Insulin Resistance: What is it?

Insulin resistance happens when the cells in your body can no longer effectively use your bodies naturally produced insulin. Insulin is created by beta cells in the pancreas in order to help transport sugar in the form of glucose to cells throughout the body. When insulin resistance occurs, it results excess sugar in the blood.

Diabetes may result when insulin resistance is not managed properly. With this condition, you might end up having to inject insulin directly into your body because the pancreas can no longer create enough on its own. You would also need to check your blood sugar on a regular basis by pricking your finger and using a blood glucose monitor. Many people with diabetes have to eat sugar free options and avoid a lot of sweets.

One of the main causes of insulin resistance is obesity. The obesity epidemic in the United States has become the leading cause of death and one of the major causes of diseases such as diabetes. About one-third of US adults are considered obese and approximately 17% of children and adolescents are obese which is typically the result of lack of physical activity, increase in fat consumption, and increase in total calorie consumption.

Insulin Resistance: How to avoid

To combat insulin resistance causes such as obesity and physical inactivity, it’s critical to have a plan that you can follow through with. Even the smallest changes can have a large impact on your health.


Start by using substitutes for some of your favorite foods. Perhaps you love hamburgers? By switching to a 100% whole wheat bun and a leaner meat option like light ground turkey or even a veggie bean burger, you can decrease calories and fat. Many people have to do a little trial and error when creating new healthy menus, but you should find that not much is given up in taste.

Next, you should increase your daily vegetable consumption. Vegetables are a healthy option offers a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and contains a lot of fiber to keep you feeling satiated.

Physical Activity

To fight obesity and insulin resistance, physical activity is extremely beneficial. The good news is that you do not need to spend hours in a gym or running on a treadmill if you do not want to. Just make small changes to your daily life. With just a short 30 minute walk you could drastically reduce obesity and improve your overall health.


Another one of the main causes of insulin resistance is genetics. While we sometimes cannot get away from our family tree, in this instance, eating right and exercising both go a long way to battle genetic predispositions.

Insulin Resistance: Causes

Not every person who has diabetes experiences insulin resistance. People who have type 1 diabetes almost never have insulin resistance since their beta cells are producing no insulin for their bodies to resist. On the contrary, just about everyone who has type 2 diabetes has insulin resistance.

Your beta cells in your pancreas are in areas called the Islets of Langerhans. Beta cells make and then release insulin, which is the hormone that controls the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. With insulin resistance the beta cells of your pancreas overcompensate and pump out a lot of insulin to compensate for it. When the pancreas can no longer pump out enough insulin you develop diabetes.

Since 1936, we have known the difference between those who have insulin resistance and those who don’t. In fact, what used to be referred to as insulin-sensitive and insulin-insensitive is now known as Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

No one knows for sure which comes first – the insulin resistance or beta cell dysfunction. It is clear, however, that research shows insulin resistance precedes type 2 diabetes.

Unlike blood pressure or cholesterol, it is difficult to measure insulin resistance. There are only two methods that provide a true measure of insulin resistance – the euglycemic insulin clamp and the m