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12 Signs of insulin resistance

Most people think about diabetics when they see the word insulin, but problems with insulin can occur in a number of different conditions, in people with normal blood sugar. You have probably heard of insulin resistance; it is a significant health problem because it’s associated with an increased risk of obesity, heart attacks, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer and other serious conditions. People with insulin resistance usually have excessively high levels of this hormone, because it doesn’t work properly. We are seeing an increasing number of patients who have been diagnosed with insulin resistance by their own doctor, yet they don’t fully understand what this term means.

How would you know if your insulin level is too high?

There is a blood test that can measure your fasting insulin, but it isn’t always reliable and many doctors are not willing to order this test. This is a shame because elevated insulin is bad for your health and shortens your lifespan.

Insulin has many important roles in your body. People with too much insulin in their bloodstream are said to have insulin resistance, syndrome X, metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes. They are all interchangeable terms.

Due to modern diets and lifestyles, nearly everybody produces more insulin in their pancreas than they should. This is a problem because if blood insulin levels have been high for years, the cells of your body start to ignore it. The insulin becomes less and less effective at its important job in your body (getting glucose inside your cells so you can burn it for energy).

Knowing whether or not you have too high insulin is important because it can allow you to make some changes and avoid some serious health problems in the future. Luckily there are several tell tale signs or clues that your body gives you, alerting you to this problem.

The role of insulin in your body

Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas secretes into your bloodstream after you have eaten. It enables the glucose from your food to enter your cells, where it is burned for energy. If insulin is not doing its job properly, less glucose will be burnt for energy and more of it will be converted into fat.

Some of the fat is stored around your body, just under your skin, and some of it accumulates in your liver. Having too much fat in your liver is a classic sign of elevated insulin. There are plenty of other signs and symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of chronically elevated insulin

  • Fatty liver
  • Abdominal obesity. As the waist grows larger, insulin becomes increasingly ineffective in your body, therefore levels of this hormone rise.
  • Hunger and cravings for sugar or carbohydrate rich foods. People with high blood insulin are hungry and nothing will satisfy their appetite like carbs!
  • Elevated blood sugar. A fasting blood sugar level greater than 97mg/dL (5.4mmol/L) indicates insulin resistance.
  • Acne and large pores on the face. Insulin and its cousin insulin-like growth factor 1 promote higher levels of the male hormone testosterone and increase the sensitivity of your face to testosterone. That means you’re more likely to experience acne and greasy skin.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Scalp hair loss in women in the male pattern (front and sides).
  • Skin tags.
  • Increased risk of gout. People who are insulin resistant are sensitive to fructose and convert too much of it into uric acid. Elevated uric acid can raise the risk of gout and kidney stones.
  • Acanthosis nigricans – look at this picture of what this skin condition looks like
  • High blood pressure
  • Swollen ankles. Insulin tells your kidneys to hang on to sodium and water, therefore you will look more puffy. You can experience fluid retention anywhere on your body, such as your fingers, face and abdomen.

Three point plan for lowering insulin

Clearly having too much insulin in your bloodstream is not a good thing. Luckily there is a great deal you can do to reverse this scenario. Here is my three point plan:

  • Help insulin to work better.

There are certain herbs and nutrients that help to make insulin more effective in your body. This is a good thing because if it’s more effective, you won’t need to secrete as much of it into your bloodstream.

The most important nutrients for insulin action are chromium and magnesium. You have probably heard that chromium helps to reduce sugar cravings and it’s true. It does this by helping to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Chromium deficiency is incredibly common because not many foods are a good source of this mineral. Also when you eat sugar or high carb foods, it flushes chromium out of your body through your urine.

Magnesium is also necessary for healthy insulin action. People who take blood pressure medication or diuretics (fluid tablets) are typically low in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax your nervous system and makes you feel less stressed. Thus it is fantastic for people who eat when they feel stressed.

Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that helps to keep your blood sugar stable and it helps to reduce sugar cravings. It is also very good for diabetics. Bitter melon is a vegetable that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. True to its name, it is an extremely bitter vegetable and many people are not able to handle the intense flavor at all. You can find all of these nutrients and herbs combined together in Glicemic Balance capsules. When taken with meals they help to reduce hunger and cravings and help to lower your blood insulin level. Berberine helps to improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol metabolism and assists weight loss. It is very helpful for those with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

  • Improve the health of your liver

A healthy liver is very important for blood sugar control. This is because the liver can store glucose and fat, and also produce glucose and fat. You want your liver to be good at fat burning. People with a healthy liver have a fast metabolism and don’t gain weight as easily. Unfortunately a lot of people have a fatty liver and their liver is doing the opposite of what it should be doing – it is very busy making fat.

A healthy liver also helps to control your blood sugar level. If you have not eaten for several hours, your liver is supposed to release some stored glucose into your bloodstream to give you energy and keep hunger at bay. People with a sluggish liver struggle with this and they often feel excessively hungry, weak or irritable if they have gone several hours without food. It makes sticking to a diet extremely difficult! To help improve your liver health I recommend you follow the diet in my book Fatty Liver You Can Reverse It. It is not a difficult eating plan to stick to and you should not feel hungry.

Taking a good quality liver tonic like Livatone Plus will provide the nutrients your liver requires in order to burn fat and detoxify your bloodstream more effectively.

  • Follow the right diet

Insulin resistant people cannot handle common levels of carbohydrate in their diet. They over secrete insulin in response to eating carbs and they are less likely to feel satisfied after a meal, therefore tend to over eat. That means carbohydrate needs to be restricted in the diet. It is best to get your carbohydrate from vegetables, along with small amounts of fruit, nuts and seeds. There is an easy to follow low carbohydrate eating plan in my syndrome X book and type 2 diabetes book.

Protein is the most important nutrient for those wanting to lose weight and reduce their blood insulin level. It is critical to eat protein at every meal because it is extremely satiating. It will help to make you feel more full and satisfied after a meal, and keep you feeling satisfied for longer. This way sticking to a healthy diet won’t be so much of a struggle. Examples of protein include eggs, seafood, poultry and red meat. Dairy products, nuts and seeds contain smaller levels of protein. Protein powders can be extremely helpful for those wanting to lose weight because they provide a quick, tasty and easy meal option for busy days. A protein powder smoothie can also make a delicious and filling snack mid morning or in the afternoon, when you might be struggling with sugar cravings. You can use either whey based or pea protein powder.

Elevated blood insulin (syndrome X) is an incredibly common condition and is responsible for some of the most common health problems today. Fortunately there are many ways to remedy it.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

34 comments

  1. Hello,
    I am 39 years old and have been in menopause for three years. I have been doing immense research and have read that in menopause all hormones including insulin are a mess. I do weight training HIIT training and less than 100 carbs a day. No results. Will an endocrinologist help?

    • Hi Annette,

      We recommend you get a blood test to check your hormones.
      We recommend you take
      Livatone Plus 1 cap twice daily to improve liver function and help regulate hormones.
      Femmephase 1 caps daily as it contains natural plant estrogens and is a natural hormone balancer.
      These can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      We recommend you follow the eating plan in this article: https://www.liverdoctor.com/weight-gain-after-menopause/
      There is further information in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Hormones, Don’t Let Them Ruin Your Life’.
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  2. I have struggled with my weight for years. I’ve stayed at the same weight for 7 years and cannot seem to lose it. But it also does not go up. My doctor finally sent me to an endocrinologist who did a glucose tolerance test. I find myself a little confused by the results. My fasting mg/dl was 80, at 1hour it was 92, and then at 2 hours it was at 47. The doctor prescribed a weight loss medication and metformin. I’m not sure where I truly fall in the diagnoses. Can you shed some light on this and recommend anything additional I can do?

    • Hi Amber,

      We recommend you eliminate grains, sugar, processed food and takeout meals from your diet.
      There is some dietary information in this article: https://www.liverdoctor.com/what-should-you-eat-if-you-have-fatty-liver/
      There is an excellent eating plan in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Diabetes Type 2: Reverse It Naturally’.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Berberine 1 cap twice daily to improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol metabolism and assist weight loss.
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function.
      Glicemic Balance 1 cap three times daily with meals to reduce hunger and cravings and to help lower your blood insulin level.
      These can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  3. Wonderful article, great information. Thank you.

  4. Hi, i was diagnosed with insulin resistance. I was prescribed metformin. I’ve been on it for 2 weeks. None of my symptoms have subsided. My hormones are crazy. A week or even two before my cycle, I swell up all over, I have I guess hot flashes, where my ears are on fire, my face breaks out, I feel horrible. Then right after my cycle everything goes back to normal. I gained a lot of weight around my midsection. I even have shortness of breath. I am always tired. I eat a very healthy diet. But I don’t exercise much, because my job is very physical. I just want my normal life back. Please help

    • Hi Stacy,

      Insulin resistance is linked to fatty liver which can cause a lot of these symptoms.
      We recommend you eliminate grains, sugar, dairy and processed foods from your diet.
      There is an excellent diet plan to follow in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It’.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function and make weight loss easier.
      N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 2 caps twice daily at least 2 hours away from food, if any upset occurs please take with meals. NAC is the precursor to glutathione; the body’s most potent antioidant. This supplement works well with Livatone Plus to get the liver better faster.
      Femmephase 1 to 2 caps daily to naturally balance hormones.
      These supplements can be purchased here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  5. I always just kept low-carb due to severe insulin resistance, but after some antibiotics my allergies went through the roof and I got a bunch of food sensitivities. I got so energy-depleted, I would get sick without carbs.

    Between the soaring cortisol from allergies and my crazy insulin reactions with carbs (no junk food!), I have gained 50 lbs. in 2 years after keeping my weight steady for 20 years.

    Can supplements and exercise help enough when someone with severe insulin resistance needs carbs?

    • Hi Ellen,

      We can help your insulin resistance and fatty liver with the correct diet and supplements.
      We recommend you get a liver function test and/or ultrasound scan of your liver to determine the degree of fatty infiltration.
      It is important to avoid grains, sugar, processed food and takeout meals.
      There is an excellent eating plan in Dr Cabot’s free e-book on fatty liver.
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function
      N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 2 caps twice daily at least 2 hours away from food, if any upset occurs please take with meals. NAC is the precursor to glutathione; the body’s most potent antioxidant. This supplement works well with Livatone Plus to get the liver better faster.
      Tyrosine 1 tab twice daily in between meals. Tyrosine is required to produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline which are required for concentration, alertness, memory and a happy stable mood. In this way it can curb cravings for carbohydrates and other addictive foods.
      These supplements are available here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com/
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

    • Keto OS …try it. It’s amazing.

  6. Hello,
    My doctor ordered two, 2 hour postprandial glucose tests for me and both came back with high insulin, normal glucose. He says I may be insulin resistant and that’s why I am losing my hair. (Thyroid and Iron tests came back normal). I question his opinion because I have a very healthy BMI of 19.8 (32 year old female 130lbs, 5’8″). I also don’t seem to fit any other symptoms except I sometimes have oily skin, but no acne. Is it possible to have insulin resistance and have no other symptoms but hair loss? My lab test results for Insulin were 50.4 uIU/mL
    Thanks,
    Rose

    • Hi Rose,

      This symptom alone could indicate insulin resistance.
      Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, and eating good protein (chicken,seafood,lean meat,eggs), good fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
      It would be a good idea to get an ultrasound scan and liver function test.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Berberine 1 cap twice daily to help lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
      Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily to improve liver function.
      MSM plus vitamin C powder 1/2 tsp twice daily in juice before meals. MSM maintains the integrity and elasticity of connective and other tissues, and vitamin C t is an important component of proteins found throughout the body, such as in hair, nails, skin and tendons.
      These supplements are found here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  7. I have been diagnosed as “glucose intolerant”. I am 50 years old.
    I started testing my blood sugar levels and by trial and error I seem to have it right. My sugar levels are never over 120 after meals anymore with an average of 97, 2 overall. I do get fasting readings of 76 after 20 hours of fasting.
    Before I go to bed, 2 hours after dinner, I test 99. 1 hour after dinner it is 110. BUT: When I wake up 8 hours later, it will be 108. Why is this?
    I do not eat any sugar or grains anymore. No fruit either. Some cheese, meat, and salads with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, avocado, onion, green pepper, feta,green olives and sprouts. Seems to be the best combination to keep the blood sugar down.
    The only thing baffling me is the high reading when I wake up. After that it keeps dropping through the day until I eat dinner again.
    Any ideas?

    PS: I have lost 20 lbs in three weeks. That is good, is it not?

    • Hi Johan,

      By glucose intolerant do you mean you are insulin resistant? Or do you have diabetes type 2?
      We recommend you eliminate grains,sugar,processed food and takeout meals.
      We recommend you follow the diet in Dr Cabot’s book: ‘Diabetes Type 2: Reverse It Naturally’.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Glutamine Pure 1 tsp 2 – 3 times daily to support healthy intestinal function and is a potent detoxifier.
      Berberine 1 cap twice daily to lower blood sugar, cholesterol and make weight loss easier.
      Glicemic Balance 1 to 2 caps before meals to optimise blood sugar and insulin levels.
      These are available here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  8. Hi.
    I am 25. I have always had irregular periods and miss many cycles in line and i have always been obesed and overweight.
    I have been diagnosed with pcos few years back and was on trafayzal tablet for 3 months.
    After which i again experienced the same.
    Its very hard to loose weight.
    Now my gp recomends i go for insulin resistance test and sonar. And i am scared.
    Any guidance please??
    Its said to be very healthy to drink warm water empty stomach 4 glasses of 166cc which i am doing.
    I will be getting married in a shortwhile and i hear females with pcos has problems getting pregnant.

    • Hi Binto,

      These symptoms do sound like PCOS.
      This can be managed with a change in diet.
      Try to base your diet on good protein sources (chicken,lean meat,seafood,eggs) good fats, fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds.
      We recommend you eliminate processed foods,gluten,sugar and take out meals from your diet.
      Dr Cabot recommends you take
      Berberine 1 cap twice daily to lower blood sugar levels and promote weight loss.
      Livatone Plus caps 2 twice daily to improve liver function, as the liver is the major fat-burning organ.
      These are available here: https://shop.liverdoctor.com
      Let us know how you get on.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  9. Hi I am 24 Years old I never used to pick up so much weight in the last 2 years my hormone is upside down and I am gaining weight buy just looking at food do you think I can have such a problem,

    • Hi Angie,

      We recommend you get a liver function test and thyroid function test.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant for Liverdoctor.com

  10. Hi. I have dramatically packed on the kilos in the last year. I exercise under guidance of a personal trainer 4-5 times a week. If I eat healthy the weight piles on, if I eat average it remains the same. I’ve had my gall bladder removed but still get terrible pains in that area. I have many other symptoms including memory fog and nil motivation.
    I have very elevated levels of C-peptide, which my GP suspects Insulin Resistance. I also have had some high cortisol results. I am not diabetic and all tests are in the normal range. I’ve see Endocrinologists but they aren’t very helpful. My GP has put me on Metformin. I am wondering what else I could take. You mention Magnesium and Liver tonic – would these be beneficial to take as well as Metformin.

    • Dear Wendy,

      Yes magnesium and the liver tonic Livatone Plus would be very beneficial for you. So would berberine. It reduces insulin resistance and inflammation: https://www.liverdoctor.com/berberine/

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Sales & Nutrition Consultant

    • Cortisol is the stress hormone and may be from too much exercise. Not sure what you meam by “healthy” when it comes to eating. To reduce your blood sugar level you need to cut out sugar, fruit juice, most fruit and only berry fruit in small amounts, white rice, processed food, including flour and grains. Reduce you net carbohydrate intake to no more than 10% and no more than 30% protein. You should be able to stop the metformin after some time as your blood sugar level comes down. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor first.

  11. My 15 year old son’s test shows high level of insulin.. he is also 240 lb and 5’11” tall.. can he take the sopplements that are mentioned above? Glycemic Balance? We are working on cutting down on carbs and adding protein.

    Thank you

    • Dear Anna,

      I recommend he take Glicemic Balance and Livatone Plus. These are available from http://www.liverdoctor.com.
      The Synd-X Slimming Protein Powder is also a good option for him. It is low carb and high protein.
      Raw juicing is also excellent.
      You are correcting in starting him on a low carb, high protein way of eating.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah

    • I suggest a diet of no more than 10% carbs and 20% protein, leaving 70% fat in order to reduce blood glucose as well as insulin levels and to lose weight. Your son is obese according to standard bmi measure and should lose at leadt 50 lbs.

  12. I have just learn that my body is producing too many insulin what must I not eat and what I eat to help reverse

    • Hi Yvonne,

      It sounds like you have insulin resistance, luckily this can be reversed.
      I recommend you follow a low carbohydrate way of eating, and increase protein, good fats and fruits and vegetables in the diet. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
      I recommend you take Livatone Plus and Glycemic Balance.
      I would highly recommend you follow the eating plan in our book ‘I Can’t Lose Weight and I Don’t Know Why’.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah

      • I am 63 have redudused carbs in diet increased protein ans started gyming and not loosing weight

        • Dear Naremdra,

          You may have a fatty liver which makes it very difficult to lose weight.
          To diagnose this you will need to get a liver function test and an ultrasound scan.
          I recommend you take Livatone Plus 2 caps twice daily and NAC 2 caps twice daily.
          Eliminate refined grains, and sugar from your diet.
          Keep eating good sources of protein, good fats and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
          Raw juicing is excellent.
          For further information you can purchase our book: ‘Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It’ and ‘Raw Juices Can Save Your Life’.
          Let us know how you get on.

          Kind Regards,
          Jessah

  13. i have always dizzyness always lightheaded ever since my insulin change now on humalog and lantus at night dont know what to do to feel normal again i had test after test doctors still arent sure

    • Dear Mike,

      It may be necessary to determine if these new forms of insulin are acting too fast and reducing your blood sugar too fast.

      Please have your Vitamin D checked as we find many people with low Vitamin D experience dizziness.

      Do you have type 1 or 2 diabetes?

      Kind Regards,

      Jessah

    • I havr a fuzzy head feels like my brain is too big for my skull ringing in my ears and that constant feeling you get when about to go blank this comes take insulin it goes .its not there take insulin it returns dr said sinus take sinus stuff nothing changes.
      Dont know how long i can stay normal or keep going feel like i need to be out of it .help

      • Dear Michael,

        Please ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels and also your Blood Pressure.

        If you have Diabetes Type 1 we recommend you consult your Endocrinologist.

        Dr Cabot has written a wonderful book called ‘Diabetes Type 2 – You Can Reverse It’ which may provide you a new way to live your life.

        Kind Regards,
        Jessah

  14. Hi,
    How many of the symptoms someone would have to have in order to be diagnosed with insulin resistance? What about testing insulin levels? I do not see it listed.
    Thank you.

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THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FDA AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT OR CURE ANY DISEASES.