#55: Are You Resistant To This Hormone?

#55: Are You Resistant To This Hormone?



Welcome back to another episode of the Be Fab Be You Made Simple Podcast. This is Maria Horstmann, founder of BeFabBeYou.com and your host. This is a place we have raw, honest conversation targeted to educate and inspire you to be proud of your choices when it comes to your health and fitness so you feel great in your own skin.

If you are looking to transform your health, fitness, and quality of life, I will help you identify healing opportunities, establish a plan, and execute the plan together. Go to BeFabBeYou.com to book a call with me and let’s rock and roll.

The theme for August is Metabolic Health and in the first episode 54, I introduced you to key biomarkers of Metabolic Health. In today’s episode, let’s talk about metabolic health, metabolism, and weight or fat loss. I also introduce you to key players in Metabolic Health: blood glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance.

For me, it’s important you understand these guys before dive deeper into culprits to poor metabolic health measured through the metabolic biomarkers we discussed in episode 54.

Complimentary to today’s episode, you may want to check out episode 12, There, I shared and discussed my Blood Sugar and Hormone Optimization Meal Cycle graph and heart health.

Remember that I add links to references to the transcript of the episodes which you can find at www.BeFabBeYou.com/podcast. Cool?


Why Do We Need To Keep Talking About Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance?

Let me share a few reasons I keep talking it…

First, I used to have blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, and pre-diabetes.  This topic is near and dear to my heart!

Second, most people only associate insulin to diabetes and that understates its power, especially when cells become insulin resistant.

Third, insulin resistance often starts years before it progresses to Type 2 Diabetes. Know that a person with Type 2 Diabetes is insulin resistant as well. Plus, a recent study in middle-aged and elderly Chinese found that insulin resistance is the main determinant of developing prediabetes.

Forth, according to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people with insulin resistance has doubled in the last 30 years and projected to double again in the next twenty years.

Lastly, unfortunately, that many people with insulin resistance have no idea they are insulin resistant. Depending on how resistant the person is, he/she may or not feel the side effects of insulin resistance including inflammation—the kind that doesn’t hurt yet! The kind that builds up slowly and steady with the potential to develop unwanted chronic diseases.

Here are some GREAT NEWS for you. You can do a 180º like I did. You have choices. You are in charge. If you’re not satisfied with the direction your health, fitness and life are going, you CAN change the direction your nutrition, movement, sleep routine, sleep management, and other health players.

You can, TODAY, pick ONE thing that will move the needle in the right direction. Start with the basic. Start making sure you are drinking enough water. Got that nailed? Move more often, challenge your muscles a little. Nailed that and the other fundamental habits too?

Maybe it’s time to go deeper and get some additional screenings such as cortisol, steroid hormones, digestion, gut lining, and food sensitivities. Don’t know where to start or how to move forward, I can help you with lab ordering, interpretation, and establishing a healing plan.

Metabolic Health and Weight [Fat] Loss

I am confident that you agree that most people with their waist to hip ratio, blood sugar, triglycerides, and LDL levels, blood pressure, and even uric acid under control are likely feel better than others. Notice that I didn’t say anything about weight. Why? It’s because we need to understand that carrying extra pounds don’t necessarily mean you are unhealthy.

Instead of using weight and the scale to measure health, I vote for using the biomarkers of metabolic health I’ve just mentioned as the starting point.

When we talk about weight or fat loss, let’s invite our fellow metabolism to health script. Metabolism refers to an awful lot of non-stop chemical processes going on inside our bodies that allow us to function including during sleep—there is a lot going on when we sleep. One of these processes is the rate at which our bodies break down nutrients from our food to use to energy, build, and repair.

Our metabolic rate is influenced by age, gender, physical activity, lean muscle to fat ratio, and hormone function. We have a great deal of control of three out of five metabolic rate factors.  In my book, that’s great news because all pillars of health that include diet, movement, sleep, stress levels, and toxicity play key roles in their regulation.

Now, would you like to know how insulin is involved in metabolism?

The effects of insulin on tissues are way too many to discuss today but you must know this right now:

Insulin affects the metabolism of all three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and protein.

Since we know that the rate we burn or convert foods into nutrients is important, we better have insulin on our side and do what we can to prevent cells resisting insulin, don’t you agree?

Check out the study titled Integration of biochemical and physiologic effects of insulin on glucose metabolism on PubMed for more juicy information on this topic.

Blood Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance

I don’t want to get ahead of myself and make assumptions you understand all this stuff. So, before we talk about how insulin impacts metabolic health biomarkers, let me set the stage about blood glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance.

Blood Glucose

By definition, glucose is a simple sugar which is an important energy source and a component of many carbohydrates. Many carbs such as white flour made products, baked potatoes, instant oatmeal, juices, corn, soft drinks, and dried fruits convert into energy quickly. They are considered high glycemic foods that will result in a quick spike in insulin as well.

Carbs aren’t the villain here, it’s about the types and choices. Choose carbs rich in dietary fiber, that is naturally occurring in foods, instead of synthetic fiber that’s added to processed foods, and you will keep not only your glucose levels balanced but also your microbiome, digestion, brain, and body happy.

Glucose, which is more commonly known as blood sugar, is our body’s main source of energy. The brain alone uses about 20% of glucose in the body. Keeping glucose levels balanced throughout the day is essential for health. This is a task a healthy liver will do for us, however, we are contributors to this process too.

Like just one of those projects in school. If you were like me, my grades mattered. I bet you’ve been in teams where one person took a huge load of work because that person cared more than most. The aggressive load of work one person puts in will last for so long. Eventually, that person’s performance will decrease, one or more projects she/he manages will suffer greatly.

The same happen to our bodies. The quality of foods we eat will dictate how hard the liver and all other parts in the body have to work to keep homeostasis. Eventually, the body gets depleted and performance decreases and if not taken care of, illnesses raise often from chronic inflammation.


When we eat, the body breaks down food and converts it into glucose. When we eat foods that raise glucose, the pancreas secrets the hormone insulin. The role insulin play in the body is far beyond blood glucose regulation. Insulin effects every cell in every tissue of the body. The effect really depends on the cell. Beautiful insulin receptors outside the surface of every cell bind to bind to insulin. They work like a lock. When the insulin as a lock binds to the cell in the form of a key, this bind opens a channel that allows glucose into the cell, decreasing the circulating glucose levels in the bloodstream, and ultimately magical activities happen. For example, when insulin binds to a liver cell, the liver makes fat among other functions. When insulin binds to a muscle cell, it enhances amino acid uptake and protein synthesis in muscle tissue.

It’s a beautiful thing when it works!!!!

The bottom line is no insulin, no life. In Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas isn’t producing insulin or producing little. People with this disease depend on insulin and without insulin, a person suffers Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) and can died quickly. Insulin prices continue to rise worldwide and in the US, which in 2012 the cost of insulin annually per person was of ~ $3,000 annually.

Can someone with Type 2 Diabetes become dependent on insulin as well? Unfortunately, yes. When blood sugar or blood glucose are left high (hyperglycemia) and uncontrolled for prolonged period of time, the pancreas can stop producing insulin and the person must treat with insulin or the pancreas is still producing insulin but cells become insulin resistant.

Insulin Resistance

In a nutshell, insulin resistance is when cells respond poorly to insulin or cells stop responding to insulin.

Let’s assume our pancreas is still producing insulin. However, when cells aren’t responding properly, blood glucose stays high. That’s not something the body wants so the pancreas keeps secreting insulin because its role to take glucose from bloodstream to cells.

The cycle continues and now, both blood glucose and insulin are high. High levels of insulin are directly related to many health conditions and metabolic health.

Truly, what I want to implant into you mind is the following…

A person can show relatively adequate blood glucose levels and still have insulin resistance. We must pay attention to insulin levels in the body more than tracking glucose. That is especially true if you don’t track your glucose except during annual visits to your doctor for blood work.

A single measurement is of little value. Many things can impact that fasting glucose number. Stressful day, poor sleep, ate late, have been fasting for prolonged period, medications, exercise, muscle fatigue, insulin resistance, and the list goes on.

It’s fairly easy to measure our glucose levels, even from home with a glucometer or a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). And stay tuned because I will be sharing some fascinating data after I’ve experimented with a CGM for 14 days.

When it comes to insulin, the story is a little different. There is no home tool yet. We need blood draw. And unless you’ve been diagnosed with Diabetes, it is unlikely your doctor will run it for you. It seems like the medical community is still very focus on glucose.

I am going to give two empowering options here:

  • Request your doctor to run your fasting insulin OR
  • Do like I do, go to a lab to do it yourself. Recently, I paid U$34 to get mine done. Got it done within 15 minutes and had the result two days later. If you are located in the US, I will be glad to help ordering it from a lab.

Lastly, be aware that there is a difference between your results being within ‘normal ranges’ and ‘optimal levels’. You WANT to your insulin and any other biomarkers to fall within optimal ranges.  I can help you with that as well.

Now that I’ve covered the basics with you, next episode of the Metabolic Health series, we will dive into how the dysregulation of one hormone can wreck your metabolic health measured by its key biomarkers mentioned in  episode 54.

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Talk to you soon. Make it a great one.

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