We hear the word insulin and blood sugar thrown around all the time amongst health experts. So, do we want insulin, no insulin, do we have to have insulin? It is extremely confusing when it comes to are we supposed to be eating foods or not eating foods that activate insulin.
Today I am going to give you an inside guide to insulin so that you know the facts and not get sucked into the mass media mis-information that can ruin your weight loss.
Most of us know that insulin is used to store extra calories (sugar in the blood) as fat, but did you know it is also used to build lean muscle?
It is actually a protein like growth hormone and has amino acids chained together just like other protein molecules.
The difference though is in the way that the amino acid chains are folded which makes it a signaling mechanism instead of an anabolic protein molecule.
How Does Insulin Work?
When you eat food such as carbohydrates, but also protein your body makes insulin and releases it so that it can shuttle the sugar that is in your blood from the food you just ate into the proper muscle cells and fat cells.
The insulin allows your muscle to absorb the sugars in the muscle fibers so that it can be used to repair and replenish the glycogen stored in your muscle.
Insulin also allows amino acids to enter your muscle cells to create new muscle building. One example is after a workout your muscles are ready to be repaired.
This is when insulin is able to help you build more muscle by shuttling sugar and amino acids into the muscle to repair it and make it stronger for the next workout.
The Downside Of Insulin
So, what we are more familiar with is how insulin also stores the calories we eat as fat. As we eat insulin is released from our pancreas and our brain also sends a signal that we have just been fed which elevates other hormones. Our bodies are designed to always want to store calories in case we ever need them at a later time.
When we eat high amounts of carbs (sugar) our body doesn’t know what to do with all these extra calories and panics just a little bit. So our body sends out too much insulin because all our brain sees is a large amount of sugar in our bloodstream. This causes our body to store those extra sugar calories as fat.
Another downside to releasing too much insulin is it stores too much of the sugar in our blood as fat which leads to a low blood sugar episode or hypoglycemia.
This triggers our brain to telling us that we are hungry again because of the low blood sugar levels so we eat again.
…And start the fat storing process all over again.
If you have ever wondered why you are hungry so soon after eating a carb only meal this is why.
The trick is to know when to spike your insulin for muscle growth and when to control it and minimize fat storage.
Here is how you control your insulin
The first rule is to know which type of foods influence insulin. This is called the glycemic load. It is your insulin response when you eat specific foods.
Lower glycemic load foods will trigger a lower insulin response because there isn’t as much sugar entering your bloodstream. Of course a high glycemic load triggers a high insulin response.
If your body doesn’t need those sugars to repair muscle then it gets stored as fat.
Hence, the timing of when you eat sugar matters…
Here are some common food that have a lower glycemic load. It isn’t an exclusive list, but is a start for you to start including more low glycemic foods into your diet.
Various legumes or beans
The safe thing to do is eat low glycemic load foods most of the time to control your insulin spikes. Also, if you consume protein and greens at every meal it helps to control your insulin because protein actually boosts a hormone called glucagon which is the antagonist to insulin. If glucagon is higher then insulin is low and vice versa. So, the more we can keep glucagon elevated the more likely insulin stays in check.
Don’t be afraid of carbs and sugars, but understand the timing of when you eat them is very important. They are something our body needs to function properly and to build new muscle.
This is how you lose excess fat and keep it off.