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How Does Fasting Affect Insulin?

How Does Fasting Affect Insulin?

Everything you need to know about the function of insulin and how fasting affects it

Your body performs thousands of different functions to enable you to feel your best at all times. Several different hormones are at work and they all have an effect on your health and wellness. Insulin is one such hormone that has a profound influence on the way your body functions. Perhaps, the most crucial role of insulin, is its interaction with glucose to allow the cells of the body to use this glucose as energy. Before partaking in any type of diet or fast, it is always important to understand its correlation with insulin and the role of the latter in your ability to lose weight.

Insulin’s role in glucose levels

The process is simple—when we eat, carbohydrates in our food break down into glucose (sugar). Our bloodstream absorbs the glucose and raises our blood sugar levels. This increase in blood sugar signals our pancreas to create and distribute insulin (a peptide hormone) into our bloodstream. Then, insulin attaches to our cells and acts as a key to unlock them and allow sugar to enter. Our cells convert this sugar into usable energy. If our bloodstream contains more sugar than your body needs, insulin will signal our body to store the excess glucose in our fat cells. This way, we will have an energy source to use when our blood sugar runs low between meals. Since once released, insulin causes the body to store energy as fat, the more insulin made, the more fat is stored. Overall, insulin prevents your glucose levels from getting too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (hyperglycemia), which ensures you function at your best. Constant exposure to insulin (as a result of your dietary practices) causes your cells to resist insulin so they no longer do a good job of removing glucose from your bloodstream. Over time, insulin resistance can increase your blood sugar and the impact is negatively manifested throughout your body.

Fasting vs. insulin level

Now that the basic function of insulin in our body is established, let’s look at the impact fasting has on it.When we eat, our food is broken down into glucose, raising blood sugar levels, thereby raising insulin levels. If we are constantly eating, we are constantly raising our insulin levels. Therefore, during the fasting window, our body gets the time to stabilize the insulin level. This gives our pancreas a rest from insulin production. This time enables our body to lower the insulin level, which in turn, reverses the fat-storing process. When insulin level drops, the above mentioned meticulous process is reversed and we end up losing fat.The concept of fasting, whether it is intermittent or any other type, is based on the premise of allowing the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat. Moreover, studies have shown that fasting has major benefits for insulin resistance and leads to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels lowering your risk of diabetes. A secondary study analyzed the correlation between intermittent fasting (IF) and insulin resistance. The study found participants who fasted, witnessed a 3-6% reduction in their blood sugar and lowered their insulin by 20-31%, as opposed to those who didn’t. Researchers involved with the study suggest that fasting is equally as effective as traditional calorie reduction methods to accelerate weight loss and protect heart health.

Although there are seemingly many benefits of fasting and it has an overall positive effect with regards to insulin, it is still imperative to consult your healthcare provider before you decide to fast to ensure optimal results. Schedule a one-on-one virtual consultation with me to better understand how fasting can benefit your health.