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5

devil's advocate on insulin

by (1786)
Updated about 14 hours ago
Created November 15, 2012 at 4:44 AM

so many people (luminaries, gurus, yadda yadda) keep saying that keeping insulin as low as possible for as long as possible is good for us. but WHY do they say that?

(earlier today i watched kelly starret say, "he who keeps insulin lowest longest wins.")

and more importantly, are they cherry picking their proof?

i have not gained weight or fat since tremendously upping my simple sugars intake a year ago. in fact by doing this i have defeated depression and gained more energy. i am not superman, nor am i an active athlete. i have maintained my same weight to height ratio, but my waist has gone down 1-2 sizes (it fluctuates based on water retention and other factors)

the only possible negatives are sometimes food comas and lethargy after eating too many carbs, but this can easily happen with protein or fat too! so it just seems to mean that overeating in general shifts energy from the brain to the gut, therefore causing fatigue.

and i feel better overall, but everytime i talk to anyone who isnt a ray peat follower or something, they cannot believe me. before this transition i was mark sisson low carb for 2 years and only got worse problems. then i did the PHD diet and while it was better, starches did not help me out, nor did brown rice syrup or dextrose.

so either i am an anamoly (possible, but unlikely) or there is something else going on! intelligent thoughts anyone?

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11204 · November 19, 2012 at 3:21 PM

If you aren't broken, you might not need it. I seem to be stuck, unless I decide I don't mind my fasting blood sugar to be in the 100s. I would quibble with your characterization too; people aren't saying 'super healthy' but 'super protective'- at least as protective as a diet can be.

6554fd49a0ca08456adbbe75c99d8a01
18 · November 16, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Yep, Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes literally means 'siphon', or 'running through', and Mellitus means 'sweet'.

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1786 · November 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM

wow, that last part, so if it was sweet then...? they had diabetes?

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18635 · November 16, 2012 at 1:28 AM

^I don't have much more to add to my own answer, but in relation to you accidentally practicing IF I think that is a huge plus. Seems many high carb societies that do not suffer from their intake also only eat 1-2x/day (Kitavins for instance) at least thats my understanding. So in all its not the spike that is so bad as much as it is the time spent or cumulative value of how long insulin is raised throughout the day. You could see why the people sipping on big gulps all day would have some of the biggest issues based on this.

6554fd49a0ca08456adbbe75c99d8a01
18 · November 15, 2012 at 11:27 PM

I didn't mean to say you are sedentary, I just meant to say that if you were, then that would be the risk. People who are fat and regularly active (not even as an athlete) could be said to be healthier than sedentary individuals, as it is mainly sedentary individuals who are at greater risk of weight gain and CV disease. However, quite often both bad diet and sedentary lifestyle go hand in hand. Weight loss can also be a common symptom of diabetes. If you were desperate to find out, you can try tasting your pee to see if it's sweet :D That's what they used to do!

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM

yes it's good to keep the large view context in mind to avoid myopic reductionsim, thx for posting!

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM

btw, i'm looking forward to any more info you have on the subject, thx for posting before rushing off to work :)

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM

well meat, fruit, and herbs/plants as flavorings and medicines. i think so many ppl glaze over the gatherer part of hunter gatherers. i believe the majority of gathered plant foods were used as non-caloric sources of food for other benefits. for instance even the bay area natives who were forced via necessity to cultivate acorns as caloric sources added edible clays in their "acorn bread dough" to mitigate the problems.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM

also there are some days when i eat tons of sugar, but i dont seem to deal with the negative effects as much. perhaps because of my eating schedule where i do not tend to eat all day - i kinda practice IF on accident, merely because my typical meal of neck bone stew is heavy enough that i only want to eat a big meal of it once or twice a day, accompanied with sugar to taste/satiation.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM

what interests me is this idea of insulin resistance/sensitivity and how to coax it around, or "hack" it i guess, without demonizing any food group or creating some dogmatic religious beliefs about food.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:20 PM

... or otherwise) and they just seem to sit in my upper g.i. tract as cause discomfort and sluggishness. if starches made me feel great, or even neutral, i suppose it'd be a totally different story. thank you for the insights on the typical symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, those are interesting distinctions.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:16 PM

well, me saying i'm not superman or an active athlete does not mean i'm sedentary. it's a bit bolocks to assume that i'm at risk fro diabetes when i stated that i kept my same weight to height ratio yet lost 2 pant sizes. i suppose i should have actually listed my weight and height (190 lbs, 6 feet even) but that is no real measure of my body fat %. also, there are a lot of non-obese diabetics, so the factors are not mutually exclusive. i think also that my proclivity towards simple sugras over complex sugars is that i don't feel well eating lots of starches (i've tried every starch, "safe"

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:10 PM

yeah, i dont buy it. i do want to understand where the low carb advocates are coming from, but i am thinking that they are highly selective with their biases. i know that my theories arent perfect, in fact, they're just questions really, but the whole "low-carb=super health" shpeil is frightfully boring.

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11204 · November 15, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Well, you can have healthy insulin resistance in a low carbohydrate environment. A lot of paleo folks can easily fail the oral glucose tolerance test precisely because we are fat adapted and whatever glucose we have is being reserved for the brain. But insulin resistant tissue does not mean there is a lot of insulin around- lower carbohydrates mean less insulin. The tribe you describe you would be both healthy and insulin sensitive- to shuttle the sugars where they need to go efficiently with as little insulin as possible.

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18635 · November 15, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Just a thought....

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18635 · November 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

As I thought of it more could it be certain people not thriving on standard paleo switch to a Peat protocol and then feel better due to the removal of toxic veggies? Seems likely to me that these could just be individuals very sensitive to the toxic substances in vegetables and particularly the brassica family. So they get rid of that and start ingesting fruit instead....their you go. Nothing magical about the fruit sugars, except that they replaced toxic (in their individual instances) substances with non-toxic calories.

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1786 · November 15, 2012 at 6:08 PM

do you think that we can have healthy insulin resistance? say for instance there was a tribe and all they had to eat was meat (fat & protein) and lots of fruit in various states of fermentation/ripeness. if thats how you survived, you'd develop some kind of healthy balance with that diet, right?

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748 · November 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I've been wondering this myself too. awesome question/post.

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4632 · November 15, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Very curious to see the answers on this as I have had much success with low carb and high carb with lots of simple sugars. I have felt great both ways so I am curious about why. I don't have any in depth thoughts but I would definitely suggest sticking to what works!

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7 Answers

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52
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18635 · November 15, 2012 at 1:43 PM

You might be interested in this persons site. http://diagnosisdiet.com/food/vegetables/#i11. She makes the case for meat and fruit being the only foods actually designed to be eaten by humans, and why some who are very sensitive may have problems with basically all vegetables. This may be a bit off the topic, but if you have replaced a large portion of fibrous vegetable or tubers with sugars from fruit seems as likely a theory as to why you had good response as any.

As to the insulin bit, if you read the PHD you probably realize that much of the evidence is against hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia. And there are reported epidemiological patters (so not cause/effect) that lower levels of each correlate with longevity, better cognitive value (less Alzheimer), and improved immunity since "insulin suppresses production of antimicrobial peptides". Well obviously its not all just epidemiological, but I'm in a rush so I cant sift through for studies right now. But, fruit is not bad for people like diabetics specifically because of the fructose, fiber, and water from what I understand. All reducing the glycemic load and fructose is first diverted through the liver right?

More to write....but I gotta go to work. Look forward to seeing the other responses.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM

btw, i'm looking forward to any more info you have on the subject, thx for posting before rushing off to work :)

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52
18635 · November 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

As I thought of it more could it be certain people not thriving on standard paleo switch to a Peat protocol and then feel better due to the removal of toxic veggies? Seems likely to me that these could just be individuals very sensitive to the toxic substances in vegetables and particularly the brassica family. So they get rid of that and start ingesting fruit instead....their you go. Nothing magical about the fruit sugars, except that they replaced toxic (in their individual instances) substances with non-toxic calories.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52
18635 · November 15, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Just a thought....

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM

well meat, fruit, and herbs/plants as flavorings and medicines. i think so many ppl glaze over the gatherer part of hunter gatherers. i believe the majority of gathered plant foods were used as non-caloric sources of food for other benefits. for instance even the bay area natives who were forced via necessity to cultivate acorns as caloric sources added edible clays in their "acorn bread dough" to mitigate the problems.

6554fd49a0ca08456adbbe75c99d8a01
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18 · November 15, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Carbohydrate intake results in elevated insulin to promote glucose removal from the blood. This is perfectly normal. Hyperinsulinemia is usually a symptom of type II diabetes. Hypoglycemia is usually as a result of type I diabetes.

The only thing simple sugars will do (as long as not consumed in too great an excess) is raise blood sugar levels faster than complex carbohydrates. Glucose transporter 4 is dependent on insulin to allow cells to take in glucose. Exercise circumvents this need for insulin, as exercising muscles can take up glucose without it.

Since you don't do exercise and are consuming high sugar amounts, you might be putting yourself at risk of diabetes. That is if you have a sedentary lifestyle.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:20 PM

... or otherwise) and they just seem to sit in my upper g.i. tract as cause discomfort and sluggishness. if starches made me feel great, or even neutral, i suppose it'd be a totally different story. thank you for the insights on the typical symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, those are interesting distinctions.

6554fd49a0ca08456adbbe75c99d8a01
18 · November 15, 2012 at 11:27 PM

I didn't mean to say you are sedentary, I just meant to say that if you were, then that would be the risk. People who are fat and regularly active (not even as an athlete) could be said to be healthier than sedentary individuals, as it is mainly sedentary individuals who are at greater risk of weight gain and CV disease. However, quite often both bad diet and sedentary lifestyle go hand in hand. Weight loss can also be a common symptom of diabetes. If you were desperate to find out, you can try tasting your pee to see if it's sweet :D That's what they used to do!

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM

wow, that last part, so if it was sweet then...? they had diabetes?

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:16 PM

well, me saying i'm not superman or an active athlete does not mean i'm sedentary. it's a bit bolocks to assume that i'm at risk fro diabetes when i stated that i kept my same weight to height ratio yet lost 2 pant sizes. i suppose i should have actually listed my weight and height (190 lbs, 6 feet even) but that is no real measure of my body fat %. also, there are a lot of non-obese diabetics, so the factors are not mutually exclusive. i think also that my proclivity towards simple sugras over complex sugars is that i don't feel well eating lots of starches (i've tried every starch, "safe"

6554fd49a0ca08456adbbe75c99d8a01
18 · November 16, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Yep, Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes literally means 'siphon', or 'running through', and Mellitus means 'sweet'.

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1297 · November 15, 2012 at 6:11 PM

My own view is that we are a long way from the truth and that at the moment the best we can say is that it's horses for courses.

Again my own view, is that there are a wide range of types of people, dark hair, light hair, dark skin, light skinned, ectomorph, endomorph, yin yang, you get my drift.

So I don't think that everybody is going to benefit from eating the same sorts of things.

Nothing against any of them, but Sisson, de Vany & Berkhan have all been skinny all their lives. Sisson top marathon runner, de Vany (can't remember exactly, but) strong all his life, Berkhan a model in his youth.

Each of them is offering a solution that seems to fit for someone who is morbidly obese & hormonally dysfunctional as well as the looking good fitness fanatic who wants to cut the last 5lbs. I'm not sure that's feasible.

Humanity thrives on diversity & a couple of billion Asians eat rice every day with apparent impunity. I know that it's good to keep on striving for better, but I doubt there's one right way to do it. And we have a long way to go.

Finally, I think that the undemonising of fat and red meat is a powerful force for good and so if some of these guys are a little evangelical at times, I'm fine with that because the SAD story is so deeply ingrained (pun intended).

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1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM

yes it's good to keep the large view context in mind to avoid myopic reductionsim, thx for posting!

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11204 · November 15, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Most of the downstream effects of insulin seem to be the sort of things we are trying to avoid. All insulin all the time makes the Standard American a very fat and dull boy. But I am going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that Kelly Starret is down with some post-workout carbs. The reason why I am guessing this is because insulin helps in this specific case.

Some of the low carb researchers are looking at the MTOR pathway and saying to reduce carbs and protein in order not to trigger it. The aim here is long life. It seems to be a decent hypothesis, and it's departure from Paleo is their willingness to stay in a steady state for years rather than taking the evolutionary view that we moved into and out of various phases. A fast, for instance, encourages autophagy. Prolonged fasting causes death. A growth phase (of which MTOR and insulin is a part of) helps us build muscle, but a prolonged growth phase just may encourage cancer- and therefore death. Speaking of cancer: targeting insulin inhibition as a metabolic therapy in advanced cancer:

Other expected effects are changes in all the intracellular signaling molecules downstream of the insulin receptor, which regulate their growth, proliferation, and resistance to apoptosis (cell death signals known in all cells), etc.

The relevance being there are downstream effects- effects which also apply to normal cells, which we might want to minimize.

I doubt that you are suffering from the same insulin load as SAD people do though.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 6:08 PM

do you think that we can have healthy insulin resistance? say for instance there was a tribe and all they had to eat was meat (fat & protein) and lots of fruit in various states of fermentation/ripeness. if thats how you survived, you'd develop some kind of healthy balance with that diet, right?

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6
11204 · November 15, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Well, you can have healthy insulin resistance in a low carbohydrate environment. A lot of paleo folks can easily fail the oral glucose tolerance test precisely because we are fat adapted and whatever glucose we have is being reserved for the brain. But insulin resistant tissue does not mean there is a lot of insulin around- lower carbohydrates mean less insulin. The tribe you describe you would be both healthy and insulin sensitive- to shuttle the sugars where they need to go efficiently with as little insulin as possible.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:10 PM

yeah, i dont buy it. i do want to understand where the low carb advocates are coming from, but i am thinking that they are highly selective with their biases. i know that my theories arent perfect, in fact, they're just questions really, but the whole "low-carb=super health" shpeil is frightfully boring.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52
18635 · November 16, 2012 at 1:28 AM

^I don't have much more to add to my own answer, but in relation to you accidentally practicing IF I think that is a huge plus. Seems many high carb societies that do not suffer from their intake also only eat 1-2x/day (Kitavins for instance) at least thats my understanding. So in all its not the spike that is so bad as much as it is the time spent or cumulative value of how long insulin is raised throughout the day. You could see why the people sipping on big gulps all day would have some of the biggest issues based on this.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM

also there are some days when i eat tons of sugar, but i dont seem to deal with the negative effects as much. perhaps because of my eating schedule where i do not tend to eat all day - i kinda practice IF on accident, merely because my typical meal of neck bone stew is heavy enough that i only want to eat a big meal of it once or twice a day, accompanied with sugar to taste/satiation.

05055dcbf12c81f1cce777ec365870af
1786 · November 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM

what interests me is this idea of insulin resistance/sensitivity and how to coax it around, or "hack" it i guess, without demonizing any food group or creating some dogmatic religious beliefs about food.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6
11204 · November 19, 2012 at 3:21 PM

If you aren't broken, you might not need it. I seem to be stuck, unless I decide I don't mind my fasting blood sugar to be in the 100s. I would quibble with your characterization too; people aren't saying 'super healthy' but 'super protective'- at least as protective as a diet can be.

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8140 · November 16, 2012 at 1:08 AM

I think the problem lies in the fact that some people have serious issues with insulin metabolism (from genetics or from environmental damage, or both) and some do not. So what works or doesn't for a young, healthy athletic male may be very different than what works for a heavy, middle aged, woman who has sustained decades of metabolic damage and who may be well on her way on the "diabetic spectrum" or "diabetic pathway" without an official diagnosis of diabetes . . . YET.

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1021 · November 15, 2012 at 5:09 PM

ive wondered about this because home fruit can be grown at much higher quantities than vegetables.

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1974 · November 15, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I also do well on lots of carbs and think that a balanced diet is much better for health than these high fat, high protein paleo diets. I eat all the fruit, veggies, sweet potatoes that my body asks for, In addition to some meat and oils of course

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