Does Insulin Really Cause Weight Gain? (Are You Kidding?)


I get emails from a diabetes site here and there and the headliner for this particular article really got my attention.  It’s called “Does Insulin Really Cause Weight Gain?”  So I thought, wow, is this a question we even need to ask?  Well sadly it is.

If one is overweight, or one becomes overweight on insulin therapy, we know one thing for a fact, their insulin levels are too high, period, relative to their metabolism.  Now in the overwhelming majority of cases we can measure their insulin levels and find them to be high enough to qualify as being a disease, but even in the small percentage of cases of obesity that don’t have insulin levels high enough to be called hyperinsulinemic, we’re still talking about their being too high relatively, and we know this for sure just by knowing how insulin works.

There’s too much storage going on, and storage is a product of insulin levels.  One’s body mass is a product of insulin levels.  Now some people are disposed towards storage more than others but that means that if they are storing too much, their insulin levels are too high, for them.  Almost all of the time though they are clinically too high as well.

Being overweight is, by the way, a genuine metabolic disease, in spite of how prevalent it is, with well known health consequences, none of them good by the way.

We know that from the very nature of insulin, how it works, that it is critically involved in storage.  Without insulin, you can eat all you want, but you will become emaciated and eventually die, and this is how the type 1’s used to go prior to insulin therapy.  With these folks, insulin therapy is required to avoid a quick death, but whether or not we should be dosing them to levels which make them fat is a whole other story.  This is what happens when you focus on one marker to the exclusion of others, and obesity is just one that gets messed up when we overdo the insulin.

If I were a type 1, ideally I’d dose my total daily dose of insulin according to insulin levels, although that’s just not practical as you’d have to be testing your insulin frequently enough, and it would be near impossible to get test after test prescribed by your doctor to stay on top of this.  This is because all they care about is blood sugar, they don’t care about other things, all the nasty things that happen if your insulin is too high rather than too low, which can happen pretty easily.

In order to manage the blood sugar of a type 1, you actually have to raise insulin levels above normal, because injected insulin doesn’t work anywhere near as well as excreted insulin in suppressing excess liver glucose.  To get something close to the proper amount for the liver, you need to go well above normal levels in the blood.

Now a certain amount of excess here is actually needed as you don’t want your blood sugar to run too wild, but you do need to be careful, lest you turn these type 1’s into obese double diabetics, with both no insulin production and heavy insulin resistance.

Most type 1’s are overweight, as are most type  2’s, and most people for that matter, but in the case of type 1’s, the curious thing is that their natural tendency is to be underweight and the obesity here is purely due to medication.

I don’t hang out in the diabetic community anymore and to be honest, hearing the same old things over and over again for a period of several years did get a little tiring.  All you hear is, blood sugar, blood sugar, blood sugar.  When I’d tell them that I care about other things as well and I care about high insulin even more, and would never raise it to excess no matter how high my blood sugar may be, this does tend to shock some people, but that’s no surprise, because diabetes is really a cult of blood sugar management.

So getting back to my being a type 1, it’s not going to be practical to test my insulin often enough, but there’s another way, and that’s the mirror and the scale.  I’d be shooting for a normal weight here and that’s the only thing I’d be looking at, I wouldn’t care what my blood sugar is.

If I started getting a little too flabby I’d cut down on the insulin, and if I looked like I could put on a few pounds I’d dial up a little more.  Some people might think this is crazy but it’s definitely not, we do want to use metabolism as a measure here and there’s no better measure when it comes to that then body weight.

Wouldn’t I worry about complications?  Indeed I would, and the first one I’d be worried about is being overweight, as that’s not just the canary in the coal mine, it’s the gorilla in the coal mine, as being overweight leads to a host of other things.  The big problem is that if you are overweight and you are using insulin, and especially if you are a type 1, you are overdoing the insulin, raising it up too much and the result is excess fat storage, period.

You see all sorts of references to managing microvascular complications, and no one talks about macrovascular ones, such as cardiovascular disease, and the number one culprit and maybe even the sole culprit in this and several other diseases is excessively high insulin.  You do want to worry about numb feet, but you also want to worry about dying from a heart attack.

This isn’t even about looking to achieve a balance, because high insulin leads to high blood sugar due to its causing and worsening insulin resistance, and over time you’ll have both to worry about unless you get your insulin levels fairly normalized.

This is all the case with type 2’s as well, although in our case it can take time for these things to resolve if it’s our own natural insulin production that’s too high, as it most often is.  If you are adding to this problem by injecting or taking insulin secretagogues, that’s just adding fuel to the fire.

With type 2, generally the goal needs to be to reduce insulin, especially if you are overweight.  Not all type 2’s are overweight, and if you are of normal weight and have high blood sugar you really need to test your insulin, but if you’re overweight the scale tells on you plenty enough to perhaps not even bother.

In both types, the goal should be…wait for it, it’s a shocking one…to look to normalize the bloody hormone!  It is never good to have elevated hormone levels and if there’s one that you definitely don’t want elevated, because the consequences of this are so serious.  High insulin is behind the explosion of just about every modern chronic disease, and I’ve only touched upon this on the site so far, and there will be much more to come.

Where being overweight is concerned though, it’s a sure bet that if you jack it up it will make you fat, whether you are man or beast, that’s how it works, and we can control people’s weight simply by changing one’s insulin levels.

So the article states that many type 2’s are afraid to go to insulin because of weight concerns.  I do want to point out that when used correctly, which always involves a very low carb diet in concert with this injected insulin, you can manage this without becoming overweight, but few people are up for such a diet.

If you are planning on eating a good amount of carbs, like the ADA style diet, and expect to not get fat on insulin, you’re going to be disappointed.  If you eat a standard diet and are a type 2, well you’re probably already fat and getting fatter probably isn’t a great idea.

The most important marker in my mind with any diabetic is managing one’s weight.  This isn’t because being overweight is so bad for you, it’s bad enough, it’s because what is causing the overweight problem is indeed that bad, and that’s too much insulin running through our veins, which is that we need to be most focused on avoiding.

The more I study this disease, the more convinced I am that this is all really about inflammation, and if you’re looking to worsen this, there’s nothing better than high insulin, and this is the primary reason why we got type 2 in the first place.   The way we see type 2 diabetes turns the world on its head, or at least tries to, there are a lot of people upside down though and very few who get it, and I invite you to look deeper into the real science of this if you don’t get it yet as well.

The science says, by the way, that we do need to worry a whole lot about high insulin, and getting fat from it is the least of the problems that it causes.

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