Knowing what to do with our nutrition is a very important aspect to controlling insulin resistance as we learned in the last article in this series. Your fitness habits and how you handle stress can also have a big impact on your risks of developing and reversing insulin resistance. Exercise is extremely important when working with insulin resistance. Here is why.
Cardio has been shown to improve insulin receptivity, but how long it helps can vary. It can help increase sensitivity for 20 minutes or 24 hours. According to studies, 24 hours is the longest amount of time the benefits from the exercise lasts so this is why exercise must be done daily.
The intensity of how you do the exercise matters also. The recommendation is to do an hour of cardio in the aerobic zone.
What is the aerobic zone? The Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) is working at 70 - 80% of maximum heart rate, will help improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system and can increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat. In this zone it is a bit harder to speak. You can say a few words and then have to catch your breath.
Keep in mind that you could stay working in the aerobic zone, but have to continually get more aggressive with your workouts as your fitness levels rise. So if you have been working on jogging at a 70-80% of your max pace then you may be jogging 12 minute miles at first. After doing that for a few weeks or a month, you may naturally pick up the pace to get the same feeling you had in that zone when you first started, so now you may be running 11 minute miles. It is all relative to your specific fitness levels. A walk for one person could feel like an aerobic zone pace, whereas another person may be jogging and feel like they are barely doing anything. So do what is right for you and do not use someone elses measurements.
Cardio will also help you burn more calories, and since insulin resistance has a direct link to the amount of body fat we carry, it can help improve in that aspect. Also cardio will help with stress relief. What I am saying is that cardio will help in a multitude of ways with insulin resistance.
Now cardio is super important, but doing some weight training is important as well. The more muscle mass we have the better we burn calories at rest which can make a difference in our body fat percentage. As we have discussed before, when our body fat is lower so is our insulin resistance.
The reduction of Stress is also a concern when dealing with insulin resistance. Stress has been shown to be a contributor to insulin resistance. There is no definite answers on how this works, but it is theorized that it has something to do with the hormones we produce in excess when we are stressed. For example, if the body is producing tons and tons of cortisol, then it does not have as much energy to put into creating other hormones the body needs such as insulin.
Another factor could be that the over stimulation of stress can eventually create an exhausted organ situation. For example too much stress, sugar and stimulant can cause adrenal burn out, which then makes it hard for the body to function correctly.
Many people are in stressful situations that they do not think they can change or just do not wish to change. But I urge you to see which stressors in your life you can eliminate and which ones you can at least reduce. It could be as simple as prepping your meals so that you do not have to stress about what to cook when you get home. Maybe for you putting on your favorite music during working keeps you feeling better. And of course again the exercise also helps coping with stress. You may even decide to get a new job. The ways for reducing and coping with stress are endless.
Some Supplements and nutrients can be a great allies in your work in turning the tide. In my research these have been hailed as the most important when dealing with blood sugar problems.
Alpha Lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is used to not only help with insulin resistance, but to help with nerve issues associated with diabetes. It also helps with chronic fatigue, which many people with insulin resistance deal with.
What food contain it: Spinach, Broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and organ meat. Keep in mind that these are found in small amounts, so you may still need supplementation.
Chromium is used to help insulin receptivity. but it is also used to help in the metabolism of fats, carbs and proteins. This why we hear of people using it to lose weight.
What foods contain it: Broccoli, garlic, basil, beef, turkey, green beans. Keep in mind that these are found in small amounts, so you may still need supplementation.
Magnesium helps in protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function and blood glucose control. It is also needed for energy production. The body contains about 25 grams of magnesium. Most of that in the bones.
What foods contain it: Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Silymarin (Milk thistle) also helps with protein synthesis. The great thing with this herb is that it helps with regulating hormone production, and insulin is a hormone.
Cinnamon specifically cassia cinnamon has been found in some studies to lower blood sugar.
Ginseng has been shown to be helpful with controlling blood sugar levels, reducing fatigue and much more. These two uses I have listed are the main reason that someone with insulin resistance would want to incorporate it. There are multiple types of ginseng and there are supplements that are a combination of them, which I think is a great option.
Gymnema contains substances that decrease the absorption of sugar from the intestine. Gymnema may also increase the amount of insulin in the body and increase the growth of cells in the pancreas, which is the place in the body where insulin is made.
Over the course of 4 articles we have talked about what insulin resistance is, the risk factors, the nutrition, the fitness the mindset and supplements. Now it is up to you to incorporate these things into your life and to improve it! Remember to work with your doctor or health care professional to find what works best for you.
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