What does insulin have to do with your weight?


A lot of hormonal research has been conducted in order to discover what causes weight gain or loss.  It is a complicated dance to maintain weight or promote weight loss, and insulin is perhaps the most important aspect of this struggle. It turns out that insulin is far more important than exercise or calorie restriction, despite the advice that many have been giving for years.  

The Causes of Weight Fluctuation 

Many of my patients talk about losing weight and then gaining it again. The problem with sustainable weight loss is that we have been telling patients the wrong things.  Eating multiple times per day does not help. Calorie restriction does not help. Both of these tactics may help in the short-term, but they are not sustainable methods.

Insulin Levels

Dr. Jason Fung talks about how obesity is a hormone disorder. And the more research I’ve done, I’ve come to agree with him. Insulin is produced in the presence of foods, in varying degrees. Carbohydrates raise insulin since they are made of sugar or sugar chains. Proteins also increase insulin levels. Fats do not increase insulin. These facts prove that not all calories are created equal. For example, 100 calories of cake are more fattening than 100 calories of steak—since cake will raise insulin levels far higher than steak. 

Healthy Recommendations 

  1. Try to eliminate sugar from your diet.  I don’t begrudge a patient consuming some dark chocolate occasionally. However, try to get sugar out of your life and palate. The longer you go without it, the less you will crave it. 
  2. Eat real foods. I tell patients to try to shop around the outer edges of the grocery store, where the fresh foods are. I am also a fan of reading food labels.  If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it. Eliminate processed foods from your diet. 
  3. Fats are not the enemy. Most women who have lived through the 1980s are scared of too much fat. There is no need to be.  Fat makes us feel more full, and it has a minimal effect on insulin. 
  4. Eat less refined carbohydrates/grains.  This means getting rid of the white rice, white flour, and white sugar. 
  5. Timing is important. I recommend skipping the snacks and opting for 3 filling meals.  Every time we put something in our mouth, we raise our insulin levels. Insulin encourages fat storage. It is important that we promote low insulin levels in order to tap into our fat storage for energy. I recommend waiting 5 hours between meals. 
  6. Moving the body is helpful. Exercise makes us more hungry by raising our set metabolic point. Movement is also good for cardiovascular health, stress management, and sleep. 

It’s time to decrease insulin levels! Always be sure to talk to your doctor before changing your health routine.  


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