Insulin is a hormone which was discovered in 1921. It is produced by your pancreas and has been given the name of the ‘Fat storage hormone’. Insulin is vital for survival and ongoing health however if over produced, it lives up to its name and will create a fat storage environment within your body – less than ideal when trying to lose weight!
When you consume carbohydrates of any sort, your body will break down them down into simple sugars for your body to use for energy. Depending on which type of carbohydrates has been consumed will depend on how much insulin in produced. Insulin production is a completely healthy and is a natural process, however problems arise when too many sugary carbohydrates are consumed and your body has to produce lots of insulin to cope with the sugar rush!
If you consume the correct amount/type of carbohydrates for your body type, insulin will deliver sugar from carbohydrates into the cells, brain and muscle tissues. This provides us with energy!
On the other hand if you eat too many sugary carbohydrates, you force your body to produce high levels of insulin. Weight gain, a lack of energy and high cholesterol are common side effects. Once the muscles, liver and brain have got enough glucose from the carbohydrates consumed there is only one place for the left over to go Ð the fat cells! You have unlimited amounts of fat cells in your body for excess glucose to go. You can start to see how a diet high in sugar has disastrous effects on weight loss!
The diagram below shows how excessive insulin production promotes fat storage within your body:
DIAGRAM 1: EXCESS INSULIN PRODUCTION DIAGRAM
2: OPTIMUM INSULIN AND FAT LOSS
What is the best way to avoid over producing insulin?
- Follow the 40, 30, 30 guidelines!
- Eat 3 main meals per day with 2 – 3 snacks in between your meals.
- Consume protein with every meal (including breakfast) and snack throughout the day!
Which carbohydrates are suitable to eat without causing the body to release lots of insulin? Answer: Foods low on the glycemic index scale!
- Oat cakes
- Brown rice
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Rye bread
- All vegetables
- Dark skinned fruits
- Other fruits (2 pieces per day)
Which carbohydrates are best to avoid for optimum insulin control?
- Brown and white sugar
- Cereals (Special K has a really high Glycemic Index, which means it is absorbed really quickly into your blood stream and therefore causes a high level of Insulin to be released. It is just marketed well to make you think it is healthy! Put the special K and other cereals down!)
These foods should be restricted when aiming to lose weight. If these foods make up the majority of your diet, the chances are you are over producing insulin and your body is a fat storage environment.