If you’ve been around the sports and fitness scene the past few years, you’ve heard
a lot about insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance. Basically, these terms mean the
ability of a certain amount of insulin to coax glucose/glycogen into muscle and other cells. If the resistance is high then it takes more insulin to get the same job done than if the resistance to insulin was low. As well, it’s assumed that the insulin response to
glucose also applies to amino acids and fats.
If you are someone really serious about knowing as to why certain low calorie diets work for few individuals but not for others its primarily the insulin sensitivity levels that decide their fate. Insulin and its effects, and the concept of insulin resistance are important
topics and relevant to anyone looking to gain expertise in as to how to manipulate metabolism through food and without any drugs.
Read Before You Move Ahead:
Because of its importance, I’ve decided to cover these topics in some detail and as such, the
discussion may be somewhat technical and would be covered in multiple posts. If it’s a bit much the first time round, I suggest you skim over the science stuff, but if you’re interested, reread the section in more detail. Also my motive is not to scare anyone but educate you guys, so that if you suspect to have any of these issues, it can help you in living a fitter and healthier lifestyle.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving glucose and other nutrients into various
cells in the body. While getting energy in the form of glucose (or blood sugar) into our
cells is an important function of insulin, it does so much more.
According to recent studies here are few key roles of Insulin in Bodybuilding:
- Insulin is a key player in the control of the breakdown, formation and utilization of
fat, both dietary and body fat. Excess insulin secretion and/or insulin resistance play
a role in the genesis of weight and fat gain and obesity.
- Insulin plays a role in mediating diet-induced thermogenesis, the amount of energy
that is released subsequent to the digestion and absorption of food. Thus, insulin
resistance may be implicated in defective thermogenesis as seen in diabetes.
Decreasing thermogenesis can lead, among other things, to weight and body fat gain.
- In the kidney, insulin spares sodium and uric acid from excretion. In chronic
hyperinsulinaemic states, these effects may contribute to high blood pressure and
high levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricaemia) and thus gout.
How is Insulin resistance detrimental to one’s Fitness Goals?
If you are someone who is suspected to be insulin resistant then here’s what’s actually happening. A person who is insulin-resistant has cells that respond sluggishly to the action of
insulin. After a meal, this person will have elevated blood glucose levels that in turn
signal still more insulin to be released from the pancreas until the glucose is taken up
by the cells. The net effect is that for a given diet and blood sugar level, a higher level
is present in someone who is insulin resistant than in someone who is not.
The excess of glucose in the bloodstream cause high blood sugar levels which is normally seen in a type 2 diabetic. Normally a hyperglycemic individual suffers from high insulin resistance.
Not just glucose but insulin is also responsible for moving fats and amino acids into various cells. Sluggishness in moving these nutrients has a number of implications. For example, a relative lack of insulin may hinder some of the anabolic effects of exercise as the body is insufficient in utilising and transporting the nutrients to their specific sites which leads to under recovery and metabolic damage issues. As well, people who are insulin-resistant often have elevated triglycerides. Since elevated triglycerides usually coincide with low HDL, both are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
All in all, insulin resistance, or insensitivity, seems to be one of our hidden diseases.
Many of us suffer from it in one degree or another, and it may become clinically
significant as we age and gain weight. Increased insulin resistance affects us at a very
basic level by influencing the way we handle the food we eat.
At one end of the scale insulin resistance or high insulin levels can result in a bothersome increase in weight and body fat while at the other it can contribute to adult-onset diabetes (type II) or Hyperglycemia.
The usual signs and symptoms of insulin resistance include:
- Fatigue, both after you eat and generally throughout the day and especially at night.
- Weight and body fat gains even with good diet and workout plan.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased cholesterol levels.
- And perhaps a general feeling of unwellness.
We’ll keep this post as short as possible as many of you might need some time to digest all the above information. I’ll definitely elaborate on this topic as much as possible in future as its a very common issue with majority of individuals who are not able to to lose fat even on low carb and low calorie diets even when they workout. The intensity of problem may vary but it’s definitely plaguing the world due to our inappropriate eating habits and our genetic changes due to general environmental toxicity.
We’ll further cover topics such as how to overcome insulin resistance, what is insulin sensitivity and how to become insulin sensitive without drugs and through diet only.
So stay tuned.