Insulin Friend or Foe? in 10 Bullet PointsInsulin Friend or Foe? in 10 Bullet Points https://www.thrivehealth.com.au/wp-content/uploads/bigstock-Diet-Dieting-concept-Healthy-31806248960.jpg 960 733 Janie Janie https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/73d7b9a4bcaf7c63f4a42c753b4c008d?s=96&d=mm&r=g
The hormone insulin is a double edge sword. Here is why in 10 bullet points.
Insulin’s main job is to maintain our blood glucose levels. Glucose must be maintained within a very narrow range – or we will die – so when there is too much glucose, insulin is secreted by the pancreas to remove the glucose from the blood and store it *somewhere*. The first place the glucose is stored is as glycogen in the liver. When that fills it up it is stored as glycogen in the muscle. And finally any excess glucose is converted into triglycerides in the liver and shipped around the body to store in adipose tissue AS FAT! Our liver and muscle glycogen stores are very small so most of the excess carbohydrate is stored as fat.
It is important to understand that when insulin is raised the body stores excess carbohydrate as fat.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone so just as it stimulates fat storage, it promotes muscle building. Insulin is REQUIRED to build muscle. Insulin stimulates protein synthesis by directing the ribosomes in cells to make more protein. In the absence of insulin the ribosomes stop working and there is no protein being made. That means no muscles being built.
Just as insulin builds muscle, insulin also stops muscle breaking down. Everyday your body makes some protein, then breaks down some protein. So to build muscle you simply must make more than you break down. Muscle is absolutely critical to your health and to your ability to enjoy a high quality of life.
Insulin inhibits an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase which is responsible for breaking down fat tissue. In other words in the presence of elevated insulin you cannot use your stored fat and therefore you cannot get leaner.
Insulin also decreases the utilisation of fat for energy and instead promotes the burning of carbohydrates for energy. That makes perfect sense because insulin is released in the presence of carbohydrates so the body has to use that energy before using any stored fat.
Insulin transports glucose into fat cells and that does not have a happy ending. If we eat more carbohydrates than we need for energy requirements, then the carbohydrates will become more fat stores.
Fat breakdown and fat burning are enhanced by the absence of insulin.
So insulin is a double-edged sword – it is an anabolic hormone that can either make us fat by promoting fat storage and inhibiting fat utilisation, or it can be used to build muscle. It doesn’t care what it does – as long as it keeps the blood glucose in the normal range.
We just have to tell insulin what we want it to do! Do we want it to store fat or build muscle?
Give your carbohydrate intake a purpose! Keep your insulin levels low when you are not active – this will allow fat to be broken down for energy. Then eat your carbohydrates before and after your exercise sessions to use the insulin to build muscle.
You can manipulate insulin on a daily basis depending on your activity levels to flip the switch between fat loss and muscle building. ANYONE CAN DO THIS!
As well as helping you lose fat, lowering insulin is health promoting. Chronically raised insulin levels lead to insulin resistance which is linked to most western diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, fatty liver, periodontal disease and many hormonal issues.
One last thing – even if you are normal weight or underweight but eat a high carbohydrate diet you may still be insulin resistant. In this case you may carry visceral fat around your organs which is the worst kind of fat. Any weight loss program you undertake should aimed at eliminating belly fat as a priority – not just “losing weight”.