Insulin Sensitivity Tips and How to get very lean

Tip 1: Eat A High-Protein + Low-Carb Diet

The simplest thing you can do for better insulin sensitivity is to eat a high-protein, low-carb diet that favors a low-glycemic response. A number of recent studies have shown high-protein diets to be effective for weight loss because of how they support insulin health and better energy levels.

For example, one study published in the journal Obesity compared the use of a long-term high-protein, low-carb diet with a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet on food cravings and weight management. Participants in the high-protein, low-carb diet group were instructed to eat foods rich in protein and fat until they were satisfied, while limiting carbs to 20 g/day in the form of low-glycemic index vegetables (glycemic refers to the amount of insulin that is secreted in response to blood glucose and is based on how rapidly the carbs are digested). This method resulted in better weigh management, better insulin health, and fewer cravings for high-carb foods, particularly those high in sugar that can impair insulin sensitivity than the low-calorie, low-fat diet.

Tip 2: Manage The Glycemic Response

You’ll have the best insulin health by eating only low-glycemic index carbs such as dark green vegetables and dark coloured berries. This will provide carbs with high fibre content, producing a very moderate insulin response. The best source of fibrous low-glycemic foods are strawberries, blueberries, bilberries, raspberries, cherries, kale, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, peppers, zucchini. Bananas, pineapples, and oranges have a much higher glycemic index.

Naturally, you may not be ready to eliminate all other carbs from the diet. The solution is to slow digestion and lower the glycemic response by adding foods that support insulin health to high-glycemic foods, such as bread or oatmeal. If you eat a piece of white or even whole wheat bread, it will be digested very fast and all the carbs will be quickly turned into glucose, raising the overall glucose level rapidly and triggering more insulin to keep up with the high amount of glucose in the blood. In comparison, low-glycemic bread such as multi-grain bread with added fenugreek (an herb that naturally lowers glycemic index) will be digested more slowly. The carbs will more gradually be turned into glucose, triggering a smaller, more measured insulin response.

Research indicates some of the most effective foods for lowering glycemic response are nuts, fenugreek, cinnamon, strawberries, bilberries, and raspberries. Always try to eat one of these foods or herbs when you eat high-glycemic carbs. You can also mediate the insulin response by taking a supplement and there is a list of these below in Tip #7.

Tip 3: Limit Fructose In Your Diet

Fructose, which is found in many fruits and is found in abundant amounts in processed foods in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, doesn’t trigger insulin in the way glucose does, but it does mess with insulin health. In fact, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas. Rather it is metabolized by the liver, and if you only eat a very small amount, the liver does this very effectively. But, if the liver is not able to keep up with fructose metabolism, it will be turned into fat and is known to lower glucose uptake (the ability of glucose to get into the cells to be burned) and affect insulin sensitivity. It’s still unclear why fructose has this effect, but a number of studies have shown that high fructose intake leads to visceral belly fat gain and lowers insulin sensitivity.

It's recommended you limit your intake to around 10 grams of fructose a day, with very active individuals maxing out at 20 grams. Lower fructose fruits and vegetables include most berries, nectarines, grapefruit, avocado, and tomatoes. Bananas, apples, and pears are on the high end of the scale.

Tip 4: Perform A Strength Training Program

There’s no lack of evidence that exercise improves insulin health. In order to exercise or perform even moderate physical activity such as taking a walk or cleaning your house, your body requires energy and as we know, insulin is directly involved in the body’s ability to turn the food you eat into energy. Both strength training and energy system training in the form of sprint intervals will improve insulin sensitivity. A higher intensity is better, but even low intensity exercise is beneficial. For best results, heavy weights with a high volume will lead to greater energy use and optimal insulin health.

Tip 5: Do Something Physical Daily and Be More Active

Improve insulin health by being more physically active. We aren’t meant to be a sedentary population, and when we are inactive it affects the body’s sensitivity to insulin. If you sit most of the day at a desk job, even if you train hard and heavy in regular workouts, you are still susceptible to developing insulin resistance. A study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that as little as three days of physical inactivity can result in “robust changes” in post-meal glucose uptake (an indicator of overall insulin health). In young, recreationally active individuals, glucose uptake decreased two-fold with three days of inactivity.

A second study in the Journal of Applied Physiology looked at how inactivity experienced by individuals with desk jobs affects insulin health. Young healthy individuals who regularly took more than 10,000 steps a day were made to transition to an inactive lifestyle of about 1,500 steps a day for a 14-day period. The inactivity led to much reduced insulin sensitivity and participants gained visceral belly fat. Other studies support this and researchers stress that diabetes will not only be in store for immobilised individuals (due to bed rest or injury), but also for those who take less than 10,000 steps a day, even with the addition of a regular exercise program.

Make it a goal to take 10,000 steps a day and be sure to perform regular strength training and energy system training. Move as much as possible on days when you are off from scheduled exercise. Doing house work and yard work will support insulin health, as will going up and down stairs and taking brisk walks around the block during the day.

Tip 6: Make Sure Your Basic Nutrients Are Adequate

Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of the basic nutrients. Aside from omega-3 fish oil, the most important nutrients that support insulin sensitivity are magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D. People are chronically deficient in these minerals. For best results, get your levels tested.

For zinc, look for a mix of zinc ororate and aspartate. Take a magnesium supplement that contains a blend of elemental magnesium—look magnesium ororate, fumarate, glycinate, and taurate because they are most easily absorbed by the body. For vitamin D, a general suggestion is to take 5,000 IUs a day or a dose of 35,000 to 50,000 IUs twice a week.

Tip 7: Fine Tune Insulin Health With Additional Supplements

There are numerous herbs, minerals, and antioxidants that will improve insulin health by either helping the insulin to bind to the cell, mediate glucose uptake, support energy use, or lower inflammation. These include probiotics (improve glucose uptake and energy use), vitamin K (improves insulin sensitivity), carnitine (supports fat burning), coffee (lowers inflammation and supports glucose uptake), and green tea (lowers inflammation). Antioxidants also play a huge tole in reducing inflammation and are another important supplement to consider if your fruit intake is being reduced.

(Thanks to the poliquin group for the tips in this article)

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