What is insulin resistance?

Every time we eat, blood sugar increases. This leads to the excretion of insulin from our pancreas.

What is insulin resistance?

What is insulin resistance?

Fat of carbohydrates?

Insulin is a hormone that has many important tasks in our body. One of them is to ensure that the blood sugar is absorbed into the cells of the body where it can be used for energy production (or stored for glycogen or fat). This happens because insulin binds to receptors on the cell surfaces and acts as a “porter” that helps sugar from the blood into the cells. In healthy, slim people, you will achieve maximum insulin effect when only 20-30% of the receptors on the cell have bound insulin.

Insulin resistance

In insulin resistance, the transfer of sugar (glucose) to the cell by insulin is reduced. The inhibitory effect of the insulin on the liver’s glucose production is also reduced. The result is a delayed uptake of glucose in muscle and fat tissue, increased glucose production in the liver, and an elevated blood sugar. When a normal amount of insulin produces a lesser biological effect than expected, insulin deficiency is by definition defined.


In insulin resistance, the body will attempt to compensate for the decreased effect of insulin by increasing insulin secretion (hyperinsulinemia). Insulin resistance is thus overcome by the fact that several receptors bind insulin. The result is initially a normal blood sugar level, but high levels of insulin circulating in the bloodstream.

From insulin resistance to diabetes

We are thus able to compensate for some extent for insulin resistance by increasing insulin secretion. The only problem is that too high levels of insulin in the blood itself will lead to insulin resistance. Thus, we have to compensate further with separating even more insulin, and ultimately the body does not manage to compensate enough in relation to the decreased insulin sensitivity. As a result, the body is unable to transfer sugar from the blood to the cells and the blood sugar remains high. By definition, one has developed type 2 diabetes.

Insulin Resistance Syndrome

Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are associated with an increased prevalence of overweight, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides and / or low HDL cholesterol, high uric acid, childlessness, and increased blood clotting and cardiovascular disease. This condition is often called insulin resistance syndrome. Other names of the condition are syndrome X, or metabolic syndrome.

The condition is hereditary, so if you have one or more diabetes type 2 or overweight in your family, there is a greater chance that you have an insulin resistance.

Do I have insulin resistance?

Many of those who have insulin resistance have what we call for “apple pie” where the circumference around the waist is larger than the circumference around the hips. This also applies to those who are almost normal-weighted. If you are significantly overweight, it may in itself be an indication that you may have insulin resistance. In addition, if you have high blood pressure, high triglycerides or other conditions associated with insulin resistance, you can be quite certain that you have a metabolic syndrome.

There are several methods to measure if you have insulin resistance. The serum level of fasting insulin is a good measure of insulin sensitivity, where an elevated level of insulin indicates insulin resistance. Using a C-peptide sample, you can measure insulin production, thus finding out if you have insulin resistance. You can do this with your GP.


Since insulin resistance is associated with several major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, treatment of insulin resistance may help prevent the development of such disease and treat existing conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. The treatment consists of a combination of drugs and lifestyle changes in terms of increased physical activity and dietary adjustment.

What is insulin resistance?

MEASUREMENT BAND: Large stomach can indicate insulin resistance Photo: Kuznetsov Dmitry / Crestock

Physical Activity

Physical activity increases insulin sensitivity, while preventing / reducing overweight. A reduced weight will in itself lead to increased insulin sensitivity. Increased physical activity may also lead to higher levels of HDL cholesterol. If you have insulin resistance but are good at keeping weight / lose weight while being physically active, the chance of developing diabetes 2 will be significantly reduced.


Some of those with insulin resistance may benefit from drug treatment in the form of oral antidiabetic drugs that increase insulin sensitivity. Examples of this are Metformin, Glucophage, Avandia and Actos.

Cost adjustment

An arrangement of the diet could lead to better blood glucose control and lower levels of circulating insulin in the bloodstream. Blood sugar increases as a result of eating, but how much and how fast it increases depends on what you eat and how to eat. The goal is to eat in such a way that blood sugar and insulin levels do not shoot in the weather, but instead stay within a smooth curve. This can be achieved by:

  1. Eat a little but, often. Certain 4 main meals and 2 snack meals a day
  2. Eat breakfast, preferably whole grain cereals / lots of fiber, coarse bread with lean onion (ham, cottage cheese), fruit and vegetables.
  3. Increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain products.
  4. Eat clean products of meat, fish and bird rather than farmer products.
  5. Using polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat rather than saturated (rapeseed oil, olive oil, fish toppings, seeds and nuts).
  6. Drink water instead of milk, juice, soda, juice, etc..
  7. Cut down on the intake of cakes, sweets and other sugary foods
What is insulin resistance?

FRUIT AND GREEN: Important food for insulin resistance Photo: Brian Chase / Crestock



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