How insulin causes belly fat (and what to do about it)
One of the biggest contributors to excess fat, especially belly fat, is high levels of insulin.
Insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome... these are names for high insulin when it becomes a more serious problem, but the reality is that nearly everyone is affected by high insulin at some point in our week when we eat an imbalanced snack or meal that is high in refined carbohydrates.
If you have high levels of insulin, or if you eat foods that spike your insulin, you will have trouble burning fat because insulin is a fat storing hormone. High levels prevent the body from using fat as energy.
As insulin resistance builds, the body requires increasing amounts of insulin to compensate until it maxes out and chronic inflammation and diabetes are the result. The good news is that it's entirely preventable and reversible!
And for someone who struggles with excess belly fat, a few simple tweaks in nutrition have a big pay off.
What can I do about it?
1. Assess your current nutrition
Most of the women I work with consider themselves to have a mostly healthy diet, and they usually do. However, the imbalance of carbs to protein to fat is very common.
In other words, when women actually take time to track their food intake, I often see two major gaps... protein and fiber.
2. Shift to a more plant based diet but don't forget the protein
Yes, a plant based diet can help a lot! However, vegetarians can also struggle with belly fat or insulin issues. Cutting out meat is not necessarily the answer. Adequate protein intake is key to keep blood sugar balanced and insulin levels in check.
Likewise, simply adding lots of protein will not solve everything either- protein must be combined with high fiber (lots of vegetables and fruit) to balance the acidity of meat in the body.
3. Limit the refined carbohydrates
The good news is that you don't have to go cold turkey on bread, muffins, cookies, cereal, pasta, potatoes, candy... but they do need to be cut way back in order to make space for the more nutritious lean proteins, produce, nuts/seeds and whole grains or beans.
High insulin has other side affects
Good nutrition to balance blood sugar and insulin will pay off in nearly every health marker- high insulin is linked to chronic inflammation, heart disease, infertility, PCOS, Alzheimer's, stroke, cancer, autoimmune disease and diabetes!
Personally, I was a vegetarian off and on for nearly ten years and felt great until I tried to get pregnant and realized I had symptoms of PCOS. By balancing my protein to carbohydrate intake and adding pharmaceutical grade vitamins, I got my body back into balance and saw my body composition shift as well. My belly is always my "trouble spot" and quickly lets me know when this balance is shifting so I can get it back in check.
If you'd like one-on-one guidance to create better balance, reduce belly fat and feel better, email me to set up a free consult. I have a few open slots this month and would love to help you discover what took me too long to figure out on my own!
Have you wondered if you have insulin sensitivity or resistance?