Much like anything in the media; one minute it’s good, the next minute it’s bad. We normally get so confused with all the conflicting information that we have no idea what they’re going on about! Or am I speaking for myself?
So, what is the insulin war? It’s the battle of using insulin for muscle gain or fat loss. The good news is that you don’t have to be on one side or the other for long periods of time. You can actually manipulate your insulin day-in and day-out by planning what type of food you eat, when you eat it and how that falls in line with your training and activity levels.
Learning how to manipulate insulin can be a rather complicated process, but it can actually be one of the greatest aids you have to feeling better and gaining that lean physique you always desired! Bring on the summer body, yaaaay. It’s important to be insulin aware as this can help prevent insulin resistance (meaning what you eat is more likely to be stored as fat). You’ll also get side effects such as tiredness and sleep prevention, muscle soreness and pain, slower recovery from training and injuries, and possible diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use glucose/sugar from carbs. Your body will decide to use the food for energy or to save it for later! It also helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
FACTS TO CONSIDER (and a positive outlook):
-> muscle is made of protein
-> protein is manufactured by ribosomes
-> ribosomes are turned on by insulin
-> which can only mean, insulin is required to build muscle!
So, how can insulin be a bad thing? Well, it’s not if you know how to master your insulin levels. Firstly, being aware of the GI (glycemic index) of your carbs can make all the difference. The glycemic index is an indication as to how fast the carbs in your food end up as glucose in your bloodstream. They can either be high GI or low GI. High GI foods (such as white potatoes, couscous, ‘regular’ pasta, most white rice, white bread/plain bagel, sports drinks, sugary cereals, etc, etc) will spike your insulin levels (so your body uses the glucose) as they pass rapidly through your digestive system and into your bloodstream. Low GI foods (such as oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, most brown rice, quinoa, kidney/black beans) pass slowly through your digestive system, which keeps your insulin levels more consistent.
To maintain insulin levels and prevent insulin resistance, you want to focus on low GI carbs if and when you have them. Keeping them low GI will help to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day, instead of spiking them and feeling randomly tired. So low GI means steady energy levels and fat burning! Bodybuilders used to think it the greatest idea of all to have high GI carbs prior to a workout as it would spoke energy levels. However, high GI foods will only spike your energy for a short period of time prior to burning you out before the workout is half way done. So again, low GI carbs folks.
When is the best time of day to get GI higggggh? Either first thing in the morning as soon as you open those beautiful eyes of yours (if you’re looking to gain mass) or after your workout.
Whilst your sleeping, your body is experiencing 6-8 hours of fasting (10-12 hours if you’re lucky enough), which causes your muscle and glycogen levels to drop. Scarily, at this point, your body to tear down muscle tissue for fuel, so taking in about 20-40 grams of fast-digesting carbs as soon as you wake will boost those insulin levels and stop those strapping muscles of your being eaten up.
If you’re looking to lose fat and gain muscle, the other key time to eat carbs is around your training time, mainly after an intense weight training session! At this stage, your muscle and liver glycogen levels are seriously depleted, so eat carbs and don’t be shy with the amount.
AMMO FOR FIGHTING THE INSULIN WAR
TIP 1: eat a high-protein, low-carb diet!
This diet will favours a low glycemic response. This is effective for fat loss as it supports insulin health and greater energy levels.
TIP 2: cut down on fructose in your diet!
High amounts of fructose can promote insulin resistance. Meaning all those sweeteners, sugars, fruit juices, fruit smoothies and dried fruit can actually just make you fat and tired.
TIP 3: remove trans-fats!
We know these are bad, but do we know where to find them? If you’re buying packaged foods, READ THE LABELS. These fats promote insulin resistance, inhibit glucose disposal and influences abdominal obesity
TIP 4: improve your omega 6:3 balance!
This one’s easy, eat more wild fish (omega-3 fatty acids) and minimise your consumption of omega-6 (such as vegetable oils, sunflower oil and fried foods).
TIP 5: influence your glycemic response!
How do we do this? By eating low-glycemic carbs, such as dark coloured berries and dark green vegetables. These foods have a higher fibre content and help promote a moderate insulin response
Last but not least, TIP 6: green tea!
It may not taste the best, and it most certainly may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but green tea significantly helps to reduce glucose uptake. Who wouldn’t want their carbs running away from fat cells and heading to muscle cells for those gains?
REMEMBER: everything is about perspective and how you view things. We’re usually our own worst enemy, don’t blame insulin. It can be perfect when it’s used right. So don’t neglect your food planning; be smart, be lean, be a fat loss, muscle gaining machine!
IG : _moooody
Hess-Fischl, A. (2017). What is Insulin? Important hormone allows your body to use sugar (glucose). Retrieved from: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/what-insulin
Hyght, C. (2016). The Insulin Advantage: How to Bulk and Cut on the Same Day. Retrieved from:https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/insulin-advantage
Miyaki, N. (2011). 5 Ways to Improve Insulin Sensitivity. Retrieved from: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/5-ways-to-improve-insulin-sensitivity
Poliquin Group. (2011). Insulin, Nutrition, and Your Health. Retrieved from:http://main.poliquingroup.com/articlesmultimedia/articles/article/772/insulin_nutrition_and_your_health.aspx
Poliquin Group. (2014). Nine Things that Improve Insulin Sensitivity: Accelerate Fat Loss & Build Muscle Faster! Retrieved from:http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1267/Nine_Things_that_Improve_Insulin_Sensitivity_Accel.aspx
Stoppani, J. (2016). The Muscle-Building Messenger: Your Complete Guide To Insulin. Retrieved from:http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-muscle-building-messenger-complete-guide-to-insulin.html