If you struggle with your weight, odds are you also wrestle with a self-defeating cycle you’re not even aware of!
So how do you get unstuck? Knowledge. It’s NOT your fault if you didn’t know about it. Insulin resistance is a sneaky condition –
Most doctors just don’t check for it – instead they look at your thyroid and maybe even your blood sugar levels. When your results come back normal, it’s so frustrating!
And it makes sense. Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas produces after you eat and so it’s often overlooked in routine bloodwork. It’s unfortunate, because undiagnosed insulin resistance keeps your body in a state that sets you up for failure. Your pancreas produces three to four times as much insulin as someone without it to control your blood sugar levels.
The cycle is maddeningly simple: The more INSULIN you have, the more CRAVINGS for carbs and sugar you have.
So not only do you WANT that pastry more -- but when you do give in -- your insulin levels SKYROCKET, and your fat cells MULTIPLY, and the craving for the next hit INCREASES even as you feel bloated and heavier…
So, you were right! Your ‘skinny’ friends really can eat the same things you do and not gain a single pound from it!
The good news is that you can take back control! Simply understanding this condition and the symptoms can help you break this dreaded carb and sugar addiction cycle.
Weight loss gets A LOT easier once you know about insulin resistance. Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, an obesity medicine specialist, has seen the incredible transformation that has happened for her clients (and herself!). So, how do you know if you have insulin resistance? By knowing what to look for.
7 Typical (MISSED!) Symptoms of Insulin Resistance
1. Elevated Blood Sugar
One of the first signs of insulin resistance is also the most dangerous.
Because you can be insulin resistant for years without knowing it, you are likely at significant risk for Type II Diabetes.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that half of all people with insulin resistance will go on to develop Type II Diabetes if they don’t make changes to their lifestyle and diet.
The good news is that a simple blood test by your doctor can confirm high blood sugar. And even if your levels come back in the normal range, they’re worth a second look!
If you blood sugar levels have been increasing over the years, that’s also a red flag that your pancreas might be losing control of its ability to regulate your blood sugar. Ask your doctor to check your insulin levels and go from there.
2. Excessive Thirst & Urination
It’s not in your head. This symptom of insulin resistance is often overlooked because dehydration or frequent bathroom trips are often shrugged off as temporary.
But being thirsty and needing more bathroom breaks can be a sign of high blood sugar levels! When your blood sugar is high, your body tries to regulate it by intensifying your thirst and increasing urination to eliminate the excess.
If these symptoms are ringing true for you, scheduling a doctor’s appointment is more than worth the effort.
3. Your Weight is a Problem
Some of us are in a constant battle with weight. If that’s you, and even a single cheat meal feels like a diet ender, that weight gain could have a simple explanation.
The more insulin you have, the more it tells your body to store fat, and over time, the less your body responds to it. What ends up happening is your body needs to produce more and more insulin to compensate for that insulin resistance, so the cycle of weight gain never ends.
If you gain weight just looking at a cookie, that's a sign you may have insulin resistance. Looking into this issue could finally put an end to the unnecessary struggle.
4. Water Retention and Edema
Those swollen ankles remained after pregnancy or appeared out of thin air for a reason you might not expect!
Elevated insulin levels tell your body to retain water, particularly in the extremities and the legs.
So, if you’re insulin resistant and therefore have higher levels of insulin, you are more likely to retain water. Your doctor can help you determine if this is the case for you!
5. Acanthosis Nigricans
If you’ve noticed you have some unexplained marks on your skin, a condition called acanthosis nigricans could be to blame.
Some people with insulin resistance can develop this skin condition. It causes dark, velvety patches to appear on the back of the neck, groin, and armpits.
Also often caused by a buildup of insulin within skin cells, it’s recommended to check out the root of the cause as soon as you can.
6. Facial Hair and Acne
Have you noticed a mustache or a new patch of zits that were never a problem before? Insulin resistance can increase testosterone levels in young women who have not yet experienced menopause.
More testosterone in your system may be the singular culprit for facial hair and acne. So put down the razor or acne cream and have your physician check your insulin levels.
As we determined earlier, the more INSULIN you have, the more CRAVINGS for carbs and sugar you have. Insulin resistance is often the reason why your insulin increases and makes your appetite insatiable.
This vicious cycle not only leaves you feeling bad, but carries so many long-term health risks (such as pre-diabetes or even diabetes). If you want to break your bad sugar habit for good, read about six proven ways to do it here.
If you think you might have insulin resistance,
consult with your doctor. Once you have that knowledge, you can move forward with making healthier lifestyle and diet choices.
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.