Only HALF the insulin your body makes each day is made because of the food you eat.
What about the other 50%?
You’ve changed the food, but you’re not seeing the results you hoped for. If that’s you, then let me tell you about The Fifty Percent Insulin Problem and what you can do about it.
I want to talk to you about how HALF the insulin your body makes, and yes I said HALF the insulin, fifty percent of the daily insulin your body produces has nothing to do with the food you eat.
I call this The Fifty Percent Insulin Problem.
Everyone in the low carb community understands if you eat a high carb meal, or a snack cake, or even worse, one of those big belly washing soft drinks, your insulin will go WAY UP fast.
The message seems so simple.
Carbs drive insulin and insulin drives obesity.
Cut the carbs, reduce the insulin and lose the weight.
Such a simple message, but is that the whole story?
The idea that carbs increase insulin is true, and for some simply cutting the carbs they eat is enough to solve their problem.
But for others, maybe even for you, this might not be enough, because HALF your insulin problem is not an eating problem.
So changing what you eat alone, might not be enough to reverse it.
You might need to an add another strategy.
In this article, I want you to see a side of this insulin problem that isn’t very well known.
I call this the Fifty Percent Insulin Problem
I want to very quickly, show you a study that will explain what this problem is.
In this study they looked at insulin levels throughout the day in a group of people, half the people were fat, the other half thin.
They tested these people’s insulin after 10 hours of sleeping and not eating and came up with the lowest level of constant insulin these people always have in their system, they called this the “Basal insulin secretion rate”, but we’ll call it their “Fasting Insulin” because whenever you see this number in a study, they call it the “fasting insulin”.
In other words, this fasting insulin number is a marker that tells us the minimum constant level of insulin that’s always circulating in your blood regardless of whether you’re eating or not.
You see, your body releases a certain amount of insulin all day long, it happens while you’re eating and even when you’re not eating, even when you’re sleeping, and how high or how low this constant minimum level of insulin is, can best be tested after an overnight fast.
This fasting insulin level could be thought of as the floor or the lowest constant level of insulin, while your level after eating could be thought of as jumping up to the ceiling, or the highest temporary level.
We all know our insulin jumps up to the ceiling a few times a day but these high levels are temporary and they depend on what we’ve been eating.
On the other hand, the fasting level of insulin is constantly present, like the floor, it is the ground you stand on all the time.
And this constant background level of insulin, this floor you stand on, this fasting insulin, tends to be much higher for fat people than for thin people.
Now here’s the reason I’m telling you about this stuff. They tested the day’s total insulin to see what percentage of it happened after eating and what percentage of it was this constant background amount.
And do you know what they found?
They found that this constant background level of insulin, this floor that your insulin never goes below, represented between 45 to 50% of the TOTAL insulin you produce each day.
About HALF of the insulin you produce each day is this constant background pool of insulin you always have circulating, regardless of whether you’re eating or not.
Fifty Percent of the insulin released each day is released as a constant background level, regardless of how fat or how thin you are.
This Fifty Percent Insulin Problem is happening all through the day and this is not dependent on what you’re eating.
The skinny people had a lower constant background level, they had a lower floor, on average, but this was still about HALF of the insulin they produced each day.
The fat people had a higher constant background level, on average, but this was still about HALF of the insulin they produced each day.
This is the fifty percent insulin problem.
And if HALF of your daily insulin is higher than it should be, and it probably is, if you’re fat around the middle, then HALF the problem you have with insulin is not caused by what you eat alone. For more about this, see my video “Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off“.
And if HALF the insulin you produce is not caused by the food you eat, then simply changing your food alone may not be enough to fix this problem. And I think that many people who have not been successful losing weight with a low carb diet alone, have found this out the hard way.
If this 50% insulin problem is not related to food, what is it related to?
The answer is – It is directly associated with how fat you are.
As you can see from these graphs from several other studies, the fatter you are, the higher your fasting insulin level.
The higher your fasting insulin level, the more background insulin you have all day long.
And the sad news is this, some people have higher insulin even when they are NOT EATING, than normal people have AFTER they eat.
Just look at this graph from the work of Dr. Joseph Kraft.
These people have a fasting insulin rate that is HIGHER (look at the red line above) than normal people have, EVEN AFTER they eat.
Is it any wonder why some people find losing weight almost impossible even on a low carb diet?
Especially if they try to solve their 50% insulin problem by changing what they eat alone, but not changing when they eat, and we’ll talk about that more in a couple minutes. As you’ll see before the end of this video, changing when you eat is MORE effective at attacking this 50% insulin problem, than changing what you eat alone.
This Fifty Percent Insulin Problem happens all the time, but as we’re about to see, the higher that background insulin is, the higher your insulin goes after eating. So even though the Fifty Percent Insulin Problem is not about food, it does effect how high your insulin spikes after you eat.
As you’ll see, in this study published many years before the one we just talked about, they found your insulin levels after you eat are likely to rise 5 to 7 times higher, by one hour after eating, than whatever your fasting insulin level was.
If you’re diabetic or prediabetic the spike is likely to come two hours after eating.
They found whatever your fasting insulin number is, after you eat, your body will release an amount of insulin an average of 5 to 7 times higher than whatever that level of constant background insulin is.
Remember these are averages, for some the spike could be much higher or a little lower. But the important thing to remember is this – the spike in insulin after you eat is based on how high or how low your fasting insulin levels are.
To make this a little more clear, let’s look at an example with some real numbers.
If a person has a fasting insulin level of say 8 microunits.
After that person eats, their insulin will spike an average of 5 to 7 times higher.
Their AFTER eating insulin will rise to an average level of between 45 to 56 microunits, which is within the normal range. They ate a meal, but because their fasting insulin number was fairly low, their after eating numbers stayed in the fairly normal range.
But lets say a person had a high fasting insulin level of 30 microunits. First, that person is likely to be fat if they have a number that high, and so, after that fat person with a fasting number of 30 eats the SAME meal the skinny person ate, their insulin would rise to 150 to 210 microunits, which is 5 to 7 times higher than that fat person’s fasting insulin number, but more than that, it is is 3 times higher than the skinny persons, who just ate the exact same food.
Both people ate the same meal, but the higher the constant background insulin, or what we’re calling the Fifty Percent Insulin Problem, the higher their insulin spiked after eating.
Both of these people had a spike after eating, which is normal, but because the 50% insulin problem was much higher in the fat person, their insulin jumped to a level three times higher than the thin person’s who ate the same food that they did.
By the way, I found this to be true for myself when I took an insulin/glucose tolerance test in October of 2015 ( see this post for more about my insulin/glucose test ) Since being normal weight, I have a fasting insulin level of about 3 microunits and after taking a glucose test my insulin level rose to 18 which is about a 6 fold increase. Then by the third hour I was back down to the 3 microunits of my fasting insulin level.
Let’s sum up what we know:
Some foods like carbs and lean processed protein, like whey protein powders, cause your insulin to go very high after eating, but this insulin only amounts to 50% of your insulin problem. What you eat determines this number, so when you eat low carb, you keep this number lower.
The other 50% of your daily insulin is associated with how fat you are.
It is an insulin problem and the best way to solve it is to periodically hold insulin very very low, as low as possible and this low insulin will allow us to begin burning up that extra body fat around your belly, your butt and your chinny, chin chins.
The association between how fat you are and how high your constant background insulin levels are, could be pictured as an internal fat thermostat which has been called the “body set weight”.
In other words, the higher the fasting insulin level, that constant background insulin that we’ve been talking about, then however high or low that rate is, will determine how high your insulin spikes after eating.
All these things are like a thermostat, a thermostat that sets how much fat the body holds onto.
The more insulin, the higher the body “sets” your fat weight thermostat.
If insulin levels cause the body to set the amount of fat you carry to a certain level, then the question becomes, could you turn down that thermostat by lowering and keeping low your constant background insulin levels?
I think the obvious answer is YES.
And if you want to turn down this thermostat, you need use the most effective strategy you can find to get insulin down as low as possible and hold it there as often as possible.
And when I say as often as possible, I’m talking about adding an element of TIMING to the Low Carb idea.
The Low Carb idea is about what to eat and what not to eat to keep insulin low, but what I’m talking about is not about what to eat, it is about the TIMING of eating.
Not eating for a period of time, even a short period like 16 to 24 hours, is very effective at lowering insulin.
A short fast actually lowers insulin BETTER than Low Carb and it’s cheap, it’s simple and best of all, not eating for short periods of time is NATURE’S way to balance the books.
Low Carb High Fat is great because in many ways, it imitates fasting, and Low Carb is very effective at lowering insulin.
But fasting is the real deal, because any eating raises insulin, no matter what you eat.
Low Carb foods are great at keeping the after eating insulin spike lower, but a short 16 to 24 hour fast is fifty percent more effective than even Low Carb at lowering insulin. And the most sustainable strategy you can take is – combining them into a two front attack on your problem, low carb high fat eating, combined with and followed by, fasting for short 16 to 24 hours periods is powerful.
So what does fasting do?
Fasting 24 hours every other day has been shown to increase how sensitive your body is to insulin.
Being more sensitive to something is easily understood by thinking of how alcohol effects you, if you aren’t used to drinking. Just one or two drinks and you’ll really feel it. The same for insulin, if you become more sensitive, then a little insulin will do the job it takes a lot to do now.
If your body is more sensitive, then you need less insulin to get the same job done.
In the short time of just 22 days of fasting every other day, people became SEVEN times more sensitive to insulin.
Seven times more sensitive.
Just fasting every other day for about 3 weeks, makes you seven times more sensitive to insulin, folks this is amazing stuff.
And it get’s better, on the every other fasting day, their fasting insulin was 57% lower.
That’s a lowering of the background insulin and a lowering of the 50% insulin problem every other day by over HALF, by almost 60%.
And this not eating every other day, increased the body’s fat burning by 58%.
That 58% increase in fat burning is freaking amazing.
That’s your belly being burned up at a rate almost 60% higher.
And I want to point something out about this study that these graphs come from – the people in this study who were fasting every other day, were NOT EATING LOW CARB on their eating days. They were eating whatever the heck they wanted, so you can just imagine how much lower their insulin would have been if they had eaten a low carb diet on their eating day.
Just image how much faster their results would have been, if they had held their insulin lower even on their eating days.
In another study, not eating carbohydrates at all for three days lowered insulin 48%.
But not eating anything for three days, or fasting, lowered insulin by a whopping 69%.
As you can see, Low carb is great, but fasting is almost 50% better than low carb at lowering your insulin.
And this one – two punch of eating LCHF during eating times and then short 16 to 24 hour fasts is the strategy I used and the one I recommend to you.
No other strategy is more effective. And it is more sustainable. This is something you can do long-term folks.
As we’ve seen, not eating for three days lowered insulin almost 70%, but fasting that long might be too hard for some people to do,
but the good news is, two-thirds of that 70% reduction in insulin over a three day fast, is achieved in the first 24 hours. In other words, if three days of fasting makes your insulin go down 70%, the good news is, during the first day of that fast, 70% of all the insulin reduction is already happened.
So even a 24 hour fast reduces insulin almost as much as a 3 day fast could do and a short 24 hour fast from dinner time today until dinner time tomorrow is really easy to do and much more sustainable long term than a long 3 day fast.
Just look what happens during a short fast.
After just 11 hours, fatty acids, this is your fat being released folks, fatty acids being released are GREATLY increased. Just look at that steep rise around 11 hours. That’s your big belly slowly but surely being burned up with a little fasting time each day.
After just 13 hours, ketones are greatly increased. As you know, ketones are made from your body fat and used by the body as a substitute energy source.
Everybody in the low carb world worries about whether or not they are in ketosis, but as you can see, after 13 hours ketones are greatly increasing. You are making ketones while fasting.
And these ketones can continue to rise higher and higher for days so long as the fast continues. Longer fasts have a higher rate of ketones, but you don’t have to do long fasts, simply do a good 16 to 24 hour fast and know the ketones are on a steep rise after 13 hours.
And Insulin falls a lot by 3 to 4 hours after eating and then falls even further by 10 hours after eating.
Remember, 70% of the fall in insulin during a long fast, a three day fast, happens during the first 24 hours.
So most the insulin reduction that happens in a long fast, happens during your short fast.
So eat a LCHF diet during eating times and use the complete appetite control that diet gives you to not eat when not hungry, this not eating when not hungry is fasting.
It’s easy to do, you’re already doing it now when you sleep, all you need to do is extend the time. Delaying eating breakfast for a few hours can give you a 16 hour fast and most of that time you were asleep. Easy.
If you want to know a lot more about the benefits of fasting, the most complete source of information, and I mean THE most complete source, can be found on Dr. Jason Fung’s excellent blog.
He has an huge free 26 part blog series about fasting that is a wealth of information on this topic. There simply is not a better resource about this on the internet and here’s the link.
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