Do you know that there are now more Americans suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity than there was a decade ago? A recent Gallup and Healthways report puts the stats at about 12 percent for diabetes and about 29 percent for obesity -the highest since 2008.
In fact, given the current estimate of about 190 million diabetics globally and the consistent growth rate of the condition, it is estimated that about 325 million people globally will be living with these conditions by 2040.
The prevalence of these conditions has resulted in a worldwide epidemic and has birthed the need for specific dieting regimens –seeing as these two conditions are predominantly caused by poor food and lifestyle choices- that can help prevent and curb these conditions.
One of these is the Insulin Resistance Diet, also known as the IR Diet. This is one of the best dieting regimens for the prevention and management of any of the aforementioned conditions and one that more people should adopt in order to correct their bodies’ tendency to not convert blood sugar to energy, resulting in high blood sugar and blood insulin levels.
High blood sugar and insulin levels often lead to a condition known as latent autoimmune diabetes of adults or the more common type 2 diabetes that’s spreading like wildfire in the US and all over the globe. Insulin Resistance Diet, is great for people who are borderline obese, already obese, prediabetic or already diagnosed as diabetic.
But before we jump into the IR diet, it is important to understand exactly what insulin does, its functional mechanisms and the various types of insulin available to the public. If you’re already familiar with these, feel free to skip this section and move on to the next.
Insulin is naturally made by the pancreas –there’s a whole lot of processes involved- and released into the blood whenever there’s a sudden flood of blood glucose. Its major function is to regulate the amount of glucose in your blood and bring it down to normal levels so you don’t become hyperglycemic.
It also supplies target organs cells with the excess sugar so they can be utilized, signals muscle tissues and the liver to store excess sugar and helps convert excess sugars left into fat.
This process usually happens right after a meal or the consumption of foods containing glucose, sucrose or fructose. Think of insulin as the delivery mechanism that gets the sugars to the cells that need them.
This is the natural process in healthy people who have no insulin problem. But in people who are obese, prediabetic, or those already diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, their bodies have developed some sort of resistance to the insulin or stopped producing insulin completely, resulting in the need for insulin shots.
For instance, type 1 diabetics often have damaged pancreatic beta cells, which leads to little or no production of insulin by the pancreas. This condition forces them to depend on insulin shots to utilize the glucose from their foods and stay alive.
Type 2 diabetics on the other hand, either produce insufficient amounts of insulin or react differently to the insulin they produce. Either way, they require insulin shots to process and convert glucose from meals. Depending on the need, the insulin shots can be rapid acting, short acting, intermediate acting or long acting.
How Can You Tell That You Have A Case Of Insulin Resistance?
Identifying the symptoms of insulin resistance is critical to your success with the IR diet. When you have a case of insulin resistance, it simply means that your body is unable to effectively make use of the insulin you produce.
As a result, all the target organs that actively utilize glucose like your muscles and liver, end up not getting sufficient amounts unless you increase the amount of insulin in your bloodstream. And seeing as most people don’t know what’s going on internally, they probably wouldn’t find out until it’s too late, and they are diagnosed as diabetic.
This is why there are no common symptoms for insulin resistance –particularly when it’s mild or even intermediate- and why people can live with it for years and years. Most of the time, the only giveaway may be the presence of dark skin patches on the knees, armpits, neck, knuckles, and elbows in individuals whose insulin resistance have gotten out of hand.
Another sign of insulin resistance –although this is debatable- is increased weight gain, obesity and high amounts of triglyceride –saturated fatty acids- or bad fats in your bloodstream. Ultimately, insulin resistance causes prediabetes and diabetes
Now that you’re familiar with insulin resistance, it’s time to find out everything about the amazing insulin resistance diet and how it can help you reverse your condition. We don’t want you depending on insulin shots for the rest of your life when you can change your situation by changing your diet.
What Does The Insulin Resistance Diet Do?
Its sole aim is to regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, help you eliminate excess weight gain particularly around the waist line and put you back on track to a healthy lifestyle. So, if you have been diagnosed as prediabetic or diabetic, you need to start taking steps to incorporate this into your daily life.
Studies carried out by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) under the Diabetes Prevention Program have shown that weight loss through dieting as well as an improved active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by ensuring that the target organs utilize blood glucose and the secreted insulin.
Also, people who are prediabetic can also reverse their condition by adopting the same protocols. This is because people who eventually become diabetic often go a through a stage of insulin resistance and Prediabetes. The good news is that once you can identify this stage early enough, you can take steps to counteract the effects and reverse the condition.
Unfortunately, prediabetes and other early symptoms of diabetes rarely show any symptoms. So, it is possible to think you’re healthy when you’re on the brink of becoming diabetic. This is usually why everyone needs to have a general checkup done 1-2 times a year.
That said, the good news about the IR Diet is that it is not as restrictive as other weight loss diets. All you have to do is avoid some foods, eat more of others and you’ll be on your way to regulating your glucose levels pretty quickly.
Here’s all you need to do to embark on an Insulin Resistance Diet:
Reduce your Carb Intake
You’ve probably heard it said over and over again that carbs are the enemy. If you’re looking to lose weight, prevent diabetes, reverse prediabetes and lower your risk of developing what is known as metabolic syndrome, you need to cut back on the amount of carbs you ingest.
Admittedly, this is usually the hardest part of the IR diet. But, once you understand that carbs cause a spike in blood glucose levels, resulting in insulin resistance over time. Research has shown that watching how much carbs you take through calorie counting or smaller portions plays a critical role in ensuring blood sugar control.
While there are multiple sources of carbs, we have found that you’ll get the best results from organic dairy products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Avoid every other carbohydrate source as these are likely to be tainted with refined sugars and unhealthy fats.
Get Rid of Sugary Drinks
When it comes to reversing insulin resistance, you need to completely eliminate the causative agents. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recently publicly advised individuals against the consumption of sugary drinks whose sugar sources are refined or granulated sugar.
This means absolutely no drinks containing refined sugar. So, no soda, no energy drinks, no iced tea, no fruit juice, and absolutely no beer. Also important is that you need to avoid drinks containing aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, glucose and fruit juice concentrates.
This is important because these drinks tend to cause a spike in blood sugar levels, further increasing your body’s insulin resistance. There are other sugary items you can take including maple syrup, honey, blackstrap molasses and stevia. Please note that sugars generally tend to increase blood sugar levels, no matter the source.
Some of these sources like the natural ones we just mentioned, are just better for your health. In fact, for now just stick with water –the regular, not the flavored type. And if you have to drink coffee or tea, use one of the aforementioned natural sugar sources.
These are healthier and less likely to do you any damages. However, if you can, we would suggest completely cutting out all forms of sweeteners until you are certain that you’re no longer prediabetic or diabetic.
Consume Fiber Rich Foods
Quick question: when was the last time you had whole grains or any food that was rich in fiber? We’re guessing a while ago. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Right at this very moment, millions of Americans are making the same mistake across millions of homes.
Not to worry, we’re pretty sure you won’t repeat the same mistake. Fiber rich foods are a staple in the IR diet. This is because diabetics who consume above 50g of fiber every day tend to reduce the frequency and occurrence of hyperglycemia -high blood sugar.
Multiple research have also shown that the consumption of organic and whole grain fibers on a daily basis lowers the risk of developing diabetes. This is an important thing to note because processed whole grain fibers can have the opposite effect.
So, which fiber rich foods should you eat more frequently to help minimize insulin resistance? Eat more beans, quinoa, legumes, peas, chia seeds, flaxseeds, brussels sprouts, acorn squash, artichokes and avocado to mention a few. Talk to your dietician for more suggestions on the right organic whole fiber foods to take.
Also, vegetables are very fiber rich. Eat lots and lots of them any chance you get. In fact, include them in your daily diet henceforth. Same with fruits too. They are also fiber rich and can double as your snack.
Always Include Fats in Your Meals
As a whole, fats have gotten a bad rap. Most people avoid them because they have been cast in a bad light, as capable of causing everything from arteriosclerosis to stroke and heart attacks.
Yet, that is not true; at least not when you take the good fats. For those who don’t know, there are good and bad fats. The good, healthy fat are known as unsaturated fatty acids, while the bad ones are known as trans-fats or saturated fatty acids.
Everyone –diabetic or not- should endeavor to include monounsaturated fatty acids in their meals every day. People suffering from diabetes in particular need to pay attention to this seeing as they would often need to switch to taking fats while cutting back on their carb intake.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are also a critical element of another popular weight loss diet –the Mediterranean diet. Studies involving the consumption of significant amounts of the monounsaturated fatty acids in this diet indicated that it helped increase blood sugar control.
Some rich sources of monounsaturated fatty acid include safflower oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hazel nut, egg yolk, sesame, peanuts, avocado, corn, cod liver oil, almond, and soybean.
All insulin resistance sufferers also need to take more omega-3 fatty acids either in the form of fish like sardines, herring, salmon, tuna, and mackerel or omega-3 supplements. Some recommend that the fish be caught from the wild, while others don’t.
Well the most important thing is to get some Omega-3 in you. if you can’t find fresh fish from the sea –let’s be honest, most people in the city won’t have access to this-, frozen fish will do.
Take More Lean Proteins
Here’s the basic truth: if you want to lose weight, cut back on your carbs, get rid of the red meat and pile up on lots of lean proteins for every meal.
Multiple studies such as the one carried out by the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, have indicated that eating more lean protein when you’re obese will actually help you lose more weight than cutting back on your protein intake.
This is even more important when you already have a case of insulin resistance or are already diagnosed as diabetic, as it will help you maintain muscle and bone mass. For diabetics, this is crucial because of the condition’s tendency to cause a loss of muscle and bone mass.
Some good examples of lean protein include fish, yoghurt, almonds, home raised chickens, lentils, and eggs. Start with those and then lookout for other sources if you’re feeling adventurous.
Smaller Portions Per Meal
Portion control is a critical component of the IR diet. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat too much. If anything, you want to eat in small portions. This will give your body enough time digest your meals and your insulin to convert those sugars into energy.
Smaller portions spread throughout the day means that you’ll also enjoy the added benefit of weight loss, and reduce the quantity of insulin needed to breakdown your meals. Also, this means you won’t be excessively hungry –something that causes many people to overeat.
In fact, studies have linked the rise in obesity to the increase in the food helpings that people consume over the past decades. As a result of these wider plates and bigger servings, many people ended up eating more than they should have, thus causing their bodies to store up those fats which caused their obesity.
However, we understand that eating in smaller portions may not be practical when you go out to eat, seeing as you probably want to get maximum value for your money.
What we do recommend in this instance is that you eat a small portion and request the waiters to pack the rest for you to go. This also works, and helps you maintain your IR diet.
One more thing, please pay attention to your hunger levels as you go in to eat. This is important because people tend to rush their meals when they are hungry as against eating slower and allowing the body catch up with their meals.
If you feel really hungry, drink a glass or two of water 15-20 minutes before your meals arrive. Water does an excellent job of pre-filling you, so that when you eventually eat, you’ll only eat a smaller quantity.
Insulin Resistance Diet Summary
You will notice that we did not outline specific recipes. Instead, we gave you a wide variety of options to choose from. That was done intentionally. This way, you can choose what works for you from the various food categories to come up with the best recipes and meals that would be delicious, non-allergic and able to combat your insulin resistance. If you need help deciding on the right food choices, speak with a dietician or nutritionist.
Please note however, that as great as the insulin resistance diet it, you also need to combine it with a healthier lifestyle. The diet alone helps you take care of what you eat, but how about your physical state? You need to exercise more, stay active, move a lot more and keep fit.
You don’t have to start running 5 miles a day immediately. You can simply start with walking 20-30 minutes a day. If you spend a lot of time at the desk, work in time blocks.
For instance, take a break from your desk every 30-45 minutes and take a walk or just move around for 5-10 minutes. Then, devote some time to actually walking every day, and increase your physical activity from that point onwards. If you need a few pointers, try the following:
- Parking 2-3 blocks away from the office and walk down. This alone should take 10-20 minutes every day.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Walk to the food cart instead of sending out for food
- Take public transport, get out 2-3 blocks from home and walk down.
- Get an adjustable standing desk and adjust intermittently –this means you don’t get to leave your desk, but will also be able to get some exercise
- Walk or run in place if you can
- Find a gym close by and workout for 15-20 minutes during your lunch break.
See? There’s no limit to how creative you can get if you make up your mind to get some exercise every day.
The insulin resistant diet, even if somewhat similar to the diabetic diet, is solely designed for individuals who aren’t yet diabetic, but are close. Diabetic individuals can also benefit from the diet if they want.
In fact, everyone can benefit from the diet. It’s the standard for healthy eating that will keep you young and great health for years. Once you take care of this part of your life, you shouldn’t have any problems staying healthy, kicking diabetes and preventing it. Don’t wait until it’s too late or you’re diagnosed with prediabetes to begin the insulin resistance diet.
In fact, everyone in the western hemisphere needs to start adopting this diet into their daily meal plan. This is because we have all in some way or the other, abused our pancreas and its insulin producing capabilities.
If you have ever taken soda or drinks with artificial sweeteners, candy, ice cream and junk food –most Americans are guilty of this- you need to restore your body’s balance and help your body heal from all the “abuse” you’ve meted out to it over the past few years.
All parents need to also teach their children healthy eating habits by adopting this in home starting today. We can curb the prevalence of diabetes among the next generation if we adopt and teach the kids healthy eating habits. Start today by adopting the IR Diet.
I have been reading about this because I have been told that I might have insulin resistance. It’s very difficult for me to lose weight, now I am following a diet but lost 8 pounds in 2 months. I have read that taking metformin pills helps with insulin levels but I am not quite sure. Any advice?