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10 Ways to Increase Insulin Sensitivity for Better Fat Loss

man at sprint starting blocksYour insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism are directly correlated to your body composition. Impair your body’s ability to efficiently store glucose, and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle against fat loss. Here are 10 ways you can increase insulin sensitivity and make it easier to change your body composition for the better.

Eat Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates

The glycemic index measures a given food’s impact on blood glucose levels. High-glycemic foods cause a rapid rise in blood glucose, which results in your body releasing large amounts of insulin.

The constant bombardment of insulin on your cells causes them to become insensitive to insulin’s effects over time – meaning more and more insulin is needed to achieve a similar result. Eating a low-glycemic diet can improve glucose uptake and increase your insulin sensitivity [1].

Here are 100 healthy foods to eat that will all have a minimal impact on your blood glucose.

Make Exercise Part of Your Lifestyle

Exercise causes a reduction in blood glucose and plasma insulin levels for days after physical activity [2]. One of the main mechanisms for why this happens is the translocation of GLUT4 in fat and muscle tissue. GLUT4 transports the glucose from the food you eat into your cells.

When you exercise, a higher number of GLUT4 translocate to muscle cells as compared to fat cells – resulting in a better ability to store glucose in muscle tissue without the presence of insulin.

Drink Green Tea

Similar to exercise, green tea significantly reduces glucose uptake by fat tissue, and significantly stimulates glucose uptake in muscle [3]. Green tea improves insulin sensitivity by increasing GLUT4 translocation in muscle tissue.

EGCG is a catechin antioxidant believed to be responsible for the majority of tea’s health benefits. Green tea also has numerous health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, cognitive impairment, and osteoporosis [4].

Here are 8 healthy drinks besides water for added taste bud stimulation.

Eat Your Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be manufactured by the body, so they need to be ingested through your diet. Besides these 33 health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, they also affect inflammation, hormones, mood, metabolism, behavior, and cellular signaling. A diet supplemented with omega 3 fatty acids improves insulin sensitivity and lowers triglyceride levels [5].

Increase Your Fiber Intake

Increasing insoluble dietary fiber intake for 3 days significantly improves whole-body insulin sensitivity [6]. Fiber intake is also inversely correlated with the risk of developing insulin resistance and type II diabetes [7].

In other words, the higher your fiber intake, the better your insulin sensitivity, and the lower your risk for diabetes. Adding fiber to your meals lowers the glycemic index of your meal, which will in turn increase insulin sensitivity and slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Eat your veggies!

Here are 11 easy ways to get more fiber in your diet.

Avoid Trans Fat

Trans fats are nasty little man-made fats (there are some healthy natural ones) used to extend product shelf-lives and change the consistency of unsaturated fats to make them more saturated. Trans fats cause fat gain around the stomach – even in the absence of excess calories, and are associated with insulin resistance [8]. Trans fats cause impaired insulin binding to insulin receptors – resulting in decreased insulin sensitivity.

Read about these 10 dangerous food additives to avoid.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a great tasting spice used in many foods. The good news? Cinnamon can increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels [9] [10].

You can add it to your oatmeal or other food, your protein shakes, or your liquid beverages. If you need a healthy snack idea, might I recommend some baked cinnamon apple chips to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Limit Fructose Consumption

Most people know fructose as “fruit sugar”. It’s true that fruit contains varying amounts of fructose. However, fructose is also ingested from processed food sources that contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Fructose is metabolized by the liver. Exposing the liver to large quantities of fructose leads to the rapid stimulation of lipogenesis (fat formation) and triglyceride accumulation, which in turn contributes to reduced insulin sensitivity [11].  Avoid processed foods, and you should be safe from the detrimental effects of fructose.

Avoid Fast Food

This one is fairly self-explanatory. Fast-food consumption has strong positive associations with weight gain and insulin resistance, suggesting that fast food increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes [12]. Fast food is loaded with trans fats and high-glycemic carbohydrates – both of which reduce insulin sensitivity via different methods.

Find out how to say no to unhealthy food and mean it.

Get Your Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that scavenges free radicals. People that have low vitamin E concentrations in their blood have a higher risk of insulin resistance [13]. Supplementation of vitamin E increases glucose disposal and improves insulin action [14].

The good news is that you don’t have to take supplements to get your RDA of vitamin E. You can get it by eating whole foods such as nuts and seeds. However, if you’re already taking cod liver oil, it gives you 100% of the DV (daily value) in every tablespoon.

  • Juliette Parker

    I have read that white tea has greater benefits than green tea. Could you comment on this research please? Thanks.

    • Coach Calorie

      Hey Juliette, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that white tea is better – just different. There doesn’t seem to be as much research done on white tea as compared to green tea, but the research that is published shows mixed benefits between the two teas – where at times green is better, and at others white is. I would say that as long as you are drinking at least one of them, you are getting 90% of the benefits of tea.

      • Seamus Dolan

        All tea is good until you put milk in it.

        • http://twitter.com/groggerz Groggerz

          Coach Calorie , thanks so much for al your info , learning aot from your site and feel i can loose this last stone now .. Happy Easter

      • Kathy

        I use decaffeinated green tea much of time … also, do I need to use 3 tea bags each day in order to realize a benefit from it? Thanks!

  • Cherisse

    My brother was told by his doctor that he had insulin dependent diabetes. He went to see a nutritionist specializing in dianetes and now with carefully adhering to a higher fibre intake and lower glycemic diet, he rarely if ever has to take his insulin.

    • Coach Calorie

      Good to hear Cherisse. I hear stories like this all the time from people with Type 2 diabetes, but Type 1 is an often forgotten condition.

  • amanda

    My question is, what if you have issues with low blood sugar levels naturally? How will this affect me? I do not have an issue with my weight, just that thin layer of fat hissing my abdominals. Any suggestions? I exercise regularly. But the problem is I’m deployed & living offof MRE as food source. Thanks!

    • Coach Calorie

      What kind of issues do you have Amanda? Most people that have low blood sugar have it as a result of reactive hypoglycemia. They eat a carbohydrate-dense meal, or they eat higher-glycemic carbohydrates. As a result, it causes a quick rise in blood glucose levels, and then insulin comes in to clear it out. Unfortunately, insulin tends to do too good of a job, and ends up leaving you with low blood sugar.

      What kind of carbohydrates are you eating?

  • Christine

    Do you need to drink pure green tea or is it okay to have another flavor added. My neighbor gave me some Jasmine Green tea, is that just as beneficial as Green tea alone? Is loose tea better than tea bags?

    • Coach Calorie

      I’m sure you can add some other flavors to it as long as they are whole foods. Don’t go adding sugar, artificial sweeteners, or non-dairy creamers obviously.

  • Katie

    Can you take a green tea supplement instead of drinking green tea?

  • Eli

    What if your sensitive to caffeine and you also are dealing with reactive hypoglycemia and trying to lose weight… Would green tea still be beneficial?

    • Coach Calorie

      If you aren’t good with stimulants, you might want to pass on the caffeine. There are plenty of other ways to increase insulin sensitivity without causing your body harm.

      • Theresa

        Regarding caffeine in green tea, they do make green tea pills that are decaffeinated

    • Lisa

      White tea is supposed to have less caffeine than green tea so you could try that. However you are probably best to try some of the other ways suggested above.

  • http://therealmomreview.blogspot.com Jean Lynd

    Just wanted to throw out there that I’ve tried Carlson’s Lemon flavor fish oil AND their Orange flavored one. Everyone’s diff’t, but I like the ORANGE much better (as do my kids). Might want to give it a try sometime.

    • Coach Calorie

      Thanks for the tip Jean. I might just give it a try.

  • Gillian

    you mention walnuts for omega 3, is that the only type of nuts, i take 30g of cashew nuts which i thought did the same thing.
    i also now take 3 fish oils at every meal does this seem excessive? recommendation by my trainer?

    what foods have omega 6 in them?

    is smoked salmon as good as cooked salmon

    lastly!! how much of an impact cutting out all dairy make

    thanks

  • Gillian

    ok and sorry another quesiton, what impact does say coffee i.e caffeine make

  • http://twitter.com/lalis_58 ariana labrada

    is it true that honey makes you gain weight? that honey shouldnt be added to green tea or dandelion root tea?

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

      Honey doesn’t make you gain weight, excess calories do. Ideally, you’d want to limit your intake of sugars, but a teaspoon of honey here or there won’t hurt you and is my go-to choice for a sweetener. Use raw and unfiltered.

      • Cassie Montgomery

        Also Try “Raw Blue Agave Syrup” its 3 times as sweet as honey but you ony have to use half as much not to mention it has less calories.

        • Jonathan Wecker

          Unfortunately agave is nearly all fructose, which shouldnt be ingested outside of small amounts in some fruits. Mangos are also high in fructose. Apparently apples are too, but the apple is digested slowly enough to dilute the effecr. Not so for apple juice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262075640 Mary Morales

    What is the best Green tea to buy? to consume?

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

      Hi Mary, that’s going to be very individualistic. The important thing is to make sure you aren’t adding a bunch of stuff to it to make it more palatable. Other than that, green teas with high EGCG content are best.

    • http://twitter.com/groggerz Groggerz

      green tea with jasmine is lovely , with a small spoon of organic honey, great at 3pm

  • uigs

    I just found out through my fasting glucose blood test that I am in the pre-diabetic range. Are these guidelines that can help reverse this trend? I lost 25 lbs. before getting this result but I do have another 25 or so to go but as far as body composition goes well, I am not looking more toned along with the weight loss and my belly is hanging on for it’s dear life. Luckily I found this site a month ago so I added in some kettlebell for weight bearing activities and I need to refine my whole foods eating as well.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    These tips will help you improve the way your body handles blood glucose. However, always consult with your doctor first to make sure there are no underlying problems.

    • uigs

      Thanks Coach Calorie! Yes, I have consulted with a Dr. / Hollistic practitioner so I am getting some answers.

  • Susan Parris

    Being a diabetic I find the whole Insulin resistance/Low GI thing confusing, even after all this time. I was diagnosed Type II in 2000. My mum, both grandfathers, brother (Type 1) and nephew (Type 1) are as well. I’ve seen the dire consequences of what it can do and I don’t want to head down that path. I have decided that as soon as I finish my college study and have my qualifications as a PT I’m going to get further into understanding it, not just for me but for clients who, I know, are just as confused and bamboozled as I can be. Thanks for this great article. Any suggested reading would be appreciated

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    I wouldn’t use it for the sole purpose of improving your insulin sensitivity. Rather, I’d just be happy that it’s helping me if I’m already a user. Even a little bit will make a health difference.

  • Louise

    Yet another informative, easy to read article. Thanks very much

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Tony Schober

    I personally find the liquid easier. To get just a teaspoon worth of oil, you have to swallow 5 huge pills. Easier to just drop a tsp into your smoothie and call it a day. Otherwise, there isn’t a difference (except for the ingestion of the softgel).

    • Laleh Asher Zar

      Thanks for all your answers, tips and comprehensive articles!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Tony Schober

    I’m not a tea drinker myself, so I don’t have a recommendation. Maybe someone else does. The key is to pick one with high ECGC content. I add cinnamon to my oatmeal with honey. Cinnamon sticks would be best, but I don’t think there is much of a difference between that and ground.

  • runningchick

    Go to a spice store and buy some quality cinnamon. My favorite is Korintje Cinnamon. I also use Vietnamese and Ceylon. Each of them are different. They are strong, fragrant, high quality kinds. I use them for different uses. Once you use these you won’t go back to the general kinds. Good luck. :)

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Tony Schober

    Looks like a great list of foods there! You are bound to improve your health and well being with a diet like that :)