Intermittent Fasting and Insulin Resistance

Intermittent fasting, also known as a time-restricted eating plan, is a meal schedule that integrates controlled intervals of eating and fasting. 

Although this periodic eating pattern was discovered in 1940, Intermittent Fasting is now gaining popularity after being widely and openly accepted by A-List celebrities like Jeniffer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Nicole Kidman. 

While Intermittent fasting is celebrated for effectively facilitating weight loss by simultaneously providing you with a nutritionally balanced diet, there are more benefits to this eating practice than you may think of. 

From achieving your goal weight, increasing your metabolism, and regulating cholesterol levels, to even improving your blood sugar levels, Intermittent fasting has a myriad of benefits. 

In fact, intermittent fasting has been proven to treat insulin resistance in individuals during the diabetic and pre-diabetic stages. 

If you are interested in learning about how Intermittent Fasting affects insulin resistance in the body, here is all you need to know Intermittent Fasting and Insulin Resistance.

What is Insulin?

Your body is a self-regulating machine equipped with mechanisms and functions that are vital to your health. 

Hormones are one such mechanism that contributes significantly to one’s overall health and wellness.

In fact, the human body comprises about 70 different hormones that govern and facilitate different functions to promote optimum wellness. 

While the 70 hormones that circulate through your body have some effect on your overall health, insulin is among the most important hormones. 

Insulin is a form of peptide hormone produced by beta cells present in the pancreatic islets that are encoded in humans by the INS gene. 

Insulin is considered the main anabolic hormone in the human body that allows glucose to enter the body to further convert it into energy.

How does Insulin Work?

The human body requires glucose to produce energy for sustenance, however, most cells in the body are unable to absorb glucose. 

To help solve this problem and aid in the absorption of glucose into the body, insulin comes to your aid. 

Upon eating food items that are rich in carbohydrates the body begins to break the practicals down to glucose (sugars). 

The glucose is then passed down to the bloodstream and increases the blood sugar levels in the body and alerts the pancreas to distribute insulin. 

Once the insulin has been released it attaches itself to the cells and allows sugars to enter the body to be converted into energy. 

If you have consumed an excessive amount of sugar than your body immediately requires, the glucose is then stored in the fat cells present in the body to be utilized when necessary. 

Insulin ideally helps maintain and regulate blood sugar levels in the body to prevent the glucose level from getting low leading to a condition known as hypoglycemia or raising higher also known as hyperglycemia.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is a health condition when the cells present in the fat, liver, and muscles are unable to respond to the insulin and are unable to convert glucose in the bloodstream as energy. 

As the human body is a self-healing mechanism, as a response to make up for the lack of energy the pancreas begins to distribute more insulin into the bloodstream, often leading to your blood sugar levels going up. 

Insulin resistance can be associated with health problems like obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. 

Insulin Resistance can be developed due to unhealthy eating habits incorporating excess carbohydrates and sugars. 

This is because as these excessive sugars rapidly enter the bloodstream, the pancreas begins to continually produce insulin, however, the pancreas cannot keep it forever.

What are the symptoms of Insulin Resistance?

Determining whether you have insulin resistance can be quite difficult as it cannot be felt, instead, a physician will consult you to get a blood test to check your blood sugar levels. 

However, to determine if you have insulin resistance you look for the following signs:

  • Underlying medical conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • Waistline above 40 for men and 35 for women
  • Glucose levels over 100 milligrams per deciliter during fasting 
  • Triglycerides levels over 150 milligrams per deciliter during fasting 
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Tingling sensation in hands and feet
  • Constant hunger 
  • Extreme thirst

Does Intermittent Fasting have any effects on insulin production?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern or an eating schedule based on distributed intervals of fasting and eating. 

According to some nutritionists, it is an efficient way of reducing access to body fat as the individual is promoted to consume only one meal per day in the span of a few weeks. 

This strategic pattern of eating and fasting works tremendously in terms of facilitating weight loss and enhancing one’s metabolism. 

While Intermittent fasting is primarily adopted for its amazing results in terms of helping you lose weight, its secondary benefit is how it affected the insulin levels in the body. 

Constantly eating can raise your insulin levels and blood sugar levels, and intermittent fasting helps regulate the levels of insulin in the body by preventing you from consuming excess carbohydrates and calories.

How does Intermittent Fasting help with Insulin Resistance?

Studies have indicated that therapeutic fasting like intermittent fasting can help reverse the effects of insulin resistance on the body. 

By extending your meal times by fasting for prolonged periods of time, you are able to assess the stored energy present in the fat cells. 

Once the stored energy present in the fat cells is regularly depleted, the insulin resistance in the body simultaneously improves.

Which Intermittent Fasting schedule is best for Insulin resistance?

Intermittent fasting helps break down the endless cycle of repeatedly consuming excess calories by extending the timing between your daily meals. 

However, intermittent fasting itself can become quite difficult when you have insulin resistance, hence it is recommended to start off slow and gradually build your tolerance for fasting. 

Hence to build a gradual tolerance for intermittent fasting you can start by fasting for 12 hours a day, proceed to 13 hours, and slowly make it 14 hours. 

Based on the level of insulin resistance in your body, it can take up to months to reach the point of efficiently practicing the 16:8 intermittent fasting plan.

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