Reverse Insulin Resistance in 4 Easy Steps

reverse insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is the condition of having chronically high insulin. It’s also called hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes and is a major player in many women’s health conditions, including PCOS, acne, fibroids, perimenopause, and heavy periods.

Insulin resistance also causes abdominal weight gain and is a risk factor for diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, dementia, and heart disease.

Do you have insulin resistance? It’s time to find out.

Testing for insulin resistance

Blood test: The best clinical test for insulin resistance is a Glucose Tolerance with Insulin Assay or Glucose Tolerance Insulin Response (GTIR). With this test, both glucose and insulin are measured fasting and then at one and two-hour intervals after a glucose drink. A healthy “fasting insulin” should be less than 10 mIU/L (60 pmol/L). One and two hours after a sugar challenge, a healthy insulin reading should be less than 60 mIU/L (410 pmol/L). High insulin indicates insulin resistance.

Measure your waist: Insulin resistance causes a high waist-to-hip ratio, so the larger your waist circumference, the more likely you will have insulin resistance. As a woman, your risk starts at a waist circumference of greater than 32 inches (80 cm).

👉 Tip: You don’t have to be overweight to have insulin resistance. You can have a normal BMI and still have elevated insulin.

Waist to hip ratio

How to reverse insulin resistance

Stop having sweet drinks

High-dose fructose can induce fatty liver and insulin resistance. The simplest way to reverse insulin resistance is to 1) stop having fruit juice or other sweet drinks and 2) cut back on dessert or dessert-like foods. That means no sweetened yogurt, no granola bars, no date balls, no agave, or other “natural sugar” healthy desserts.

Supplement magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is a significant contributor to insulin resistance. Fortunately, taking magnesium can improve insulin sensitivity.

Magnesium has many nice side benefits, including regulating the HPA (adrenal) axis, improving sleep, supporting progesterone, curbing sugar cravings, and reducing inflammation. Read 8 ways magnesium rescues hormones. It combines well with taurine, an amino acid that improves insulin sensitivity.

Maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and sleep

Circadian rhythm, or the body clock, has a profound effect on glucose metabolism. Whole-body insulin sensitivity and dysregulation of circadian rhythm are contributing causes of insulin resistance. The best way to support circadian rhythm is to maintain regular diurnal patterns of eating and light exposure, such as protein and bright light in the morning, followed by rest and dim light in the evening. Maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm can also promote better sleep, another important strategy for maintaining healthy insulin levels.

Move your body

Exercise or movement improves insulin sensitivity in the muscles by increasing the number of mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cell and turn food into energy. Building healthy muscle also requires sufficient dietary protein.

👉 Tip: Hormonal birth control can impair muscle gain and cause insulin resistance, particularly birth control that is testosterone-like or “androgenic.” See my blog post about the role of testosterone and insulin in weight gain.

For more information about insulin resistance, see my book Metabolism Repair for Women.

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