Want to get healthy and lose weight? Reduce your insulin levels.

Food is medicine. I have said this many times. Is it really true? When it comes to losing weight and preventing disease – absolutely! Today we are going to talk about food, your insulin levels and your health.


First of all, what is insulin? Insulin is one of your body’s many hormones. The pancreas, in response to elevated blood sugar levels, releases insulin. Eating foods with sugar or foods that are easily turned into sugar, such as highly processed foods and simple carbs, elevate your blood sugar levels quickly. Insulin’s job is to keep your blood sugar level from getting too high. Insulin allows your body’s cells to remove the extra sugar in the blood. Without insulin, your cells would not have the ability to take in sugar (glucose). Your cells need insulin to be able to receive nourishment.


Eating excess sugar and simple carbs in your diet causes large amounts of insulin to be released into the bloodstream. Over time, your cells receive enough glucose (sugar), and do not need any more. If you continue to consume large amounts of sugar and simple carbs, the pancreas releases even more insulin. As a result, the pancreas is working overtime to push your blood sugar level back to normal. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult for even the increased levels of insulin to decrease the blood sugar levels back to normal. This continuous increased level of insulin in the blood is called hyper-insulinemia or insulin resistance. Eventually, if you still continue to consume large amounts of sugar and simple carbs, despite large amounts of insulin in your blood stream, the blood sugar level rises and you develop diabetes. The increased levels of insulin are ineffective.


Insulin is needed by everybody to keep his or her blood sugar levels in a normal range. A problem develops when insulin levels are chronically elevated. Insulin is the “get fat” hormone. Increased insulin levels directly lead to weight gain. If your insulin levels are high, you will be overweight. Increased insulin levels also lead to high blood pressure and to increased inflammation levels. Inflammation appears to be a greater risk factor for heart disease and stroke than cholesterol. Increased insulin may also lead to an increased cancer risk. Clearly, lowering your insulin levels is critical to good health.


How do you know if your insulin levels are high? If you have excess fat around your middle your insulin levels are probably high. Although, you may be tall or thin, short or fat or any combination and still have insulin resistance. If your fasting blood sugar level is greater that 100mg/dL, your insulin levels are high. If your fasting triglyceride levels are high, your insulin levels will also be high.


So how do you decrease your insulin levels? Here are some tips:


  • Stop eating flour and sugar products, especially high fructose corn syrup.
  • Don’t have liquid calories, like sugary sodas and juices. Your body doesn’t feel full from them anyway.
  • Stop eating all processed, junk or packaged foods. If it doesn’t look like the food it originated from, then stay away.
  • Slow the rate of sugar uptake from the gut through balancing your meals (low glycemic load) with healthy protein (nuts, seeds, beans, small wild fish, organic chicken), healthy carbs (vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, fish oil)
  • Eat plenty of soluble fiber (at least 30 grams a day)
  • Eat smaller more frequent meals
  • Exercise – regular aerobic exercise (20-30 minutes at a time, 4-5 times a week) will help decrease your blood sugar and insulin levels


Remember, what you eat directly affects your health through hormones. You can decrease your insulin levels directly through good nutrition and exercise. Ultimately, by decreasing your insulin levels you can lose weight and keep it off, decrease your risk of heart attack and strokes, and finally, also decrease your risk of cancer.


Author: drjeffgreenberg

Dr Greenberg is a clinical cardiologist who specializes in preventive cardiology, nutrition, exercise, and longevity. He favors using natural methods to improving one's health.

4 thoughts on “Want to get healthy and lose weight? Reduce your insulin levels.”

  1. while I dont agree on the premise of how insulin really works, the recommendations not only are spot on but if you follow this diet you can’t hurt yourself. by the way if you lower insulin levels (I would think to lower it you have to deal with the cellular resistance to it first because the sugar staying in the blood keeps insulin high doesn’t it?) doesn’t that reduce satitety? I was reading that insulin levels spike and create satity as the brain has receptors for it and gains the message of your energy and nutrient status, also I was reading some interesting stuff about glucose set point if your resistant to glucose (due to cellular malnutrtion inability to handle glucose including the brain) then it requires a higher concentration in your blood to overcome by osmosis, right? if your cells lack enough cholesterol sulfate they become squisy and cannot make lipid rafts for the glucose and hence the cell doesn’t want it, not that it is full otherwise why is it sending hunger signals to the brain. i would think it would be sending the full message instead. (seen a video on that how the cells cry for fuel but can’t access it due to it) the video didn’t explain why the cells can’t access it. anyway I read some articles from mit researchers who deal with this sorta of stuff. just wondering if insulin is not the problem but the malnutrtion that causes the cells inability to handle glucose anymre (and maybe other factors too our knowledge is so primitive on how our bodies function) your diet recommendation may just help get those nutrients it needs to be able to handle glucose again and the insulin levels can come on down. right now I am on a low carb diet (most of my carbs are from fruits and veggies this is not a hunter gather diet bythe way) I am only limiting it to about 800 caloires worth per day and see how I feel, plus supplements like vitad3 (I honestly believe I cannot produce it from the sun despite efforts at gaining it)cinnomon, gtf, and vita/min protein drink with probiotics I take a super green food to that is really helping my stomach alot)and lots of plain kefir. any other suggestions on this diet? I have eliminated grains simply because I am not hungry for it, but this elimination is only temporary until I can get feeling well again by adapting to this low carb (high meat low carb never worked for me neither did using any grain sources as part of my carb, fruits and veggies seem to be working the best for me right now) not that whole grains are bad but right now until I can access where I am they are eliminated.if you have any other advice I would appreciate it, this reverseing metablic syndrome (a life long problem for me) is really becoming a burden/challenge and frustrating too. I can’t seem to stick to any diets I have done so far, it is like my body starts to fight me after a couple of months, I am trying to make sure to eat as much fruit as I can per day.peachs, strawberries some banana, apples, grapefriut, I would eat some oranges if I had any. love watermelon but the past few years it has been difficult to find decent watermelon those seedless are popular but I don’t like them, not very sweet at all.

  2. I struggle with losing weight. I have PCOS which causes insulin resistance and makes it very difficult to lose weight. These are great tips. Thanks for the info.

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