Insulin is the most important hormone in terms of the metabolism of fat and sugar, and our energy balance. Insulin is produced in the pancreas, which is situated in the abdomen, behind the navel.
Insulin is an important hormone yet too much of it is not good for the body. Too much insulin has a negative effect on our metabolism which makes you fat but it also leads to the production of 'bad' eicosanoids, which will deteriorate your health.
Insulin makes sure that the cells take up blood sugar, our most important source of energy. It is used immediately, transformed into glycogen which is stored in the liver for future use or turned into fat.
The higher the blood sugar, the more insulin the body produces in order to deal with it. The body depends on stable blood sugar levels and in order to keep them stable it uses a complex system of different hormones including insulin, glucagon, cortisol, adrenaline and growth hormone, to mention a few of them.
How Insulin Makes You Fat.
Let's presume that you eat a sandwich that provides you with carbohydrate (starch) from white flour and fat from cheese. The carbohydrates are broken down into glucose molecules, absorbed and turned into blood sugar.
The pancreas then secretes insulin which is usually low before meals. If you have not been recently physically active, or exercised while you ate (not many us do that !), most of the blood sugar will be stored as fat, especially around the waist.
The fat from the cheese will be absorbed in the small intestine in the form of triglycerides. The fat cells produce a hormone called leptin and an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is important for fat metabolism. This enzyme 'opens the door' for fat cells to take up fat so that they can be stored. The more LPL that is produced, the more fat will be taken up and the more your weight will increase. Please make an important note here that insulin determines how much LPL is available.
This shows why it is so important to avoid having too much insulin in your body and why you should avoid eating a combination of high-glycemic carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, pasta, pastries, white rice) and fats such as cheese. Eaten separately the effect is not as harmful.
Insulin has several other effects, too. Being an anabolic hormone (which means that it is responsible for storing energy), it makes sure that the body does not expend too much energy.
This means that as long as you have too much insulin in your blood, your body will not burn fat; but prefer to store it.
Fat cells are influenced by another enzyme, hormone-sensitive lipase. The more you have of this enzyme, the more fat will be released from the fat cells for burning and the more weight you will lose. And, in turn the more insulin in your blood, the less hormone-sensitive lipase and the less fat available for burning.
If you are obese or are in the early stage of type II diabetes (i.e. insulin resistance), your insulin level is constantly too high, even when you have not eaten anything. This explains why your body becomes a very efficient fat-storage machine.
If you are caught in this vicious circle of too much insulin - a situation that grows worse every time you eat carbohydrates with a high GI and a lot of fat - you are bound to gain weight, even if you eat less than before. And to make matters worse, fluctuating blood sugar levels will lead to an increased appetite, especially sugar cravings. So in conclusion - too much insulin makes you fat !
Check out this great video clip it explains the above really well:
The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to improve and stabilise blood sugar levels.
If you are aware of any health problem which may compromise your general health, it is important to seek treatment. A Health and Wellness Counselor may help you, to bring you back in balance and to good health through, detoxing, healthy eating and living, create a proper diet suited for your condition, advise natural remedies, herbs, wholefood supplements and organic cosmetics.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !