Let’s talk about insulin


I want to make this simple for everyone so we can get back to training.

Insulin is bad. Well, elevated insulin is. Let me explain:

The body uses the hormones leptin and insulin to communicate the status of energy in your body. Simply, insulin tells your body how much energy is available and leptin how much food is on the way.

No biggie, right?

In our world of high starch, high sugar, candies, soft drinks, and baked good this vital body system is thrown out of whack. The sugars in most processed food (and grains!) elevates your insulin to inane levels. Sugar high? That’s right. You have one after that coke. Now your body is going to take everything else consumed, i.e. the Whopper, french fries, and that cold and gooey yummy ice cream sundae and automatically store it. As fat. Your insulin levels will stay elevated for some time till they crash. When they go down so will you.

Do you feel terrible at around 11am after those muffins and orange juice for breakfast? The shaking hands, light headedness, and extreme hunger send you off crazy and raving for another fix? When have that Mountain Dew or those crackers from the vending machine you’ve done it again. The insulin shoots up, the excess gets stored and this vicious cycle begins again.

The obesity, type II diabetes, and a whole host of symptoms that comprise metabolic syndrome in our world can be linked to this. Just look around the mall one day and notice what people look like. They don’t seem to be feeling to good either, do they?

Beyond health and longevity we see performance dampening effects from raising your insulin. Those blueberries, protein powder, nut butter, and milk you just blended and slurped after Fran or Helen are hormone killers. Not only have you raised their Glycemic load, which elicits a higher insulin response, by blending them and breaking their cellulose you’ve killed the Growth Hormone (yes, baseball players take the synthetic version of this called HGH) response you have elicited from CrossFit. Insulin shuts down the secretion of this recuperative hormone. This damages muscle repair, recovery, lean body mass, and finally fat loss.

So what do we do? We regain insulin sensitivity.

Take baby steps:

1) Lean means, vegetables, some fruit (only on training days), nuts, seeds, little starch, no grains and no sugar. Trust me, it works.

2) Take a long walk after you train. 25-45 minutes. Or shoot some hoops. Play Hoover ball. Hell, talk to Jake if you have to. We want growth hormone to seep and keep working for as long as it can. Take your post work-out meal an hour after training. Mix protein, good fats, and carb sources from green veggies and fruits. Keep fruit consumption low on strength days. And for God’s sake do not drink a protein shake unless there is no other real food in the house.

3) This is going to be the toughest to swallow but experiment with fasting. Don’t eat dinner one night. You should taper eating off two hours before you go to sleep anyway. GH is once again secreted during our deepest sleep and we don’t want the insulin from dinner or a midnight snack to shut that down. Try not to eat until lunch time the next day. Fast for 18 hours. Eat as much as you normally would in a 5 hour window. Or, if you’re a tough boy or girl, fast 24 hours and then feast the next 24. Eat as much as you would in two days during that feast. We’ve all done it here and have noticed very nice body composition and lean mass changes. Fasting allows insulin levels to drop very low and then slowly be ramped up during the feast. If the fast is broken with protein and fat sources and then slowly introduced to carb sources your insulin will only slowly be raised and slowly drop. No more crashes. No more 11am ravenous beastings.

I want you to be healthy, I want you to be fit. I want you to crush when you come out here. We can’t do it alone. It all ends in the kitchen.

What have you been doing to eat right and stay healthy? Post your thoughts to the comments.