June 1, 2023

Thank you to BetterHelp for Sponsoring this video! Go to to get 10% off your first month!

This is serious folks hey everyone i’m abby sharp welcome to abby’s kitchen today’s video is sponsored by better help and we’ll be talking all things insulin now it seems to me like every so-called expert out there on instagram is claiming that insulin is the big bad fat storage hormone out to make you gain weight at any cost but is insulin really to blame well

First let me tell you about my sponsor better help so as you guys know i struggled with anxiety my whole life and getting my mental health under control has been one of the most important things i’ve been able to do for my overall well-being and quality of life but in 2022 i’m really committing to my mental health and working with a registered therapist has been

So imperative to helping to support my goals so i recently discovered better help which is the world’s largest online therapist network with over 20 000 licensed professional therapists it’s not a crisis line or a self-help line it’s professional therapy done securely anywhere anytime online now the way it works is that you just log into your account anytime

To send a message to your therapist and you can get a timely response without needing to wait weeks between appointments i know how important this is because we obviously can’t always plan when we’re gonna have a panic attack or have an anxious episode so that it coincides with our scheduled appointment it’s also a lot more affordable than traditional in-person

Therapy and there’s also financial aid available for those in need so if you’re struggling with your mental health check out betterhelp.com abby’s kitchen to get 10 off of your first month of therapy again that’s betterhelp h-e-l-p and you can join over 1 million people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional okay let’s

Get back to insulin so you can pause the screen or look at the description to check out my disclaimer including a trigger warning to those with current or previous experiences with disordered eating i am going to be getting into some nutrition technicalities so as always feel free to skip this video if it’s not supportive to your journey and if you’re not already

Subscribed hit that sub button follow me over on tik tok and instagram at abby’s kitchen and i hope you enjoy the video all right before i dive into the crux of this let’s first understand how food affects blood sugar levels and where insulin fits into this pretty little picture when you eat any kind of carb your body breaks this food down into glucose a sugar the

Glucose gets absorbed into your bloodstream where it becomes known as blood sugar and your blood ships the sugar to your cells to be used for energy or to be stored for later on now insulin is the hormone that allows the glucose to get into the cells and when it’s inside naturally your blood sugar levels drop so think of insulin as the key that unlocks the door

To get glucose to do its job without insulin your body wouldn’t be able to use or store glucose and you’d be walking around with very high blood sugar all day long and that’s bad news bears because if untreated high blood sugar can cause organ damage over time but let’s get back to our frenemy insulin so insulin is made in the pancreas and is secreted in bursts

About every five minutes if you haven’t eaten the levels are relatively low so this is called your baseline level and when you eat your insulin levels rise to deal with the sugars now in your bloodstream and in a healthy individual insulin comes right back down to their normal steady state once it’s dealt with the sugar note that our discussions today are going

To be for the general population aka folks who have healthy working pancreases things would be slightly different of course if you had diabetes all right back to class kids recess is over so insulin also buddies up with the hormone glucagon which tells the liver to release glucose when the blood sugar levels get too low it can either access glycogen which is the

Stored version of glucose in the liver or the muscles or the liver can convert any extra protein to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis so this dream team works together to keep your blood sugar levels tightly controlled and regulated because again high blood sugar levels are dangerous as so we can see this amazing control in action in a 2020 study

That’s been affectionately known as the all-you-can-eat pizza study i like the sound of that pizza time they basically offered a group of healthy men pizza and asked them to eat till they were comfortably full and then again until they literally couldn’t take another bite without bursting they really could have just studied youtube milk bangers and saved a ton

Of research dollars but anyway the first conclusion they found was that these healthy men could eat twice as much as what made them feel comfortably full so not exactly intuitive eating experts but i’m way more interested in what happened to their blood sugar and their insulin levels after all of those carbs basically your girl insulin understood the assignment

The pancreas pumped that out in a linear fashion the whole time they were eating pizza the more pizza they ate the more insulin their bodies produced and because insulin is just such a badass the blood sugar levels rose up to a certain point and then basically leveled off in fact their blood sugar levels were the same whether they ate 187 grams or 367 grams of

Carbs conclusion well in healthy folks without diabetes our blood sugar levels are tightly regulated regardless of how much or what we eat so i hear you abby what’s the point of eating healthy foods if insulin is just always gonna correct for our dietary shortcomings well this is where intuition comes into play that is focusing on how foods make you feel so even

Though the participants blood sugar levels remained normal albeit at the higher end of normal they experienced feelings of lethargy and poor energy levels so physically they were fine but maybe they weren’t feeling their best so now we know that in healthy individuals eating carbs are not going to cause uncontrolled blood sugar spikes but what about insulin’s role

In storing fat so insulin helps glucose get stored as glycogen but it also helps to store anything extra in your fat cells as a long-term back-up plan for energy and this is likely where it gets its reputation as a big bad fat storage hormone because as long as there’s ample glucose hanging around and therefore insulin is out and about doing its job there’s no

Real need to break down fat it’s also true that fat breakdown is greater two to four hours after you eat which is when insulin would naturally be at its lowest if insulin levels never go down then theoretically that will also never be broken down and when i spoke to my colleague eric williamson he reminded me that these mechanisms are not like on or off switches

But rather they’re more like dials and getting those dials to even work depend on a few things one to a small extent is metabolic flexibility folks who are more metabolically flexible are better able to switch from using glucose to fat for fuel i think this deserves like a whole other video so if you’re interested in that please let me know in the comments below

Because it’s a big topic but in short we know that one’s flexibility is related to their insulin sensitivity body fat percentage and aerobic fitness level we also know that it’s the leanest anaerobic fitness that increases your insulin sensitivity and thus better equips the body for fat breakdown not the other way around but even that potential leg up in the game

Doesn’t guarantee weight loss without a solid caloric deficit in other words regardless of your fasting insulin levels you’re still going to add to your fat reserves if you eat more calories than you need period so when an influencer tells you that you can just cut out carbs and eat as many calories as you want because it’s the carbs that spike your insulin and

Insulin stores fat it’s just missing the forest from the trees and that forest my friends is just excess calories a number of studies have found that it doesn’t matter how macros are split weight loss is primarily influenced by the amount of energy the person consumes for example one small metabolic lab study divided participants into a low carb and a high carb

Diet and told them to eat as much as they wanted while the high carb group had substantially higher insulin levels they ended up actually eating about 700 calories less and actually lost weight in comparison to the low carb group likewise long-term research suggests that it doesn’t matter if you’re on low carb or high carb weight loss is virtually identical when

Calories are the same we can also look at the other side of the coin to study insulin and weight loss on a low carb diet so one 2015 experimental study found that while a low-carb diet did lower insulin levels it didn’t result in more weight loss in fact in this case specifically the folks on the low-fat diet lost more than the ones on the low carb and to bring it all

Together a large systematic review found little to no difference between diets too so i say that puts the diet wars piece to bed for the impact of insulin as a fat storage hormone it really doesn’t appear to have any measurable impact on weight gain or weight loss we know this because when calories are the same folks with and without diabetes or insulin resistance

Will lose the same amount of weight so to summarize while a higher carb diet does transiently increase insulin levels it doesn’t affect weight in the short or the long term the bottom line remains that calories are king so how does all this play into the claims that are made by folks who intermittent fast well a lot of iaf groupies insist that intermittent fasting

Has a magical weight loss power because it reduces the number of insulin episodes in the day and it keeps insulin levels low as often as possible thus increasing metabolic flexibility and in a vacuum that might be true however as i’ve already discussed in my video on intermittent fasting here the primary mechanism for why intermittent fasting works is not because

Of insulin or metabolic flexibility it’s because we’re just kind of bad at making up for calories mist when we skip a meal once again folks it boils down to calories insulin is just the convenient scapegoat here so does that mean that there are no benefits to fasting no i’m definitely not saying that i mean we know that in addition to potentially promoting weight

Loss largely via caloric deficit from skipped meals like i said fasting may positively affect insulin sensitivity so in super duper short a higher insulin sensitivity means that your cells are able to use glucose more effectively to help bring down those blood sugar levels while a low insulin sensitivity aka insulin resistance is known as a precursor to diabetes

So research suggests that those practicing early time restricted eating so eating earlier on in the day and stopping earlier on in the day tend to have better insulin sensitivity than those who are eating later on at night i’ve spoken about this before briefly but this does have a lot to do with our natural circadian alignment which is our sleep wake cycles as it

Seems that aligning our food intake with daylight hours can benefit our metabolism and our glucose response strangely most people who swear they’re doing intermittent fasting tend to have the opposite eating schedule so they skip breakfast and maybe skip lunch and they eat from afternoon until night so they might actually be missing out on one of the unique perks

And instead just kind of skipping a meal but how can we use all of this information in real life if weight loss is the goal so my suggestion is to take the focus off of specific hormones like insulin and to choose foods that keep us feeling fuller for longer while making a caloric deficit easier to maintain and this is where my hunger crushing combo comes in by

Combining high fiber carbs protein and healthy fats together it helps to promote long-term fullness and ultimately the more satiated and satisfied you are the less likely you are to binge or to snack and eat in caloric surplus if we break this down further there are unique benefits to all three of these components high fiber carb-based foods generally have a lower

Glycemic response even on their own when compared to refined carbohydrates but their absorption is slowed down even more by adding in a source of protein and or fats this combo leads to a lower more sustained rise in both blood sugar and insulin which may help to keep you fuller for a longer period of time and keep those energy levels even keeled even if you’ve got

Like a hankering for a low fiber carb like white rice you can still lower the glycemic response significantly by simply adding in some chicken avocado and some veg my hunger crushing combo also works because the addition of fiber protein and fats helps to delay gastric emptying which keeps you feeling fuller longer between meals and therefore it reduces the need

To mindlessly snack now a lot of you guys have shared with me posts that you’ve seen on instagram about having to have your first bite of a meal be a non-carb food like veggies to help coat the stomach before the carbs hit to help produce the glycemic response and while i know it sounds like total total bs there is actually some merit to this so we have some

Small studies and research mainly in the diabetes population showing some benefits to consuming the veggies and protein before the carbs in your meal but here’s the thing you don’t need to like separate all your food out unnaturally if you’re eating a mixed meal let’s say like pasta with a veggie and meat bolognese sauce you’re gonna get those insulin stabilizing

Benefits even if your first bite doesn’t contain like a honking piece of broccoli but when i spoke to a glucose goddess about this on instagram she suggested just doing it when it makes sense in that meal so if you’re having a salad with your pasta start with a bit of salad if you can but you don’t need to be obsessive about this my colleagues like eric agreed

That being more intentional may be more helpful for folks with existing insulin resistance or diabetes but it isn’t as important a tool as more basic strategies like choosing more whole foods over refined so dressing up our naked carbs with hunger crushing compounds is something that i think we can aim to do more often but freaking out if you accidentally eat a

Bite of pasta before your broccoli is likely to do more harm than good so to quickly just wrap up here yes insulin has a role in fat storage but controlling it is not the magic bullet to weight loss that so many wellness influencers insist it to be so i say focus on eating balanced meals using whole foods regularly throughout the day and all those my new little

Details will just work themselves right out and on that note that is all that i have for you guys today thanks again to better health for sponsoring if you like this video be sure to give it a thumbs up leave me a comment below if there are any other major nutrition questions that you guys want me to answer subscribe to the channel and i’ll see you next time on abby’s kitchen bye

Transcribed from video
Insulin Causing FAT GAIN? (The SECRET To Why You’re Not Losing Weight) By Abbey Sharp