What is the role of insulin in weight gain and weight loss? How does insulin affect weight gain? What’s the deal with insulin and fat burning? So what is insulin, and how does it work explained?
These and other questions are answered here based on numerous studies.
Insulin function and triggers
Insulin is an essential hormone with essential functions produced in the pancreas, and it exists in several living organisms, even insects.
It is the storage hormone that signals cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream and store fat.
Also, there is a direct connection between glucose levels in the blood and the release of insulin from the pancreas.
After the stomach and intestines break down the food into macronutrients, which a different effect on blood glucose and insulin levels:
- Amino acids have a minimal impact on blood sugar but increase insulin levels.
- Fatty acids have minimal effects on both blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Carbohydrates significantly increase both blood glucose and insulin levels.
But insufficient insulin levels cause glucose to build up in the blood, which is the case in type 1 diabetes.
Why insulin causes weight gain
Insulin is the primary storage hormone. It acts as a storage signal during fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism.
Any food intake can lead to insulin release. So the absence of food allows insulin levels to decrease, and the body starts burning glycogen than fat for energy.
So if your insulin levels are constantly elevated, you rarely tap into body fat for energy. And this may prevent weight loss.
That’s why you may have heard that we lose weight while we sleep since insulin levels are low.
So the human body has glycogen stores for short-term energy reserves and body fat for long-term energy reserves.
Besides, we can and should go more than eight hours without constant snacks. Advertising campaigns have drilled into our heads for decades absurd notions such as that we need five meals a day to lose weight and boost the metabolism.
How insulin and other hormones control weight gain?
Hormones are chemical messengers that control your body. For example, they regulate hunger, satiety, thirst, body temperature, and body weight.
The region of the brain responsible for regulating these essential (metabolic) processes is called the hypothalamus. It ensures permanent adaptability to changing conditions and helps the hormones to transmit crucial signals.
And in the same way, this process regulates body temperature. It also controls body weight.
Contrary to popular belief, not high caloric intake or lack of exercise that causes weight gain.
The hypothalamus affects weight gain by controlling two factors:
- It regulates the production of fat in the body.
- And It is responsible for the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin and the satiety hormones peptide YY, cholecystokinin, and leptin.
So a hormonal imbalance can make you produce body fat while constantly feeling hungry. The body is not using fat for energy and again craves increased caloric intake.
Yo-yo effect and Hormones
Caloric restriction to counteract the body’s efforts to increase fat mass does not work in the long term.
In this case, it down-regulates basal metabolism to achieve the higher-order goal of body fat gain.
After all, it is the hypothalamus’ function and the brain to regulate body fat.
Although this does not necessarily mean gaining weight while reducing calories, it may well mean converting muscle mass into body fat.
We know the resulting decreased metabolic rate all too well as the “yo-yo effect.”
For this reason, excessive appetite and lack of physical activity are symptoms rather than causes of obesity.
However, it takes time to change the weight regulated by the hypothalamus. So you should aim for long-term stable body weight and counteracts short-term change.
Insulin can cause metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. And it is associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, other conditions that affect the blood vessels, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
And insulin resistance can cause persistently high insulin levels or hyperinsulinemia, which can cause or make the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.
These metabolic syndrome risk factors share a common cause – persistently high insulin levels or hyperinsulinemia caused by insulin resistance.
Besides, insulin and insulin resistance are major factors in mortality rates in our society. And the leading causes of death in the Western world are cardiovascular disease and cancer.
According to the WHO, diet and lifestyle are the leading cause of high insulin levels. And they are a determining factor for seven of the ten leading causes of death in Western countries (WHO).
Also, more than of adults in the US are overweight or obese (CDC). And on top of this, over of the US population already has pre-diabetes
Although insulin is essential, too much of it can cause weight gain and other significant side effects.
Since the common perception that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet is healthy promotes hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, we face serious health problems.
Now that insulin prevents weight loss and helps store body fat more efficiently, overweight people’s curve is going steeply uphill.
But even more alarming is that those diseases of affluence that account for the lion’s share of mortality rates in the Western world are mainly due to excessively high insulin levels.