Taking charge of your health and trying to lose weight is a huge step. But if you’re doing everything right yet still holding on to extra fat, there could be an underlying issue.
Insulin resistance is often missed by traditional testing, which can make it a lot harder for you to reach your weight loss goals. When your body doesn’t properly respond to insulin, cells begin to store more sugar.
At Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, we focus on explaining the connection between insulin resistance and weight loss so our Cincinnati patients can achieve their body goals.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is often the beginning stage of type 2 diabetes development. Long before a diabetes diagnosis, the body goes through unseen changes that you wouldn’t notice on your own. As a result, many people may be on the path toward diabetes without realizing. However, if you catch insulin resistance early, you can help prevent the condition’s progression.
Why does my body need insulin?
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas that regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels. When you eat, food turns into glucose then enters your bloodstream. This process triggers the pancreas to release insulin so glucose can properly enter the cells or be stored for later use.
As more and more glucose enters cells, glucose levels in your bloodstream and insulin decrease. Once this happens, the liver releases more glucose to ensure your body has enough energy even if you haven’t eaten in awhile.
In a healthy body, this process runs smoothly, but when you become insulin resistant, the process becomes unbalanced.
For example, when a lot of sugar enters the bloodstream, insulin levels skyrocket. Over time, the body stops reacting to the insulin. Insulin resistance forces the pancreas to put out more insulin to compensate. However, too much insulin drives too much sugar into your cells. As a result, excess sugar gets stored into fat cells, which can lead to fat gain, particularly in the midsection. As a result, insulin resistance and weight loss are a hard combination.
Symptoms of insulin resistance
Unfortunately, there aren’t any specific symptoms associated with insulin resistance. You may notice weight gain, difficulty losing weight, fatigue, or headaches two hours after a carbohydrate-rich meal and/or sugar cravings.
Other symptoms of insulin resistance include:
- Excess belly fat
- Difficulty losing weight
Even if you are experiencing symptoms, you never want to diagnose yourself. Instead you should seek medical help from a Cincinnati specialist for testing and treatment options.
Causes of insulin resistance
Similar to symptoms, there may not be a single cause behind your insulin resistance. However, with the help of your physician, you can narrow down what may have triggered the issue. This may include combining your medical and family history with your symptoms to reveal the bigger picture.
From our experience, here are some common causes of insulin resistance we have found:
- Being overweight (most common)
- Lack of physical activity
- Genetic predisposition
- Steroid use (for example, prednisone)
- Infection or severe illness
- Stress/adrenal dysfunction
- Dysbiosis (abnormal intestinal flora, lack of good bacteria in the gut)
- Food allergies/sensitivities
- Hormone imbalance
How to reverse insulin resistance
Insulin resistance doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. In fact, we highly recommend medical intervention before it’s too late. That way you can decrease the chances of developing diabetes and discover ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Testing and diagnosis
Before you start trying to reverse insulin resistance, you want to make sure you actually have insulin resistance. There’s no point in trying to treat something that doesn’t affect you!
Now, testing is where things can get a little tricky.
In many cases, a physician will perform a hemoglobin A1C test, which is used to diagnose both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. While the test is extremely effective at catching diabetes, it often misses someone with insulin resistance who could get diabetes later down the road. Obviously, this causes an issue.
People who are insulin resistant may still have normal blood sugar levels. For some, rather than causing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), insulin resistance may initially lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This may seem exactly opposite to what you’d expect, but let us explain.
Remember that blood sugar enters your cells so your body can use it as energy. Large amounts of sugar could have already entered your cells, leaving your bloodstream either at normal levels or even low levels.
For this reason, Amy Brenner, MD & Associates implements a more accurate test for people in the Cincinnati area. Our bagel glucose tolerance test recreates what actually happens when you eat food. Yes, you will actually eat a bagel, and we have a gluten free option.
The bagel test approach:
For our unique glucose tolerance test, we first give each patient a very specific carb load. Two hours before eating, we will take blood work to measure fasting insulin and blood sugar levels. Following this, you will eat a plain bagel (no butter) and jelly (there are also gluten-free options!)
Then, two hours after eating, we will do blood work again and test those same levels. This allows us to pick up on elevated insulin, which gives us insight into whether a patient is insulin resistant or not.
How do I prepare for a glucose tolerance test?
To prepare for a glucose tolerance test in Cincinnati, you need to avoid food and beverages for at least eight hours prior to the test. You may continue to drink water during this time.
Once you have been properly tested and diagnosed, you can begin treatment to help reverse insulin resistance. It’s important to add that effective treatment typically requires the help of a medical professional.
While there are definitely things you can do on your own to maintain healthy blood sugar levels (i.e. eating healthy, staying active, etc.), there’s nothing quite like working with a physician to steer you down the right path.
Different practices in Cincinnati may provide different care, but Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, only utilizes safe, research-based insulin resistance treatments.
Diet plans to treat insulin resistance
One of the biggest factors you should consider with insulin resistance and weight loss is diet. Therefore, after diagnosis, we highly recommend visiting with a wellness coach to help you build a proper diet plan.
Don’t let anyone tell you that a single diet will work for everyone. In truth, there is not a diet that will fit all people. Because of this, we customize each diet program to each patient. This considers their blood levels, food and lifestyle preferences, and more.
So yes, you may not receive the exact same plan as your friend, but that’s a good thing. The bottom line is that we only provide dietary programs that have been proven to reverse insulin resistance or even pre-diabetes.
Which diet plans are the best?
To be 100% honest, the best diet is the one you are most likely to stick with. But in general, the Ketogenic Lifestyle Program, Mediterranean, and Paleo diets are effective since they are lower carb diets.
We understand that diet changes are hard to make and even harder to stick with. As a “one stop shop” our medical providers work closely with our wellness coaches to provide ongoing support and guidance as you set goals and make sustainable changes.
Supplementation and medication
We don’t just stop with your diet. We combine our dietary modifications with supplements and, if needed, prescription medications. In doing so, we can directly target the cells’ sensitivities to insulin, therefore making an impact on your blood test results, weight, symptoms, and overall well being.
When it comes to hormone supplementation, many people don’t consider cortisol. Also known as the “stress hormone,” cortisol plays a huge role in insulin levels. To monitor this, we provide blood work and saliva testing, then we incorporate your results into your long-term treatment plan.
At the end of the day, we use supplements and medications with a comprehensive diet plan to intervene early. So not only can we help you control your health, we can also help make insulin resistance and weight loss a problem of the past.
Learn more about insulin resistance and weight loss with Amy Brenner, MD & Associates
Let our health experts help you discover the connection between insulin resistance and weight loss. As a medspa and medical practice, we have the unique ability to not only boost your overall health, but also help you enhance your outer beauty with aesthetic treatments.
We’re here to offer a warm, friendly environment while providing the highest quality aesthetic treatments and wellness plans to help you look great and feel great. No matter what, we will stick with you throughout your entire journey, because your goals are our goals.
Get started today by using our virtual consultation tool or scheduling an appointment.