Insulin is crucial to life in the proper amounts, but detrimental in excessive amounts. Unfortunately, about 75% of North Americans produce too much of this hormone because they eat diets high in carbohydrates.
Insulin’s chief role in the body is to keep blood sugar within a fairly narrow “comfort” zone. Throughout the day, blood sugar rises and falls outside this zone many times, and when it does, the body quickly marshals forces to restore it to a comfortable balance.
Think of insulin as a chemical messenger, capable of “talking” to various tissues in the body that have built in receivers for insulin’s messages. These receivers, called insulin receptors, lie on the surface of muscle, liver, and fat cells, as well as certain cells in the kidney and in the appetite control center of the brain.
THE ROLE OF INSULIN:
- Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar (glucose).
- It is important that an individual’s blood sugar level does not rise too high or too quickly.
- High blood sugar alerts the pancreas. The pancreas then detects the excess glucose and secretes the hormone messenger, insulin. Insulin then lowers the elevated blood sugar by shifting the metabolism into storage mode.
- Insulin converts the excess glucose into glycogen, removes it from the blood stream, and stores it in the liver and muscles.
- The excess blood sugar that cannot be stored as glycogen will be converted to new fat and stored in the adipose tissue (butt, hips, and back).
- Insulin commands the body to save food energy stored in fat cells for a time when no food is available.
EXCESS INSULIN AND WEIGHT GAIN:
- Many people produce so much insulin that their bodies are unable to absorb it all. As a result they end up with excess insulin in their blood streams.
- Excess insulin in response to a meal converts protein, glucose, and dietary fat to stored fat.
- Excess insulin removes fat from the blood and transports it into fat cells.
- Excess insulin forces the body to burn carbohydrates for energy instead of stored fat.
- Elevated insulin levels inhibit the release and utilization of stored body fat for energy.
- Elevated insulin converts and stores excess glucose as fat.
- Elevated insulin can be caused by too many carbohydrates in a meal and not enough protein, essential fats, and fiber.
- Too big of a meal can elevate insulin.
THE ROLE OF GLUCAGON:
- Glucagon raises low blood sugar.
- Glucagon’s primary job is to maintain stable blood sugar levels in your body.
- Glucagon does this by releasing stored body fat so it can be burned for energy.
- The pancreas, in response to adequate protein from meals, stimulates glucagon.
- Glucagon in turn stimulates the use of fat for energy.
GLUCAGON AND WEIGHT LOSS:
- Glucagon shifts metabolism into burning mode.
- Glucagon mobilizes the release of stored body fat from the adipose tissue directly into the bloodstream, allowing your muscles to burn fat instead of glucose for energy.
- Glucagon converts dietary fats to ketones and sends them to the tissues for energy.
- Glucagon releases fat from fat cells into the bloodstream for use by tissues as energy.
You cannot maximize fat burning with elevated levels of insulin; it’s that simple. Even if you exercise rigidly, elevated insulin levels will not maximize fat burning. Even worse, elevated insulin levels will stimulate your body to store fat. Remember, this entire response is primarily the result of eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein, fat, and fiber as part of your meal.