3 Strategies That You Can use To Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity

Apr 04, 2022

The 3 Strategies That You Can Use To Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity


Hi, it's Paul Coker, in the last blog, we talked about why insulin sensitivity is at least as important as your H bA1C (glaciated haemoglobin). We also talked about how improving your insulin sensitivity makes your insulin behave in a more reliable, predictable way, and that may reduce the burden of your diabetes.


The spreadsheet I gave you analyses your insulin sensitivity and it calculates your results and provides the analysis in exactly the same way that many peer reviewed research papers uses, e.g this is not my invention.


If you've not already downloaded the spreadsheet for calculating your insulin sensitivity, click on the link below this video and grab your free copy. Now,


in this blog, I will talk about how and why improving your insulin sensitivity is important not only to your diabetes, but to your health in general, but even more importantly is puts you in the driving seat of your diabetes and that is likely to improve your quality of life.


First, a couple of disclaimers, nothing in this video is medical advice. I'm not a healthcare professional, and I can't give you medical advice.


In other words, you must always seek help from your medical team when it is appropriate for you to do so.


I can share with you some of the tools, strategies, and even some of the science that I've learned over the last five decades of living with diabetes.


My aim is to help you to achieve your diabetes management goals faster, easier with less burnout.


If you saw my previous blog, video or podcast then you already know that improving your insulin sensitivity reduces your risk of developing the complications of your diabetes. You also know that your insulin becomes more reliable and more predictable as your insulin sensitivity increases.


But so what?


Would it be OK if I share a little bit of my story with you?, I spent my first 38 years of living with diabetes on a carbohydrate restricted diet. I passed out with a hypo whilst holding my six week old daughter. That was a life changing moment.


I started following an ultra low carbohydrate diet so that I could get into the driving seat of my diabetes. So that would never happen again.


The problems with this were:

I eventually got so sick of eating meat. I got sick of eating eggs, nuts, and avocados. And eventually I even got sick.


My doctor gave me ACE inhibitors to lower my blood pressure to protect my kidneys and lower my blood pressure. Incidentally high blood pressure is strongly linked with insulin resistance, so much so that it forms part of the estimated Glucose Disposal Rate calculation that we were discussing just now.


I was also prescribed statins to lower my cholesterol. The, this was new to me. I hadn't needed these medications before going onto a low carbohydrate diet.


Not only did my metabolic health deteriorate, but my energy levels reached an all time low and the medications made me so sick that I literally couldn't leave the toilet in short my life wasn't really worth it.


I knew that I needed something to change, even though my blood glucose levels were great. My diabetes was definitely in the driving seat of my life.


My experience showed me that having great blood glucose levels with which I did achieve on a low carbohydrate dial and great timing range, didn't equal great quality of life.


My low carbohydrate diet appeared didn't mean that my risk of complications had reduced, because I now had high blood pressure my risk of complications had gone up.


I wanted more and I wanted better. I've simple belief


If I'm not getting the results that I want then it's time to ask different questions, it's time to ask better questions.


What I really wanted was more certainty, I want my insulin  to be more reliable, more predictable so that I could get more freedom from my Diabetes.


Can you relate?


I spent years reading research papers. I even went back to university and did a Master's Degree in Diabetes Practice to make sure I was understanding all of this correctly. I wanted to be sure that my experiences and methods were based on science and could reasonably be expected to work for other people living with Diabetes. You don’t have to do that I am sharing my learning, my decades of experience with you so that you can get int he driving seat of your diabets faster.


I found that when my insulin sensitivity improved, my energy levels went up. And for the first time in decades of living with type point diabetes at last, I was in the driving seat of my diabetes and it felt good; it still feels good.


This gave me the freedom to do some crazy things. I climbed Kilimanjaro with the largest ever team of people with Type 1 Diabetes; we reached the summit on the 21st of June, 2014.


I then went on to run 40 half marathons in a single year to mark 40 years of living with diabetes.


And as you already know, I went on to study a master's in diabetes practice whilst holding down a full-time job, being a father and being a husband.



As I improved my insulin sensitivity, I was able to normalise my blood pressure and my cholesterol and I no longer need medications.  My ophthalmic surge noticed the changes too, he noticed that the cholesterol deposits that were visible and building up in my eyes had disappeared! When I attended diabetes clinic my endocrinologist did not believe me when I told hime that I had gone from needing 1 unit of insulin for 7 grams of carbohydrates to 1 unit for 33 grams of carbs.


Now, I don't know if that will happen for you, but it was certainly a benefit for me improving my insulin sensitivity really did put me in the driving seat of my Diabetes,


For the first time my diabetes burnout was  reduced my energy levels went up.


I have more freedom from my diabetes, but this isn't about me. This is about you and your Diabetes.


Here are 3  strategies that you can use to improve your insulin sensitivity.

The first is physical activity. Yes, I know many of us don’t like that Exercise word, but exercise and physical activity improves your insulin sensitivity through a variety of mechanisms. The great thing is that the effect of improved insulin sensitivity lasts beyond the exercise itself for up to 48 hours after you finish your exercise session.


This means that to maintain consistently higher levels of insulin sensitivity, if you're using exercise or physical activity alone, you ideally need to participate in physical activity. At least once every 48 hours, some of us can do that, but there's not for everybody.


Another tool that you can use to improve your insulin sensitivity is intermitent fasting. The science is clear on this. It shows us that fasting for 16 hours or more will improve your insulin sensitivity. And some people see some great results from eating in just the eight hour window every day. And if you can do this regularly, it can be beneficial. But the effects that increase in it in sensitivity are quite short lived, which is why you need to do that regularly.


The third thing you can do is to eats a whole food plant based diet that is low in fat and low in protein, but high in carbohydrates.

Wait a minute. Fats and proteins, the very things that you can eat without affecting your blood glucose levels. Aren't they? And haven't you always been told to restrict your carbohydrates?


Well, if you've had diabetes for a while, then you know that things are never quite what they seem are they?


Would it be okay if I share some of that science with you? We know that fats and proteins raise blood glucose levels and they promote insulin resistance. Yes, I'm gonna say that again. We know that fats and proteins both raise blood glucose levels and they promote insulin resistance. There's a growing body of research that is trying to determine how to give insulin for fats and proteins. The most, the most notable of which is probably something called the pen cows equation, which calculates something called fats and protein units. In the next slide. I'm going to share with you some of Dr. Carmel Smart's work, but don't worry. I'll explain how and why this is important. And you don't even have to remember the science.


Don’t worry if you don’t get the science, it’s OK. I am only sharing this in case you a science nerd, like me. If you want to skip down the page past the science that is absolutely OK.


The diagram in the video is from Dr. Smart's research paper, and it shows us that carbohydrates, proteins and fat will all increase blood glucose levels. If you look at the picture, what you'll see is that some of the boxes have a number beside them and where there's a number that indicates that there's an additional need for insulin.


So if we look at carbohydrates, we know they increases blood glucose levels. There's no surprises there.


If we look at proteins, we know that they're broken down into amino acids and that has two separate pathways; it increases glucagon and it can create something called gluconeogenesis, which is just a scientific way of saying ‘making new glucose’.


This happens in the liver. It's normal, it's natural. It's not a diabetes thing, but is does raise blood glucose levels. So we need insulin.


If we go back to the other side of the diagram we see that we have glycogenolysis, in other words breaking down of glycogen.  Which leads to increased insulin resistance as a result of eating protein.


So perhaps protein is not a free snack after all, when it comes to diabetes and blood glucose levels.


If we move across to the other side of the diagram and we start looking at dietary fat.


When we eat a low carbohydrate diet, we typically sacrifice carbohydrates and eat more fats. So what happens when we break fats down? where we have free fatty acids and we have glycerol, which goes on to make new glucose (gluconeogenesis)), needing more insulin and raising blood glucose levels.



Then we've got the free fatty acids and these are really quite fascinating. So they affect something called the PPAs, which is just a, it's just a really  scientific name for some of the insulin receptor sites at the cell membrane, e.g. where the insulin attaches to the cell so that it can do it’s work.


Both of these pathways for breaking down fats will impact insulin release and perhaps even more importantly your cellular response to insulin. Meaning that when we release insulin or we inject it, the insulin has to travel to the cell and it has to bind with the cell where it can do its work, allow glucose to come into the cell and the result is that by eating a higher fat diet, you are negatively impacting upon the ability of your insulin to function.


If you are skipping the science - start reading again here

Although a low carbohydrate diet may reduce the number of units of insulin that you need per day, it's not a sign that you are increasing insulin sensitivity, it’s just a sign that you are not eating many carbohydrates. If you follow a low carbohydrate diet when you do eat some carbohydrates your blood glucose is likely to rise, and stay high for a long time, and your insulin will seem like it has turned to water. You might even blame the carbohydrates, you might start thinking that the carbohydrates are the problem. The underlying issue is that in following a low carbohydrate diet you have built a perfect environment for insulin resistance.


Eating a high fat diet is very likely to increase insulin resistance unless it's accompanied by significant weight loss.


So here's the thing. If you eat more carbohydrates, it means that you've got less space on your plate and in your diet for fats and proteins. And when you eat carbohydrates that are based on whole food plant based carbohydrates that are unrefined, unprocessed, carbohydrates, real foods, then your insulin sensitivity increases that puts you in the driving seat of your diabetes.


Let's keep this super simple fats and proteins will raise your blood glucose levels some hours after you've eaten a meal and they will increase your resistance to insulin, that might make your insulin seem like it has turned to water.


Reducing your intake, of even healthy fats and proteins, and replacing it with unfixed, unprocessed carbohydrates is going to help you to increase you insulin sensitivity and that will help to put you in the driving seat of your diabetes.


Join me for this free zoom call.


See the links below on how and why this works and what you need to know to get you started and to get you in the driving seat of your diabetes.

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