Q: My doctor said I’m insulin resistant and should lose weight. I feel fine. I’m not fat, I just have a small pot belly. What should I do?
Listen to your doctor. Most people who are insulin resistant don’t know it until years later when they’re diagnosed with Type II Diabetes or heart disease. Insulin resistance is part of a group of traits linked to obesity and overweight. People who are insulin resistant or have three or more of the following factors are at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease and/or Type II Diabetes:
• Waist size over 40” for men, 35” for women
• High triglycerides > 150 mg/dl
• Low good “HDL” cholesterol: below 40 mg/dl for men, 50 mg/dl for women
• High blood pressure (above 130/85)
• High fasting blood glucose levels of 100 mg/dl or above
Insulin plays a huge role in how the body converts food into energy. After eating, food (your fuel) is converted to glucose (sugar), which travels through the bloodstream to the muscles to be burned off for energy. The hormone testosterone unlocks the doorway for glucose to enter the muscles. If you don’t have enough testosterone in your system, blood sugar stays high. In turn, the pancreas sends out more insulin to lower the blood sugar, triggering a sudden drop. Low blood sugar produces hunger and cravings, so you eat, and the cycle of highs and lows starts over again. Eventually, your body becomes more and more insulin resistant; and the liver begins to convert excess glucose into fat. Once this happens, the risk of diabetes and disease rises along with your weight, which will accumulate around your middle.
Losing weight is the first step to reducing insulin resistance. Avoid highly processed foods that create rapid blood sugar spikes and drops in favor of fresh, whole foods. Have your doctor check for underlying health issues like low thyroid and low testosterone. You can turn this around – now is the time.