High Protein Diet Not the Solution for Insulin Resistant
High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets aren’t the solution for people who are insulin resistant. About 10% to 25% of all Americans are insulin resistant. They are likely to have high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, and a low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – which contributes to an increased risk of heart disease. The muscle, liver, and fat cells of these people are less sensitive to the actions of insulin.
When insulin-resistant people eat carbohydrates, their pancreas reacts by significantly increasing insulin secretion to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Advocates of high-protein low-carb diets say this over secretion causes carbohydrate to be stored as fat, and therefore insulin-resistant people should best consume low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets.
There is no good evidence, however, that insulin resistance or high blood insulin levels make people fat. The truth is that reducing excess weight and increasing physical activity are more important in treating insulin resistance than is the dietary percentage of carbohydrate or fat.
Weight loss and exercise both increase insulin sensitivity, and increased sensitivity results in lower blood insulin levels. Weight loss allows the cells to “recognize” insulin more easily so that less insulin is required. Regular physical activity causes insulin to bind more easily to muscle cell receptors and to promote glucose uptake more effectively.
Exercise and weight loss combined also have an additional benefit. They lower the risk of heart disease by reducing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, and increasing HDL cholesterol.