. I put this on everyone’s tests. . I like people to have this information. The other issue is that the “Reference Ranges” on lab tests tell you whether someone already has a disease process like diabetes or pre-diabetes. Again, I think we should be looking at the data much differently. Looking for the presence of health vs. the absence of disease. I believe that to be a much better way to approach health care. That’s what Functional Healthcare does.
So, what do you do if you are insulin resistant?
You have to train the body to be more efficient at utilizing glucose. Eating lower amounts of carbohydrates and focusing only complex sources like those that come from vegetables, very small amounts of fruit and occasional servings of beans and lentils for fiber is part of the solution. Those complex sources of carbohydrates will not spike your blood sugar levels as fast and require a huge production of insulin.
Move your body. Increase the cell’s demand for the sugar floating around in your bloodstream. 30 Minutes of exercise on most days of the week is what is recommended. This needs to include some high intensity exercise, some strength work and some cardiovascular exercise.
Get Specific information on YOUR body. Sometimes, it is necessary to collect information like the labs I mentioned above. Insulin resistance is a common reason why people struggle to lose weight, but it is often combined with other issues like thyroid dysfunction, hormone imbalance and/or micronutrient deficiencies. Once you know what your body is doing, you can develop a plan to get the results you haven’t been seeing
Sometimes, knowing what you need to do might not be enough. Sometimes, it helps to have a coach to help you implement the changes you need to make. The magic is in the implementation. A Functional Doctor or Health Coach can be well worth their weight in gold in this way. To help you succeed where you have not been able to follow through before.
If you are interested in more information on Insulin Resistance or another issue with your health and would like to discuss it with myself or my team, please take advantage of our FREE Health Consultation where you can ask questions and we will see if we can help you!
To your health,