The Muscle-building Messenger: Your Complete Guide To Insulin
Years ago, insulin was only discussed in reference to diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that drives glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells, and diabetes is the loss of the ability to control blood glucose levels. Yet insulin is so much more than a hormone that controls glucose. For one, it's highly anabolic, which means it's critical for building muscle. Insulin also has a dark side, because it can increase fat storage. The challenge is to learn how to spike insulin to optimally recover from workouts and grow, while also blunting it to stay lean. Do you know all the facts about insulin and how to use it to your advantage? Don't be so sure. If not, my insulin guide will teach you how. Insulin And Muscle Insulin is actually a protein, and it is produced and released by the pancreas whenever you eat carbs, protein, or both. (That is, if the pancreas is working properly). Yet unlike the proteins that are the physical building blocks of muscle, this is a functional protein, much like growth hormone. Like all other proteins, insulin is a chain of amino acids strung together. But the way this protein chain is folded makes it act more like a signaling mechanism than a building block. From the pancreas, insulin enters the blood stream and travels to various tissues, including muscle tissue. The muscle fibers (or cells) are lined with insulin receptors, similar to a docking station. Once the insulin molecule docks onto the receptor, it signals the muscle cell to open up gates. This allows allow glucose, amino acids, and creatine to enter the muscles. This process is a major reason why insulin is so important for building muscle. Another reason is that when insulin docks onto the muscle cells, it instigates biochemical reactions in the muscle that increase protein synthesis, Continue reading >>
Top 3 Diabetes Myths, Busted: Fruit, Starchy Vegetables, And Blood Glucose
Almost 10 percent of Americans have diabetes and that number is growing. Unfortunately, the myths surrounding diabetes are as widespread as the disorder itself. Here we debunk the most common diabetes myths. For the past 50 years, people diagnosed with all forms of diabetes have been advised to eat low-carb diets high in fat and protein, and to avoid eating high-carbohydrate foods like fruits, potatoes, squash, corn, beans, lentils, and whole grains. Despite this popular opinion, more than 85 years of scientific research clearly demonstrates that a low-fat, plant-based whole foods diet is the single most effective dietary approach for managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This means that a low-fat diet—not a low-carb diet—has been shown across the board to minimize oral medication and insulin use, stabilize blood glucose, and dramatically reduce long-term disease risk in people with diabetes. Myth #1: You Develop Type 2 Diabetes From Eating Too Much Sugar Eating sweets is not a direct cause of type 2 diabetes. People develop type 2 diabetes over time by slowly developing a resistance to insulin, the hormone that escorts glucose out of your blood and into tissues like your muscle and liver. I like to think of type 2 diabetes as a very advanced form of insulin resistance in which glucose remains trapped in your blood because your body cannot use insulin properly. In this way, elevated blood glucose is a symptom of diabetes, and NOT the root cause. The real cause of insulin resistance is dietary fat. We discussed it at length in this article. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are told to eat foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in fat and protein simply because they don’t create an immediate need for insulin. But in the hours and days after a meal hi Continue reading >>
The Top 10 Myths About Eating Fruit
I’m literally shocked by the amount of confusion around nutrition that exists in the natural movement, especially the confusion surrounding the particular issues with eating fruit. Fruit has universally been recognized as the healthiest food there is, yet it’s also the one natural food that’s vilified the most by many trends of the natural health and raw food movements. This of course started with the dangerous low-carb trend, which would like you to believe that eating slabs of butter on grilled steaks is actually healthier than eating the natural “sugar” in fruit. This unscientific trend has also been picked up by the largest proportion of the raw food theorists, many of which go to the extreme of saying that eating lots of sweet fruit is actually unnatural and unhealthy. Even the popular Hippocrates Health Institute has launched a fear campaign on eating fruit, claiming that fruit eating is responsible for the common health problems experienced by the majority of raw foodists. It would not be an exaggeration to say that a lot of people in the raw food movement are actually scared of eating fruit. Literally. So let’s take a look at the most common statements made about fruit, and bust them once and for all. 1-Eating too much fruit will cause symptoms of blood sugar problems. It’s no secret that a proper, healthy raw food diet contains a lot of fruit. In fact, the quantity of fruit that I consume in one single day probably exceeds the quantity consumed by an average family on a weekly, if not monthly basis. When people look at all that fruit, they’re suddenly afraid that eating so much of it will cause them health problems, the most common being cited is blood sugar issues. I’ve known many people who are absolutely convinced that whenever they eat a l Continue reading >>
Carbohydrates And Blood Sugar
When people eat a food containing carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar, which enters the blood. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage. As cells absorb blood sugar, levels in the bloodstream begin to fall. When this happens, the pancreas start making glucagon, a hormone that signals the liver to start releasing stored sugar. This interplay of insulin and glucagon ensure that cells throughout the body, and especially in the brain, have a steady supply of blood sugar. Carbohydrate metabolism is important in the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes. Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually over a number of years, beginning when muscle and other cells stop responding to insulin. This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to stay high long after eating. Over time, the heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out, and insulin production eventually stops. Glycemic index In the past, carbohydrates were commonly classified as being either “simple” or “complex,” and described as follows: Simple carbohydrates: These carbohydrates are composed of sugars (such as fructose and glucose) which have simple chemical structures composed of only one sugar (monosaccharides) or two sugars (disaccharides). Simple carbohydrates are easily and quickly utilized for energy by the body because of their simple chemical structure, often leading to a faster rise in blood sugar and insulin secretion from the pancreas – which can have negative health effects. Complex carbohydrates: These carbohydrates have mo Continue reading >>
Does Fruit Cause Insulin To Go Up?
Insulin is produced by your pancreas and is required to keep your blood sugar levels under control. However, consistently elevated insulin levels are associated with a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes, according to a scientific paper published in 2003 in "Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology." The carbohydrate content of the foods you eat is the main factor determining how your insulin levels will respond. Fruits contain carbohydrates and can raise your insulin levels. Carbohydrate Content Although the carbohydrates found in fruits are considered healthier because they are packed along with loads of fiber and essential nutrients, all carbohydrates, including those from fruits, are broken down into sugars. The sugar obtained from the digestion of fruits can elevate your blood sugar levels, which in turn push your pancreas to produce insulin. The more carbohydrates you eat at once, the higher your insulin levels are likely to increase. For example, your insulin levels will increase more after having a large banana and orange juice compared to after eating three grapes. Having other carbohydrates at the same time, such as a muffin, a slice of bread or oatmeal, can also further increase your insulin levels. Net Carbs If you want to compare different servings of fruits to determine which will raise your insulin levels the most, you will need to calculate their net carb content. The amount of total carbohydrates found in a serving of fruit include the natural sugars, starches and fiber. Fruits contain varying amounts of fiber that are counted as carbohydrates but cannot be broken down into sugar. Calculating the net carbs by subtracting the fiber from the total carbs gives you a better idea of the insulin-raisi Continue reading >>
Fruit For Diabetes – Is It Actually Safe To Eat?
If you are living with diabetes, you've probably been told to minimize or eliminate your intake of fruit because "fruit is high in sugar." And if this is the case, maybe you refrain from eating fruits because it causes your blood glucose to spike. Attracted by the smell, color and taste, you may find yourself asking a simple question: "Should I avoid fruit in the long-term? And if so, will I ever be able to eat fruit again?” It turns out that this ant-fruit message is a perfect example of pseudoscience at its best. A recent study published in PLOS medicine tracked the health of 512,891 Chinese men and women between the ages of 30 and 79 for an average of 7 years, in order to understand the effect that their diet had on their overall health (1). We like these types of studies because they are: For those who did not have diabetes at the beginning of the study, those who had a higher fruit consumption were 12% less likely to develop diabetes, compared with those who ate zero pieces of fruit per day. The researchers found a dose-response relationship, which means that the more frequently these nondiabetic individuals ate fruit, the lower the risk for developing diabetes. Amongst those living with diabetes at the beginning of the study, those who ate fruit 3 times per week reduced their risk of all-cause mortality (death from any cause) by 17%, compared with diabetic individuals who ate zero pieces of fruit per day. In addition, researchers uncovered that those who ate fresh fruit 3 days per week were 13-28% less likely to experience macrovascular complications (heart disease and stroke) and microvascular damage (kidney disease, retinopathy and neuropathy). Even though this study was observational, the results of the study have profound implications for people living with Continue reading >>
Don't Be Afraid Of Fruit
Don't Be Afraid of Fruit by Berkeley Wellness | July 01, 2011 Eat more fruits and vegetables—who could argue with that simple advice? Well, amazingly enough, the fruit part is being questioned, mostly by advocates of low-carb diets, such as science writer Gary Taubes and lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss. Some warn that fruit is almost as “evil” as sugar and white bread when it comes to weight control and overall health. Fruit: guilt by association What scares some people about fruit is that not only do nearly all of its calories come from carbs, but most of those carbs are sugar, and much of that sugar is fructose. Say fructose and most people think high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—our No. 1 sweetener, added to so many soft drinks and processed foods. HFCS is slightly more than half fructose; plain old table sugar (sucrose) is also half fructose, while honey is about 40 percent fructose. Some recent research suggests that fructose, at least in the large quantities many Americans are now consuming, can have adverse effects on blood cholesterol and triglycerides, worsen blood sugar control, promote abdominal weight gain and pose other health risks. But fresh fruits supply only a small fraction of the fructose Americans consume. You would have to eat several servings of fruit to get as much fructose as in a can of soda. Moreover, fruits are complicated foods, not just a serving of fructose. Their fiber and other components help slow the absorption of fructose, compared to sugary beverages. Some fruits, such as apples, pears and mangoes, are higher in fructose and other sugars and thus calories, but they’re still only moderate sources. Some are relatively high on the glycemic index (a measure of the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar), but most are moderate. It’s h Continue reading >>
What About All The Sugar In Fruit?
If the fructose in sugar and high fructose corn syrup has been considered “alcohol without the buzz” in terms of the potential to inflict liver damage, what about the source of natural fructose, fruit? If you compare the effects of a diet restricting fructose from both added sugars and fruit to one just restricting fructose from added sugars, the diet that kept the fruit did better. People lost more weight with the extra fruit present than if all fructose was restricted. Only industrial, not fruit fructose intake, was associated with declining liver function and high blood pressure. Fructose from added sugars was associated with hypertension; fructose from natural fruits is not. If we have people drink a glass of water with three tablespoons of table sugar in it, which is like a can of soda, they get a big spike in blood sugar within the first hour (as you can see in my video If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit?). Our body freaks out and releases so much insulin we actually overshoot, and by the second hour we’re relatively hypoglycemic, dropping our blood sugar below where it was when we started out. In response, our body dumps fat into our blood stream as if we’re starving, because our blood sugars just dropped so low so suddenly. What if you eat blended berries in addition to the sugar? They have sugars of their own in them; in fact, an additional tablespoon of sugar worth; so, the blood sugar spike should be worse, right? Not only was there no additional blood sugar spike, there was no hypoglycemic dip afterwards. Blood sugar just went up and down without that overshoot and without the surge of fat into the blood. This difference may be attributed to the semisolid consistency of the berry meals, which may have decreased the rate of stomach emptying compared Continue reading >>
50 Foods That Won’t Spike Blood Sugar
Blood sugar (or blood glucose) is most dependent on carbohydrate sources. But since carbohydrates embraces a wide variety of foods (whole grains, produce, milk, pastries, etc.), controlling blood sugars may be confusing and complex to manage. And with the effects of high blood sugar being harmful to health, regulating them takes high precedence. Effects of High Blood Sugar Though blood sugar spikes are oftentimes inevitable, they should not be a consistent phenomenon. Initial signs of high blood sugar (also known as hyperglycemia) consist of increased thirst and frequent urination. But constant and long-term spikes can create much bigger consequences and include cardiovascular (heart) disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy) or failure, damage to the retina's blood vessels (diabetic retinopathy), poor blood circulation to the feet (potentially leading to infections or amputations), mouth and skin infections and non-healing wounds, along with bone and joint complications. More severe complications require emergency attention and include diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome. How to Control Blood Sugar Spikes As mentioned above, constant high blood sugar and spikes can startle and damage the body and its systems. The glycemic index (GI) measures how foods affect blood sugars, based on a one to 100 number scale. Low GI foods have a mild effect on blood sugars while high GI foods have a much greater impact. So to keep blood sugars unshaken, stray away from highly sweetened items and go for non-carbohydrate or lower GI foods. Non-Carbohydrate Foods Meats, fats and oils are essentially absent of carbohydrates. Importantly, be mindful of the preparation method as breaded and battered meats will mostly contain some sort of Continue reading >>
6 Sneaky Foods That Raise Your Blood Sugar Levels The Most
The food you eat can have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels. Whether you have diabetes or just concerned about maintaining steady blood sugar levels, it is important to pay attention to what you eat. Let's quickly understand the science first. Your body creates blood sugar or blood glucose by digesting the carbohydrates from the food you eat and transforming some of it into sugar that travels through your bloodstream. This blood sugar is used by the body to generate energy and the part that remains unused is stored. Too much blood sugar in your body can be harmful and so can frequent spikes in your blood sugar levels and may even lead to diabetes. Here are six sneaky foods that are known to raise your blood sugar levels. It is often suggested to eat a combination of proteins, fats and fiber to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates and reduce the spike in your blood sugar levels after the meals. 1. Coffee: Your blood sugar may rise after a cup of coffee due to the presence of caffeine. The same goes for black tea or green tea. Although, caffeine affects different people differently, if you are diabetic you must limit your caffeine intake. (Also read: 7 Foods That Can Help Control Your Blood Sugar) Your blood sugar may rise after a cup of coffee due to the presence of caffeine 2. Dry Fruits: Dry fruits like raisins and cranberries contain sugar in more concentrated forms and therefore, are high in carbohydrates. A fruit in any other form than its natural form like juice or dried is known to have twice the amount of sugar. While they're known to be good for you, it is best to limit your daily intake of nuts and dry fruits to a handful or roughly 30 grams. Dry fruits like raisins and cranberries contain sugar in more concentrated forms. Photo Credit: Istock 3 Continue reading >>
6 Things That Can Cause Your Blood Sugar To Spike Or Drop
While roller coasters can be thrilling at amusement parks, theyre not so great when it comes to your blood sugar levels. Also known as glucose, blood sugar is a critical source of energy for your body, according to the Mayo Clinic . When its either too high or too low, you can feel pretty terribleespecially if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes . Heres a quick primer on how blood sugar works in people with and without diabetes. You absorb sugar from food and beverages into your bloodstream, where insulin (a hormone from your pancreas) helps it gets into your cells to provide energy, according to the Mayo Clinic . As a backup of sorts, your liver also makes and stores its own glucose to help keep your blood sugar within a normal range. In general, when you dont have diabetes, your body does a good job of regulating glucose levels, Amisha Wallia, M.D., an endocrinologist at Northwest Memorial Hospital, tells SELF. But if you have type 1 diabetes, which typically appears in childhood or adolescence, your pancreas produces little or no insulin to help glucose get into your bodys cells, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). That can allow too much sugar to build up in your bloodstream (hyperglycemia). If you have type 2 diabetes, which usually develops in adults, you experience high blood sugar because your pancreas either doesnt make enough insulin or your body cant use insulin properly, according to the NIDDK . When your blood sugar gets over 200 milligrams per deciliter, it can cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, increased thirst, and frequent urination, per the Mayo Clinic . On the flip side, problems managing your diabetes can also result in glucose levels that swing in the opposite direction and become too low ( Continue reading >>
Does Fruit Make Your Blood Sugar Go Up?
Don't let diabetes or blood sugar concerns stop you from eating fruit. Yes, it’s true that fruit does contain some natural sugars, and like any food with sugar or carbohydrate, fruit will cause a small rise in blood sugar. As a natural, whole, plant-based food, however, fruit is packed with fiber, which helps to slow how the body absorbs these sugars, dampening their effect on blood glucose, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Video of the Day Fruits are a rich source of fiber, and since the body cannot digest fiber, it must be extracted from the remaining macronutrients in the fruit. As a result, the sugars in fruit are assimilated into the blood much more slowly, causing a more manageable increase in blood sugar. Further contributing to the minimal impact fruit has on blood glucose are the inherent types of sugars in fruit. According to a 2002 article in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," fructose, the most abundant sugar in most fruits, causes little to no increase in blood sugar because it is absorbed directly into the liver, while the remaining glucose present in fruit causes only a minimal impact on the blood sugar. The glycemic load is a value that expresses a food’s relative impact on blood glucose given the total carbohydrates available in a typical serving and how quickly these carbohydrates are assimilated into the bloodstream, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Foods with Low-GL values range from 1 to 10 and have a small overall impact on blood glucose. Medium-GL values range from 11 to 19, while high-GL food values are 20 and above, so they have a more significant impact on blood sugar. Most fresh fruits fall in the low-GL range of 1 to 10 with one common exception: bananas, which are medium-GL, according to the Sydney Un Continue reading >>
7 Foods That Spike Blood Sugar
1 / 8 7 Foods That Spike Blood Sugar If you have type 2 diabetes, you know about the importance of making healthy mealtime choices. But just as important is staying away from the wrong foods — those that can spike your blood sugar. That's because simple carbohydrates, like white bread and sugary soda, are broken down by the body into sugar, which then enters the bloodstream. Even if you don't have diabetes, these foods can lead to insulin resistance, which means your body's cells don't respond normally to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Here are seven foods you should avoid for better blood sugar control. Continue reading >>
Healthy Fruit Options That Won't Spike Insulin
Healthy Fruit Options That Won't Spike Insulin Grapefruit is a low-glycemic-index fruit. Consuming fruits that are low on the glycemic index is beneficial in managing Type 2 diabetes and may lower your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, according to a study published in "Diabetologia" in February 2011. Most fruits won't spike your blood glucose and insulin levels if you eat them in the recommended serving size, which provides 15 grams of carbohydrates. The glycemic index measures how much different carbohydrate-containing foods increase blood sugar levels, so foods that are low on the glycemic index cause the lowest increases in blood sugar. When you eat carbohydrate-containing foods, your body turns the carbohydrates into a sugar called glucose during digestion. Spikes in blood glucose levels cause your body to release a hormone called insulin to get your blood glucose levels back to normal. Foods with a glycemic index of 55 or below are low GI foods. The fruits with the lowest GI include cherries, with an average GI of 22; grapefruit, with an average GI of 25; dried apricots, with an average GI of 31; apples and pears, with an average GI of 38; and plums, with an average GI of 39. Other low GI fruits include strawberries, with an average GI of 40; oranges and peaches with an average GI of 42; grapes, with an average GI of 46; mango, with an average GI of 51; bananas, with an average GI of 52; and kiwi, with an average GI of 53. Riper fruits will have higher GI values than fruits that are less ripe. Processing and cooking can also affect GI values, as anything that makes a fruit easier to digest will increase the speed with which fruits are turned into glucose during digestion. Some varieties of fruits may have higher sugar contents or lower fiber content Continue reading >>
Are You Eating Too Much Fruit?
Photo: Pond5 Loading your diet with fruit seems like a no-brainer, right? Your body gets a boost from nutritious superstars like fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, plus juicy berries might even satisfy your sweet tooth. But that doesn’t mean maintaining a 24/7 fruit free-for-all is good for your health. “Fruit is high in a sugar known as fructose. Even though the sugar is coming from this healthy source, you still have to use moderation,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN, a dietitian at B-Nutritious. If you’re panicking because you’ve been devouring fruit salad to your heart’s content, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to know about how much fruit you should really be eating every day. Why Eating Too Much Fruit Might Impact Your Health Sugar comes in a few different forms: Glucose, fructose and sucrose. Glucose helps keep all your systems chugging along smoothly. “Carbohydrates break down into glucose, your body’s main source of fuel,” says Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN, registered dietitian and author of Living a Real Life with Real Food. Then you have fructose, the only type of sugar found in fruits. It’s metabolized in the liver, as opposed to in the blood stream. Sucrose, more commonly known as table sugar, is simply a combination of both glucose and fructose. High blood sugar, which is caused by too much glucose in your blood, can lead to diabetes. Refined carbohydrates, like white rice or white-flour baked goods, are common culprits leading to high blood sugar. In addition to their sugar content, they lack the fiber that prevents glucose spikes, wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels. “Too much sugar in the blood stream at once leads to fat storage and insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes,” says Zeitlin. The lesser-known Continue reading >>