Some of us know that we eat too much, or need to get to the gym more to lose weight but then there are those of us who know that our weight does not necessarily correspond to the diet and exercise choices we make. For some reason, even though we consume a calorie and carb controlled diet and exercise more than many people we know, we still can never seem to budge those kilos.
Whenever I see a client who comes to an appointment after battling weight issues for many years, and find that they are carrying 20-30 extra kilos, immediately I wonder if their insulin levels may be out of whack. Insulin is the hormone that controls both glucose and fat metabolism in the body, and high levels over time can make weight loss very difficult. Here are some of the tell-tale signs insulin resistance may be at the root of your weight issues and what you can do to identify and take control of it.
1. You are carrying an extra 20-30kg even though you honestly eat well and exercise.
It is easy to eat a bit extra and gain 5-10kg, but it is much harder to eat your way to 20-30kg of extra weight when you are eating relatively well and exercising regularly. For this reason, if you know that your lifestyle habits do not explain you weight and you find it impossible to lose weight even on a 1200-1400calorie, reduced carb meal plan, it may be worth a trip to your GP to organise a Glucose Tolerance Test.
2. You are very tired and craving sugars.
Extreme fatigue and cravings are commonly experienced by those who have glucose and insulin regulation issues as the cells are not getting their glucose supplies to fuel the muscles and the brain as efficiently as they should be.
3. You have a family history of Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes.
If you had GDM in pregnancy you are at high risk of developing Type 2 within 10 years of having your baby. As such, chances are your insulin could be a little out of whack which as exacerbated when you got pregnant. Family history of glucose dysregulation is one of the greatest signs you could be at high risk of developing insulin resistance.
4. Low carb diets once worked for you but they no longer do.
As removing carbs from the diet means that your insulin does not need to work very hard, low carb diets can mask insulin resistance. As such the first couple of times you followed a low carb diet, you may have lost weight BUT over time as the insulin resistance becomes more severe, you will not get the same weight loss results as the body moves more firmly into storage mode (insulin is a storage hormone storing both fat and muscle tissue).
5. Gym workouts, cross fit and weight programs lead you to gain weight.
As insulin is a storage hormone and as individuals with insulin resistance will have significantly more muscle mass than the average person, people with insulin resistance can gain muscle very quickly. So if you have been going to the gym with the aim of getting smaller, only to get bigger, again it may be a sign your insulin levels are abnormally high.
So what should I do?
Ultimately insulin resistance is a clinical medical condition which needs to be diagnosed and managed accordingly. If you feel you may be insulin resistant, you need to see a GP with interest in the area or an endocrinologist to have it diagnosed via a Glucose Tolerance Test. The best diet long term to support weight loss with insulin resistance is a tight calorie controlled plan with moderate levels of carbohydrate and protein.