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Gauging Insulin Sensitivity

I originally read Lyle McDonald’s article on Insulin Sensitivity and Fat Loss a number of weeks ago, but I just stumbled upon it again and wanted to jot down, for my own record, his comments on gauging your own insulin sensitivity:

However, in practice, there are signs as to whether you have good insulin sensitivity or not and possibly whether you oversecrete insulin. Here?s two very simple questions to ask yourself regarding your response to diet.

  1. On high-carbohydrate intakes, do you find yourself getting pumped and full or sloppy and bloated? If the former, you have good insulin sensitivity; if the latter, you don?t.
  2. When you eat a large carbohydrate meal, do you find that you have steady and stable energy levels or do you get an energy crash/sleep and get hungry about an hour later? If the former, you probably have normal/low levels of insulin secretion; if the latter, you probably tend to oversecrete insulin which is causing blood glucose to crash which is making you sleepy and hungry.

I’m not sure where I fall on his second test (other than saying that I don’t get sleepy though I do get hungry), but I know where I fall on the latter, which is that I feel bloated. I didn’t realize this until I quit most heavy carbs. Now, when I backslide and load up on carbs, I actually feel my belly distend! Not fun.

This all reminds me of how I’ve thought about where to put my carbohydrates in my meal. For awhile, I thought I should stick them at the end of the meal. I was reasoning that, at the end, they’d take longer to digest, which would further slow the glycemic load.

I don’t think it works that way, however. I recall reading somewhere (I think on Eades’ proteinpower.com) that there could is a significant delay between when you eat carbohydrates and when your brain gets the fullness signal, which is why you can pound a dessert even after you couldn’t eat another bite of steak. Thus, if you put your carbohydrates at the end of your meal, you may feel hungry even after eating a full meal. As a result, I’ve started putting my carbohydrates at the beginning of the meal — and for the record, by “my carbohydrates”, I mainly just mean any fruits or vegetables I am going to eat.

It’s an experiment, so your mileage may vary.

One reply on “Gauging Insulin Sensitivity”

It depends what your goal is w/ the carbs. My goal is to minimize glucose/insulin spikes, so I keep high-GI carbs towards the end of a meal, so they are buffered. I’m not eating them for satiety, I’m eating them b/c they are yummy. If you put them at the beginning, you are paying for your “fullness” signal with insulin spikes. Eating bread at the beginning of your meal, for example, is a terrible idea if you are trying to keep a good insulin response.

Veggies and fruits, though, are different. They have relatively few carbs by weight, and those carbs are bound up in fiber and slow to digest.

I often follow _The Warrior Diet_ protocol for my big meals: first salad, then protein/fat, then carbs. The salad prepares your tummy w/ enzymes, as well as being filling and low-cal. Or so the book says.

“you can pound a dessert even after you couldn?t eat another bite of steak” because your brain thinks of the steak as food, and the dessert as a drug. Even when you are done eating food, there is always room for drugs! I think the end of a meal minimizes the negative impact of the sugar drug.

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