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Thoughtful Thursday… Intermittent Fasting and Insulin (Part 1)

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

If you’ve been following the GreenNote Fitness newsletter for any length of time, chances are you have read a fair amount about intermittent fasting and its many benefits including weight loss, reduced inflammation, increased energy and mental clarity, and as a way to reduce the effects of aging on the brain, to name but a few. What if you wanted to use intermittent fasting as a strategy for insulin resistance? What would that look like? We are going to cover that subject in a two part series. Even if you aren’t insulin resistant, it will be helpful to know how important it is to manage and guard against consistent spikes in insulin. So let’s get ready for part 1!

Insulin

We will start with some definitions. Insulin is an essential hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. The insulin produced is released into the blood stream and travels throughout the body. It helps control the amount of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), lipids (fats), and proteins in the blood. It also regulates the functions of the body’s cells, including their growth. Insulin is critical for the body’s use of glucose as energy.

Insulin Resistance

With insulin resistance, the body’s cells don’t respond normally to insulin. Glucose (sugar) can’t enter the cells as easily and it builds up in the blood. This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. If you want to live a long time, control your glucose. As Dr. Dan Pompa explains, fasting is the very best way to control glucose and insulin. With fasting, the body learns to feed from itself and maintain optimal glucose levels.

How does fasting improve insulin sensitivity?

Great, we know that with fasting the body learns how to feed from itself but what exactly is going on? As Dr. David Jocker’s explains,

“...During times of food abundance, the body desensitizes the cells to insulin in an effort to avoid the stress of a heavy calorie intake. This results in elevated insulin levels, increased fat storage and increased oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions in the body.

Fasting has been shown to reduce insulin secretions and improve cellular insulin sensitivity. This results in the body better using insulin so that less insulin is needed when we do consume food. By reducing the overall demand for insulin, we reduce inflammation in the body and improve HGH [Human Growth Hormone] levels."

Insulin resistance is about more than just high insulin levels

I’ve heard a few interviews on the subject of intermittent fasting and heard a really good explanation of the problem with insulin levels. As the world-leading expert on intermittent fasting (especially for treating people with type 2 diabetes), Dr. Jason Fung discusses, insulin resistance is not just about high levels, but it’s the persistence of those levels.

“If you become very insulin resistant, then your insulin levels are up all the time, your body is always trying to shove the energy into the fat cells, and then you feel cold and tired and lousy. That’s the real problem. Resistance really depends on two things. It’s not simply the high levels, but it’s the persistence of those levels. What people have realized is that the insulin resistance, because it depends on those two things, a period of time where you can get your insulin levels very low is going to break that resistance because it breaks that persistence. Not simply the levels, but the persistence of those levels.”

Think about if you are constantly eating, snacking or drinking sugary drinks. It doesn’t give your digestion a chance to rest, instead your energy is being used to digest and your insulin levels remain high - something we do not want. Intermittent fasting is one of the quickest ways to reset your insulin sensitivity.

Summary

We’ve looked at insulin and insulin resistance and how the persistent high levels of insulin is problematic. We’ve touched upon how fasting will improve insulin sensitivity. As you can see, there is much information surrounding insulin and intermittent fasting. In Part 2 we will dive into the what intermittent fasting looks like for resetting insulin levels.

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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