Insulin sensitivity is directly correlated to your body composition. Improving it is a necessity for sustained fat loss and good health.
Your insulin sensitivity measures how well your cells respond to insulin. The better they respond, the less insulin your body has to produce. The less insulin your body produces, the more fat it mobilizes and uses for fuel. The following 7 tips will show you how to increase your insulin sensitivity naturally and effectively.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Sleep is important for many aspects of health and fitness, but it also has a direct impact on your glucose metabolism. Restricting your sleep for just 1 week significantly reduces insulin sensitivity .
To improve insulin sensitivity and its corresponding effects on body composition, try to get between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Quality sleep also has beneficial effects on appetite control .
Engage In Exercise
One of the best ways for increasing insulin sensitivity is to get active . Physical activity helps to better partition the nutrients you eat.
What exercise does is it primes your body so that glucose is better utilized by muscle tissue instead of being stored as fat. This happens via the translocation of GLUT4 to muscle cells. It’s this very reason why your insulin sensitivity is so high after a workout and why your muscles soak up carbohydrates like a sponge.
Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods are packed with fiber. This fiber helps to slow down the digestion of your food. As a result, glucose is more slowly released into the blood stream – meaning insulin does not have to be released in large amounts .
Compare that to eating refined, processed foods, which are quickly digested. This causes a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. To remove this excess glucose from the blood your body releases insulin. Unfortunately, insulin usually does its job too well and leaves you with low blood sugar, lethargy, and feelings of hunger.
Relax the Mind
The mind/body connection is very strong. Your thoughts strongly influence your health and fitness. This isn’t just some touchy-feely belief. In fact, the use of meditation for 16 weeks improved coronary heart disease risk factors and reduced insulin resistance in one randomized controlled study .
Proper nutrition, physical activity, sufficient rest, and mental fitness are all important aspects of good health. An equal emphasis should be placed on all of them.
Eat Your Omega 3s
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fats that you must consume through your diet, as your body cannot manufacture them on their own. The majority of people are severely lacking in this important nutrient. Omega 3 supplementation has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity .
Plenty of whole foods contain omega 3 fatty acids. Some of these include fatty fish, omega 3 eggs, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Many foods contain small amounts of them, so if you’re eating a diverse diet of whole foods, you should be fine. If not, you could supplement with fish or flax oil.
Manage Your Stress Levels
As we talked about earlier, meditation has a positive effect on insulin sensitivity. This is likely due to your body being able to better handle physical and mental stress. Mental stress has been shown to cause insulin resistance in people .
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Stress causes all kinds of negative chemical reactions in the body. Start looking for ways to reduce stress in your life and you’ll see a difference in your physical appearance too.
Restrict Your Calories
This one is a bit of a catch 22. You want to improve your insulin sensitivity so you can better lose fat, but losing fat also improves your insulin sensitivity.
In fact, calorie restriction by diet alone or with exercise reverses insulin resistance . However, don’t go overboard with cutting your calories. You don’t need a large calorie deficit to start seeing beneficial effects on weight loss. A slight 15% reduction from maintenance levels is all you need to get the fat loss going.
Insulin, and your cells’ sensitivity to it, are important pieces of the weight loss puzzle. By following the 7 tips outlined in this article you will be doing what needs to be done for a healthy mind and body.