Let’s face it, losing weight is hard, and it’s easy to get frustrated when it seems like so many issues work against you. One way you can make your weight-loss journey a little easier is to control your insulin levels, changing your diet to prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin.
When you’re ready to dig in and lose those extra pounds, our team at East Bay Wellness, led by James Stalker, DC, offers the information, support, and motivation you need to reach your goals and move forward into an exciting, fulfilling life.
Call our office in San Ramon, California, if you have weight-loss questions. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about controlling your insulin through your diet.
How insulin promotes weight gain
After you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar (glucose) rises. High blood sugar triggers the pancreas to release insulin, then insulin rushes into your bloodstream and escorts the sugar out of your blood and into cells that need it for energy.
When there’s more sugar in your bloodstream than is needed by cells, insulin communicates with your liver, telling it to turn excess sugar into triglycerides. Then the triglycerides are sent to fat cells for storage.
Additionally, insulin can transport blood sugar directly into fat cells, where the sugar is converted into fatty acids, adding more fat to the storage bank. And to add to your insulin-induced weight gain, insulin also prevents stored fat from being used for energy.
Since insulin does a great job of storing fat, it doesn’t take long for high levels of insulin to make you gain weight. But you can support weight loss by managing your diet to keep insulin levels under control. Here’s how to do it:
Control your total carb consumption
Controlling your total daily carb consumption can be done in several ways. You can keep track by checking the food labels for the grams of carbs per serving, or you can download a carb tracker to your computer or smartphone. You may want to use a simple carb counting list that shows the grams of carbs in specific portions of food.
Determining your optimal carb intake is a little trickier. As a general guideline, carbs should make up 45-65% of your total daily calories, but we can help you set a daily carb goal that works for your health and weight-loss plans.
Spread your carbs out in equal portions throughout the day
When you don’t eat all day, then get all your carbs in one meal, your bloodstream is bombarded with an excessive amount of sugar. As a result, levels of insulin go sky high. The goal is to prevent these extreme spikes in sugar and insulin. Eating several evenly spaced meals throughout the day that each provides a smaller portion of carbs keeps insulin levels steady.
Manage the types of carbs in your daily diet
All carbs are not created equal when it comes to their impact on your blood sugar. There are three main types of carbs: sugars, starch, and fiber.
Sugars, such as table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), and fruit sugar (fructose), consist of pairs of sugar molecules that are quickly digested into the simple sugar glucose and rapidly flow into your bloodstream, causing spikes in blood sugar and high levels of insulin.
Starch is a large, complex carbohydrate, so it takes longer to digest and enters your bloodstream slowly. As a result, starches from whole grains, vegetables, and beans have only a moderate impact on blood sugar levels. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are an exception because they can significantly raise your insulin. You can minimize their impact by eating small portions.
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that’s naturally found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and peas. However, it’s unique because it doesn’t raise blood sugar. Fiber helps you maintain steady insulin levels by slowing down sugar digestion.
Here’s the bottom line. When using your diet to control insulin, you’ll need to avoid or limit sweets, refined foods like white bread, and products with added sugar such as sweetened beverages and breakfast cereals. The bulk of your daily carbs should come from starches and high-fiber foods, such as veggies and beans.
Round out your diet with protein and fat
Proteins and fats don’t contain carbs on their own, so they don’t affect blood sugar or insulin levels. Like fiber, they also slow down carb digestion.
Counting carbs and restricting refined foods and sweets does more than help control insulin; it also helps you fight body-wide inflammation caused by high sugar consumption. To learn more about using whole foods and a healthy meal plan to control insulin and lose weight, call East Bay Wellness or schedule an appointment online.