In today’s vlog, I’m sharing about how to reverse insulin resistance naturally. You might have seen my previous video “10 signs your insulin resistant”. Now if you had any of those signs or symptoms I highly recommend you stay tuned to this video and watch (or read) to the end because I think number four is going to surprise you.
What is Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is one of the key features of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is actually a composite of a number of health conditions and the CDC estimates that about 35 percent of Americans actually have metabolic syndrome. There is also another recent study that stated that 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy. That means only 12 percent of Americans are metabolically healthy! One of the key reasons is insulin resistance.
The great news is that insulin resistance is reversible through diet and lifestyle changes. Today I’m going to share with you four different strategies to help you reverse insulin resistance this year!
Track Blood Sugar
One of the first things that I’ll recommend to my clients who have insulin resistance or signs of insulin resistance is to have them start to track their blood sugar. There are a couple of ways. My favorite way is to use a CGM (continuous glucose monitor). This is a little device that goes on the back of your arm. I use this on and off myself to help keep track of foods that might be causing any blood sugar spikes.
The reason why you’d want to track glucose is that insulin rises in response to blood sugar spikes. So the more spikes you have throughout the day the more insulin goes into your body. If you reduce those spikes if you stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day you can improve insulin sensitivity. The great thing about a CGM is that you’ll be able to see real-time time what’s happening in your body after consuming certain foods and even in a certain order. I’m going to talk a little bit about the order of eating foods in tip number 2. I love the real-time values that a CGM can give you.
If you don’t have a CGM or can’t afford it, there is a much more affordable option and that is a simple blood glucose monitor. It’s like a little device that has a test strip. You prick your finger and put a little bit of blood on the test strip to see your results. You could test that throughout the day. The general rule of thumb, that I like to use with my clients, is to have them test before eating a meal, again at 30 minutes, one hour and then finally 2 hours. You should be getting back to your baseline two hours after eating a meal.
Be Smart with Carbs
Number two, be smart with carbs. The average American consumes about 250 grams of carbs per day. Think back to that number of metabolically unhealthy people in America and that number being around 88. One of the reasons is because of that high consumption of carbs. Keeping your carbs down below 100 grams per day can help improve glycemic variability, that is it can help reduce the glycemic variability and reduce spikes throughout the day.
It’s not enough to simply reduce the amount of carbs that you consume in a day, it’s also really important in the order that you eat those carbs. There are a couple of different tricks and I go into a little bit more detail in my how to lose weight over 40 video. The way that I would order carb eating would be at the end of a meal.
Start with fat, fiber and protein first. Protein can include meat, chicken or a fish source. These are all low carb, complete protein sources. Vegetables can provide the fiber including dark leafy greens. Fats can include olive oil, avocado oil, ghee, coconut oil or butter. Then you have the carbs at the end of the meal. If I were looking at a plate for instance and I did have something like a sweet potato I would eat the sweet potato last.
The other trick that you can use when it comes to having some carb, say you want a piece of fruit, if you’re eating something like an apple pairing that with something with fat and protein can help reduce that blood glucose spike. This will help improve insulin sensitivity.
Another tip that I have with regard to being smart with carbs is to avoid fruit juice! Same goes with most smoothie recipes as well. Many smoothie recipes tend to be a little bit heavier with some fruits such as tropical fruits ( bananas or mangoes) which are high glycemic. Even though you’re grinding it all together and they have some amount of fiber in the smoothie, it’s still going to spike your blood glucose levels. So if you want to have a smoothie during your breakfast or at some point in the day, again the same rule would apply – you would have it after having some sort of protein and fat and fiber to help buffer the impact of that smoothie. I generally recommend to avoid smoothies and focus instead on consuming Whole Foods.
Number three, exercise! Skeletal muscles account for 75 to 95 percent of glucose uptake. Muscles are really really important when it comes to improving insulin resistance. When you design an exercise program including weight lifting or resistance training (it could be body weight resistance training) is really important. This doesn’t have to be an hour every single day that you’re doing this kind of resistance training. It could simply be 10 to 15 minutes a day just five days a week. Maybe if you want to have a more intense exercise program, or you go to the gym, maybe you do this three times a week. This will help build muscle and improve insulin resistance by quite a bit.
Aerobic activity, and I know that there’s quite a bit of discussion around aerobic activity, most studies that I’ve reviewed include aerobic activity as being a really good option for improving insulin resistance. I would caveat that aerobic activity can also cause a certain amount of stress on the body. If you are like most women I work with over 40, you’re probably already fairly stressed. It’s possible you might even have some adrenal fatigue or dysregulation. If this is you I would recommend not doing really intensive aerobic activity. Instead focusing on more mild aerobic activity such as long walks throughout the day or biking to and from your office.
While you’re adding more exercise to your week it’s really important to pay attention to protein intake. We need protein in order to build muscle and as we age we need to increase that protein in order to save our muscle mass. Aiming for about 100 grams of protein a day can really make a huge difference, not only in the development of muscle mass, but it could also improve your energy levels.
Number four start meditating. When we’re stressed, cortisol levels increase. When cortisol levels increase, it can result in a blood glucose spike causing a release of insulin in the body. You might notice this if you wear a CGM. You might notice that on days where you’re particularly stressed your blood glucose levels might spike shortly after that stressful event. Maybe it’s a stressful meeting, maybe it’s just that you’re noticing your blood glucose levels don’t really decrease. This is a response to a spike in cortisol levels. So by meditating and calming the nervous system, you can help improve your insulin sensitivity.
I’d love to hear in the comments below which of these strategies you’re already implementing and which ones you plan to implement in 2023 and thanks again for watching! I will see you next week.