Author: Linda Ericson
Insulin is a blood sugar regulating hormone which is produced by the pancreas. It allows your body to use glucose from consumed carbohydrates immediately as energy or to store glucose for future use. It is considered an anabolic hormone as it increases the uptake of nutrients favorable to muscle growth as well as preventing catabolism of them.
Insulin plays a big role in keeping a healthy balance in your blood sugar levels, keeping it from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Conditions as for instance diabetes are a result of imbalances in the production and absorption of insulin.
After a meal we have elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. This is where the insulin kicks in and signals to both our muscles and fat tissue to absorb it. The muscles and liver then produce and store glycogen of the carbohydrates glucose.
Since we can only store a limited amount of glycogen in our body (approximately 1200-1600 kcal), the excess which does not succeed in stimulating muscle growth will lead to direct fat storage.
Among the hormones that counteract insulin are glucagon, adrenaline and noradrenaline. They all seem to break down glycogen and fat, while glucagon is also catabolic and therefore breaks down even muscle mass.
When talking about insulin sensitivity it is referred to the receptors ability to “open” and absorb the nutrients. Low insulin sensitivity requires a larger insulin boost to take care of the food you just ate, while more active recipients do not have the same need of the hormone to transport nutrients into the cell.
A low insulin sensitivity, also called insulin resistance, may easily result in fat retention and later on even obesity. In the long run it could also reduce muscle mass as the anabolic properties of the hormone deteriorate.
Maximized fat burning and optimal conditions for muscle growth are therefore achieved through a good insulin sensitivity.
There are several ways you could increase your insulin production and sensitivity. One of the keys in order to accomplish such thing is of course physical exercise, but also periodic fasting has showed itself to have significant effect on insulin levels.
In addition, insulin resistance is also supported by supplements such as R-ALA (R-alpha lipoic acid), chromium, vitamin B7 and flaxseed oil.