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Insulin 101.

What is Insulin? 

Insulin is a highly anabolic hormone that is made by the pancreas and is released into the blood whenever there is a presence of sugar (glucose), generally after you eat. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels, stops it going too high or too low.

Where does the blood sugar go? 

The glucose in the blood stream is used for energy and whatever glucose isn’t used is then converted to glycogen and stored in the muscle, liver or as fat for it to be used when needed. Your liver and muscle can only store a certain amount of glycogen, once they’re full the remaining is stored as fat. Insulin basically holds the keys to the doors to the cells in your body, insulin attaches to these cells and unlocks the door so it can absorb the sugar from the blood stream.

Insulin resistance, what is it? How does it happen?

Insulin resistance happens when the cells in your body no longer respond the way they should when there is a presence of insulin. Remember, whenever there is sugar in the blood insulin needs to be produced to deal with it. Insulin resistance is most common in overweight or obese people due to poor diet containing excessive amounts of sugar, when this is the case the body must continually produce higher amounts of insulin to be able to regulate high blood sugar levels. It eventually gets to the point where there can’t be enough insulin produced to cope with the high demands which means some glucose is left in the blood leading to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) which almost always eventually leads to type II diabetes.

Diabetes

There are two types. Type 1 is when the pancreas is unable to  produce  insulin  and  will  need  to  be  administered which  is  usually  genetic. Type 2(the  most  common  type) is when the pancreas produces insulin but not enough required by the body, this is generally brought on by lifestyle factors such as poor  diet  and  minimal  to  no  exercise, usually  associated  with obesity, Type 2 has to be controlled through diet, exercise and sometimes medication. There  are  many  physiological  issues  that  come  with  diabetes, one  major  issue  is insulin  resistance,  meaning  that  cells  don’t respond to insulin as they should and the body is more likely to store food as fat, this is just one of many side effects of insulin resistance.

How can we take advantage of insulin?

We can take advantage of insulin by being clever in how we time our carbohydrate consumption, if we consume our carbohydrates around training time only and concentrate the rest of our meals around healthy protein, fats and veggies we increase our insulin sensitivity. High  insulin  sensitivity  means  that  cells  have  a  strong response to insulin and are primed for absorption. Insulin is the most anabolic  hormone  in  the  body  and  when  released  at  the right  time  can  create  a  great environment  for  new  muscle growth improved body composition and increased performance.

This is known as Nutrient Timing, contact us if you’d like to know more about this.

Thanks for reading,
Schembri PT Team