In my hectic practice as a Nurse Practitioner at an ER clinic, I wish I had the time to coach every one of my patients on how to reclaim their life and be free of pain and disease. That’s why I became a certified health coach and functional medicine practitioner. I don’t know how I do all three PLUS raise four kids! One of the conditions I’d like to help my patients better understand is weight gain caused by insulin resistance. 

What is Insulin Resistance? 

Some of my functional medicine clients could’t understand before working with me why they had put on weight. They swore that they’d started eating better and even began an exercise routine. Yet in a cruel twist of fate, the extra body fat not only wasn’t melting, my clients were actually packing on the pounds. 

Why is that, they wondered? 

I like to tell my clients who are frustrated with unexplained weight gain that it’s not their fault. Rather, it’s their insulin that’s responsible. Insulin resistance to be exact. 

Just like you can be more resistant to a prescription over time, like say a sleeping pill, your body can become resistant to insulin. In case you don’t know what insulin is, it’s the main hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. Produced by specialized cells in the pancreas, insulin drives sugar from the food you eat into your 37.2 trillion cells (give or take a few trillion). 

Benefits of Insulin

It’s a great thing we have insulin because of two reasons. First, it removes sugar from the blood. If sugar weren’t driven out of the blood circulation into the cells, your body would have no energy from the food you eat. And secondly, without insulin blood sugar can get dangerously high, potentially leading to coma or even death. 

So thank you insulin.  

Why Insulin Resistance Occurs

To sum up how insulin resistance works, think of it this way: You eat a meal. Insulin gets released from the pancreas. But then your cells refuse entry to insulin. The sugar from the food you eat gets stored as body fat. Then you feel tired and hungry. Then you eat. And then your pancreas has to make more insulin. 

Why does the body have to make more insulin? 

If you’re consuming way more carbs than your body can burn off, your pancreas has to work overtime to secrete more insulin. If you eat lots of grains, including cereal, pasta, bread, baked goods and anything with wheat or white flour, you may become insulin resistant. 

Insulin resistance can also occur from eating way too much protein. No matter what you eat, unfortunately, any excess accumulated fat in your cells prevents insulin from doing its job of regulating blood sugar levels (blood glucose). 

“Don’t eat carbs. Don’t eat protein. Then WTF should I eat???” 

Hey, I understand how frustrating it can be. And if you need help figuring out how to lower your blood sugar level and become more sensitive to insulin (one time when it’s good to be sensitive) that’s what I’m here for. By using simple tests I can order for you, we can find out which foods are best for your unique genetics. I also use Quest’s insulin resistance panel diagnostic test. Wondering if you’re insulin resistant?

→ Learn more about my services here.

Is Insulin Resistance Serious And How Do You Overcome It?

Yes. That’s because it’s an underlying factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, overcoming insulin resistance is not as easy as taking extra insulin. This is especially true if you’re eating lots of meat and fatty foods. All that will do is drive the pancreas to create more insulin but it won’t do anything to improve insulin resistance. 

Instead, you need to eat real food. And by real food I mean food that existed when your great grandparents were alive. Nothing overly processed and stuff that comes from the ground, trees, plants and a little bit of lean protein (sorry, no salami, bacon or sausage!)

Your doctor may decide that a medication like Metformin is your best course of action for insulin resistance. 

In addition to diet, other lifestyle factors may help you become more insulin sensitive (the opposite of insulin resistance). Regular exercise 30 minutes a day. Nothing crazy, just going for walks can help. Also, if you have a lot of stress in your life, you need healthy ways to manage it. Use a meditation or deep breathing app on your smart phone and take 5 minutes in the morning and at night to melt the stress away, if not the extra weight. 

Some people, however, have so much inflammation and pain in their body that even going for a walk is a non-starter. If you can relate to that, I’m here for you. I can help you discover the root causes of what’s interfering with your quality of life. 

The first step to living your best life is getting in touch with me. 

To your health, 

Jenna Witt, NP