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If we're supposed to keep insulin low, shouldn't we all...

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Old 11-23-2009, 05:04 PM   #1
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Default If we're supposed to keep insulin low, shouldn't we all...

...be low carbing? Just wondering, since fat is the only thing that doesn't change our insulin levels, as far as I know.

If the best health is obtained by keeping our insulin levels low, how can that be done just by counting calories, if we're just counting calories and not paying attention to reducing our carbs?

As an example: we can eat a cupcake if it falls within our calorie range, but it will take more insulin to process it, which is not good for our health.

The reason some/many of us count calories is so that we can still eat our favorite foods regularly, just smaller amounts of them.

If our insulin is still getting messed up by doing this, we might be losing weight, but are we making ourselves more prone to diabetes?
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Last edited by Truffle : 11-23-2009 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:34 PM   #2
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First, I don't know that health is all about insulin levels. The body is a complicated system, and I'm always hesitant to rely on a single measure (be that insulin, blood pressure, weight, or fitness level) to determine overall health. So while keeping insulin steady is a good goal, it shouldn't be one's only goal health-wise.

Second, maintaining stable insulin and blood sugar is less about the carbs you eat and more about the glycemic load of the foods you eat. Glycemic load is basically how much your blood sugar goes up when you consume a serving of a particular food. Foods can be relatively high in carbohydrates, but have a lower glycemic load, usually due to either naturally occurring fat or fiber in the food. This is why brown rice, which has fiber from the hull, has less of an impact on blood sugar as compared to white rice. To control blood sugar, you don't really have to eat "low carb" as much as you do "low glycemic load".

I think that most people, barring abnormal disease process (existing diabetes or insulin resistance, PCOS, or other) can keep insulin levels pretty steady on a diet that consists mostly of lean meats, whole grains, veggies, and fruits., Of course, some can't, and for those individuals, getting their blood sugar under control can mean cutting out some sources of carbohydrate.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:49 PM   #3
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Health and body workings are complicated, and you can't reduce good health or good diet to a simple concept - whether that be calorie content or carbohydrate content.

It's all "big-picture" stuff, and there may be a great deal of individual difference due to genetics, lifestyle or countless other factors. Even the "experts" can't agree on the "optimal diet" (if there is one).
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:39 PM   #4
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Insulin fluctuates according to what we eat, and that's a normal thing.

Two ways to keep insulin from "spiking" are (1) Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrate; choose whole grains and eat them in measured amounts. (This includes paying attention to glycemic index.) (2) Get regular exercise to lower insulin resistance.

Most American diets are very high in sugar. Just reducing intake to a reasonable level makes a big improvement. It's not necessary for most people to go to a "low carb" diet in the usual sense of the term.

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Old 11-23-2009, 06:54 PM   #5
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And then some of us would become homicidal on low-carb diets.

To be fair, I do lean towards a lower-carb diet (40% carbs), but some days I hit closer to 50% of my calories from carbs.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:01 PM   #6
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i did low-carb for a while, lost 30lbs and almost lost the hubby I turned into such a raging b!tch LOL Insulin levels are not healthy/unhealthy, they just are what they are unless they become a problem. Refined white sugars, pastas, flours, are not to be found too much on anyone's plan I don't think.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:17 PM   #7
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You're all so right, and I had completely forgotten about the glycemic load. That makes sense.

I'd like to stave off diabetes, but I'm just not good at cutting my carbs way back. They're my favorite macro-nutrient.
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Old 11-23-2009, 10:14 PM   #8
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If anyone has ever read Dr Neal Barnard's Diabetes Reversing diet, it is actually a high carb diet. It has to do with eating the right carbs though and he has shown to successfully fully reverse diabetes in a large percentage of his patients and reduce medication in the ones that still had diabetes. So our bodies are definitely complicated.
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Old 11-24-2009, 03:42 AM   #9
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I actually eat a very high carb diet, primarily because I'm a vegetarian, don't consume much dairy in addition to that (though definitely not a vegan), and pick up most of my protein from pulses, beans, and whole grains. I eat a huge amount of vegetables, and a fair amount of fruit, and all these things are packed with carbs. I really can't do a low-carb diet, even when I was still eating meat, because I am so utterly miserable and feel so unwell on them. Mind, I am not eating junky carbs, so I don't get those spikes.

Basically, as long as I am hitting all of my nutritional daily requirements, I go ahead and eat what I want and like, which tends to be mainly vegetables and beans and pulses. I know my way doesn't work for everybody, but it makes me feel great.
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Old 11-24-2009, 04:17 AM   #10
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Actually, I think we're supposed to keep our blood sugar fairly consistent (insulin regulates blood sugar levels - if our bodies don't produce enough, or are insulin-resistant, then our blood sugar goes too high, and if we have too much insulin, our blood sugar drops too low). A combination of low-glycemic and small, frequent meals tends to work well for most. If your body is working normally, it will adjust insulin levels to keep your blood sugar where it should be.
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Old 11-24-2009, 06:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
The reason some/many of us count calories is so that we can still eat our favorite foods regularly, just smaller amounts of them.
Quote:
If the best health is obtained by keeping our insulin levels low, how can that be done just by counting calories, if we're just counting calories and not paying attention to reducing our carbs?
No, I don't ONLY count calories so that I can eat my favorite foods. No I gave up lots of my now former favorite foods, cold turkey in fact initially.

I count calories because I need the built in accountability and forced portion control that it provides. It keeps me honest and keeps overeating in check. Counting calories tells me how much I should be eating. If I weren't to count calories, how would I possibly know that I wasn't taking in more calories then my body requires?

Where my calories come from really MATTERS. I do keep an eye on my carbs. I do that by avoiding the sugary/flour-y carbs. I eat plenty of carbs though. Plenty, but the ones found in veggies and fruits. I can't eat my now former favorite foods (except on rare, rare occasions in a controlled setting), even if I were to keep them within my calorie allotment. No, lots of my former favorites sent me into a feeding frenzy and would cause me to OVERSPEND my calorie budget. Also, if I were to eat those former favorites, well they wouldn't satisfy me, keep me satiated, they would leave me hungry - one more reason I would never be able to adhere to my plan for the well over three years that I have been. And in addition, I need to get proper nutrition from my calories/food and refined carbs don't provide that. They are empty calories for the most part.

For me, it's just not plain old calorie counting. It's calorie counting COMBINED with healthy foods. For me, I could definitely eat too much healthy foods as well, without a doubt, which wouldn't have allowed me to lose the weight and now keep it off. Calorie counting ensures that I don't overdo the healthy foods. Again, it's that built in portion control.

I believe this is what's best for my optimal health.

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Old 11-24-2009, 08:46 AM   #12
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^^^^ agreed!
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