Insulin – the villain who makes you gain weight

In recent years the concept of losing weight by eliminating carbohydrates or avoiding food with a high Glycemic Index has become well known.

One of the main reasons why these diets work is that you in fact lower the insulin levels in your body. In fact, insulin is one of the main causes behind people gaining weight!

How insulin is making you gain weight

Insulin is a substance that is created in the pancreas when the levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood increase, which happens after eating food containing carbohydrates. When the insulin is released into the bloodstream, two things happen:

1. The insulin decreases the blood glucose level

The first effect of insulin is to make you feel full, and stop eating. All well there, since insulin is triggered just after eating. However, the next thing insulin does is to “force” blood sugar into the bodies cells to be used as fuel. That’s why you get an energy boost after eating something sweet. However, as soon as the sugar is removed from the blood stream, you get an energy dip. Low blood sugar also tells the body that there is no more food left, that more is urgently needed! Thus, a few hours after triggering insulin – by eating carbohydrates, you will get tired, even sleepy and then hungry again.

2. Insulin increases the storage of fat

Insulin also has another effect on the body which is truly bad if you’re trying to lose weight. It sends a signal to the body that there’s an overflow of energy and that the body should store all the fat it can get hold of. Not ideal when you’re trying to lose weight, right!

An example: when you eat a hamburger the following happens:
a. the white bread is quickly broken down in the body to glucose, which increases the blood sugar level.
b. when the blood glucose increases, the body reacts by producing insulin.
c. insulin ensures that the fat of the hamburger you ate is stored on your belly, bottom, thighs and other unflattering places.
d. insulin makes the blood glucose drop. You become hungry (even though you’ve just eaten), crave after sweets (since you now have low blood sugar) and feel like you have no energy.
e. since you now feel hungry again, you go and buy another hamburger and then consume more calories than you really need. As a result you gain even more weight.

If you had eaten only the white bread (carbohydrates) or only the actual hamburger (proteins and fat) the effect would have not been as bad; it’s the combination of fat and carbohydrates that is the problem!

To reduce insulin levels you could either reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your food as a whole, or eat food with carbohydrates that don’t encourage the body to produce that much insulin, i.e food with lower Glycemic Index, GI.

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