Have you ever wondered if you were insulin resistant?
We don’t often discuss this as a possibility in the running community, but many times the runner’s lifestyle and diet can lead to mild insulin resistance. When I struggled with a PCOS-like diagnosis while trying to get pregnant, I learned that my body was likely a bit insulin resistant as well.
So let’s back up a minute. What are the signs of insulin resistance?
- feeling tired, hungry or the afternoon “blahs”
- gaining weight, particularly around the middle
- hypertension or high cholesterol
- family history of heart disease or diabetes
- gestational diabetes
Although I didn’t have most of these symptoms, my body leaned toward insulin resistance. Post-baby my body again struggled to get back to balance until I addressed it with dietary changes and a better balance of exercise as I’m covering in the runner’s reset.
From my first Fresh Fix in the spring (left) to December 2015 (right)
My weight didn’t change and I was never “overweight” but my body wanted to hold weight in my belly.
When we eat sugar, refined or processed food, our body requires more insulin to metabolize it and our bodies become less responsive. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps to control glucose, or blood sugar.
Normally glucose is carried to individual cells and insulin signals the cells to absorb the glucose and fuel the body. However, when there is too much insulin released, the body becomes less sensitive to it and blood sugar levels become too high. This can disrupt metabolism, increase inflammation in the body, and ultimately lead to insulin resistance or early signs of diabetes.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen how common this issue can be among runners, particularly women.
We tend to fuel our bodies with pasta dinners pre-run, bagels post-run, and cupcakes anytime because we ran. We use gels and gu on long runs and electrolyte drinks. All of these refined sugars and carbohydrates can lead to insulin issues. Women with insulin issues tend to have strong sugar/carb cravings.
However, carbohydrates are not the bad guys. Complex carbohydrates, in the form of vegetables, fruits, some whole grains and legumes can help to slow and reverse the process.
What can you do to address it?
- Simple dietary changes to ensure that carbohydrates have a balanced role in the overall diet with plenty of fiber and protein can balance insulin and help the body get back on track (which can be through a meat-eating or vegetarian diet)
- A pharmaceutical grade vitamin, Omega 3s and a probiotic (such as what is included in the Vitalizer) is important to help decrease sugar/carbohydrate cravings and balance hormones.
- Omega 3 fatty acids through diet are also important (salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil)
- Reduce stress, get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly
If you find your body beginning to exhibit any of the above signs, you may want to tweak your diet to prevent insulin resistance. If you want a personalized plan, message me about nutrition coaching as this is one of the areas that I will be focusing on this year.
Are you familiar with insulin resistance?
Have you ever struggled with these symptoms?