Part 4: Hormones and Weight Gain - Insulin


Where do I start with this one? I am a self confessed sweet tooth. The willpower to deny it does not always go the way I want, even with all my knowledge! Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Its everywhere. We all know its bad, but why doesn't that stop us eating it, or why cant we stop after just one Tim Tam?? Sugar is highly addictive.  Studies show it is more addictive than heroin! But unlike heroin,  that's only available through illegal channels, sugar is readily available, EVERYWHERE. And, as I tell my clients we only have certain amount of willpower in our bucket so we don't always have the strength to make that right decision.


A lot of people argue that we're able to burn off the sugar we consume by being active and, that if you are not putting on weight then it is no big deal. This is only partly true. Yes, you can burn off some of the calories but unfortunately we can't "burn off" the many other effects sugar causes in our body. Including inflammation, high cholesterol and insulin resistance. The links between sugar and diseases are too many to list here but in this blog I want to focus on the effects of insulin and why its such a big deal. Especially for those of you wanting to lose weight.


Are you noticing some weight gain around your middle?

This is a common symptom of insulin resistance.


So what is insulin and how does our body become resistant to it?


​Insulin is the hormone responsible for directing our cells to take in and use glucose. Glucose is formed in our bodies mostly from the carbohydrates we eat, with a small amount also coming from ingested proteins. Insulin is sometimes called the "fat-building hormone". It has several actions in the body.  It's designed to help the body store energy and prevent cells from metabolically burning, meaning we are slowing our metabolism down and storing fat whenever insulin is excreted.


High levels of insulin cause you to store the calories you eat from your diet as fat in your belly.​ Put simply high levels of insulin = you gain weight (even if you eat fewer calories).


What I also want to point-out is that artificial sugars have a mimicking effect on the body and can also cause insulin to be constantly released. So don't think your Coke Zero has zero effect; quite the opposite!


When insulin levels remain chronically elevated (like when we eat a lot of sugar in your diet), your body becomes resistant to insulin. At first your body will keep up with the body's needs for insulin, but over time it becomes fatigued and is no longer able to move the glucose out of your blood. This is when symptoms lead into diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.



Symptoms of Insulin Resistance


  • Inability to lose weight

  • Belly fat (or visceral abdominal fat)

  • Cravings for sugary foods

  • Irritability when going long periods of time without food

  • Dizziness and light-headedness when fasting


Are you a NZ statistic?


Nearly one in three New Zealanders are pre-diabetic or diabetic. That is huge!!! They believe that these numbers are going to increase to one in two in a very short time. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of paediatric diabetes in the world, and numbers are estimated to be growing at 10% annually. This is our kids we are talking about. It's a big deal that we can no longer avoid.




If you have any of the symptoms above I would recommend getting tested. A simple blood glucose test with just a small prick to the finger can tell you instantly what your blood glucose levels are. Maybe you know someone with a blood glucose monitor you can borrow. Alternatively you can ask for a check at the doctors. Or go to your local pathlab or medlab and self request a test. The earlier it is caught the easier it is to reverse and prevent.


If you go to the doctors or go to medlab/ pathlab ask for following blood tests:

  • Fasting Blood Glucose

  • Hba1c


These are ranges you should be aware of:

  • Fasting Blood glucose (pre-diabetic is 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/l , diabetic is greater than 7 mmol/l)

  • Hba1c (pre-diabetic is 41–49 mmol/mol and diabetic is 50mmol/mol and over).


Although your fasting glucose is considered pre-diabetic at 6.1 mmol/l I want my clients to be 5 mmol/l or under, otherwise it makes weight loss very difficult, even impossible.


I test every person that comes to my clinic - skinny, big, young and old. You would be amazed at what I have observed.


Maybe wait until after Easter indulgence is over to do this test!!


The Solution


1.  Get Exercising

Exercise can move blood sugar into cells without the need for insulin. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.


2.  Lower your Stress/ Cortisol levels

Stress decreases our thyroid hormone, which as a result lowers our metabolism and keeps fat higher in our blood stream. This promotes insulin resistance. Stress on many levels equals fat storage. Try deep breathing techniques to stay calm during your day.


3. Up your Nutrients

The body's blood sugar regulating system requires many nutrients to work smoothly and healthily. Many people in NZ are deficient in these nutrients. The nutrients in particular needed are zinc, chromium, magnesium, potassium, essential fatty acids and alpha-lipoic-acid. Consume more fruit and vegetables to get these nutrients.


4. Stop Overeating

Overeating is one of the biggest risk factors of diabetes. While parents in the 1950's used to tell their children not to snack as it will ruin their appetite for meals, many people now frequently eat through the day. We have not evolved to eat 6 meals a day. Cut back to three meals, or even two meals a day.


5.Reduce Refined Carbohydrates

Swap out the processed foods for more whole-food choices. Its no surprise that bread, cakes, pasta, lollies, chocolate, and other processed grains will cause weight gain and insulin resistance.


6. Get you Zzzz's

Sleep deprivation can cause certain hormones to be activated that lead to weight gain and obesity. Get into a bed time routine each day.


7. Supplement

If your blood sugar tests are in the pre-diabetic range or diabetic range talk to a healthcare practitioner about herbs and supplements that can help lower your blood sugar levels. It is impossible to lose weight when they are elevated.


If you want some help with managing your blood sugars or simply want a blood glucose test, then I am happy to help. Keep an eye out on my Facebook page as I will be announcing a free assessment date for anyone who wants to check their blood glucose. It only takes one minute but that one minute can make all the difference for your life expectancy (and that unmovable belly fat!).


My Facebook page is



Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Recent Posts
Please reload

Please reload

  • Vinka nutrition
  • Vinka nutrition
Nutritionist Cambridge