Insulin resistance is often the key culprit in the stubborn midlife weight gain so many women experience. What can we do to improve insulin resistance? Let’s talk solutions*.
If you are already eating a healthy diet and exercising you are on the right track, but attention to a few details can make all the difference.
Count Carbs, Not Calories
A low carbohydrate diet (about 100 to 120 grams of carbohydrate per day) will help you lose or maintain weight. Most fitness trackers allow you to track macros (carbs, fat and protein) easily. You don’t have to track what you eat everyday, but tracking just a few typical days will help you get a sense of what a low carbohydrate looks like.
Watch out for Fruit
Picking up a piece of fruit feels like a healthy snack. The USDA lumps fruit and veggies together, but they are not created equal. Fruit is nature’s candy and should be treated as such. And don’t be deceived, there is nothing magical about the sugar in fruit that helps your body to process it better.
Timing is Everything
Our bodies are best able to process carbs in the middle of the day. The normal fluctuations of cortisol in our bodies make us most insulin resistant in the morning and most of us aren’t very active after dinner, this makes lunch our best time to eat carbs. Even that cookie (We all need a splurge now and then) will have less of an impact midday.
Never Eat (Carbs) Alone
The faster you absorb carbs and sugar into your blood stream the more insulin you will produce. Just the taste of sweetness on your tongue gets your pancreas working overtime churning out insulin. “Healthy carbs” such as whole grains and some starchy veggies (I’m talking about you sweet potato) contain fiber and protein that slow down their transit from your intestine to your blood. Eating carbs with proteins or healthy fats (think apple-with-peanut-butter or Greek-yogurt-with-berries) will accomplish the same thing. That means even that cookie is better eaten with lunch than as a 3 pm snack.
Breakfast is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day
New studies have shown that time restricted eating (also sometimes called intermittent fasting) can help those with insulin resistance manage their weight and energy levels. Even a 12-hour fast (eating from 7 am to 7 pm and fasting from 7pm to 7 am) has benefits, but if you are really struggling, an 8-10 hour fast (eating from say 11 am to 7 pm) may be more helpful. Just don’t take this one too far, eating just one meal per day can be counterproductive.
Don’t Forget the Weights
Resistance training, whether with dumbbells, resistance bands or your own body weight, builds metabolically active muscle and improves insulin resistance. It has the added benefit of helping to maintain healthy bones.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have tried healthy lifestyle changes and you are still struggling to manage your weight, it is time to seek help. There are several supplements and medications that can be helpful. Some women may benefit from new medications for weight management that target insulin resistance. These newer options do more than just suppress appetite, and they assist with weight loss more safely and with fewer side effects than their older counterparts.
The good news here is that, while we aren’t 20 anymore, women in their 40s, 50s and beyond can feel great and be healthy.
*As always reading a blog is not a substitute for talking to your doctor. It is always a good idea to speak to a physician before starting a new diet or exercise routine.