Insulin Resistance and Bodybuilding
Is your improvement season making you insulin resistant?
Some of you may hear insulin and immediately think about type 2 insulin diabetics. Most people assume all insulin-resistant (IR) people are obese, that’s not always accurate. You can be insulin resistant and still appear athletic aesthetically. IR applies to both men and women, and the level of resistance will be individual to your metabolic rate and how long you have been in a hypo-caloric state.
How is insulin resistance created?
Insulin resistance is a physiological process that involves you eating more than you need to maintain normal metabolic function. Consider a physique athlete eating an aggressive hypo-caloric diet in the improvement season to push calories higher and higher to build more muscle. In doing so, you push calories to a point where total body weight is consistently increasing, energy levels drop, hunger increases after eating, performance subsides, visual appearance is less than ideal, and pumps in the gym become lackluster. If you experience any of these effects, you are likely becoming more insulin resistant.
Let’s investigate how this happens. Your metabolic rate plays a role in the speed in which you metabolize calories daily. It takes into consideration your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of feeding (TEF), and the thermic effect of activity (TEA). Your resting metabolic rate makes up 60-75%, The thermic effect of food makes up 10%, and the thermic effect of activity can constitute 15-30% of your 24-hour energy expenditure.
In a regular insulin-sensitive environment, the process of digestion and assimilation works like this. You’d sit down and eat a meal containing carbohydrates, that meal is digested and broken down in the gut. The carbs from that meal convert into glucose molecules and are shuttled into the bloodstream. Once your body senses that glucose is available, your body signals through pancreatic beta cells to release insulin into the bloodstream. Your body needs insulin to regulate your blood sugar. Glucose and insulin flow together through your bloodstream towards expecting receptor cites. Insulin is necessary for glucose to reach and be absorbed into the cell through facilitated diffusion by the receptor cites of muscle, fat, and the liver. The glucose then enters the cell and can be used as fuel.
In an insulin-resistant individual, the same process occurs through digestion; however, depending on your level of resistance, it will affect how much insulin is released into the bloodstream, and in extreme circumstances, very little is released, if any. With an over-accumulation of glucose stored into your muscle, fat, and liver cells, they become resistant to insulin and ignore its message to attach and absorb glucose into the cell to be used as energy. Our purpose within this article is to provide you the knowledge you need to gain control over your insulin resistance with evidence-based scientific methods that will work. The sooner you can catch your resistance, the better off you will be, and the better you will feel during your building phase.
How can you gain control over your blood sugar?
Investing in a glucometer should be your first step. This way you can check your levels of blood sugar whenever you want. You can go on Amazon and find a complete Glucometer set for 30-40.00, which includes everything you will need to self monitor your fasted blood sugar. https://www.amazon.com/AUVON-Required-High-Tech-Diabetes-Glucose/dp/B07TVLNL4Q/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=glucometer&qid=1575218007&sr=8-12
You can watch my video “4 ways to fix insulin resistance” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81fearwKvsU&t=215s
When should you check your fasted blood sugar?
I recommend checking your fasted blood sugar in the morning fasted after a quality nights rest of more than seven hours. We recommend this method over the postprandial (2 hours after eating) method because most people in the general population are not disciplined with their eating amounts and times. However, if you are someone who eats a very similar breakfast every single day and your awareness of the calorie and carbohydrate amount of the meal, you can also choose to check postprandial. Once you take your reading, duplicate this over three mornings and figure out the average of your three readings. You’ll likely fall in one of the below four categories.
1.Not resistant at all (70-95 mg/dl)
-Your good to go!
2.Minor resistance (over 95 mg/dl)
-No need to worry; just know you’re approaching your threshold.
3.Moderate resistance (over 100 mg/dl)
-Listen to your biofeedback, How are you feeling?
4.Severe resistance (110 -125 mg/ dl)
-We should take action.
Depending on where you are in the above readings chart #1-4 you can then decide what you want to do about the results that you have acquired in order to improve your fasted blood glucose to allow your receptor cites for muscle, fat, and liver to become insulin sensitive or more receptive of the nutrients your placing in your body. Below we will address four key steps you can take to drastically alter your fasted blood sugar in as little as 3-21 days depending on which methods you use.
How to conquer insulin resistance?
- Improve your sleep
Your quality of sleep is often the most overlooked marker of health that you can improve that will lead to drastic positive changes in your physiology. Sleep cycles lasting 7-8 hour per night depending on the activity level of the individual are ideal and offer many positive side effects including;
A. Better muscle recovery from training
B. Reduced cortisol
C. Reductions in inflammation
D. Clear cognition
E. Reduce blood pressure
F. Better physique results (build muscle & lose body fat)
Sleep disruptions such as staying up very late into the early morning, limiting sleep quality, consuming caffeine late into the evening, overloading your eyes with blue light before bed, can all have adverse effects on sleep quality. This impacts your hormone regulation and circadian rhythm when you sleep leading you to feel consistently tired anxious awaiting your next meal or reaching for another cup of coffee.
2. Momentarily Reduce Carbohydrate/caloric intake.
Notice that we said momentarily reduce carbohydrates, the main reason why that is one of the most significant issues I see in diet culture being a nutrition coach of 10 years is the elimination of carbohydrates as a means to improve body composition. I feel this is the wrong way to go about this issue, and carbohydrates should ideally be used as a tool for adherence and fat loss. There are a variety of nutritional modalities that we can use to improve your fasted blood sugar, all of which will be listed down below.
A. Reducing your carbohydrate intake by 50% for 7-14 days can have a massive effect on your fasted blood sugar so long as the reduction places you into a caloric deficit to better oxidize fat and use stored glucose.
B. Create a caloric deficit of 30% for 1-4 weeks. Any caloric deficit will place you in a place to lose body fat, reductions in body fat will help improve insulin sensitivity.
C. 24-72 hour water fast (ensure adequate utilization of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes)
Possible result: With the above-implemented methods of caloric restriction and fasting, we have seen reductions in fasted blood glucose readings by as much as 40 points in less than a week.
3. Exercise (cardio or resistance training)
As I’m sure you could have guessed, any additional bodily movement will drastically help speed up the process of improving your insulin resistance. Many research studies show that movement of any kind alone can help those suffering from insulin resistance and even type 2 diabetes to enhance fast blood sugar drastically in less than a month. If your currently already a resistance training person, keep that activity level high. If you’re a sedentary individual who avoids exercise, we would strongly encourage that you start your fitness journey now by simply prioritizing yourself and committing to taking a 15-minute walk daily.
4. Supplements: Glucose disposal agents (GDA)
So what do GDA’s actually do? GDA’s allow you to utilize glucose as fuel for all physical movement better. They increase the uptake of carbohydrates into the muscle cells and decrease triglycerides formation. GDA’s that we recommend are:
- Alpha-lipoic acid
Our intention within this blog is to help those who may be suffering from insulin resistance with a few sure to work methods that have not only helped me but have helped our clients and are proven to be effective by scientific research. We hope this blog brought you a ton of value and step by step tools that you can use to improve your own insulin resistance. If you have any questions about any of our blog articles, you can email us at metabolicevolution.com in the contact tab or visit our Instagram account @metabolicevolution.