Function of Insulin

The basic function of insulin is to produce energy and regulate blood sugar. Our pancreas produces it naturally, although compatible commercial sources are available. Without it, we would die a slow painful death as many did before the 20th century. We usually connect insulin only with diabetes, but this hormone's role in metabolism and weight control is vital.

Converting sugar to energy

This hormones basic function is regulating carbohydrate metabolism. Without sufficient insulin, we can't use carbohydrates or glucose in the blood for energy. When this happens, our body has to use fat as an energy source. This sounds like a good thing right? The aim of low carb diets is to force your body to do exactly that - "go get all that stored energy from my thighs and use it to power my day you lazy bleep."

Insulin Deficiency

The downside - you knew there would be downside didn't you, is FATIGUE. Having to use fat as an energy source is not efficient. Often, people suffering from diabetes, first get medical help because they are exhausted. Without their favorite fuel, their cells starve. Insufficient glucose also makes you hungry!!!!

The Function of Insulin in Balancing Blood Sugar

Insulin also stores energy for future use and controls blood sugar with the help of glucagon.

blood sugar diagramToo much blood sugar is toxic and your body has to eliminate it if it can't use it or store it. It gets rid of it by flushing it out, which is why increased thirst, dehydration and urination are common symptoms of diabetes.

Your brain needs glucose (this is a priority), and with low blood sugar your body will go to great lengths to increase it. Such as releasing it from stores or increasing hunger and cravings from quick fix foods like sweets, chocolate and bread.

If it still can't get enough, it will break down muscle to make it, resulting in lowered metabolism from reduced muscle mass lowered metabolism from reduced muscle mass over time. For each diet, many people reduce their metabolism by 2%, which means they put on more weight than when they started

What is insulin excess?

If your blood sugar is high, your body's response is to pump out insulin. If this doesn't bring sugar levels down enough, it pumps out more. With insulin resistance, your cells are no longer sensitive to the hormone, so they don't respond and need more and more insulin to have any effect.

It's like when I am researching something, and I get to the point where there is so much information my brain says "enough!" If I try to read more, nothing registers - the light may be on, but my brain isn't home. It just closes off to any more input.

More insulin means more storage of fat. The overall effect is increased body fat, particularly around your waist, as well as other health effects like increased cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

Tip

Including as many vegetables as possible can make a difference to your weight loss goals. Many people have negative associations to eating vegetables. Plan your day's meals with lots of vegetables, including when and where to include them. If we are not prepared, it is too easy to take the path of least resistance.