Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas and helps keep your blood sugars in a normal range. The higher your blood sugars go, the more insulin is released to help bring your sugar level back down. The fasting insulin tells you how much insulin it takes to keep your blood sugar at the fasting level. That is insulin’s main job. It tries to keep blood sugars in a normal range. It does this by facilitating the transfer of sugar molecules out of your blood stream and into your cells. Subsequently, the blood sugar comes down. But this also means that the sugar content in the cells goes up. Your cells then need to “do something” with those sugar molecules. The cells generally only have two choices of what to do with the sugar: use it immediately for energy or store it for later. Most of your cells cannot store sugar as sugar. They must convert it to fat (which it can do very efficiently). So if the cell does not need the sugar molecules for energy immediately, it stores them – as fat. So…insulin is a fat storage hormone. Insulin also does some other things which are potentially detrimental to our health: increases cholesterol and triglycerides, increases blood pressure, and increases water retention.
The “drive through version” (reviewed in much more detail during your Weight Management University™ program) is that anything you can do that will bring insulin levels down will help your overall health. When insulin levels come down and stay low, you mobilize fat…not store it. And…isn’t that the point of a weight loss plan? So the real question you have then is – How do you stay in “fat burning mode” NOT “fat storing mode”?
Fortunately, insulin is one of the few hormones which you have some control over. Insulin only goes up when blood sugars go up – in order to bring blood sugars back down. So the way to bring insulin levels down is to keep your blood sugars as low in the normal range as possible. The lower you keep your blood sugars, the lower your insulin levels stay.
So what keeps blood sugars low? The simple version – avoiding carbohydrates (especially simple, refined carbohydrates) is what keeps blood sugars low. All carbohydrates are eventually converted to sugar molecules. So any carbohydrate can potentially increase your blood sugar. The bottom line to all of this is that it takes a low carbohydrate diet to bring insulin levels down. If you aren’t sure how to make that work with your lifestyle, let us know – it’s one of our specialties.