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How to improve insulin resistance

Fatigue? Sugar cravings? Midsection weight gain? Struggle losing weight? These are all signs of insulin resistance, and there’s at least a 1 out of 3 chance you have it (higher chance over 50).

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that stimulates muscle, liver and fat tissue cells to store sugar. Insulin resistance is simply having chronically elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia). Untreated, it can lead to type 2 diabetes.

The problem isn’t insulin; it’s the body’s response to insulin. Cells in your muscles, body fat, and liver stop responding to the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out – which is to take glucose out of the bloodstream and store it in cells.

Besides the daily annoyance of low energy and weight gain, other symptoms of insulin resistance include high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, thyroid issues and mood disorders. Insulin resistance also increases the risk of more severe ailments like heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. Untreated, it can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. You can take many effective actions to improve or even reverse insulin resistance. These include:

Prioritise sleep: Even one night of poor sleep can increase insulin resistance. Prioritise going to bed on time and practice good sleep hygiene.

Manage stress: Blood sugar increases with stress, and it’s shown that reducing stress can positively affect blood sugar. Incorporate stress-reducing practices such as meditation or deep breathing.

Eat fewer carbs: Lowering your carbohydrate intake, especially starchy or sugary carbs, can help reduce insulin resistance. When having carbohydrates such as potatoes or pasta, eat them with a protein to minimise the blood sugar spike.

Exercise: Any exercise, such as walking, helps to reduce insulin resistance. Strength training is especially helpful in lowering insulin resistance.

Lose weight: Weight loss helps insulin resistance, but insulin resistance also makes it harder to lose weight. Focus on reducing insulin with the other tips listed here when losing weight.

Practice time-restricted eating:, eat less often. Give your body a 12-hour rest from food daily (for example, eat dinner at 7 pm and breakfast at 7 am). Eat your planned meals or snacks throughout the day but avoid grazing in between.

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