Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life

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Listen to this post on Insulin on our Live Lean TV Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!

How To Avoid Insulin Resistance and Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Over the past few posts, I’ve been getting detailed on the role your hormones play with your fitness results.

As I’ve said…

In the short-term it’s important to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat and to be in a calorie surplus to build muscle.

But if you really want to Live Lean, and turn your body into a fat burning and muscle building machine for life

In addition to calories, you need to also be focusing on long-term hormonal health.

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important hormones that can help with this, insulin.

What is Insulin?

So even though your genotype is fixed, the expression of your genes, known as your phenotype, is directly influenced by the foods you eat, your environment, and your lifestyle.

This means your phenotype can be controlled by your daily actions.

For example, the foods you consume, the amount of exercise you do, and the quality of the sleep you get, all stimulate your hormonal system to send fat burning or fat storing messages to your body.

No matter how much exercise you do or how little you eat, if those actions are excessive, they will throw your body’s hormones out of balance, which can turn your body into a fat storing machine.

It’s amazing how much responsibility the approximately 50 different hormones have on all the cells in your body.

Some of these hormones play a larger role in the fat gain or the fat loss process.

I’ve already done posts on the important thyroid hormones, as well as the hunger decreasing leptin hormone, and the hunger increasing hormone, ghrelin.

Over the next few episodes, I’m going to spotlight the other important hormones such as glucagon, growth hormone (GH), and testosterone.

But today lets get deep into…

The Truth About Insulin

Insulin is a hormone secreted immediately from your pancreas following a meal.

Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life [Improve Insulin Sensitivity]

The role of insulin is to control the amount of sugar in the blood by moving it into the cells, where it can be used by the body for energy.

Insulin can have positive and negative effects on the body.

The Positive Side of Insulin

Insulin plays a major role in building muscle when produced in sufficient amounts.

After a good workout, your muscles are in a catabolic state, meaning they are broken down, and your body loses some muscle glycogen.

Consuming a high glycemic carbohydrate after a workout creates an insulin spike, thus providing an excellent delivery system for the carbohydrates and the amino acids from the protein to reach the muscle cells.

This helps break you out of the catabolic state, and puts you into an anabolic state to help re-build a stronger muscle and replenish your previously depleted muscle glycogen levels.

The Negative Side of Insulin

Insulin plays a negative role when produced in excess.

Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life [Improve Insulin Sensitivity]

When refined carbohydrates are over consumed, they break down into sugar and quickly enter the bloodstream.

A large amount of insulin is then required to clear the sugar from the bloodstream.

At anytime, your bloodstream usually only contains approximately 4-5 grams of sugar in the blood.

That’s only about 1 teaspoon.

So think about what happens to your body’s hormonal balance when you eat a “low fat” refined carbohydrate like a cinnamon roll that contains 60 grams of sugar.

Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life [Improve Insulin Sensitivity]

Here’s an example of how eating a “low fat” cinnamon roll can turn into a belly fat filled mess:

  • 60 grams of sugar quickly enters the bloodstream.
  • A massive amount of insulin is then released to remove the excess sugar from the bloodstream.
  • Approximately 30% of the sugar (18 grams) can be burned as immediate energy.
  • Approximately 30% of the sugar (18 grams) can be stored as glycogen in your liver and muscle cells and burned as short-term energy (when capacity is available).
  • The remaining 40% of the sugar (24 grams) can potentially be stored as long-term energy in the fat cells (i.e. body fat).

Insulin then releases a fat storing enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL).

Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life [Improve Insulin Sensitivity]

When this LPL enzyme is released, it has a mission to store everything as fat, especially as belly fat.

Essentially it turns you into a fat STORING machine!

Here’s an even scarier example that affects a lot of people:

Your muscle and liver glycogen tanks have a limited capacity to store short-term energy.

Remember the video I did on the Spill Over Effect?

When your glycogen tanks are already full, the following happens:

  • Once again, approximately 30% of the sugar (18 grams) can be burned as immediate energy.
  • But 0% of the sugar is stored as glycogen since your glycogen tanks are already full.
  • This means potentially 70% of the sugar (42 grams) can be STORED AS FAT!

So the next time you read a label that says cinnamon rolls are “low fat”, think again.

Your body is designed to burn stored fat for the majority of its energy requirements.

But when you have continuous high insulin levels caused caused by overconsuming refined carbohydrates and not working out enough, your body continues to burn sugar for energy and store the excess sugar as body fat, rather than burning the already existing stored body fat for energy.

Another negative affect of insulin is how it reacts with other fat burning agents in the body.

For example, carnitine is a compound in the body that helps shuttle fatty acids into your cells mitochondria to be burned as fuel.

However, when insulin is in excess, it lowers the level of carnitine in the body, thus slowing your fat burning potential.

This leads to the topic of insulin sensitivity versus insulin resistance.

Insulin Sensitivity vs. Insulin Resistance

If you’ve been struggling with fat gain and the majority of your snacks and meals are primarily comprised of carbohydrates, you may be suffering from insulin resistance.

Insulin Resistance simply means overtime, your cells become less affected by insulin.

Think of it this way.

Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life [Improve Insulin Sensitivity]

The cells in your body have doors.

When you’re suffering from insulin resistance, the doors to open the cells are locked.

But, when you’re healthy and insulin sensitive, the insulin acts as the key to open the doors to the cells to let the nutrients in to be burned for energy.

Turn Your Body Into A Fat Burning Machine For Life [Improve Insulin Sensitivity]

But when you’re suffering from insulin resistance, the keys don’t work, so the pancreas continues producing more and more insulin.

In other words, when your body is suffering from insulin resistance, you don’t process carbohydrates well, therefore you’re more likely to store them as fat, rather than burn them for energy.

FAIL!

The opposite of this is insulin sensitivity, meaning you do process carbohydrates well, you store them in the muscles and liver cells, and you burn them off for immediate and short-term energy.

GAINZ!

So how can you increase insulin sensitivity and turn your body into a long-term fat burning machine?

The major keys are simple:

  • Lower your carbohydrate intake:

The higher your carbohydrate consumption, the higher the potential for your insulin levels. Depending on your goals and activity level, I usually recommend between 50-150 grams of mainly complex carbohydrates per day with one high carbohydrate weekly cheat meal.

  • Increase the amount of protein in your diet:

Replace the calories from carbohydrates with high quality sources of lean muscle building protein. Protein does not induce insulin as much as carbohydrates and can also help keep you feeling full, thus limiting your sugar cravings. Depending on your goals and activity level, I usually recommend starting with 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass.

  • Add in 3-5 resistance training workouts per week:

Working out and building muscle can help improve insulin sensitivity. After your workouts, insulin sensitivity can be at it’s highest, meaning it’s a great time to consume carbohydrates as your muscle and liver cells probably have capacity to store them for short-term energy.

Take our quick Live Lean Quiz to select a workout program that is suited for your fitness level, your access to equipment, and your goals.

  • Improve your quality of sleep:

Lack of quality sleep can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which then can then increase the cravings for insulin spiking, sugary foods. Check out this post on the best foods to improve sleep.

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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.

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