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Does Insulin Resistance Cause Weight Gain? Here’s What Research Says

<p>Does Insulin Resistance Cause Weight Gain? Here’s What Research Says</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

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Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

According to research studies, four out of every 10 Americans have insulin resistance. Researchers and doctors alike agree that insulin resistance can cause weight gain. In fact, insulin resistance is directly linked to obesity.

If you’re on a diet and are unable to lose weight, insulin resistance may be to blame. According to Oregon Medical Weight Loss & Wellness, insulin is an essential hormone that the body needs to regulate blood sugar and use for energy. The body’s cells use this energy to function and operate properly. 

If your insulin levels get out of normal range, a number of problems may arise. When insulin levels are off, it becomes more likely that you will gain weight or develop type 2 diabetes. When your body functions properly, your pancreas releases insulin after you have eaten. When insulin works properly, it is distributed to all cells in the body and is stored to be used as energy. 

According to WebMD, insulin resistance takes place when your liver, cells, and fat don’t react well to insulin, and cannot properly take glucose from your blood for energy. To compensate for this, your pancreas creates more insulin, which causes your blood sugar levels to increase significantly. 

So, how exactly does insulin resistance cause weight gain? According to research, when there is a lot of sugar and excess insulin in your system, that sugar stays in your body. Sugar can be stored in the muscles and liver. However, when these areas are full, sugar is stored as fat. As a result, the body gains weight. Your cells can become resistant to sugar. When this happens, the potential for weight gain increases.

However, experts assert that there are ways to avoid weight gain when you have insulin resistance. You can try to prevent or delay the onset of insulin resistance by making some lifestyle changes. This includes incorporating exercise into your daily routine and eating a healthy diet. Certain medications may also help you avoid developing insulin resistance. Such medications can help reduce insulin and blood sugar levels. Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) and biguanides are used for this purpose. 

These medications make your cells more receptive and open to insulin. Specific brand name drugs that help reduce insulin and blood sugar levels include such drugs as Metformin. This drug in particular decreases the amount of glucose that is manufactured by your liver, resulting in lower levels of glucose in your bloodstream. This drug does not cause weight gain, but may have the opposite effect. Metformin has the side effect of weight loss, so you may actually lose weight.

If you are trying to lose weight without the help of medication, you may not be losing weight because of insulin resistance. To counteract the weight gain caused by insulin resistance, your doctor may recommend limiting your carbohydrate consumption. When you have high levels of insulin in your blood, it can cause weight gain and make insulin resistance worse.

Maintaining your weight when you have insulin resistance can be difficult, especially when good blood sugar is essential to the treatment of diabetes. However, there are effective ways to lose weight with insulin resistance. The whole point of diabetes medications is to keep blood sugar levels in check. These medications help your blood sugar go down. 

One effective way to combat weight gain is to consume and drink fewer calories. This helps you maintain your weight and avoid extra weight gain. It is a good idea to keep vegetables, fresh fruit, and whole grains in your refrigerator. Limit the amount of junk food and processed food in your house, as these can lead to weight gain. Keep foods containing healthy fats nearby as well.   

Eat at every mealtime. Resist the urge to skip breakfast, if you don’t feel like eating. If you skip mealtimes, you are more likely to be hungry. As a result, you may make unhealthy food choices. Eat healthy portions. Make sure that your meal is not too large. Put a specific amount of food on your plate, and don’t go back for seconds. While monitoring portion sizes can be difficult, you will eventually find that you don’t need as much food as you thought you did.

According to PubMed, researchers have found that both insulin resistance and weight gain are associated with bad outcomes for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. 

The cells in your body can cause your blood sugar levels to increase, thus leading to weight gain. When you gain weight, excess fat builds up around your waist. If you are not physically active, it is easier for this to happen. If your cells become resistant to insulin, you become more likely to develop prediabetes as well. The body turns excess blood sugar into fat, so remember to eat foods that are low in sugar and high in protein. 

What are the signs of insulin resistance? High blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol are all signs of insulin resistance. In addition, low cholesterol can also be an indicator of insulin resistance. Other signs of insulin resistance include increased hunger or thirst, blurred vision, and sores that are slow to heal. According to researchers, weight gain is typically the result of insulin resistance and not the other way around.

Insulin resistance has been found to cause many conditions, such as atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. In addition to this, insulin resistance causes polycystic ovarian disease. While experts still don’t know what causes enlarged tissue, researchers have a solid understanding that hyperinsulinemia can be caused by insulin resistance. Researchers have also found that reducing insulin levels in obese people leads to weight loss—a problem affecting millions of Americans.    

 According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham about 40 percent of “young adults with diabetes” have insulin resistance. At one time, insulin resistance was believed to be a condition that affected only obese individuals. However, this thought has been disproven. Researchers reached this conclusion because 50 percent of participants in a study on insulin resistance were not obese.   

 This study found that screening young adults for insulin resistance could help detect other underlying conditions they might have before they become a problem. Such screenings may also help detect cardiovascular disease, one of America’s leading causes of death. Researchers have also found that certain foods are more likely to cause blood sugar spikes. These foods include breakfast foods, rice, bread, fruit juices, and soft drinks.

You can keep yourself from gaining weight, if you have insulin resistance. To do this, you may have to take your insulin as your doctor directs you to. Don’t decrease or skip insulin doses to lose weight. While it may be tempting to reduce your insulin dose to lose weight, doing so can increase your risk of developing complications. 

If you suspect that you have insulin resistance, there are steps you can take to delay or prevent its onset. You can try to get your carbohydrates from healthy sources, instead of from refined sugars and processed carbohydrates. If at all possible, try to eat foods, such as legumes and beans, frozen and fresh fruit, milk, and yogurt.  

Keep in mind that there are some cell phone and tablet apps that track your glucose levels and provide meal plans. Even if you are not insulin resistant, you can benefit from eating healthy foods, as listed above. If you have insulin resistance, chances are that you may have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight. That is why it is so important to monitor your calorie intake. Eating too much can raise your glucose levels, which increases fat volume. 

Exercising on a regular basis is by far the best way to lose weight and lower your insulin resistance. Exercise promotes weight loss, burns calories, and regulates blood glucose levels. Researchers have found that regular exercise provides many benefits to those living with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. 

Getting enough sleep is also essential if you are dependent on insulin. Studies show that those who do not get seven to eight hours of sleep each night are more likely to experience reduced insulin sensitivity. That is why it is critical to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and exercise. Weight gain is the direct result of inactivity, and increased blood sugar leads to weight gain. Getting these two in a healthy balance will help you stay healthier overall. Doing so also reduces your risk of diabetes. 

You should avoid high-glycemic foods, as these can cause insulin spikes. You should instead opt for low-glycemic foods, which keep insulin levels low. An online glycemic index reference can help you make the right food choices.

Also remember that the key to weight loss is staying consistent with exercise and a healthy diet. An overall healthy diet helps everyone. However, those with insulin resistance can benefit greatly from cutting calories and increasing physical activity. It may also help to have an exercise buddy who can motivate you to stay active.



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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.