Over the past year I have interacted with hundreds of people with diabetes, and have come to learn one very important lesson that has changed my view of diabetes altogether. While insulin resistance is a condition that is most commonly associated with type 2 diabetes, an increasing body of evidence is now shedding light on the fact that insulin resistance is a common thread that underlies many health conditions previously unassociated with blood sugar, including (but not limited to) heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, the metabolic syndrome, obesity and cancer.
What that means is simple: insulin resistance significantly increases your risk for the development of a collection of health conditions that can significantly reduce your quality of life and decrease your life expectancy. Insulin is a hormone which is released by the pancreas in response to rising blood glucose. Without insulin, cells in the liver, muscle, and fat have a difficult time vacuuming up glucose from the blood. Insulin resistance is a condition in which multiple tissues in the human body become resistant to the effects of insulin. As a result of insulin resistance, the pancreas is forced to secrete increasing amounts of insulin, resulting in a condition known as hyperinsulinemia. Hyperinsulinemia is a dangerous condition for many tissues, simply because elevated insulin concentrations in the blood act as potent signals for cell growth. There is a significant amount of confusion about what actually causes insulin resistance, and in my life as a type 1 diabetic as well as my career as a research scientist, I have come to realize that life-saving information about insulin resistance is poorly understood. There exists a large wall between what the research world understands about insulin resistance and what the general public understands about insulin resistance.
This wall exists for a number of reasons, and is heavily influenced by economic forces that profit on lifelong health conditions like diabetes. Researchers debate the causal mechanisms of insulin resistance tirelessly, day after day, and travel thousands of miles to attend large conferences to flex their scientific muscles. Despite this, however, researchers in the laboratory environment can induce insulin resistance in laboratory animals an in humans incredibly easily, using one simple technique. Insulin resistance is caused by lipid overload, resulting from either a high fat diet or insufficient fat “burning” through movement. Visit almost any laboratory on the planet that studies insulin resistance in animals or in humans and you’ll notice one simple technique that achieves insulin resistance in a repeatable fashion – eating a diet high in fat.
In some studies, researchers use a diet high in fat and high in sucrose (table sugar), to ensure that both the muscle and the liver become extremely insulin resistant. A high intake of dietary fat causes lipid overload and insulin resistance in the muscle and liver. I am often asked whether there is any research to back up the claim that fatty acids cause insulin resistance.
Saturated fatty acids are derived mainly from animal sources, and have direct negative effects on the muscle and liver. When excess fat accumulates it the muscle and liver tissue, the ability of glucose to enter both tissues is significantly compromised. Too often, the blame is placed on carbohydrates as the cause of insulin resistance despite the fact that the evidence clearly supports that excessive fat consumption causes excessive fat storage. I’ve talked extensively about the difference between REAL and FAKE carbohydrates, and gone into detail about the effects they have on tissues throughout your body.


To save you from having to scroll through previous articles, let’s walk through the difference between REAL and FAKE carbohydrates once again. REAL carbohydrates come from mainly fruits and vegetables, and can be eaten in their whole, natural state with minimal cooking or processing. REAL carbohydrates have untold health benefits, and are absolutely required for optimal athletic performance, athletic recovery and preventing against lipid overload.
In the past decade, a large body of evidence has begun to uncover the potent effects of refined carbohydrates on decreased cardiovascular health, diabetes health, liver health and unwanted weight gain.
Exercise is without doubt the most effective method of increasing insulin sensitivity, and is considered the gold-standard method of decreasing diabetes risk(20–27).
Think of exercise as being the signal that increases the appetite of your muscle tissue to accept incoming glucose in the blood. Exercise acts in both the short term and the long term, and leads to significant increases in the ability of the muscle tissue to respond to glucose in the blood. I am happy to see that exercise is now being prescribed as a treatment for insulin resistant individuals, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not. It is important to recognize that insulin resistance affects everyone, even those who show no symptoms of high blood sugar.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance. This realization came to me early on in my career as a nutrition and fitness coach for people with diabetes, and continues to hold true.
When you consume carbohydrates, the glucose that enters the bloodstream knocks on the door of the beta cells in the pancreas as a signal to make insulin.
These tissues are capable to vacuuming up only a small percentage (5-10%) of the glucose in circulation without the help of insulin. Unfortunately, excellent research does no good if the information is not put in the hands of those who need it. You may have heard the phrase “there is no money in the cure.” This is a true statement, and this practice is what keeps life-saving information out of the hands of those who need it. They propose every mechanism you can imagine, and blame every tissue you can think of, from the pancreas to the muscle to the liver to the brain to your blood. There is a considerable amount of research that justifies this notion, and this evidence clearly points to the fact that excess fatty acids are a potent cause of both muscular and liver insulin resistance. REAL carbohydrates are found mainly in plant foods, and come pre-packaged with a host of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and water. They are “refined” products that have been processed, manufactured and changed from their original and whole state. Forcing the muscle to contract and elongate thousands of times in a short period of time increases it’s fat burning capabilities and also increases its willingness to store more glucose.
In many cases, those with prediabetes can stave off the transition to diabetes by adopting a regular exercise regimen to increase insulin sensitivity regularly.


Massao Hirabara S, de Oliveira Carvalho CR, Mendonca JR, Piltcher Haber E, Fernandes LC, Curi R.
When insulin is present, the amount of glucose that can be transported into tissues significantly increases, allowing tissues to be properly fed, and keeping blood glucose concentrations in the normal range.
More tissue growth often results in increased fatness, increased cell replication rates and a significant increase in the risk for cancer. Think of REAL carbohydrates as the types of foods that you would find if you were walking in the woods by yourself. FAKE carbohydrates have been modified from their original state in order to make them edible and often times to make them taste sweet.
Free fatty acid-induced insulin resistance is associated with activation of protein kinase C theta and alterations in the insulin signaling cascade. Mechanism by which fatty acids inhibit insulin activation of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1)-associated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in muscle.
Saturated fatty acid-induced insulin resistance is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in skeletal muscle cells. Palmitate acutely raises glycogen synthesis in rat soleus muscle by a mechanism that requires its metabolization (Randle cycle).
Increased lipid availability impairs insulin-stimulated ATP synthesis in human skeletal muscle. Mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle insulin resistance induced by fatty acids: importance of the mitochondrial function. Rice and noodle consumption is associated with insulin resistance and hyperglycaemia in an Asian population.
Resistance exercise enhances the molecular signaling of mitochondrial biogenesis induced by endurance exercise in human skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle and beyond: the role of exercise as a mediator of systemic mitochondrial biogenesis. Effects of 7 days of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and responsiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Effects of exercise on glycemic control and body mass in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Skeletal muscle lipid content and insulin resistance: evidence for a paradox in endurance-trained athletes.
Exercise as a therapeutic intervention for the prevention and treatment of insulin resistance. FAKE carbohydrates include grains, cereals, pastas, rice, bread products and artificial sweeteners.



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