So last time I promised everyone a layman’s explanation of Insulin and how it affects our bodies.
I’ll start with the basics. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. It’s basic job is to move sugar from our blood to our cells where it can be used for energy. If the cells have all the sugar they can use and there is still some left over, insulin then causes this excess sugar to be stored as fat. Too much sugar in your blood is very bad for your body.
In Type One diabetics, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to remove all the sugar from your blood. In Type Two diabetics the pancreas continues to make insulin, but the cells have stopped responding to it. When this happens the kidneys have to work overtime to filter the sugar out of your blood, and chronic high blood sugar is what leads to all sorts of problems that Diabetics suffer from (numbness, blindness, etc).
Insulin also stops your body from burning fat, because it tells your fat cells that there is already enough sugar for your energy needs. When Insulin is not present your body then turns to burning stored fat for energy. So it makes sense that if you want to lose fat, that you should try to keep your insulin levels under control.
What happens when you eat a high carbohydrate (sugar) meal? Within minutes of consuming a high carb food your blood sugar spikes. Your body panics because too much sugar is very damaging to your body and releases massive amounts of insulin. The Insulin takes all the sugar out of your blood as quickly as possible, giving what it can to your cells and storing the rest as fat. Too much insulin takes out too much sugar and then because your blood sugar is too low, you start to crave sweets. This becomes a viscous cycle causing your body to store fat and preventing it from burning fat. It’s also what creates the high that so many food addicts crave and the subsequent crash that inevitably follows a binge.
So how do we make sure that we keep our insulin levels low so we can lose weight? One way is to restrict how many calories and fat we consume. On a low calorie, low fat diet when insulin is released there is very little fat to store so your body is forced to release some of it’s stored fat to survive. If you increase your body’s energy needs through vigorous exercise it increases this effect. This causes you to lose weight and is the recommended method of most doctors. The problem, as so many of us know first hand, is that because you are eating a lot of carbs and your blood sugar isn’t stable, you feel hungry shortly after eating. You have to exercise extreme amounts of will power to overcome your body’s signal to eat. You become grouchy and irritable and when you can no longer resist, you over-indulge.
I can’t stand being hungry. I hate it. I have very little self control when I get that way. That’s why I love the low carb diet. I can lose weight without feeling like I’m starving myself.
I cheated this weekend a bit because it was my son’s 2nd birthday so I had a pieces of cake and some pizza. I felt sick for days afterwards. It was a huge wake-up call and a reminder that Sugar is poison. Are bodies are not designed to eat this way. Low carb is by far the more natural way to eat.