Insulin – A Rundown

Did you know that protein alone spikes insulin as much as even simple carbohydrates?

Did you know you can become insulin resistant on keto?

First off, insulin is not bad – Let’s please, please, please stop claiming we’re “manipulating insulin spikes” for some kind of fat loss benefit.

Insulin is super important – we need it, want it, got to have it.

(ESPECIALLY IF YOUR GOAL IS TO RETAIN/ BUILD MUSCLE MASS).

Let’s talk about its primary function.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use.

Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

When glucose is not being cleared efficiently, we see many health signs, along with excess fat gain because insulin does to a degree inhibit lipolysis.

Insulin allows the body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use.

Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

Insulin does inhibit lipolysis (in a vacuum), BUT, things aren’t always black and white.

They’ve even shown that diets high in sugar, make no difference in fat loss WHEN protein and Kcals are controlled.

Calories are the driver here, not insulin.

“but you burn more fat on a low carb, and high-fat diet”…true…

YES, but, you’re also storing MORE fat, because you’re consuming MORE fat.

It’s the relative rate of storage, vs oxidation that matters.

This is only determined by the overall caloric load of your day, compared to what you’re burning.

When glucose is not being cleared efficiently, we see many health signs, along with excess fat gain because insulin does to a degree inhibit lipolysis.

So the point here is we’re not going to try to “suppress insulin”, we just need to make sure we’re remaining sensitive to our own bodies insulin, to shuttle nutrients, and glucose to the muscles.

However – as with many things in nutrition/ fitness, we put the car before the horse. 

What happens during caloric restriction is we see reduced levels of insulin….

Insulin in the bloodstream can inhibit fatty acid circulation… because remember, the fatty acids are left to circulate in the bloodstream… 

So when we re-feed or break the deficit, the reverse will happen.

Insulin goes up, fatty acids in the bloodstream drop and this will improve both the uptake and conversion of T4 to T3.

Insulin is often thought of as the “anabolic hormone”. It’s more so the anti-catabolic hormone. One of its main roles is in preventing muscle protein breakdown.

So by consistently suppressing insulin, we’re actually causing our bodies to remain in this catabolic state, leading to higher chances of muscular atrophy.

This is why high carb days, or refeeds can be so beneficial during a diet phase, to allow a few days on a consistent basis to create a more anabolic environment in the body- and with the carbs, creating a higher training response, leading also to better conversion of T4, to active T3.

At the end of the day, low carb diets are not “magic”, and inherently “better” for fat loss than their higher carb/ lower fat counterparts.

The decision has to be made by what you enjoy, and what your goals entail.

If you’re trying to get jacked, and remain jacked through a fat loss phase, I would advocate keeping as many carbs in as you possibly can, all while making progress!

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