Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Flexibility
“I’m so frustrated! I look at a donut and gain a pound while I watch people eat them all the time and they are skinny as a rail!” This is a common frustration for people who have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. I know I have heard it countless times in my office over the last twelve years as I’ve helped people achieve better metabolic health.
My name is Dylan Webb, and I am the owner and clinic director of Ideal Health, located in Midtown Anchorage and now Fairbanks! Our clinic specializes in health coaching, applying a medically designed protocol that uses food as medicine and believes weight loss is healthcare. The method we use in our clinic is called the Ideal Protein Protocol. It’s a three phase program with one-on-one health coaching to reset the body to burn fat while preserving lean body mass. Our InBody scale allows us to monitor our clients’ body composition, showing us exactly what is going on inside the body as our clients lose weight so we can ensure they are burning fat without compromising muscle mass. The goal of the program is to accomplish metabolic flexibility, setting you up for long-term success in maintaining a healthy body fat percentage.
We can’t discuss metabolic flexibility without addressing insulin and insulin resistance. Insulin has two main roles: reduce the sugar in the blood and store calories in the form of fat. The human body is designed to “store” and “survive.” Storing fat is a natural process! But losing fat is not natural. We have to create a significant macronutrient/caloric deficit to cause the body to lose fat, which can be challenging. Producing large amounts of insulin on too frequent a basis gives the body ample opportunities to store fat and makes it very hard to burn fat, regardless of how much exercise you do, and—unfortunately—we can’t exercise our way out of insulin’s effects on the body.
When we eat carbohydrates, specifically high glycemic index carbohydrates (think white bread, white rice, candy, cake, pizza), our body converts them into sugar quickly which causes blood sugar (blood glucose) levels to rise quickly. This leads to the pancreas over-producing insulin. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells, driving the sugar in the blood down and sometimes causing it to go too low. I’m sure you remember a time when you had a big meal with all the fixings and got tired shortly afterward. This is more than likely caused by the blood sugar rising and then falling quickly due to insulin. Usually, at this point, we get cravings for something sweet or just to eat more, even when we aren’t exactly hungry.
Over time, this hyper-secretion of insulin leads not only to weight gain but eventually insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. This is when the body does not respond correctly to the action of insulin, resulting in the body secreting larger amounts of insulin, launching a vicious cycle. Now you look at something and gain a pound (or so it seems). Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance makes it easier for the body to store fat—and harder for the body to burn fat.
Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X) comprises five main conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar/diabetes, high blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and abdominal obesity. If a patient has at least three of the five, they meet the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome, which is now called Insulin Resistance Syndrome.
Weight gain isn’t the only effect that insulin has on the body. Depression is now being linked to insulin resistance.
Insulin’s role in the body is dramatic, but the good news is we have the ability to control how much our body secretes by addressing the food we consume!
Pictured above is one of our clients, Elaine. She lost 52 pounds and, with her doctor’s permission, was able to discontinue her insulin injections. This is what we call Metabolic Flexibility. She now has an increased ability to balance blood sugar, and she’s able to metabolize her food more efficiently, allowing her to manage her weight and diabetes much better than she did before.
Could metabolic inflexibility be a cause of your difficulties managing a healthy weight? If you’re interested in learning about how simple it can be to lose fat and improve your metabolic health, as well as sampling some of the delicious foods that will help you on your journey, please make sure to attend our next seminar on Saturday, December 10 at 4:30 p.m. Call or text us to RSVP at 907-885-3130. I hope to see you there!
Architecture & Engineering Special Section + Small Business
In the February 2024 issue of Alaska Business, we engineered a special section that inspects the many ways architecture and engineering enrich our lives, from creating beautiful and functional spaces to crafting functional and safe transportation corridors. In addition to the built world in which we live, this issue celebrates small businesses and the many functions they provide, whether they're developing tools in the healthcare industry or opening new dining locations.