Insulin resistance happens when your body doesn’t respond as it should to insulin, and it increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. If you’re diagnosed with insulin resistance, you can take steps to prevent or delay the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can help reduce insulin resistance. In fact, people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk by losing 5 to 7 percent of their weight. Here are 8 tips to help you lose weight with insulin resistance.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance occurs when your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin. Insulin is a hormone your pancreas makes that’s essential for regulating blood sugar levels and allows cells to absorb and use glucose, which comes from the foods we eat. Insulin is the chemical messenger that tells the liver to store some glucose and it also helps the body maintain a good balance of energy, preventing blood glucose from spiking for too long.
If your cells can’t absorb glucose, its levels build up in the blood. If glucose levels are higher than normal but don’t indicate diabetes, it’s referred to as prediabetes. Prediabetes often occurs in people with high insulin resistance as the pancreas has to work increasingly hard to overcome the body’s resistance and keep blood sugar levels down. Over time, if the pancreas loses its ability to release insulin, it can develop into type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation and altered liver function.
What Causes Insulin Resistance?
While it’s not known exactly what causes insulin resistance, the two main factors that seem to result in insulin resistance are being overweight, with excess body weight especially around the waist, and a lack of physical activity. A diet high in refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance and there are also certain risk factors linked to insulin resistance, including poor sleep habits, smoking, steroid use and certain medications. If you have a family history of diabetes, this may also increase your risk of insulin resistance.
8 Signs of Insulin Resistance
1. High blood sugar levels in blood work
2. Extreme thirst or hunger
3. Increased or frequent urination
5. Blurry vision
6. Tingling on the bottom of your feet or your hands
7. Feelings of hunger, even after a meal
8. Acanthosis nigricans (dark patches of skin, often on the back of neck, groin, and armpits)
How to Lose Weight with Insulin Resistance
1. Get Regular Exercise
If exercise has not been a regular part of your lifestyle, it’s important you start incorporating it. Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity by moving glucose into your muscles, where it’s used for energy. If you’re just getting into exercise, start slow. Even walking for 10-15 minutes after each meal can improve blood sugar levels. Once you’re ready to get into more of a workout routine, a mix of cardio and resistance exercise tends to be best for weight loss.
2. Keep Moving
Aside from getting regular exercise, it’s also important to keep moving throughout the day. Whether it’s gardening, walking your dog, or biking to work, moving helps you burn calories and keeps your blood glucose levels on target. Even little changes help. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car further away from the entrance so you have farther to walk, and take your kids outside to play instead of watching TV.
3. Minimize Processed Foods
Processed foods come with a whole list of problems. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods and limit the amount of processed foods containing added sugar, salt, additives and preservatives as much as possible. Minimally processed foods retain most of their inherent and physical properties. The added ingredients in processed foods have been linked to chronic health problems like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
4. Eat Lots of Non-Starchy Veggies
Non-starchy vegetables include asparagus, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach and tomatoes. Whether they’re cooked, raw, fresh, frozen or canned, fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies at every meal or make a salad to go along with your meal.
5. Focus on Lean Proteins
Protein helps stabilize blood sugar and you should try to eat a lean protein source at every meal. These include fish, skinless chicken and turkey, tuna, low-fat cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. These foods should be baked, boiled or grilled, Avoid deep fried foods as much as possible, as they can raise blood sugar faster. Protein is also helpful for weight loss because it fills you up and helps you feel satisfied for longer so you don’t overeat.
6. Eat More Fibre and Heart-Healthy Fats
Fibre, found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure and improve your body’s response to insulin. It helps keep you satisfied and helps keep bowel movements regular. Heart healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts can help lower insulin resistance. Avoid saturated and trans fats as much as possible.
7. Make More Meals at Home
The best way to know what goes into the meals you eat is to make them yourself at home. Eating out, especially fast food, can lead to weight gain and poor health. Focus on the foods mentioned above and try batch cooking on the weekend or a weeknight when you have time, and make your own homemade versions of foods like kale chips, granola and salad dressings. If you find yourself reaching for highly processed snacks because they’re convenient, try planning out your snacks ahead of time and set aside foods like veggies and hummus, fruit and nut butters and roasted chickpeas.
8. Get Proper Sleep
Inadequate sleep can increase your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep quality is associated with increased oxidative stress, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Sleep is essential for metabolic health and energy balance. Getting a good night’s rest can help regulate hormones that play a role in hunger and reduce the risk of glucose metabolism dysfunction. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Keeping your insulin resistance under control is key to staying healthy and preventing type 2 diabetes. Follow these tips to lose weight and live healthier overall.
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