Insulin resistance may be to blame if you’re carrying extra weight around your midsection. Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas produces. One of its functions is to transport sugars from the blood into all of the body’s cells so that they can be used as energy.

When blood sugar levels are high – such as after a meal or beverage high in carbohydrates – the pancreas receives a signal to release insulin into the blood. Insulin is frequently referred to as a “key” because it aids in “unlocking” the door to our cells, allowing sugars to enter.


Too many carbohydrates = high blood sugars and insulin levels

This system is thrown out of whack when we consume too many carbohydrates – bread, cereal, rice, pasta, cookies, candy, soda, chocolate, and so on. To compensate for all of the extra sugars in the blood, the pancreas is forced to produce extra insulin.


At the same time, the cells themselves, i.e., the muscle cells, become resistant to the insulin. When this occurs, the pancreas is forced to produce more insulin in order to ‘knock on the door’ of the cells.

The Repercussions

Having too much insulin and sugar in your blood is bad for several reasons:

  • High blood sugar and insulin levels can be a risk factor for heart disease.
  • High insulin levels can cause a drop in blood glucose (sugar) levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can range from mild to severe. Fatigue, weakness, shakiness, confusion, headache, irritability, hunger, and nausea are some of the symptoms.
  • High insulin levels promote the storage of extra sugars as fat – specifically in the abdomen.

The impact of insulin resistance on weight gain is complicated. If you’re insulin resistant, your cells may be ‘starved’ for glucose because sugars can’t get out of your blood and into your cells, where they belong. Usually, feelings of mental and physical exhaustion follow.

When this occurs, you may find yourself reverting to the carbohydrate-rich foods that caused the problem in the first place. As a result, you are perpetuating the cycle of high blood sugars, high insulin, low blood sugars, and belly fat storage.


Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance

High insulin levels are frequently associated with cholesterol abnormalities and/or high blood pressure, in addition to obesity. Metabolic Syndrome occurs when these disease processes occur concurrently.


If left unchecked, the pancreas will continue to overproduce insulin until it becomes “tired” and begins to “poop out.” As a result, the pancreas simply cannot produce enough insulin to meet the body’s demands.

When blood sugar levels rise – and remain high – the result is frequently type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be subtle at times and may include:

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Urination odor
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Fatigue
  • Dark skin under the chin, groin, or armpits

Taking Care of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes

It is possible to manage insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes through diet, exercise, and stress management, but it is difficult. Reducing your carbohydrate intake is critical, but cravings and emotional eating can undermine your efforts.

This is a problem for many of the women I work with. That is why, as one of the first things I ask them to do, I ask them to be aware of what is going on with their feelings. If you have a craving for a certain food or beverage but are not physically hungry, ask yourself, “What am I really craving?”

You could be feeling lonely, bored, angry, overwhelmed, or tired. You can use this awareness as a starting point to learn how to nourish yourself in ways other than food.


How Does Stress Affect Insulin Resistance?


Because of its effect on the adrenal glands, stress also plays a significant role in insulin resistance. When you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol, and your liver begins to release extra sugars into your blood to ‘save you.’


This process may result in increased fat storage in the abdomen. Mindfulness can help to calm this fight-or-flight response.

Finally, while exercise is important, a gentler approach is sometimes preferable. The last thing your body needs is additional stress and guilt from not working out hard enough! Mindful movement, such as yoga or Tai Chi, can help to alleviate the effects of stress and promote overall well-being.


How do you manage Type 2 Diabetes or insulin resistance? What measures are you taking to reduce belly fat? Please share any strategies you’ve found useful in combating insulin resistance.