Ways to Manage Insulin Sensitivity

Do you spend a lot of time exercising and eating well with no payoff? If you’re scratching your head over your weight loss plateau you may be suffering from low insulin sensitivity, which can occur when your diet consists of too many simple carbohydrates (sugars) and the body becomes resistant to digesting these carbs and absorbing their nutrients and we are unable to shed weight and may even gain more weight in response.

Worse still, the pancreas will begin producing excess amounts of insulin in an attempt to balance blood sugar levels until fatigue—that’s typically when type 2 diabetes and thyroid issues start to occur. Luckily, you can reverse the effects of insulin sensitivity and minimize the associated health risks using these tactics…

Cut Simple Carbs

We’re not telling you to suddenly go on a low carbohydrate diet here; however, it is wise to ditch the simple and processed carbs (particularly those high in simple sugars) for carbs that are fresh (i.e., fruits and vegetables) and complex in nature (i.e., whole grains, quinoa, and brown rice and whole grain pasta).

Encourage Slow Digestion

As your body digests food, insulin works to quickly convert food nutrients to fuel for your muscles. This is why a gradual digestion, and in turn, nutrient release is a lot healthier. You can slow insulin release in the bloodstream by consuming foods that take longer to digest, for instance, (good) fatty fish, raw nuts, fibrous whole grains, and lean proteins.

Sprinkle With Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that goes nice on just about everything—morning cereal, baked goods, even coffee.  However, the aromatic spice may also help control insulin levels, according to Paul Davis, a research nutritionist at the University of California, claims that cinnamon can help decrease fasting blood glucose by 5-percent, as well as lipid levels (i.e., (bad) LDL cholesterol and triglycerides).

Get Your Sleep

The debate of what comes first—lack of sleep or risk of developing diabetes—is a never-ending debate. However, research from University of Texas’ Stark Diabetes Medical Center claims that diabetes and poor sleep go hand in hand. Lack of sleep is linked to causing dangerous hormone fluctuations, which often result in the inevitable binging on high sugar foods for energy, and dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels.

Focus On Whole Foods

A balanced whole food approach to eating remains the very best way to control insulin sensitivity. Medical doctors recommend a diet that focuses on whole, fresh foods that are rich in fruits and veggies, high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and low in simple sugars and starches.

Exercise Daily

You can help manage insulin sensitivity by making physical activity a daily part of life. This doesn’t mean you have to run a half marathon right off the bat—start gradually by walking for 30-minutes per day and be sure to incorporate activities you enjoy, like dancing, walking the dog, and gardening—as long as you’re moving your insulin sensitivity and energy will improve.

Manage Stress

Stress can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, so it’s no surprise that excess, long-term stress can cause insulin sensitivity, resistance, abdominal weight gain, and contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Manage your stress levels by finding ways to decompress—with meditation, yoga, massage, relaxation, and by pampering yourself with a spa day.

Shed Excess Weight

Once you begin a new approach of eating more whole, fresh foods, lowering stress levels, doing daily physical activity, and banishing simple sugars and starches from your diet, you will notice that your energy will improve and the weight will begin to come off again as insulin sensitivity improves.

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.