How is insulin (the “Fat Hormone”) related to weight gain?

by Kelvin Wong and Christine Lau

Why is Insulin called the “fat hormone”?

Insulin’s job is to get energy into cells for the body to function.  

When insulin level is high, fat cells respond by taking the fats that enter the blood stream and turning them into fatty acids, which are then stored in the body.  Insulin promotes the uptake and storage of fat in our adipose tissues and when insulin levels are high, our bodies don’t digest or use fats for fuel. 

Our metabolism does not decide to burn or store body fat based on calories.  It takes its “instructions” based on the hormones that those calories trigger.  We can cut calories all day and will not burn fat effectively if we are eating low-quality calories which trigger insulin secretion.

Hence, High Insulin Levels = Fat Storage.

What is Insulin Resistance?

When we eat too many foods that contain simple sugars on a regular basis, the continual spikes in blood sugar will result in continual spikes in insulin. The more frequently that the body has to release insulin to control blood sugar levels, the less responsive cells become to insulin.

Insulin resistance (also known as syndrome X or metabolic syndrome) is a collection of conditions that often occur together and can increase your risk of:

  1. Type 2 diabetes
  2. Stroke
  3. Heart disease.

Some indicative tell tale signs that you may have insulin resistance which could be preventing you from losing weight are:

  • Weight gain mostly around the mid-section
  • High triglycerides and/or cholesterol
  • Fasting glucose level about 100
  • Sweet cravings that lead to energy crashes later in the day

What is the cause of Insulin Resistance?

The causes of metabolic syndrome are complex and not well understood. Below are some examples of contributing factors:

  • Weight: Being overweight, obese and physically inactive adds to your risk.
  • Age: As we get older, we tend to become less physically active and gain excess weight due to a myriad of lifestyle factors. This weight is generally stored around the abdomen, which could lead to the body becoming resistant to the hormone insulin. This means that insulin in the body is less effective, especially in the muscles and liver.
  • Alarming statistics have found more than 35 per cent of Australian adults have metabolic syndrome. This is even higher in people with diabetes and numbers are growing each year. Your best bet in life is to prevent and reduce your risk – read on to find out how.

How to reduce your risk?

1. Eating a healthy diet

Eating a well-rounded balanced diet (incorporating more fruits and vegetables) is a start on your path towards good health.

a) Avoid refined carbohydrates – refrain from consuming anything that has sugar, white flour or high fructose corn syrup
b) Avoid hydrogenated oils/trans fats
c) Eat whole foods
d) Eat complex carbohydrates – legumes, whole grains and vegetables with a protein or fat to further slow down the sugar release into the blood stream

At Yoga XTC, we provide tailored meal plans to suit your body - derived by our in-house nutritionist.

2. Exercising regularly

Our bodies were created to move and obviously depending on your body type, injuries, mind set and habits, these are some challenges in our lives, which can hinder us from exercising. 

Once we’ve figured out how to work with our mind and bodies, exercising will come as second nature. Not many people realize that we offer yoga and small group fitness training. Give your mind and body a treat by signing up.

3. Quit Smoking

The amount of damage smoking does to your body is shocking. Thankfully: if you stop now, repairs will immediately start taking place.Speak to your doctor for help if you require further assistance.

4. Control Your Weight

The plus side of losing weight is that it not only makes you feel good but it also makes you look good. Your risk of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome is greatly reduced. If you have a fitness goal, allow our dedicated team at Yoga XTC to support, nurture and guide you in every step of the way, ensuring that you’re making progress.