The Benefits of Insulin
I just got around to reading Matt Stone's excellent Befriending Insulin post. I highly recommend it to all my readers. I have a few factual issues with it (have been trying to comment there but will email Matt shortly), but on the whole it is solid. FWIW, I'm not so sure I could embrace Matt's methods of "undoing" VLC (I'm not into gaining ANY weight), but that's irrelevant, IMO, to the discussion.
I came late to the online LC party, relying mostly on my memory of Atkins Induction to fashion my plan beginning sometime summer 2007. I remember when I first started reading on the web something just didn't ring true to me about insulin and the way it was being demonized. Where did this come from, I wondered.
Insulin deficiency is a bad thing. It leads to elevated NEFA as well as hyperglycemia. I've blogged on the vascular actions of insulin that are positive in nature. So why would our goal be to achieve this state? As Matt points out, insulin is an energy usage hormone. It plays traffic cop for the utilization of substrates depending on dietary availability. The view that it is *the* fat storage hormone is overly simplistic by a mile. It is insulin RESISTANCE, not insulin that is bad. After all, the truly deficient, Type 1 diabetics, suffer from a variety of health issues.
If you haven't yet read it, read:
Insulin: understanding its action in health and disease (<-- hat tip LynMarie Daye of Adipo Insights blog)
I remember being shouted down rather loudly once when I suggested that long term low carbing seems to make people more sensitive to carbs. That was an anecdotally supported belief at the time. Now, it seems ever more clear to me from my research that the science backs this up.
The best long term approach, IMO, is to promote proper pancreatic function and employ strategies to maintain insulin sensitivity. IR is natural during certain phases of life (e.g. puberty, pregnancy and aging). The only carb that has been implicated for IR is the non-insulin stimulating fructose (don't drink 2L of Coke per day and you don't have to worry over the fructose). Saturated fats have been implicated in IR, but the research is far from conclusive on that one. High fat diets in the context of caloric balance or excess are culprits in the development of IR. Once you've lost a lot of weight on LC going lower and lower carb and higher and higher fat is a recipe for IR. Sadly, I think too many people have been brainwashed into thinking starch is the equivalent to rat poison or that fructose in whole food form is harmful. Neither is true. Diet aside, it seems that exercise/activity is the answer.