Are you having difficulty losing weight? Do the pounds just seem to stick to your middle section no matter how little you eat? Why is this? An elevated insulin level may be the culprit. Insulin is a hormone. Hormones are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs and tissues of the body to exert their functions. Insulin is secreted by groups of cells within the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and secretes other hormones in addition to insulin. Insulin’s main function is to allow our body’s cells to absorb glucose (sugar) from the blood. Carbohydrates (or sugars) are absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream after a meal. Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas in response to this elevation in blood sugar (blood glucose). Most cells of the body have insulin receptors which bind the insulin that is in the circulation. When a cell has insulin attached to its surface, the cell activates other receptors designed to absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into the inside of the cell.
Interestingly, insulin also prevents the utilization of fat as an energy source. Insulin locks your fat cells so the fat inside cannot be released and used as energy. This makes weight loss almost impossible. When insulin levels are maintained at a low level, the body begins to use fat as an energy source. High levels of insulin tell your body to gain weight around the belly and you become more apple-shaped over time. In essence, insulin is the get fat hormone. Toxic effects of too much insulin include: increased fat storage, increased inflammation levels, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia (high triglycerides and low HDL), poor sex drive, infertility, increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. The best way to lower your insulin level and keep it down to promote weight loss is to remove sugar and simple (refined) carbohydrates from your diet. Sugar or anything quickly turned into sugar (bread, rice, pasta, sweeteners, pastries, and pretzels) will quickly raise insulin levels. Eating a diet of lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (carbohydrates with a large amount of fiber, which slows the release of sugar into the intestine) is the best way to eat to keep your insulin levels low and to finally get rid of those difficult to lose pounds.