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A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, outlined the importance of lowering glycemic load in weight loss.  (Glycemic load is a measure of how quickly foods turn to glucose after you ingest them).

Researchers concluded that individuals who showed a high insulin response to high glycemic foods (high sugar and refined carbs), lost more weight on a low glycemic diet featuring foods that turn into glucose more slowly.  In addition they improved their HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

What’s the take home value here?

Bottom line is that as we exercise less and eat too many simple carbohydrates, we have to produce more and more insulin to drive glucose from our blood stream, into our cells.  Cells literally become less sensitive to insulin because there is always so much around. 

This is caused by the over consumption of sugary foods and simple carbohydrates in our diets.  At the same time as we're eating poorly, we are engaging in less exercise and physical activity.  Exercise sensitizes receptors on the surface of our muscle cells, which transport glucose through the cell membrane into the cell.  This process is especially active in well-exercised muscles.  Therefore, a lack of exercise, multiplies the effect of poor nutrition, and leads to insulin resistance by diminishing one of the ways in which our cells transport glucose from the blood stream into muscle cells.

Our bodies don’t want high blood sugar levels and therefore over secrete insulin to try and drive the glucose into the cells.  The big problem for those trying to lose weight is that insulin is also a fat storage hormoneThis is a body composition disaster!  You are now in fat storage mode most of the time, causing your body to store fat instead of burning it for fuel !!

The key is to achieve low insulin levels. 

This is accomplished by increasing activity and decreasing your intake of simple carbohydrates.  Notice that I say simple carbohydrates.  Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains (in moderation) are healthy and should be used along with lean protein and healthy fats.

Eat smaller meals and have healthy protein/complex carbohydrate snacks in between.  Ideally you should not let more than 3 hours elapse without eating something. This will help you maintain consistent sugar levels in your blood stream.  You will be less hungry, reducing cravings for junk food between meals.  By eating less junk food and smaller, more frequent meals you will reduce spikes in blood sugar and insulin, thus reducing the necessity for the pancreas to produce excessive amounts of insulin. 

I find that my patients due best by eating the normal 3 meals per day and adding 2 healthy snacks between those meals.  Be prepared.  An apple with a slice of cheese or a smear of peanut butter is an example of a well rounded snack with plenty of fiber, nutrients, protein and fat.  If you like nuts, a healthy trail mix works great.  Many of my patients use protein bars because they are so convenient.  Careful here; make sure they're not high carb and low protein (which is usually the case) and check the ingredients to be sure they don't contain any artificial sweeteners.  My favorites are the Protein Fusion bars.They are 1/3 protein, 1/3 carb and 1/3 fat.  This is the ratio you should strive for to keep your insulin levels nice and low.

When trying to lose weight, green leafy and brightly colored vegetables are your best friend.  They are naturally low in calories, high in fiber and packed with health promoting phytonutrients.  A big salad with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, walnuts, dried cranberries, grilled chicken and covered with a sprinkle of Romano cheese could be one of my favorite meals.  It's delicious, low calorie and super healthy.  Try to increase naturally healthy foods like vegetables, berries, fruit, protein, low fat dairy and complex carbohydrates while eating less processed and fried foods.  Stay away (as much as possible) from junk food and simple carbs (i.e. white bread, pasta, bagels, sodas, fruit juices, donuts, cookies etc...)

Increased physical activity helps maintain low serum insulin and glucose levels because it excites glucose receptors on cell membranes making your cells hungrier for glucose. This enhanced insulin sensitivity reduces blood glucose levels and the need for your pancreas to over produce insulin.  I like a combination of aerobic and weight resistance training.  The aerobic exercise burns calories quickly, mainly from fat, and increases insulin sensitivity. 

Weight resistance training also burns calories while you perform the exercise, yet with an added bonus. Weight resistance exercise causes your body to add muscle tissue.  By adding lean muscle to your frame, you increase your basal metabolic rate.  This is because muscle tissue is highly metabolically active, requiring massive amounts of energy at all times, versus less metabolically active tissue such as fat, bone, ligaments etc....  Thus, with increased muscle mass on your frame, you'll lose more weight.  Building muscle tissue should be a part of any positive lifestyle change designed to enhance health.Watch and print out a FREE copy of my Core Exercise Video and Sheets.

Increased exercise along with low glycemic foods in reasonable quantities...It’s a one two punch that knocks out high insulin levels and will catapult your health to new levels while trimming your waist line.

The following is a list of nutrients that you can use along with the above recommendations to help you in your healthy weight loss goals: fiber, chromium,meal replacement formulas, meal replacement bars.

Eat right, supplement wisely and laugh more.  That's how we'll age gracefully together.

In Health,
Dr. Neil Levin
Chiropractor practicing in East Northport, NY
(631) 651-2929

Journal of the American Medical Association, May 16, 2007; 297:2092-2102