Episode 151 – The Dangers of Insulin Resistance & Type 2 Diabetes

Written by Jonathan

Back in Episode 42 we covered why it’s important for you to keep your blood sugar down and how exercising right after you eat can help. It’s one of our more informative episode’s and I had a lot of fun recording it. It’s a good compliment to this episode, if you’re new to the show or haven’t listened to that episode yet, you should go back and listen to it because it will give you a more rounded picture of what we’re talking about today.  

Here’s the rundown of what insulin sensitivity is. Your body runs on two sources of energy carbohydrates and fats, both go directly into your blood after you’ve eaten them and if your body doesn’t need them right away they get stored for later, fat gets stored in your body as fat and carbohydrates get stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver, when those glycogen stores get full your body shifts carbohydrate storage to fat, instead. We’re focusing on insulin sensitivity today, which means we’re focusing mostly on carbohydrates.  

Insulin is the hormone responsible for carbohydrate usage in your body, once it’s been broken down into sugar. Every time you eat your blood sugar goes up and insulin is released so your body can use it in this order of priority, first to be used right away as instant energy, if your body doesn’t need that extra energy in that moment it goes to be stored as glycogen and when your glycogen stores are full it gets stored as fat.

When your glycogen stores are full, is when things start to get really interesting, not just because you’re storing more fat, but because your body starts producing more insulin to try and bring your blood sugar down. High blood sugar is dangerous and your body recognizes that, so it releases more and more insulin to try and bring your blood sugar down. However, the default for insulin is to take the sugar to the cell and try to use it right away or store it as glycogen first, before taking it to store it as fat, this constant barrage of insulin desensitizes your cells to it, which means your body needs to produce more insulin to bring your blood sugar down, desensitizing it even more, it’s a vicious cycle.  Over time your cells can become so desensitized to insulin your body can’t produce enough to bring your blood sugar down to healthy levels, this is called Type 2 Diabetes. We want to prevent Type 2 Diabetes from happening, because Type 2 Diabetes puts you at a significantly increased risk for heart disease, kidney failure and impaired blood circulation which leads to neuropathy, a loss of feeling and tingling in your feet and hands. Sometimes the circulation gets so bad you have to get your feet amputated, that’s what happened to my uncle Dave, he lost his feet. This is serious.   

Now, luckily Type 2 Diabetes is largely preventable and treatable with a proper diet, exercise, good sleep and good stress management. All of these things help, to improve your insulin sensitivity.  Good sleep and good stress management are really good for your hormonal profile and proper diet and exercise are good to control the amount of sugar in your body in the first place. This is our ‘wheel house’ and what we’ll cover here.

Insulin sensitivity can be maintained and improved by having a carbohydrate deficiency. This can be done by eating fewer carbohydrates than your body needs or exercising more so your body uses more carbohydrates as energy. Just like with fat loss though, it’s a lot easier to ‘burn’ sugar by not eating it in the first place, than it is to try and exercise it off. Which is why diet is a good place to start.

You can create a carbohydrate deficiency by not eating carbohydrates, especially refined sugar and flour based products. Foods that are refined tend to have a really high glycemic load and spike your blood sugar especially high. You can also do intermittent fasting, so not eating at all for 12 to 16+ hours at a time, but I’m not an intermittent fasting expert so I can’t get into the details of how to do that effectively I would recommend following someone like Ray Cronise for that.  

Now, you don’t need to avoid carbohydrates entirely, vegetables, including root vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash would be fine. Also, fruits are probably okay too especially berries, because they have a low glycemic load and tend to be relatively high in fibre. At the end of the day almost any fruit would be better than a refined sugar like chocolate or cookies, especially liquid sugar drinks like pop and yes even fruit juice. We have a good video in the show notes if you would like to check that out. If you’re not sure read the labels and use nutrition tracking software like my fitness pal to make your own educated decisions.

Another way to improve your insulin sensitivity is to exercise, now there is some debate about the intensity you should be exercising, but based on what I’ve read and experienced this is how I feel about it, some exercise is better than none, but more is usually best and the higher the intensity the more sugar you burn, so burn baby, burn.  

That’s it for today, but before you take off we have a special announcement to make, starting next week we’re going down to 3 episodes a week, for one simple reason. We want to start showing you more stuff instead of just telling you more stuff, you’ve been great and supportive up until this point and we appreciate all that you’ve done as a listening audience, but there are some things that are better suited for video and we want to show you there, because we feel it offers you the most benefit in that format.    
Our two main channels are going to be youtube and instagram, where we are Fitness For Freedom and Fitness_For_Freedom_1 respectively. If you still want great tips head over there because we are going to be very active on those platforms to pick up the slack.

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