Let’s say Jane eats a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch made from her whole wheat
bread, maybe pretzels on the side, and a little fruit flavored, honey sweetened, low-fat yogurt
for dessert. This meal doesn’t look so bad at first glance, but it contains lots of starch and some
sugar. It’s highly possible that Jane’s post meal sugar levels will spike well into the 150’s, maybe
Out surges Jane’s insulin to the rescue. It loads up all the blood sugar it can manage, takes
it out of the blood stream and offers it to her muscle cells for energy. Job well done.
But, red alert! Insulin cannot rest yet. Jane’s body just signaled that her blood sugar is still
in the 130’s. Not low enough yet, says her body. Uh, oh. The pancreas has no choice but to
release more insulin to get that blood sugar down below 100. Therefore, insulin has to haul off
another load of blood sugar. Back to the muscle cells it goes with a second delivery. But, now
there’s a problem. Her muscle
cells are full. They cannot accept
any more glucose. Poor insulin
has no choice but to drive over
to the fat cells and load off the
excess glucose to them. Fat cells
don’t say “No thanks” to glucose.
It doesn’t matter that a food
may start its life as a carb. Once
blood sugar is stored in a fat cell,
it is no longer distinguishable as
a carb. Abracadabra, it is now fat.
This is how insulin makes you fat.
Insulin doesn’t make you fat
because it is inherently evil, gleefully plumping you up to cackle at your suffering. It is forced
to fatten you up due to the content of your meals. And, it doesn’t work in a vacuum. It affects
other hormones that when thrown off kilter make you fatter still. Highly elevated insulin, or
what is known as hyperinsulinemia, goes hand in hand with a condition called hyperleptine-
mia. Together, they are a double whammy on your weight.
Leptin is a very important hormone that tells your brain when you are full. Once leptin is
thrown out of whack, you no longer know when to stop eating. This hormone gets elevated in
the blood stream just like insulin, but is unable to be received by the leptin receptors in your
brain. Therefore, you feel compelled to keep on eating. Not good, right?
What goes up must come down. Remember a sugar low always follows a sugar high. This
cycle constantly repeats itself in Jane’s body. That is why she feels tired in the afternoon and
craves a banana muffin. Insulin had to work overtime. It had to make too many deliveries to
finally get its job completed and clear Jane’s blood stream of the abundant sugar her grain-
based diet causes. However, the extra surges of insulin required for the task cleared things too
well. Jane now suffers from a sugar low. Her blood sugar level is now significantly below the
healthy 80-100 range. Sugar lows are not great for the body either. Now Jane feels lethargic,
slightly shaky, and quite grouchy. She often feels like she needs a “pick-me-up” banana based
smoothie, sweetened with more honey, or a bowl of granola and vanilla flavored soy milk.
Is the picture becoming clearer? It is not only Pepsi and Snicker bars which create sugar
highs and then lows. Even “so-called” healthy carbohydrates can be damaging if they take
up too large a space in the diet. They must find their optimum place if long term health and
weight management is to be achieved.
When Jane eats her generous bowls of whole grain cereals, brown rice and beans, dried fruit
snacks, or her three or four slices of home baked, whole wheat bread, she is unknowingly eating
herself out of her size 10’s. Whole grains are necessary. It would not be the right approach to
throw them out and miss out on a whole food group that God made for our health, but Jane
will have to learn to scale them back and let them work in harmony with other foods which
she will learn to increase.