There are many methods to losing weight. For some, it is as simple as cutting out pop for a month and the number on the scale decreases by 10 pounds. (You know of at least one man who has done this.)

For most of us it is more involved than that, especially women and all of our hormones. 

Hormone levels that are too high or too low or too much for long periods of time wreck havoc on our metabolisms.

There are zero hacks to weight loss/fitness/weight gain/health/wellness/insert chosen phrase here.

 You have to put in the work, eat right, and rest well. Consistently, for what sometimes feels way too long.

But you can – through eating right, exercising, and resting – hack the way your body functions. 

Hack Your Insulin Levels

With the right foods, the right timing, and consistency, you can hack your insulin levels.

Insulin is the metabolic hormone that is released from your pancreas to keep proper balance and control of your blood sugar levels (glucose). Once insulin has a hold of glucose it then transports it to the liver to be turned into glycogen for muscle use or fatty acids that are stored in fat cells to be used as fuel for your body at a later time. This is good.

Your glucose spikes after eating carbohydrates. 

Specifically refined carbs or high-glycemic carbs. (The glycemic index is a scale to measure the rate at which carbs enter the bloodstream. The faster it is the more insulin you produce to counteract it.) 

The Bad Carbs

The 'Bad' Carbs
The ‘Bad’ Carbs

These are the carbs most people perceive as ‘bad carbs’ – the ones that “make you fat” and “give you diabetes.” Like white bread, pasta, cookies, candies. These carbs are mostly derived from sugar. Sugar enters your bloodstream which then triggers your pancreas to release insulin to control the glucose. 

However, what makes them ‘bad’ is the timing and overuse of these particular food items. 

You know that afternoon sugar crash? The one that happens after you eat a doughnut on an already empty stomach. When you eat that high sugar item with nothing else to digest it with, glucose gets to your bloodstream REALLY fast, then your body overcompensates the amount of insulin needed to regulate the glucose. So it pumps a ton of insulin in and the insulin takes away too much glucose, leaving you feeling more tired and hungry because you don’t have enough glucose to give you the energy you need. And the cycle repeats itself.

Athletes will eat high-glycemic carbs, in the right portions for their bodies, before competing to help give them the extra boost of energy they need for that time period. The blood glucose will go straight to their muscles to help them perform better. And end up using all of that glucose before it gets stored. So if you do something with those carbs like an athlete in the way your body intends to use them, they are not all that ‘bad.’

But for most of us, we eat an over portioned dinner of pasta and then watch tv, or even go to bed, doing an activity that doesn’t use all that glucose we just ingested. Then insulin is released, taking and storing the glucose in our muscles and fat cells. This is ok for a while. But if this cycle keeps happening over and over, the pancreas doesn’t stop producing insulin, and your muscles and cells get too full that’s when trouble starts. Too many of these cycles and your pancreas will over work, and your body will start to become insulin resistant. The cells will start to ignore the insulin and won’t allow it to do its job, leaving your blood glucose too high. Creating the foundation for type 2 diabetes.

Also, with too much insulin hanging out in your blood stream, your body will use that as fuel instead of your already stored fuel, fat. Which makes weight loss really difficult, if not impossible.

So to lose weight you want to keep your insulin levels low and stable so your body uses or learns to use the stored fat as fuel, not blood glucose. 

The Good Carbs

The 'Good' Carbs
The ‘Good’ Carbs

When it comes to weight loss and “cutting carbs,” that means you are cutting out carbs that are derived from sugar, not the ‘good carbs.’

High fiber or low-glycemic carbs are the ‘good’ carbs. These ones you want to eat more of and are mostly derived of fiber and water. Fiber does not enter your bloodstream which then does not trigger an over reaction of insulin production. It takes longer for your body to process these carbs so your glucose does not spike after eating them. Any veggies that are green and cruciferous are veggies you can eat in bulk. According to Barry Sears, Ph.D, the creator and author of The Zone Diet, “3 cups of steamed broccoli has the same amount of insulin-stimulating carbohydrate as 1/4 cup of cooked pasta.”

You Can Still Eat Bread!

It is possible to still eat bread, pasta, rice and keep your insulin levels low. Eat your protein, fat, low-glycemic carbs with a small portion of high-glycemic carbs and because there is so much of the good stuff for your body to process the glucose takes longer to get to your bloodstream, creating a slower drip of insulin production, not a full on frontal attack.

If your insulin levels are in a decent place you can still eat high-glycemic carbs and lose weight.

  • A balanced breakfast of eggs, veggies, and avocado toast will not create an insulin attack.
  • A lunch of a salad, chicken and rice, will not make your insulin levels go crazy.
  • A dinner of roasted salmon, asparagus, and potatoes will work for you.

Everything in moderation.