Insulin resistance is becoming more and more common, where its prevalence ranges from 15.5 to 46.5% in adults all over the world. But if you experience this medical condition, you don’t have to become a part of these statistics. In this blog post, we share everything you need to know about insulin resistance, along with meal plans to protect yourself against it, and ways to reverse it.
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What is Insulin?
The powerful hormone insulin works to help our cells absorb glucose from the food we eat. Being insulin resistant means that cells won’t be able to effectively use insulin, and in the case of those who have Type I diabetes, the pancreas isn’t able to produce any insulin at all. As a result of a lack of insulin, blood sugar spikes can occur, making them higher than normal.
Because of this, someone with insulin resistance could have a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes along with other health issues. Fortunately, there is a way to combat insulin resistance — regulating your blood sugar can be done daily by choosing the right foods.
How Your Diet Affects Insulin Resistance
Having insulin sensitivity doesn’t mean that you have to cut out certain food groups from your diet. Instead, your insulin-resistance diet plan should contain carefully selected foods from every food group that can help to keep your blood sugar under control. However, everyone with insulin resistance syndrome will have different needs, so there are also different dietary approaches to control insulin resistance.
Believe it or not, food can play an important role in insulin resistance levels. Studies show that the habit of increasing your animal-based food intake in place of plant-based items can increase the risk of insulin resistance. Different foods have varying effects when it comes to insulin resistance; food items that have a high-glycemic index can quickly increase blood sugar levels and trigger the release of vast amounts of insulin.
As time goes on, the body will become less sensitive to all the extra insulin. It’s imperative that you customize your meal plan that will keep your insulin resistance in check, manage body weight, and promote healthy blood sugar levels. The right foods for your plan should include items that will help you feel fuller for longer and items that are slowly digested.
What to Include in Your Meal Plan
Contrary to what people might think, creating a diet plan for insulin resistance doesn’t have to be too restricting. You will need to choose foods that have a low glycemic index, but you can still indulge in dairy products. Just keep in mind that a lot of yogurts, cheeses, and animal milk will have saturated fats, so be cautious of the foods you include.
Below are just a few food items that you can look into for a healthy diet, all listed by category.
- Beans and legumes like black beans, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, and chickpeas.
- Dairy products include unsweetened yogurts, low-fat cheese, plant-based milk, and other products with high protein and calcium content.
- Whole fruits such as apples, grapes, melon, oranges, blueberries, and strawberries.
- Healthy fats from cashews, almonds, flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, as well as peanut and almond butter.
- Lean protein from tuna, salmon, sardines, egg whites, skinless chicken, tempeh, tofu, white turkey meat, and nutritional yeast.
- Non-starchy vegetables include swiss chard, kale, spinach, radish, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, brussels sprouts, bell pepper, onion, and cabbage.
- Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, millet, and quinoa.
When creating your insulin-resistance meal plan, be sure to load up on fiber-rich foods such as vegetables and fresh fruit. Doing this will keep your blood sugar in check while helping to satiate you for longer. You’ll also benefit from swapping out saturated fats for healthy, polyunsaturated fats such as seeds, nuts, fatty fish, and avocados.
Foods to Limit from Your Meal Plan
The best way to manage your insulin resistance is to choose healthy foods while cutting down the chances of sugar spikes and the risk of diabetes. These foods include the following:
- Dairies such as full-fat cottage cheese, whole milk, and ice cream.
- Fruits that have been processed, including dried fruits, canned fruits, sugar syrup, jams, and jelly.
- Proteins like red meat, deep-fried fish, high-sodium meats, and processed meats with high sodium and saturated fat content.
- Refined grains such as white bread, white rice, pasta, flour, cookies, and muffins.
- Sugar and unhealthy fat in pastries, fries, mayonnaise, butter, doughnuts, cakes, and potato chips.
It’s important to cut down on unhealthy foods and concentrate on unprocessed foods to manage your insulin resistance. Make sure to limit cereals and sugary drinks, along with refined grains, baked goods, and snacks. Focusing on food quality rather than quantity will certainly help to reduce insulin resistance in your body.
Your Free Insulin-Resistance Diet Plan
While there’s no need to add any particularly special foods to your diet, the first crucial step in this diet is to focus on resisting sugar, unhealthy fats, processed starches, and red meat. Below is a FREE sample meal plan that you try.
- Breakfast: Two egg white omelets + one slice of whole grain toast with one tbsp of peanut butter + one glass of low-fat milk.
- Mid-day: One medium-sized whole fruit.
- Lunch: Soya curry, veg pulao, and low-fat curd.
- Evening snack: Two walnuts and a cup of green tea.
- Dinner: Two multigrain roti with cucumber salad and vegetable curry.
Remember that this is just for your reference, and this may not suit everyone’s dietary needs. To ensure that you formulate a balanced diet, talk to a registered dietitian for a customized meal plan.
Lifestyle Changes for Insulin Resistance
While insulin resistance can be developed temporarily, it can also become a chronic condition over time and may increase the risk of prediabetes. The good news is that with the right foods and regular exercise, there’s a chance to reverse insulin resistance. Apart from a change of diet, proper sleep, weight loss, and reducing stress can help you become more insulin sensitive.
Below are just a few things you can do to improve your blood glucose levels and overall health for the rest of your life.
Eat More Proteins
Eating protein-rich sources such as eggs, fish, chicken, lean meat, nuts, Greek yogurt, and other vegetarian proteins can help to improve blood sugar levels. Protein not only keeps you fuller for longer but also slows down glucose absorption and carbohydrate digestion. This means that your blood sugar will be more stable, providing a natural approach for treating insulin resistance.
Fill Up on Fiber
It’s a good idea to eat your share of fiber from sources like fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, and grains. Fiber is a carbohydrate that’s not digested, so much like protein, it falls apart slowly and can prevent spikes in your blood sugar.
Change Your Eating Habits
If you’re looking for a healthier way of living, you can look into a wide range of diets, including the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) diet, and more. By making the right food choices, you can lose weight which has been linked to better control over blood sugar.
Limit Simple Carbohydrates and Sugars
Sugary drinks will have a shocking amount of sugar, so getting rid of them will surely help manage your blood sugar levels; it’s also best to avoid artificial sweeteners. Avoid eating refined and simple carbohydrates since these foods can be digested quickly while providing low fiber content.
Establish a Meal Routine
Creating and maintaining a regular routine of eating three meals a day along with one or two snacks is a great way to keep stable blood sugar levels. When you skip a meal, you could overeat later, resulting in a sudden spike in your blood sugar levels. Eating regularly and using the right portion size per meal will stop you from becoming too hungry.
Increase Your Activity Level
The American Diabetes Association has confirmed that regular physical activity not only helps to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease but also helps to lower your blood sugar. Even if you don’t break your back at the gym for an hour, just walking for two minutes after each meal is enough to regulate your blood sugar.
Start Your Insulin Resistance Journey Today
It’s not that hard to follow the principles of this diet — all you have to do is practice healthy eating and add some exercise to your efforts. Moreover, taking up an insulin resistance diet won’t strip you of your favorite foods; instead, you just need to focus on eating plenty of protein and fiber. Because it’s not as strict as other diets, it can make your journey toward a healthier life much more fun and rewarding.
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