If your metabolism has come to a screeching halt over the years and you cannot lose weight no matter what you do, this one hormone might be to blame – Insulin.

✅ You have been eating less calories and hitting the gym.

✅ You have identified your hormone imbalances and are following habits there.

✅ You are eating less carbs and not eating anything processed.

And yet still nothing is changing. It feels like you are fighting an uphill battle against your metabolism and you are at the end of your rope. But don’t give up hope yet.

Insulin is one of the most overlooked metabolic hormones and you can be struggling with insulin resistance even if your levels are all “within range”.

The Root Cause of Insulin Disruption: Dieting Is the Culprit

Chronic dieting, undereating, skimping on carbs, and overtraining are the root cause of your insulin disruption – aka everything that you are currently doing to lose weight 🤦‍♀️.

Insulin is an energy-allocation hormone. It is released in response to eating food and its role is to take the sugar that is within the blood and allocate it to either immediate use, glycogen stores in the muscle, or fat.

Where it gets tricky – insulin is directly correlated with chronic stress. So as your stress levels rise, so does your insulin.

When you are stressed (from not eating enough and triggering a famine response, or just life) cortisol spikes and there is an immediate spike of blood sugar with it. Insulin is released to respond to this.

If you are chronically stressed, your insulin levels remain elevated 24/7.

Chronic exposure to insulin in your body or chronically elevated levels leads to insulin resistance. Basically meaning that your tissues no longer respond to it and instead of that blood sugar being effectively allocated, it all gets stored to excess fat. Even worse, this can set you up for pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes down the line.

Chronic undereating from trying to lose weight and overtraining is the number one cause of chronic and controllable stress in your body. So the more you try to cut, deprive, restrict, and outwork, the more you send your body into adrenal overload and insulin resistance.

Tell-Tell Signs of Insulin Resistance

Unfortunately, bloodwork does not always catch the lead-up to this. And because of bio-individuality, you likely might still be struggling with insulin resistance even if everything is “within range”.

A better approach is to look at your symptoms because they are immediate bio-feedback from your body giving you real-time information about what is happening:

☑️ You gain weight rapidly

☑️ You struggle with stubborn belly fat and cannot lose it

☑️ You have an energy crash in the middle of the afternoon

☑️ You feel woozy or light-headed after workouts

☑️ You struggle with nervous system overload (especially after workouts)

☑️ You have higher blood pressure

☑️ You need to pee frequently (even if you are not hydrated fully)

☑️ You struggle with acne

☑️ You struggle with fatigue or exhaustion

☑️ You get frequent headaches

☑️ You have cravings for sugar or salty foods and binge on snacks

How to Improve Insulin Function

Besides what you see out there on Instagram, you cannot improve insulin in a silo. Because until you address the underlying chronic stress and the cause of that stress – you will still have erratic blood sugar and insulin disruptions as a byproduct.

In fact, this is likely why you have taken supplements like Inositol or NAC in the past with little to no actual change in your body.

There are three critical factors that you need to prioritize if you want long-term improvement of insulin. And let me tell you, this is how you also get life-long results. In fact, these strategies are how my clients have lost 20 lbs. and kept it off without needing to diet or restrict carbs.

Factor 1: Reverse Diet for Metabolic Efficiency

Undereating and dieting trigger the “famine response” in your body and sends it into a high-stress, high cortisol, and conservation stage (aka insulin resistance). And continuing to under-eat, restrict calories, or cut out food groups is only adding to that response.

You need to eat enough to fuel optimal function. Which means that you need to move through a progressive reintroduction of nutrients to help your body understand that it is getting enough food for optimal health. This process needs to be strategic though, moving through progressions too quickly can lead to adverse effects.

When this happens, your body slows down on cortisol production and blood sugar disruption. Insulin is improved as a byproduct as it is no longer being released 24/7 so your tissues can become sensitive to its action again.

A great place to start is to download my guide, 4 Steps to Kickstart Your Metabolism, to learn how to move through the beginning stages of a reverse diet.

Factor 2: Carb Cycling with Hormone Fluctuations

Carbs are not the enemy, in fact, your body needs them to regulate the production of your key sex hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. As your hormone production levels fluctuate across your cycle phases, your body’s demand for carbs and ability to use carbs for energy shifts.

This is why eating low carb 24/7 is draining your energy, stressing your body out, and destroying your insulin function.

Instead, you want to optimize your hormone cycle and its adapting metabolic efficiencies to help support your systems. And all the while you get to eat more carbs as a result. Here is an overview of how this can look:

  • Typically RDA for carbohydrates is about 40-65% of your total dietary intake.
  • During your Follicular and Ovulatory Phase, your insulin function increases and the demand for carbs is higher. This means you should up your total carbohydrate intake and choose carbs that provide higher/quicker energy for immediate use. Focusing on carbs that have high or moderate glycemic indexes (GI) can provide immediate energy to fuel your hormones, days, and workouts.
  • During your Luteal and Menstrual Phase, your insulin function decreases but your metabolic demand is higher. Which means overall your body needs more fuel, but it is more sensitive to carbohydrate intake. This means your total carbohydrate intake can decrease slightly but the types of carbs you choose should change. Focusing on carbs that have a lower glycemic index (GI) and that are packed with fiber can stabilize blood sugar. During this time, you want to make sure you always pair a carb with protein.

These percentages are going to be directly proportional to your reverse diet needs. This is something that we calculate and map out for you in our Hormone Balance Coaching Programs. We determine your current metabolic efficiency, your reverse diet progressions, and exactly what to eat according to your system and hormonal needs for transformative results.

Factor 3: Cyclical Strength Training & Insulin Improvement

Strength training is the single best form of exercise to simultaneously burn fat and improve insulin function. In fact, if you want to burn more fat and make sure your body burns fat 24/7, then you need to strength train (that’s right, cardio won’t cut it).

As your hormones fluctuate across your cycle phases, your body’s ability to handle workout intensity shifts. This means that adapting your strength progressions to match your hormone phases is how you build lean mass, drop inches, and transform your hormones without over-stressing your body (which – remember – disrupts hormones and insulin).

Cyclical strength training is effective, really you only need 2-3 workouts a week. The idea is you are going to adapt the intensity and type of training you do to match your hormone cycle:

  • Follicular Phase: Endurance Lift at 60-70%
  • Ovulatory Phase: Power & Strength at 90-100%
  • Luteal Phase (A): Strength at 80-90%
  • Luteal Phase (B): Hypertrophy at 60-70%
  • Menstrual Phase: Time Under Tension & Hypertrophy at 50%

Having a perfectly designed strength program is your ticket to transformative results that work for your schedule, and hormones, and that deliver results in record time.

Ready to drop inches and ditch symptoms this summer?

Are you ready to feel confident this summer 🔥, shed inches 📏, have energy ⚡, and not let symptoms hold you back 👊 – all without sacrificing your favorite things? ❤️💚💛

If YES then kickstart your journey with a FREE discovery call 📞 to discuss your goals and get tailored strategies to focus on.

Or if you are ready to start your hormone balance journey, enroll in one of my Hormone Balance Coaching Programs for tailored support.

Tasha is an Integrative Clinical Nutritionist, B.S., CPT, Pilates Instructor, and Founder of Happy Hormone Health. She has coached 2000 women in reclaiming their energy, living symptom-free and transforming their health through hormone balance nutrition. Start your hormone balance journey with customized hormone balance coaching. 

Leave a Reply