Lighten the load on insulin
Insulin is a diligent employee of the body who doesn’t get enough credit these days for all of its hard work. Sure it causes weight gain, but insulin is not to blame – it’s just doing its job.
Insulin has multiple responsibilities, mostly to do with finding somewhere to stash glucose so it isn’t running rampant through the body. The brain puts insulin to work, based on our blood sugar levels. While insulin’s job is meant to help us by protecting cells from the corrosive impacts of sugar – the manifestations of its work cause more harm than good.
Insulin’s four primary jobs :
- Glycogen synthesis – Insulin is responsible for replenishing the fuel supply of glucose within muscles and the liver. For those who perform intense and enduring activity on a regular basis, or tear and repair muscle fibre through strength training, glycogen stores need continual refilling. But for most of us, glycogen’s storage capacity is already capped, which leads to…
- Fat synthesis – Yikes, yes. When we have no use or room for more fuel in glycogen, insulin will take that glucose and convert it into fat, and send it to fat cells, thereby increasing body fat. Yes, body fat is simply an accumulation of stored fuel – most often carbohydrate derived. Since we rarely have a need to dip into fat cells for energy. Eventually fat cells get full too, but insulin keeps right on going.
- Esterification of fatty acids – This is when fats cells are filled up, and the body begins to make more fat cells from fatty acids. This picture isn’t looking so good. Insulin, however, is programmed and determined to keep on socking fuel away into compartments. Why? That’s its job. As long as we keep consuming, it will keep right on finding a place to put all that fuel.
- Amino acid uptake – Amino acids will first be taken up by muscle for repair and building, also thanks to insulin. This is a positive and necessary thing for increasing strength and stamina. However, eating too many calories from protein will also lead to the conversion of amino acids into fat. This is a rare occurrence. We have to be eating a lot of food to be sending protein to fat cells, but it does happen.
All four of these actions would be fine is we went without food on a semi regular basis. Nowadays, however, we’re rarely in depletion mode, and not accustomed to being in a catabolic state (breaking down stored fuel for energy). Since our brain is in the habit of getting regular doses of food, it is belligerent with us if we suddenly deprive it. It would not be much fun to go for days without food. But to eat less on a daily basis is possible, and to respect the role insulin plays and not put it to work unnecessarily.
If insulin works overtime, fat cells fill up
For the average five litres of blood travelling through our body at any given time, the brain will only safely tolerate a teaspoon of sugar at a time. More than that, and insulin’s workload increases. Eventually, insulin will get tired of overworking and quit. Then the manifestations of excess glucose and calories will be more pervasive than carrying extra weight around. Metabolic syndrome is followed by diabetes and cardiovascular disease – all the result of high blood sugar levels for too long a time.
Better to let insulin alone, so it will protect us when we do happen to need it.