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Insulin is the key hormone for glucose metabolism, fat gain and loss. After you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels will increase. It is the insulin’s job to push the glucose into the cells where it is used for energy or stored for future needs as fat. Insulin also helps muscles, fat and liver cells store sugar that can be released when it is needed.
Each cell surface has insulin receptors which act like little doors that open and close to regulate the amount of blood sugar allowed to flow in.
If the body takes in too much simple sugars found in carbohydrates (like white breads, potatoes, sugary drinks etc), the cells are bombarded with so much insulin that the “doors” begin to malfunction and shut down. If the doors aren’t open, the pancreas feels the need to produce even more insulin to push into the cells because it cannot perform its function to lower sugar levels tending to leave the insulin floating in the blood stream. A vicious cycle is now in place resulting in a condition called Insulin resistance which inhibits our fat cells from giving up their stores of energy to let you lose weight. This is called metabolic starvation” as your own fat stores are “locked” due to insulin resistance and unable to give the fat back when you need it despite having the stores.
Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions including elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat, especially “belly fat”, or abnormal cholesterol levels, large waist; which, when they occur together, increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
W8MD University - Role of Glycemic Index of Foods in Insulin Resistance
The glycemic index or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels. It estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a particular item of food raises a person's blood glucose level following consumption of the food, relative to consumption of glucose. Glucose has a glycemic index of 100, by definition, and most other foods tend to have a lower glycemic index.
Glycemic index is defined for each type of food, independent of the amount of food consumed. Glycemic load accounts for the amount of total carbohydrates consumed and their glycemic index.
Sugar Rush and Crash!
High glycemic index foods such as French fries, bagels, white breads, white rice etc. with a lot of simple sugars release the glucose in to the blood stream very quickly thereby necessitating a high amount of insulin to be produced quickly. This sudden increase in blood sugar level requires high amounts of insulin to be released in a short time frame and is called "sugar rush". 2-3 hours after this, the body would have stored all the glucose in to fat and the high amount of insulin released leads to "sugar crash" where your sugars are crashing, and you may start craving for more carbohydrates again, thus setting in a vicious cycle of sugar rush and crash.
How does glycemic index of foods relate to insulin resistance?
For example, consuming a low glycemic food item such as salad with 100 grams of carbohydrates is not going to have the same glycemic load as consuming 100 grams of carbohydrates in the form of table sugar, because the glycemic index of table sugar is 100 and that of salad is about 40. The insulin requirement of salad is much lower and much more gradual as opposed to that of consuming sugar, even though both these foods have the same amount of total carbohydrates. By consuming low glycolic index foods such as salads, glucose is released gradually in to the blood stream and therefore, there is no attendant sugar rush/sugar crash phenomenon at work.
The lower the Glycemic Index, the better!
Foods with carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream tend to have a high GI; foods with carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, tend to have a low GI. The concept was developed by Dr. David J. Jenkins and colleagues in 1980–1981 at the University of Toronto in their research to find out which foods were best for people.
Even normal weight people with a 'beer belly' or 'muffin top' at risk, Mayo researchers say.
Even normal-weight people with belly fat and heart disease have an increased risk of death compared to folks whose fat is concentrated elsewhere, a large, new study reports. A "beer belly" or "muffin top" is as significant a risk factor as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or having very high blood cholesterol, the study said. And the risk is greater for men.
Lose the Spare Tire
That spare tire is even more significant than your overall body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) in predicting risk of death, the researchers said, noting their findings discount a puzzling theory known as the "obesity paradox." That surprising finding from earlier studies linked a higher BMI and coronary artery disease with better survival chances than normal-weight people.
"We suspected that the obesity paradox was happening because BMI is not a good measure of body fatness and gives no insight into the distribution of fat," said study lead author Dr. Thais Coutinho, a cardiology fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"BMI is just a measure of weight in proportion to height. What seems to be more important is how the fat is distributed on the body," she said in a clinic news release.
The study is published in the May 10 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The researchers looked at data from five studies conducted around the world, involving almost 16,000 people with coronary artery disease. The risk of death was nearly doubled for people with coronary artery disease and central obesity, which was determined by waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, the study found.