Tackling Insulin Resistance Through Diet: A Practical Guide

Tackling Insulin Resistance Through Diet: A Practical Guide

My efforts at improving my insulin resistance - the root cause of almost all evil - through my food habits. There is massive amounts of scientific and medical literature that shows how insulin resistance leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, PCOS, and is now implicated even in Alzheimer’s and many other diseases.

Insulin resistance is a complex phenomenon which a short post like this will not do justice to. Instead, I will use this post to discuss practical ways to avoid becoming insulin resistant by specifically focusing on diet. Within that, I will focus on protein intake and leave carbohydrate and fat intake for subsequent posts. Protein seems like an odd choice to begin with, given that excessive carb consumption is the primary culprit of insulin resistance. However, while there is more awareness in general about carbs, better protein management can help with insulin resistance.

Protein consumption has a minimal impact on blood glucose levels compared to carbohydrates, thereby stabilizing blood sugar. It promotes muscle growth, increased calorie expenditure and potentially improved insulin sensitivity. Protein consumption stimulates the release of glucagon, a hormone that opposes insulin's effects. Finally, foods rich in protein promote feelings of fullness and satiety, which can prevent overeating and help control body weight, and therefore insulin resistance.

The most difficult thing for most Indians and almost all vegetarians is that we almost never consume as much protein as our bodies need. The rule of thumb is that the number of grams of protein you need is between 0.8 to 2 times your weight in kg (depending on our level of daily activity); at 1.5 times your weight, most people need 100 grams of protein. To put this in perspective, eating 2 eggs gives you 13 grams of protein, 40 grams of cheese is worth 8 grams of protein, a single serving of any of the Indian dals (lentils) contains about 7 - 10 grams of protein, while a serving of chicken curry contains about 30 grams.

Being a vegetarian primarily but who also eats chicken, here is how I have gotten better at meeting my protein requirements:
1) I start with a breakfast consisting of a bowl of salad, a slice of toast with avocado, two eggs, a small bowl of mixed nuts, cheese, a bowl of mixed berries and a small bowl of yogurt or corn salsa (~35 grams of protein).
2) After my strength training, I have a protein shake using a low-sugar, whey protein powder (30 grams).  
3) My dinner could be a Chipotle chicken burrito bowl (54 grams), a chicken crepe with veggies (35 grams), Counter Mediterranean bowl (35 grams) or a homemade rice / roti, dal, veggies (20 - 25 grams).

I use my trusted GeneClinicX app to track my protein consumption for me. Don’t worry if you aren’t tracking it perfectly; at least get a sense for how close you get to your goal (anything within 10%-15% of the goal is good enough). Hope this helps.
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Sonal Bhide: That is so helpful

Sonal Bhide

Himani Thakar: Thank you for providing actionable information instead of just information! You are truly creating healthcare outside of healthcare as we know it. the once a year 20 min Dr. visit with low or minimal follow-up and a generic my chart message saying " get on the Mediterranean diet" is over and out 😀

Nickhil Jakatdar: Thank you for that lovely note. You have perfectly captured what we are trying to achieve through the GeneClinicX platform. Actionable advice that is complementary to the doctor’s value add. Delivering that insight with support from our team of dietitians and fitness experts allows these lifestyle changes to become habits over the long run.

Himani Thakar

Poornima Kunani: I love that you always have fiber with the protein. Fiber is also crucial for insulin resistance.

Nickhil Jakatdar: It’s amazing how clear the difference in glucose spikes on the CGM were between having vs not having fiber in the meal.

Poornima Kunani: This is an important differentiation with paleo style eating or with eating processed proteins(or processed anything for that matter).

Poornima Kunani

Sameer M-Pathak: Thanks for the excellent post Nickhil Jakatdar! Would be interesting to see how macros turn out by maximizing protein, and reducing carbs. My fat intake has gone up, but since they are healthy fats, bio markers have remained steady!

Nickhil Jakatdar: It’s been the same thing for me. Because of the satiety provided by protein and the healthy aspects of unsaturated fats, the carb content automatically goes down thereby improving or in the worst case keeping my bio markers consistent. Besides muscle mass definitely improves.

Sameer M-Pathak

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