Insulin Resistance

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Insulin resistance is one of the most challenging medical conditions to manage when it comes to weight loss. Not only do high levels of insulin circulating in the blood stream actively block fat metabolism meaning you physically cannot burn fat no matter how much you move or how little you eat but the cravings and fatigue can make you feel really dreadful. A diagnosis of insulin resistance often explains unexplained weight gain, an inability to lose weight, acne, fatigue, cravings and distinct abdominal weight gain.

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For some time we have known that diets that adjust the amounts of carbohydrates you are consuming over time, along with a higher protein diet supports slow, yet sustainable weight loss. Naturally the diets I write for women (mainly women) dealing with insulin resistance and PCOS, such as my Shape Me Insulin Resistance and PCOS plans, are jam packed with vegetables, and we generally get good weight loss results from this approach. Now we have some new evidence to show that simply loading our diet up with vegetables rich in the antioxidants B-carotene and B-cryptoxanthin, reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance by as much as 50%.

The study reported in the journal Nutrition & Dietetics tracked the dietary habits of almost 1000 men and women over 3 years and found that their intake of carotenoids found in bright orange, red and yellow veges such as carrots, pumpkin and red capsicum as well as leafy greens including spinach was related to a significantly reduced risk of developing insulin resistance. It appears that the powerful antioxidant molecules found in these vegetables help the blood vessels more flexible in dealing with the lifestyle stressors and not so susceptible to developing resistance to various hormones including insulin.

This finding gives more reason to load up on your brightly coloured vegetables. The minimum recommended intake is 5 serves per day, but I would be doubling this for optimal health and well-being. Ideally you want to include vegetables at every meal – spinach, tomatoes, vege juices at breakfast; large salads or soups with lunch and at least 2-3 cups of cooked vegetables at dinnertime. Remember to add some olive oil to help maximise nutrient absorption and the brighter the colour, the higher the nutrient content.

Eating more vegetables on a daily basis is the easiest step you can take towards weight control and now it seems fending off insulin resistance. Why wouldn’t you?

Sign up to my Shape Me Insulin Resistance plan here.

Recipe: Tomato & Basil

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8 large Roma tomatoes, halved crossways

1 red capsicum, quartered lengthways

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. caster sugar

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups reduced-salt chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup basil leaves


1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Line the base of a large roasting pan with baking paper. Arrange tomatoes and capsicum in a single layer in pan. Sprinkle with vinegar, oil, sugar and garlic and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Set aside.

3. Combine stock and tomato paste in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

4. Combine with tomatoes and capsicum and blend with basil leaves until smooth.