Could Carbohydrates Be Making You Fat?
By Brandon Epstein
Do you know what insulin is?
If not, no worries. Not many people do.
I’m going to get you caught up really quick and then explain exactly how you can use insulin to burn more fat and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for helping you absorb nutrients from your food. You are going to be getting most of your insulin from carbohydrates. More specifically, your pancreas will be releasing this insulin into your bloodstream and then on into your organs where you can use this insulin as energy.
All that is well and good when you are consuming moderate amounts of relatively slow-digesting carbohydrates. An example of a slow-digesting carbohydrate is a food like a sweet potato. It is a very complex food, so it takes the body much longer to break it down and use it for energy. This is a good thing, because it doesn’t cause much of a spike in your insulin levels.
But what happens when you eat fast-digesting carbohydrates on a consistent basis?
You will most likely start to put on some excess fat and begin the cycle of putting yourself at risk for diabetes, amongst other potentially life-threatening conditions. This all happens because you are spiking your insulin way too much. Constantly spiking your insulin levels leads to a decrease in your insulin sensitivity. When your insulin sensitivity decreases, your body compensates by increasing the amount of insulin it creates so you can balance your blood sugar.
This is not something you want to have happen, because, when your body needs more and more insulin to be normal, there are a lot of adverse health effects that present themselves. The most pressing issue is that your body starts to have a hard time processing nutrients properly, so fat begins to be stored instead of being used as energy like it usually would be.
If you continue to overstimulate your insulin levels, your pancreas will eventually begin to get exhausted and not release the hormone properly. This can lead to type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues and even some forms of cancer.
You can see now why it’s so important to make sure you keep your insulin levels super sensitive at all times.
Now, how can you maintain high insulin sensitivity?
Here are the 11 best tips for improving insulin sensitivity:
1. Eat slow-digesting carbohydrates
Slow-digesting carbohydrates have a relatively low effect on your insulin levels. As long as most of the foods you eat are slow-digesting (low on the glycemic index) you should not be at risk of decreased insulin sensitivity and excess fat gain.
2. Learn the glycemic index
Now that you know you need to be eating foods that are low on the glycemic index, it’s time for you to find out which foods you can eat. Here is a good resource for finding out which foods are high versus low on the glycemic index. Build your diet around these foods as much as you can.
3. Limit simple carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates are high on the glycemic index and are foods you want to limit your consumption of. Familiarize yourself with some of the most simple carbs so they don’t sabotage your health. You can start with the general knowledge that high sugar or refined carbohydrates are almost always going to be simple carbohydrates. Think candies, cakes, cookies, bread, pasta…
4. Combine your carbohydrates with protein
When you do consume more simple carbohydrates, be sure to combine them with slower digesting protein like casein protein. This will help decrease the potential insulin spike.
5. Time your meals
If you have a sweet tooth and feel like you have to get some simple carbs in your diet, try to do it post workout. After your workout, your glycogen levels have been depleted, so your body will be able to use these simple carbs in a way that should ensure they are used as energy instead of being stored as fat.
6. Experiment with fasting
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have positive effects on insulin levels, especially in men. If you are a woman, fasting can have positive effects on your insulin levels as well, because it provides time for your body to do a bit of a reset. But women beware: discuss this with your doctor first as doing so without guidance can prove detrimental to your hormonal balance.
7. Drink green tea
Green tea has been shown to decrease blood sugar concentrations, which is great news for your insulin levels.
8. Maintain a healthy body fat composition
Having a low body fat composition in the first place can promote lowered insulin sensitivity. Get your body fat percentage down and it will be easier to keep it there.
9. Eat a moderate amount of calories
If you are eating a ton of calories, it doesn’t matter how slow-digesting the carbohydrates are – it’s going to have some effect on your insulin levels and weight gain. Stick to a moderate calorie diet, unless you are participating in serious physical training every day, in which case, adjust accordingly. (If you’re not sure how to do this, contact me directly.)
10.Get sufficient sleep
Sleep plays a large role in hormone regulation and insulin is no exception. Get sufficient sleep to lower your risk for excess weight gain and diabetes.
11. Exercise on a regular basis
Regular exercise training (at least 3-4 times a week) has positive effects on your insulin levels and body as a whole. You hear it all the time from me, but make sure this is a part of your daily ritual.
Follow these 11 tips and your insulin levels will dramatically increase in sensitivity, thus making weight loss way easier. Can you commit to at least one of these tips this week? Pick one tip to follow and then stack the rest on as you gain momentum.
Brandon Epstein is a former college football player, turned professional fitness model and serial entrepreneur. These days he spends his time helping people look great and feel awesome over at ZenDudeFitness.com. He can also be found hosting the Zen Dude Fitness Podcast where he’s always looking for new ways to make fat loss fun, simple and efficient for everybody.
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