I want to explain how insulin affects fat loss in the simplest of term and be as non-scientific as possible. So for anyone who needs a deeper explanation, you might need to look somewhere else. Below is a diagram that we will use to discuss how insulin works for fat loss.
FAT ADAPTED VS SUGAR ADAPTED
When you are fat adapted your body uses primarily fats as it’s main fuel source. When you are sugar adapted it uses primarily carbs for fuel.
How The Process Works When Eating Correct Ratio Of Carbs Consumed vs Carbs Burned
- Eat a carb (sugar)
- Body release the insulin hormone to clear out the sugar
- It pulls all the sugar it can into it’s muscle bellies as glucose
- The body has a limit to how much total glucose it can store
Too Many Carbs
- Same process as before
- However, now we’ve filled the muscle bellies and you still have sugar in the blood stream
- Insulin has to clear the blood stream, so it takes the excess carbs in, turns them into blood fat, and stores them into adipose tissue (fat cells)
- When you become fat adapted, your body then utilizes the Krebs cycle to create energy. Krebs actually is a more efficient process and you are able to create usable energy this way.
- Every organ in your body uses fat in it’s processes so it doesn’t store away much in excess.
- Remember, adipose tissue (fat cells) are not the same as fat from food. I think that’s a very important take away to not forget.
- When fat adapted the body utilizes it and breaks it down much easier for all processes. It also can then convert adipose tissue (fat cells) when it needs more energy. So then it will start depleting those excess fat cells.
- When we run out of glucose and are sugar adapted, our body creates cravings to feed again. It can go to the Krebs cycle over time if it isn’t fed, but in today’s society we eat as soon as those hunger cravings happen so it doesn’t need to pull from the fat cells to create energy.
Can I Gain Weight Being Fat Adapted
- Yes you can, however, only if you are in a calorie surplus. So if you are consuming more calories then your body requires, then yes, you will eventually turn that into body fat. So there still is a calories in vs calories out equation.
- But with carbs, that equation doesn’t work because they are stored when the body cannot use them right away.
INSULIN RESISTANT VS INSULIN SENSITIVE
- When you are insulin resistant, it pretty much means your insulin hormone is running the show and can call on cravings like crazy.
- When you are insulin sensitive, insulin releases only when food is put in the system. You don’t have near the cravings as it realizes it has done it’s job and moves on.
What Happens When I’m Insulin Resistant
- Same process as the too many carbs example as above.
- However, it goes a little crazy and doesn’t have a proper off switch.
- So once it eliminates all the sugar it feels like it still needs to work so it sends out a craving signal.
- You then eat more carbs.
- But this time your muscle bellies are completely full so instead of 90% going to muscles now 0% is going there, so 100% is now being turned into body fat.
- Insulin did its job of clearing it again, then it does this again. The more insulin resistant you are the worse these episodes become until eventually you may become diabetic.
How Do I Become Insulin Sensitive
- Drop your body fat percentage. This is the most important factor.
- Go low carb. This will allow you to at least reduce the effect of insulin, and you can always go back to higher carb when you achieve insulin sensitivity.
- These numbers don’t mean that you are truely insulin resistance or sensitive, but these are the markers that we find to best tell if someone is moving in one direction or another.
- Body fat % of a male above 20% will move towards resistance.
- Body fat % of a female above 28% will move them towards resistance as well.
Call To Acton
- If you work out 1 hour or less a day, stay on a lower carbohydrate diet (20%) or less.
- Don’t snack as it increases insulin spikes throughout the day.
- Increase your insulin sensitivity by reducing your body fat.
- Adipose tissue (fat cells) are not the same as fat from food. I think that’s a very important take away to not forget.