What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition that develops when the body cannot use insulin properly, which, over time, causes the development of chronic diseases of aging. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps the body use glucose (a form of sugar that is the body’s main source of energy). Our digestive system breaks food down into glucose, which then travels through bloodstream to cells throughout the body. Glucose in the blood is called blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. As the blood glucose level rises after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin to help cells take in and use the glucose.

When people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, their bodies need more insulin to help glucose enter cells. The pancreas tries to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more.  Eventually, the pancreas fails to keep up with the body’s need for insulin and excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream.  This blood sugar disregulation contributes to obesity, cholesterol abnormalities, elevated blood pressure (hypertension), osteoporosis, cancer, and ultimately the development of Type 2 diabetes (also called adult-onset diabetes) and cardiovascular disease (heart attack/stroke).  Therefore, controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful strategies you can possibly implement.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance


The most common feature of Insulin Resistance is that it wears people out; some are tired just in the morning or afternoon, others are exhausted all day.

Brain fogginess

Sometimes the fatigue of Insulin Resistance is physical, but often it’s mental. The inability to focus is the most evident symptom. Poor memory, loss of creativity, poor grades in school often accompany Insulin Resistance, as do various forms of “learning disabilities.”

Low blood sugar

Mild, brief periods of low blood sugar (called hypoglycemia) are normal during the day, especially if meals are not eaten on a regular schedule. But prolonged periods of this “hypoglycemia,” accompanied by many of the symptoms listed here, especially physical and mental fatigue, are not normal.  Feeling agitated, jittery and moody is common in Insulin Resistance, with almost immediate relief once food is eaten.

Intestinal bloating

Most intestinal gas is produced from carbohydrates in the diet. Insulin Resistance sufferers who eat carbohydrates suffer from gas, lots of it.


Many people with Insulin Resistance get sleepy immediately after eating a meal containing more than 20% or 30% carbohydrates. This means typically a pasta meal, or even a meat meal that includes potatoes or bread and a sweet dessert

Increased weight and fat storage

For most people, too much weight is too much fat. In males, a large abdomen is the more obvious and earliest sign of Insulin Resistance. In females, it’s prominent in the buttocks.

Increased triglycerides

High triglycerides in the blood are often found in overweight persons. But even those who are not overweight may have stores of fat in their arteries as a result of Insulin Resistance.  These triglycerides are the direct result of carbohydrates in the diet being converted by insulin. See additional information about Increased triglycerides.