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Unlocking the Secret to Easy Weight Gain: The Surprising Link Between Insulin Resistance and Your Waistline

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on March 21, 2023

Insulin resistance is a metabolic condition that occurs when cells in the body become less responsive to the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, and when cells become resistant to its effects, the body compensates by producing more insulin. This excess insulin can lead to a host of health problems, including easy weight gain. (1)

One of the primary roles of insulin is to signal to cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy. However, when cells become insulin resistant, they are less able to take up glucose, which can lead to high blood sugar levels. To compensate, the body produces more insulin, which can lead to weight gain in several ways. (2)

First, excess insulin can promote the storage of fat in the body. Insulin signals the body to store excess glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscles. However, when these glycogen stores are full, any excess glucose is converted to fat and stored in adipose tissue. With insulin resistance, the body produces more insulin than necessary, leading to more glucose being converted to fat. (3)

Second, insulin resistance can also increase hunger and decrease feelings of fullness. High insulin levels can interfere with the body's ability to use stored fat for energy, making it more difficult to access these energy stores. This can lead to feelings of hunger, even when the body has sufficient fat stores. Additionally, insulin resistance can reduce the production of hormones that signal fullness, making it more difficult to regulate food intake. (4)

In conclusion, insulin resistance is a common root cause of easy weight gain. By reducing insulin resistance through lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, it is possible to promote healthy weight management and reduce the risk of related health problems such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (5)

Resources:

  1. Banerjee R, Ray K, Bhattacherjee S, Guha S, Banerjee I, Nath I. A study of insulin resistance and its clinico-metabolic associations among apparently healthy individuals attending a tertiary care hospital. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014 Sep;4(5):823-8. doi: 10.4103/2141-9248.141572. PMID: 25328801; PMCID: PMC4199182.
  2. Wilcox G. Insulin and insulin resistance. Clin Biochem Rev. 2005 May;26(2):19-39. PMID: 16278749; PMCID: PMC1204764.
  3. Ludwig DS, Ebbeling CB. The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model of Obesity: Beyond "Calories In, Calories Out". JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Aug 1;178(8):1098-1103. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2933. PMID: 29971406; PMCID: PMC6082688.
  4. Al-Zubaidi A, Heldmann M, Mertins A, Brabant G, Nolde JM, Jauch-Chara K, Münte TF. Impact of Hunger, Satiety, and Oral Glucose on the Association Between Insulin and Resting-State Human Brain Activity. Front Hum Neurosci. 2019 May 14;13:162. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00162. PMID: 31178708; PMCID: PMC6544009.
  5. Verkouter I, Noordam R, le Cessie S, van Dam RM, Lamb HJ, Rosendaal FR, van Heemst D, de Mutsert R. The Association between Adult Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance at Middle Age: Mediation by Visceral Fat and Liver Fat. J Clin Med. 2019 Sep 28;8(10):1559. doi: 10.3390/jcm8101559. PMID: 31569345; PMCID: PMC6832997.

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