Reverse Insulin Resistance in 4 Easy Steps

reverse insulin resistanceInsulin resistance is the condition of having chronically elevated levels of 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 apple-shaped obesity, so the larger your waist circumference, the more likely you are to have insulin resistance. For women, the 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.

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 has been found to improve insulin resistance.

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 body clock has a profound effect on glucose metabolism and whole-body insulin sensitivity and dysregulation of circadian rhythm is a contributing cause 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 levels of insulin.

Move your body

Exercise 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 causes insulin resistance, particularly birth control with a high androgen index.

For more information about the role of testosterone and insulin in the weight gain of perimenopause, see my book Hormone Repair Manual.

134 thoughts on “Reverse Insulin Resistance in 4 Easy Steps”

  1. This response is far too simplistic for a complex disorder. Moving, avoiding sweet drinks, and sleeping (when the disorder itself often disrupts sleep) does not solve insulin resistance.

  2. This is the info I’ve needed and couldn’t find comprehensively. Thank you! My blood work shows all these issues and I was navigating a solution via trial and error. Cutting out sugary drinks today. I’m so mad at myself for taking birth control in my 20s, I’m paying for it now in my 40s. Thank you for your wonderful information and well written articles. Wishing you the best, Erin

  3. I can’t tell you how much your period repair manual book has helped me understand all things cycle related. I wish I had read it years ago. Maybe if I had I would have identified some core issues earlier. My doctors at a top university medical center (UC San Francisco) missed my endometriosis for 3 years! I finally switched to a more integrative doctor and got it figured out. Your advice is helping me understand and manage from here forward.

  4. Hello, the reason I am contacting you today is because my wife has PCOS. She has insulin resistance pcos. She has been diagnosed for a few months. But she has really been taking care of herself and starting to see good improvement. But there has been some bad days and days where she feels like she can not do it anymore. I have been with her the entire way, we have changed the way we eat, and have always been by her side motivating her. But I feel sometimes I am not doing enough. I have been trying to educate myself more on what she is going through, but I feel it may not be enough. Is there more I could be doing Dr Briden?

  5. I would love to have the references for the health insulin range you mentioned in this post if possible. I find with most labs the ranges are too broad so clients and doctors believe a client is still healthy with for instance a fasting insulin level of 163.9 pmol/L. I am a nutritional therapist so always looking for the evidence to help clients better! 🙂 Keep up your amazing work!!!

  6. Hi, I’m seeking advice on natural progesterone supplementation in women who struggle with hair loss. I’m 37 and have mild PCOS with no thyroid issues. I have noticeable hair loss around my hairline and overall shedding. I ovulate every cycle (have been charting for years) and have normal length luteal phases but low post-ovulatory temps and recently had low progesterone confirmed by mid-luteal blood test. I am considering bioidentical progesterone supplementation (for anxiety, sleep, bone density) but I have heard conflicting things (including on your blog) about how this will affect my hair loss. Is there anything I should know about type of progesterone (cream, suppository, etc) or dose before beginning progesterone therapy? Anything else? I am very worried about losing more hair.

  7. Hi, I’m seeking advice about low progesterone and hair loss. I’m 37 and have mild PCOS and hair loss (thinning in the bangs and overall shedding). No thyroid issues. I ovulate every cycle but my cycles are irregular (I ovulate late) and although my luteal phase is normal length my temperatures barely scrape 98F. I recently had low progesterone confirmed by a mid-luteal blood test and am considering bioidentical progesterone supplementation to help with anxiety, sleep, bone density. However, I’ve read conflicting things (including on your blog) about whether or not progesterone supplementation will make my hair loss worse, a possibility that terrifies me. What should I be aware of before beginning progesterone therapy if I already have hair loss issues? It is a matter of type (cream, suppository, etc)? Dose? Anything else? I think it would really help my overall health but I am so worried about losing more hair.

  8. Hi Lara!

    Fasting insulin of 57 pmol/L, glucose 4.5, LH 8.3, FSH 2.8… would this indicate insulin sensitivity?
    Doc wondered about PCOS but my progesterone was 20 nmol/L so think that indicates I am ovulating.

    Get hunger headaches everyday which interferes with a lot!

    • Also noted that the range on lab form (in NZ) for normal insulin fasting is 18 – 173 pmol/L. Upper limit is significantly higher than the healthy 60 pmol/L.. eek!

      • Hirsuitism, long periods (36 days), minimal exercise tolerance (headaches from walking) and no strong feelings of hunger but then sudden extreme hunger accompanied by headaches (loss of memory, painful to talk) that are only relieved by eating.

        Recovered from being underweight (eating disorder) a few years ago but have been at a BMI24 for a few years so my hunch was that it is hormonal related. Realise a few factors going on! Would consider coming down to Christchurch if you have some ideas regarding this 🙂

  9. Hi Laura,

    I am insulin resistant, and I am decreasing sugar in my diet. I am wondering what should I do if magnesium supplements upsets my stomach?

    • Oh Id be interested to know abot the mag supps too. Every one Ive taken upset my tummy. I have started soaking my feet for 40mins in it most nights before bed in the hope it helps. It has had a calmative effect and does seem to be helping with sleep.

  10. Hi Lara,
    I am 42years old. I am having trouble losing weight. I am 5’6 157lbs. I am hypothyroidism, I have a IUD, also take testosterone inj twice a month. My testosterone over 2 years ago was very very low. I work out 3-4 times a week.I have recently turned 80 % vegan. I work so hard to lose weight and have not succeeded at all. I am so frustrated.
    I would love to hear your opinion on this matter.
    Thank you

  11. Hi Lara
    Do I need to take any breaks when on daily Magnesium, Taurine and Iodine…? Or just keep taking them without breaks? My husband seems to think I should be taking breaks…?

    Thanks so much, losing your second book right now! SO helpful!! <3

  12. Hi Dr Briden,

    I can’t thank you enough for your site. I’ve learned so much. I’ve been taking inositol (both myo and chiro-D) since December. At first, I loved the extra energy and felt that it decreased my depression that had just started. When my depression continued for 6 months, I decided to stop the inositol. My mood has significantly improved in just a few days. Is this normal? Is it signs of something else?

    Thank you for your help!


  14. Hi Lara,
    I have an question about hypoglycemia. I have had episodes of what I now know is reactive hypoglycemia for many years, and they have become more frequent in recent years. They usually occur when I am going for a walk, in the late afternoon, and more often in the lead up to my period (but sometimes not). I have only had a fasting glucose test several years back, which came back normal, no test for insulin though. I am 39, with a slim build, moderately fit, not diabetic, and don’t have PCOS. What could be causing this? I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility a few years back when I was trying to have a baby (all sex hormones were normal, regular periods, good egg count, diagnostic laparoscopy clear, no male factor, etc.). Could this be related? A naturopath measured by saliva cortisol last year as low and thought this was somehow a factor. I have been taking adrenal herbs since, along with my magnesium, and she advised me to eat frequent meals containing protein, but I still get the attacks.

  15. Hello Dr Briden
    Half a year ago, I was diagnosed with insulin resistance by a glucose tolerance test with insulin (my insulin went up too high 1 hour after drinking the sugar water).
    I haven’t been eating ANY kinds of sweets / dried fruit / sweet drinks… for 5 months now, but my menstrual cycles are still long and irregular. Is it okay to cut back on potatoes, rice and starchy veg too? I would just do it for a few months, but I really am eating quite a lot of carbs (especially potatoes) and I was wondering if they could maybe prevent my body from healing its insulin resistance.

  16. How much berberine is one supposed to take? What dose ? How many months ? Which brand would you recommend .
    And what does of taurine and which brand please recommend

  17. I’m no expert but am Insulin resistant myself. My HBA1c was normal when my fasting insulin wasn’t. So, definitely insist on having it tested.

  18. I have a question about waist circumference. Do I measure at the narrowest part of my waist or around the largest part of my abdomen?

  19. Hello,
    I asked a blood test to my GP specifically to test for insulin resistance, and she had me do an HBA1c test. It turned out normal, even though I do think I have all the symptoms for an insulin resistant driven PCOS.
    Should I insist for another more specific test?

    (appart from the polycystic ovaries, irregular periods and dark hairs in unwanted places, I have a BMI of 28, with body fat mostly around the waist/belly).

    Thank you for your work, it is really helping me understand my body and I hope going to the root of my symptoms.

  20. For years I’ve know there has been something wrong with my health. I’ve had a symptoms like running to the toilet often, tired all the time, always feeling very thirsty, my eye sight has been blurry and many more. My doctors have been taking blood tests of me, and everything always looks good until recently. My glucose blood test showed 4,5 mmol/L. My serum c-peptide showed 209 pmol/L. Also my d-vitamin was 47 nmol/L. What does this mean? And what more tests should I ask my doctor to take? For years I have not gotten the help I feel I deserve from my doctors, and I’m frightened.

  21. For years I’ve had problems running to the toilet peeing a lot after I’ve eaten. Often it’s worse at night, and I’ve lost sleep for years. Could my peeing be that I’m insulin sensitive? All my blood insulin level testing (I’ve done them all many times) are fine. After taking berberine my peeing has been much better. I’ve tried taking magnesium, but I’ve experienced my skin breaking out. Why could this be?

  22. I have read more than once that alpha lipoic acid blocks and interferes with thyroid hormone conversion, your experience?

  23. Thank you for the article about insulin resistance. What is the best magnesium to take to help decrease insulin resistance. Thank you, Mychal

  24. I love you. You’re a Genius! You have definitely done your research. I have been struggling with Insulin Resistance for years. If it wasn’t for a wise Naturopath, I would probably still drink Orange Juice and weigh 400lbs by now. That is just to keep the story short.

    I quit Sugar and followed much of your advice about a decade ago and my blood tests after 6-12 months (a decade ago) were very close to normal after having had VERY high Testosterone levels. Then I went on Spironolactine thinking that would give me a quick fix to normal. BIG MISTAKE. I went back after three months to have my blood checked again and my Testosterone was three times worse than it had originally been before quitting sugar, etc. I was devastated. Then the MD asked me what the original problem was? Like my Testosterone being through the roof was totally normal and I was stupid.

    Try explaining that to my Mom that has the acne/Hirsutism yet very fertile version and Spironolactine is the only thing that helps her Adult acne. Beyond that, try explaining to a male partner why you don’t use Birth Control…because it makes you extremely sick (more androgens).

    I know a lot of what you are saying from experience, but you have really brought it up to speed, helped to fill in the gaps for me, and given me new incentive to stop eating Ice Cream Drumsticks every night (only for the past 6 months my father just passed away).

    I am definitely going to start taking my Magnesium also, I have been having terrible insomnia. And then the part where you said if you cut all starch you lose your period ugh. Balance. Balance. Having I guess what you could call an eating disorder in high school with EXTREME weight loss, I am exactly that fit PCOS chick you describe with a 26-28” Waist. So when people comment on my eating or I refuse a Kambouchie with 5grams of sugar because any kind of liquid sugar will spike my Blood Sugar and I can feel it and I explain that i am pre-diabetic or insulin-resistant they say oh you sure eat cookies though, well, at least they have fiber? Ugh but you have definitely made me more comfortable with eating fruit. No wonder an orange in the evening will actually help and not hurt my symptoms when I am on top of it.

    It is late and the Magnesium is finally kicking in, so hopefully I will sleep sooner than 6am today. What made me put your book on my booklist though was “Magnesium as the Natural Metformin.” I wanted to try Metformin to have greater results and that is when they put me on Spironolactine. It is hard to get a Dr. to give you Metformin if you are not “trying to conceive,” but hey now at 31 even ovulating for once would be nice.

    Thank you so much for all of your information. I am not sure where you are located but I moved 1,000 miles away from my Naturopath seven years ago and miss him dearly. If you are anywhere in SoCal, I would visit you for my health needs.

  25. I started looking into PCOS since I was just “diagnosed” with it. I started the pill in 8th grade because I didn’t get my period for 8 months. I was then on the pill for 10 years straight, occasionally switching pills due to headaches or horrific cramps or low libido or some other symptoms. I noticed over the years my hair started shedding but I had so much of it that I wasn’t concerned… until more recently (last 2-3 years) when I noticed how much thinner my hair got and how much shedding it is still doing even after I stopped the pil (for at least 2 years now I have been off). My periods were very irregular and I didn’t get it for a little while but then I had 6 regular periods and now I am back to irregular (late by a couple to a few weeks but still just glad I get it). I feared the pill was causing my hair shedding and headaches but was not sure why. The hair shedding is still a lot which scares me.. but I showed a dermatologist about how much I lose in a day and she said it wasn’t that bad… I still get weird headaches out of no where and no pills or medicine help but I don’t get them nearly as frequent. Ever since I stopped the pill a couple years ago I also get very thick, small and stubborn chin hairs that grow back every single day and although my skin appears beautiful and clear to those around me, I noticed I have what appear to be closed comedones around my chin area that also never go away. Background: I have always been fairly active, playing sports since I was little and now I workout 4-5x a week strength training. There is a history of diabetes in my family (uncles and brother). What is confusing is that my hormone tests came back in the normal ranges. My androstenedione came back at 178 ng and the range was from like (20-200 ng or something like this, so perhaps this is high? Would this contribute to my hair shedding and PCOS diagnosis?) They tested my glucose and insulin which also came back normal but I was prescribed metformin and told to lose about 10 lbs to get my BMI under 26. I am not overweight and certainly don’t look like I am but I am about 25 lbs heaveir than I was 4 years ago mostly due to the fact I was obsessed with eating healthy and working out 6-7x a week and I finally learned to let that go. How will metformin help me if my insulin and sugar tested fine? I was also told to keep my carbs between 70-100g a day which I feel is low considering I strength train and do not have diabetes or any clear signs of insulin resistance. Do I have PCOS? Should I be taking metformin (i.e. could it hurt)? It is SO confusing when tests come back “normal” but I understand based on a lot of the articles and research I’ve stumbled across that sometimes this is the case and the hormonal changes are so subtle that they may still appear in a normal range…. I also hate medicine ever since I started to feel like the birth control started all of this to begin with and wish I knew more natural steps to take. If you have any time at all, I would SO appreciate any guidance from you. Thank you so much in advance.

  26. Hi Lara. I am now on a full dose of Ovasitol after a few months of slowly working my way up. I have noticed improved blood sugar control for sure. However, on the full dose, I find that if I don’t eat perfectly, I feel shaky and suspect my blood sugar drops TOO low. My question is, would a lesser dose of Ovasitol still be effective? I know it is the perfect ratio and this ratio is the one that has been studied.

  27. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes because my A1C is over 7%. Now that it’s full-blown diabetes, can I still treat it as insulin resistance (positive that’s been the problem since I was a child) and follow these steps?

  28. Dear Lara,

    I am learning so much from you thank you! I have two questions please:
    1. Do you do phone consultations? I am based in the US (am actually an old patient of yours from Sydney)
    2. What is your view on Rice Syrup since it breaks down to Glucose only and contains no Fructose?



  29. I am almost 60 for 30 years I tried to convince my NHS doctors my weight gain was not caused by overeating finally with pre-diabetes, Thyroid issues, arthritis, sporadic double vision(brought on by exercise), sleep apnoea, psoriasis, and now slipped discs and worn out hip joints, I have started to recover myself due to magnesium supplements and prebiotic so can’t believe how much more energy I have and am now starting to cut out sugars. Can you advise me on carbs that will help.
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge it is changing my life.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. By “carbs that will help”, do you mean carbs that are safe to have with insulin resistance? As I explain in my latest sugar post, the most important thing is to quit all sugar, including natural sugars. But you can have a little bit of potato with dinner.

  30. Lara! I am loving your posts! I stumbled upon them while looking for info for my 13 year old daughter who has IR. It’s awful what we’ve been through. Her pediatric Endo put her on 130 carbs a day and it made it all worse. She just keeps gaining weight. Why don’t these docs know about all this great information you have? Why hasn’t anyone else suggested this stuff to me??? I’m so frustrated. She eats well and keeps GAINING WEIGHT! I want a new dr for her. Can you suggest a type of doctor I can take her to? Also we’ve been working out to increase her muscle mass and now I’m going to buy magnesium for her! THANK YOU! I believe I have IR as well and I’m making the same changes. THANK YOU!

  31. Thank you for sharing this! Most of my life I was a normal weight, but have alsways had problems with early pregnancy loss. Now that I am past menopause, after reading your article it puts some missing pieces together, such as why I can eat almost nothing( 500 calories daily) and only maintain my weight. I am physically active, gardening, horseback riding and walking. But starting nursing school at 40 did a number on my stress levels ( not to mention raising two children and working full time). But now I have hope! Thank you!

  32. I was unaware of there being different types of PCOS. Thank you for explaining differences in a way that is easy to understand. I was diagnosed in early 2006 with PCOS but never had any ultrasounds or saw images of my own case until early 2016, I unmistakably do have this condition. Unfortunately my insurance does not cover any kind of infertility treatment and was wondering if you might know of any medications or tests that a doctor can order or prescribe that doesn’t necessarily fall under the “infertility” category so that my insurance will cover or at least cover partial expenses.
    Thank You
    Tonya J

  33. Hi Lara,

    I have very bad insulin resistance. I lost 140 pounds in my 20’s and, for 20 years, I maintained a normal my weight by managing carbs, reducing them more and more over time while increasing exercise.

    To make a long story short, I had an extreme onset of allergies a couple of years ago (after antibiotics) which sent my cortisol though the roof at the same time I HAD to eat carbs or I would get so weak I would start to get infections. I have gained 50 pounds in 2 years (no refined sugar of any kind- my dietary sin can be whole wheat bread products, though.)

    The problem is that now, when I try to do low-carb, my adrenaline goes through the roof and I get weak. Is there any hope for someone with my insulin problems to lose weight? What can I do?

    Note, I do take magnesium. My doctor has me on time-release Jigsaw brand, though I only take it every other day because my urine gets dark. I just get too easily dehydrated.

    Thank you.

  34. Hi Lara!

    Is a fasting insulin of 7.4 suggestive of insulin resistance? And LH and FSH of both 5.5 on day 3 of my cycle normal? Also, which types of pcos can you reverse!?


    • Fasting insulin of 7 is probably okay. Sometimes I’ll order a glucose tolerance test with insulin just to be sure. Those FSH and LH readings are fine. Most types of PCOS can improve to the point that there are no obvious symptoms anymore. Except for hirsutism. It is difficult to reverse.

  35. Hi Lara,
    Just wondering if there are any risks of hypermagnesemia with supplementation? From the reading I have done it seems like there is a low chance because excess amounts are excreted by the kidneys. I purchased Magnesium Glycinate 300mg. Do you recommend getting labs drawn? Also, are there any negative side effects to be aware of? Thanks!

  36. Having just been told my fasting insulin is too high I am in a quest to improve. My other numbers are not bad but am sure could improve. Do you think inositol is better than berberine to help lower? Will work in reducing carbs and gluten as well. Also taking mag, nepronol and a few other supplements. Thanks for any input. Excited this may be the answer to why I can not lose any weight no matter what??

    • The single most important thing is to quit all sugar including fruit juice, dates, honey etc.
      Then magnesium and exercise. Berberine does work quite well, but you need to be careful because it interacts with other medications.

      • I am on it – have reduced all sugar and processed carbs by 90%. I do take magnesium but not liking the one I have – Calm. I really can’t stand the taste. is there any certain type of mag that works best for insulin or would any kind work? I had thought I might try the theonate version since I haven’t had. I do take naturethyroid, but thats the only RX med I have, so I may try 1-2 caps of berberine (1000mg) per day for a bit to see if I notice any difference. thanks so much for all your advice, I think I need to come to Australia!

  37. Hi, I just wanted to note something weird we experienced. Adolescent with fasting insulin of 13. Which pediatric endocrinologist said for a teenager was not “that high” that AVERAGE at mid teens was 11, much higher than adults. We did some inositol and diet changes, lowered carbs and no juice, etc. with the inositol insulin DROPPED BIG TIME. Fasting insulin of 4.1 to 4.4. No joke you read that right. Problem was this caused DHEA to surge like crazy, boubled, from 400 to 1000 to 1280. DHEA is a neurohormone, and an immune stimulant (it is the ying to the cortisol suppressant yang if you will, it stimulates TH2 immune response, mast cells,etc). Really bad for migraines…it was awful before I figured out connection. Off inositol for short period and migraines went right back down to intermittent occurrances from chronic daily events (full day events).

  38. My fasting insulin was 7.4mcIU/ML. Does this suggest insulin resistance? My fasting glucose was 84 but it was 70 in June (I’m on a medication that raises glucose right now so that is probably why my glucose has gone up).

  39. Hi Lara,

    Can i take sucroguard to help in insulin resistance? Below are the content of the supplement.

    Vitamin C 201mg 251
    Thiamine (Vitamin B1) 15mg 1364
    Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 15mg 1071
    Niacin (Vitamin B3) 25mg Niacin Equivalent 156
    Vitamin B6 25mg 1786
    Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) 50mg 833
    Magnesium 45.8mg 12
    Manganese 1.1mg 55
    Chromium 200mcg 500

    I would appriciate your response and then will buy the product.

  40. Hi Lara,
    First I’d like to start by saying that I love your blog!

    I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2007 based on mildly elevated Total Testosterone levels and a high LH:FSH ratio. The bloodwork was done on a random day in my cycle and all other hormones tested were within the normal range. I had just come off the pill and recovered from 2 years of anorexia followed by 1 year of binge eating disorder.

    In 2015 while in the second trimester of my pregnancy with my second child, I had the 3HR glucose challenge with insulin draws to test for insulin resistance. At the 1hr mark, my insulin was 394pmol/L. I was hypoglycemic by the 3hr mark. My fasting insulin was 40 pmol/l and fasting glucose was 4.3 mmol/L.

    Would you suggest that I do have insulin resistance based on those results? Would my pregnancy have interfered with the accuracy of the test results?

    Thank you for your time!

  41. Hi
    I am currently going through menapause and have gained so much weight. Normally 54 kilos with no weight issues I have over a few years gained about 10 kilos. I’ve been seeing so many doctors and no one has helped me. But know I have found a GP who also practices alternative medicine. He has discovered I have insulin levels of 44 bloods was taken without fasting, he has ordered more specific blood test to be done during fasting. My issue that for the past 15 years I have a very well balanced diet. I rarely eat gluten and I am careful about what type of carbs I eat. I don’t eat any cakes or pastry foods and am careful with my sugar intake. I power walk 5 times a week. The problem since going through menapause is I’m getting bad sugar cravings and hungry which I due to high insulin apparently.
    My gp has me taking minerals to try and lower my insulin and hopefully I lose the weight I’ve gained which I so uncomfortable.
    so I would like to know how is it that I have good eating habits why has this happened and will I lose weight once insulin drops if that’s possible.

  42. Hi Lara, I’ve read your book and have found it very helpful! I was diagnosed with PCOS a few years ago. I’m currently on my 4th week of no sugar. Can you suggest some good snacks for on the go that are low sugar? I bought granola bars with low sugar (7 grams or less), but now see on this post not to eat granola bars. Is that still too much sugar (the 7 gram sugar granola bars)? And finally, I understand that this is a new eating lifestyle for the rest of my life, which I’m committed to. What changes will I see when my body is no longer insulin sensitive? When will I stop being hungry all the time? Will I probably lose weight? What is the time frame that I will start seeing changes? Thank you!

    • Hi Katie, Yes, quitting sugar and correcting insulin resistance should help to normalise your diet. As a general rule for insulin resistance, I think it’s better not to snack. As in: to have 2 or 3 solid meals per day, and that’s it. If you do need to snack, then it should be protein (eg. eggs, goat cheese, hummus etc.)

  43. Hello. I just have been diagnose with insulin resistance and I refuse to take Metformin so I’m taking ALA, Magnesium, Chromium and Omega3. I’m wondering how much time does my body takes to react and cure itself? How much time does it take start losing weight?

    • Weight loss will generally start to happen when fasting insulin drops below 8 mIU/L. That can take a few months, depending on how high your fasting insulin in.

  44. hi, my fasting insulin level is 15mu/L and my waist circumference is 44 inch. i have been married for 6 years, 2x miscarriage. my gynae diagnosed me as having PCOS, based only on these 3 conditions. however, my hormone test for LH/FSH came out ok, although LH value is a bit lower. he didn’t conduct any ultrasound scan on me to confirm that i’m having PCOS. Can i have your opinion on these? do u think i’m having PCOS? Can I get pregnant? Thanks in advance for ur reply

    • Hi
      I think to meet the pcos diagnostic criteria you have to meet the following
      – irregular periods
      – hormonal imbalance ( dominance of androgens, whats your skin like? Extra androgrens means your skin creates extra sebum causing acne)
      – excess facial hair
      – accumulation of fat around the belly and hips
      – carbohydrates intolerance ( do you get more hungry after a bowl of pasta? )
      – high insulin resistance ( inability for your cells to respond to insulin)
      – overweight

      An ultra sound will show whether you have cysts on your ovaries – while this is a good indicator its not definite. I have cysts on my ovaries but because I don’t meet most of the above criteria i dont have pcos according to my endocrinologist

      I think you should take your test results to an endo and then see a naturopath for holistic treatment as endocrinologists merely look at results and rule out whether you have a medical condition or not.

      All this is based on my past exp and tonnes of research

      The figure 15 mul may suggest you are insulin resistant and may be at risk of type 2. Therefore

      Its important regardless of whether you have pcos or not is to have a low carb diet. Carbs arnt processed into energy properly with people who are insulin resistance. Rather the cells fail to respond to the high level of insulin which means essentially the excess it’s accumulated as fat. The ugly thruth is our body is accumulating all this fat but we arnt full from what we eat because our cells are essentially “starved”.

      The only way around this is to get on metformin /inositol a low carb diet and exercise 5-6 times a week. This is what I do as advised by my endo

      Lara, could you second on what Ive said? This is my understanding from my own experience not intending to substitute any medical advice of yours 🙂

    • A fasting insulin of 15 is suggestive of insulin resistance and possibly PCOS. The main question is if you ovulate regularly?
      Also, keep in mind, there are many reasons for sub-fertility and miscarriage, including male factors and thyroid.

  45. Hi Lara
    Very informative!
    I was diagnosed with pcos last yr sept as I experienced rapid weight gain and excessive hunger. I was put on the birth control and metformin and it did nothing! No change in hb1ac levels ( 6.2) no change in hunger and no change in weight. I went and saw an endocrinologist last month with my recent blood tests. He said i dont have pcos or diabetes and no medication is required. I believe i have been incorrectly diagnosed because

    1) i work out 5 days a week and consume 1200-1300 low carb calorie diet and see no change in weight
    2) i don’t react well to carbohydrates if i eat a bowl of rice ill be hungry half an hour later as if i havnt eaten for days!
    3) my weight is accumulated around my hips and stomach.

    Could you shed some light into what could be going on or where i should go from now?
    I may not have diabetes but the above symptoms could mean im insulin resistant hence weight issues?

    I am 22 years old and while my bmi is normal range its impossible to lose weight

    Your opinion would be much appreciated

    • You won’t be able to sustain a low-carb, low-calorie diet like that, but do you need to lose weight if your BMI is normal? What is your fasting insulin and your waist measurement (in centimetres)?
      Do you suffer any digestive bloating?

      • My bmi is 23 so yes its normal but I only wish to lose 3-4 kg and it just seems impossible.
        My fasting sugar level in the morning before brekky is in the range of 6.8-8.0 every morning. I havnt measured my waist but theres a big ration between waist and bust

          • I could have written absolutely everything you wrote. It’s almost spooky.
            Except after being low carb for a few years and unable to lose weight (factoring in muscle weighs more than fat), I decided to give the “gentle carbs” a shot and guess what, it WORKED.

            My body must have been starving for carbs and why it was hungry for more right after eating it. I’ve been eating jasmine and basmati white rice (not brown because of the cyanide issue) with each and every meal for a month and I’ve lost weight, yes lost weight. Disclaimer if you’re from overseas, us Aussies swear when we are excited. Yes I fucking lost weight eating carbs and a lot of them! You were disclaimered. lol

            Initially I was really hesitant and I was only consuming 1/3 a cup of cooked rice and now I’m up to 2 cups a day. More than my asian friends.

            Try it. Dont freak out the first 2-3 weeks when you “look” like you’ve gained weight. It’s just water which your body figures out how to rid after your next period.

            I’m just as confused as you why this works, it may have something to do with fixing my adrenals which were compromised from too much training and stress (relationships and work), I also trained in the morning on an empty stomach and little sleep

            My weight loss (4 kilos) may be temporary but it usually takes me a year to lose what I’ve lost in a month, I may have to alter high carbs with no carbs when my body gets used to this but I’m as happy as Larry/Lara right now.

  46. Dear Lara,

    I am trying to reverse my insulin resistance. When is the right time of a month to do fasting? I am expecting my period in 7 days and I am not sure if I should fast this week.

    Also I wanted to ask if sweet organic herbal blend tea that contains liquorice and hibiscus is good if you cut off sugar? I don’t have sugar cravings anymore, but accidentally bought this type of tea. It tastes very sweet.

    Best Wishes,

    • Short answer: you could try gentle intermittent fasting at any time of your cycle. But remember: it should feel good. If it doesn’t feel good (for reasons such as stress or PMS), then that’s not a good time to do it.

      Licorice tastes sweet, but does not contain sugar, so should be fine. (but it can raise blood pressure)

  47. Hi Lara,

    I’m 18 yrs old and have been following your blog for quite a while now (it’s a real inspiration to me in my down moments). A year ago, I was diagnosed with insulin-resistant PCOS and since then, I’ve been scouring the internet for a permanent solution to my hair loss, severe acne and heavy periods under the problem. Thing is, even though right now I’m on the pill (Diane) and Metformin, after reading about their band-aid like effect on my system and the consequences I will face upon stopping the pill, I want to get off the pill and metformin as soon as possible. But in doing so, I don’t want to be faced with all the problems that i had before being prescribed the pill almost 2 and a half years ago (even before being diagnosed with pcos). Basically, I want to reverse my PCOS for good. After reading your book- Period Repair Manual- I feel that there is hope that I’ll be able to live the rest of my life without being dependent on medicines so long as I alter my lifestyle and incorporate the supplements you mentioned into my dietary intake. After reading your book, I also consulted my endocrinologist with whom i spoke about my desire to get off the meds and he said that he’ll ween me off them if I manage to lose and maintain 10 kilos (I’m currently 69 kilos and have already started exercising). My reason for writing this lengthy post is my confusion regarding what supplements i should take specifically and when to take them i.e. when I begin the process of going off the pill or whilst being on the pill? Also, I would really appreciate it if you could guide me through my journey of going off the pill and reversing my PCOS. Any additional tips would be most appreciated!
    I’ll be calling lisa at your clinic in Sydney to book an appointment for your next visit to Australia!


  48. Hi Lara, what does it mean to have high levels of C-reative protein? I discovered Hashimoto hypothyroidism around 2 years ago and I control it with 50mg of Synthroid (but I still have the symptoms. Very sensitive to cold, cold hands and feet, very dry skin, etc). My periods though, since I left the pill (1 year ago), are very irregular (30-60 days). I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was around 15, but 1 year later my doctor said it was gone, and I’ve been on the pill since the age of 17 (until 1 year ago. I’m 26 now). When I did my annual exams to monitor my thyroid though, I saw that the C-reative protein exam was high, but my doctor said it was ok. My sugar I am pretty sure it was fine too. I don’t know, I keep trying to solve this puzzle, but I don’t now how all these symptoms are related (if they are).

  49. Luckily, I was,able to reverse the insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance. I have not taken any medication in years. I am 5’3″ and only weigh 105 pounds. I occasionally workout, but I mainly watch what I eat. Anyway, I have been experienced a lot of bloating in the past 5 years or maybe longer My tummy is hard but no real pain. I am just uncomfortable. Sometimes I will burp really long, and it feel better but I still remain bloated. Since, Thanksgiving I have had worse bloating as well as a uti infection. I am still not in pain. I am curious if other pcos women experience this. Also, my main question is will I still experience pcos symptoms even though my hormones have tested balanced? This bloating is horrible.
    Thanks for answering

    • Hi Ronnie, I doubt that the bloating relates to PCOS in any way. It may be a digestive issue such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

  50. I take 1500 mg of metformin a day and 4g of myo-inositol (pregnitude version). Can I also take magnesium? I also ordered Vitex, which I how I found your site! Thanks for all the great information!

    • Hi April, I am not aware of any reason why you could not combine those supplements. Just a precaution though, I generally do not prescribe Vitex for PCOS (I explain why not in the Vitex post).

  51. Gah, this article is SO spot on! Such great information stated in a way that drops the medical jargon and makes total sense. Thank you for writing this.

  52. Hi, I lost weight on metformin 8 yrs ago before I had my boys. Can you tell me what the equivalent of metformin would be? I take an immunosuppresant so I don’t think I can take berberine. I started Pregnitude 2 weeks ago but I haven’t lost weight yet. I’m also not eating after 6 pm and fasting 12 to 14 hours. Let me know if you can help me. The doctors never want to check my insulin only my fasting glucose. It’s normal but when I was pregnant I had gestational diabetes. Hope you can help me!

  53. Hi. I am 75 yrs old, weight 155. Type 2 diabetes. I need to lose weigh I have been on Prozac for 20 yrs. I’m in good health otherwise I dance play tennis occassionally walk do yard work. Can you help me with weight loss?

  54. Hi Lara. It’s a pity you only do one on one consultations, would love to have a chat with you, unfortunately you’re not anywhere close to me. My Doctor placed me on Metformin 3 months ago after my blood tests, HSG and TVS. He diagnosed Insulin resistant PCOS almost immediately and said Metformin should regularize my periods. One month of Metformin and I got a 28 day cycle but the subsequent cycle was 42 days. Last 3 cycles before Metformin were 30, 35 and 50 days. Just finished a 36 day cycle and I started Vitex at the beginning (Read about Vitex on here). I would really appreciate if you review my blood test results just so I am clear my Doc prescribed correctly. Stopped Vitex when my period started. Starting again tomorrow alongside my Cod-liver oil + EPO capsules, Folic acid, and Metformin. We are TTC so I really want to get things right.

    TSH – 1.05 uIU/mL

    OESTRADIOL E2 – 99 pmol/L
    Follicular phase 46-607 pmol/L
    ovulating 315-1828
    luteal phase 161-774
    postmenopausal 18-201



    FSH – 7.1 u/l
    follicular phase – 3.5 – 12.5 iu/l
    ovulating 4.7 – 21.5 iu/l
    luteal phase 1.7 – 7.7iu/l
    postmenopausal 25.8 – 134.8 iu/l

    LH – 9.3 U/L
    follicular phase .4 – 12.6 iu/l
    ovulating 14.0 – 95.6 iu/l
    luteal phase 1.0 – 11.4 iu/l
    postmenpausal 7.7 – 58.5 iu/l

    PROLACTIN – 12.5 NG/ML

    PROGESTERONE – 9.6 nmol/l
    follicular phase 0.6 – 4.7 nmol/l
    ovulating 2.4 – 9.4 nmol/l
    luteal phase 5.3 – 86.0 nmol/l
    postmenopausal 0.3 – 2.5 nmol/l

  55. Thank you sooooooo much for the information. I am insulin resistance and feels hopeless until I read your research. You gave me directions and hope.

  56. Thank you so much for generosity in sharing all this information! After having been told by doctors that PCOS and infertility are “incurable” and that “only the symptoms can be managed”, it is wonderful to read this positive info, targeting the root problems. It gives me a lot of hope for total healing. Thank you!

  57. Lara – can stress effect blood sugar eg a relationship breakdown !! I have always had good fasting blood sugars – under 5.0 !! Since my relationship has been brokendown they are elevated !! I am not diabetic at all

      • Is there anything that can be done, or is this just the body’s natural response to a crisis situation ?? How do ppl lose weight in these situations if their blood sugar is elevated and they are producing more insulin ?

  58. Plz give mi ur email id …..I want to talk with u……I m facing this problem since 5 yrs and my doctor give mi op pill for that and the condition get worse

  59. Hi Lara

    What about leptin resistance, if someone is insulin resistant it is like they are 2 leptin resistant ?? How can this be reversed ?

  60. Lara you are too good and am following you on all your socisl network platforms. am in Nigeria,anyway of getting your book here in Africa. not familiar with Amazon and the rest.

    • Thanks for your comment Amakaelochukwu. You can use free kindle app on your computer, tablet, or phone, and then buy kindle version. It’s easy and should be possible from most countries.

  61. Hi Lara

    I’m having trouble finding magnesium glycinate in NZ. What are your thoughts on magnesium orotate? and what dosage would you take of orotate? thanks

  62. i have pcos, and i consulted my doctor about metformin but she said it is not for me because im too young for it, and i might lose my consciousness.

    she is giving me hormone tablets because i have primary amenorrhea
    btw. im 17 yr old.

  63. Hi lara

    Can PCOS caused by obesity – insulin resistance be reversed? or is it a permanant condition that will need to be managed?


      • Thanks Lara. I’m pretty sure from reading your blog I have insulin resistant type PCOS. I’m having trouble with my doctor ordering blood tests for things. I have to push her to order anything and then its just the basics. Example TSH is 2.0 so she won’t dig any deeper because she says this is normal. I have just got her to do a FSH, LH and a testosterone. I do not have results yet. I’m also having a pelvic scan next week.

        my symptoms, acne, hair thinning, periods stopped a few months ago, over weight, highly processed sugar laden diet.

        She won’t order a SHBG or androstenedione, as she says we don’t test for that in NZ anymore. And she won’t test for insulin, as she has already tested my blood sugar levels and says they are all normal.

        I haven’t ovulated for 3 months but prior to that had no problems. I have never had trouble with ovulation and from reading your post I am certain my problem is insulin resistant PCOS, I am going to work on treating it this way. I’m also going to buy your ‘period repair manual’ as i think this will benefit me greatly. thank you so much for doing what you do 🙂

        • A normal blood sugar reading does not rule out insulin resistance. Where are you in New Zealand? I hope to start seeing patient in Christchurch within the next few months.

          • Hi Lara, I’m in Wellington (NZ). At the moment i’m taking Magnesium 400mg daily, zinc sulphate 600mg daily, chronium 2000mg daily & a herbal formula from the oriental medicine clinic for acne, not sure what is in it. I’ve only been religiously taking these supplements for the last week, plus now exercising and cutting most sugar out of my diet. so far no improvement in the acne but I expect it will take a month or more before I start to see results. My main concern is to start ovulation again. I’m hoping I won’t have to quit dairy…but that might be the next step if this doesn’t work.

      • I have read so many different recommended dosages for both d-chiro inositol and myo insositol. What are the best mg/grams for best results of insulin resistance?

        A few years ago I did 2-months of raw food (veggies and fruits) and I lost so much weight and it was the only time my blood sugars were at a normal range. Unfortunately, I’m back at eating everything…and of course gained the weight back. I hope to be consistent with your treatment recommendations so that my pcos can get back in control. I even feel like metforming doesn’t do it anymore. I was taking 1000mg bid and my big was still in the 180s. I had gestational diabetes w both my kids…have I become a full blown diabetic type 2 or am I just insulin resistant still? My testosterone and estrogen levels are high.

  64. I definitely have PCOS and was recently diagnosed as Insulin resistant and hypothyroid. My doctor increased my Metformin XR from 500mg to 1500mg and my Levothyroxine from 25 to 50. My question is would it be safe to take Magnesium Glycinate, Berberine, Taurine, Myo-Inositol, Chromium, N-Acetyl Cysteine, and Alpha-lipoic Acid? Are there any supplements I should avoid due to my prescription medication? I do not want my medicine to be counterproductive. Also if the supplements are safe to take with my meds is it safe to take them together or should they be spread out through out the day? Which would be best to take in the morning for energy? My last question…I have read taking a cinnamon supplement was good to help repair Insulin Resistance and if so can that be taken with the meds listed above? I have made a lifestyle change to eliminate as much sugar as possible and greatly reduced my carbs. I want to do whatever it takes to feel normal again, have energy again, and lose weight to become a healthier person. I truly appreciate any advice or direction you may offer.

  65. Just read your article. Thank you!
    I have been struggling with PCOS for over 10 years. My weight fluctuates and I find it extremely difficult to lose weight. My husband and I want to have a baby. I have read on other PCOS sites about a new product called Ovasitol. I wonder if you know anything about it (safe to use)? They say it is a natural metformin…
    I live in the USA and would love to have a Doctor like you. Know of any in the US?
    Thanks again!
    Article about Ovasitol:

    • I do like Amy’s (PCOS Diva’s) myo-inositol supplement. I refer to myo-inositol in the post as one of the useful supplements, and it’s available from a number of different brands.

  66. Hi

    Just wondering your thoughts of intermittent fasting and improving insulin sensitivity in females, in combination with everything you have mentioned above ??


    • Yes, I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting, and I routinely recommend it to treat insulin resistance. Perhaps I should have included fasting in this post, but I’m was trying to keep it to four. 🙂

      Might be an idea for my next post, which I need to get going on.

      • Fantastic, how long do you normally recommend the fast to be for females 14/10 or 16/8 ???

        I hope you do write a post on it, i would love to read it !!!

        • It all depends on stress levels and the health of your HPA (adrenal) axis. I talk about this a bit in my Gentle Carb post. Fasting is slightly stressful, so you don’t want to push it to the point where you feel anxious, or can’t sleep. To start, I say: No eating after dinner, for anyone. Then, non-stressed women can try having a late breakfast (18 hour fast) two to three days per week (not consecutive days).

  67. I currently take ovistol can I take these other things with it and is it ok to continue taking during pregnancy? Also, I live in the us do you do phone consultations? Thank you

    • Do you mean ovastol, the synthetic estrogen used in some Pills? You can combine magnesium with hormone formulas. Also, magnesium is safe in pregnancy, but the other supplements listed are not (for example, berberine should not be used during pregnancy).

  68. I just wanted to check there was no chance honey could be better than other sugars in your opinion. I read so much conflicting opinion about this. I seem to react much better to sugar.

    • Essentially, honey is no better. True, honey does have some medicinal benefits when it is consumed at low dose (like 1 tsp per day), but honey is still concentrated fructose. When it is consumed regularly at higher dose (desserts), it impairs insulin sensitivity.

  69. Hello Dr Briden i am now menopausal have hashimotos and pcos i am on a great diet along with gluten free and thinking to go grain and dairy free too. The problen i have i cannot tolerate thyroid meds i feel so terrible on them and i have tried all of them at different doses what could be wrong

    • The most common reasons for not tolerating thyroid medication are: 1) very high thyroid antibodies, and 2) cortisol deficiency. All Hashimoto’s patients have some thyroid antibodies, of course, but some people have very high levels that cause symptoms that cannot be corrected by thyroid hormone alone. If you have very high antibodies, you will need to think about going gluten free.

  70. I find really hard to stop eating desserts, I guess I have then a sugar addiction 🙁 Could I use tagatose instead of sugar occasionally? Thanks!

  71. Do you find it safe (and beneficial) to take magnesium, berberine, myo-inositol / DCI (in the form of Ovasitol), and chromium together or should just one or a couple of those be taken at a time?

    Thank you for another great article!

    • There is no reason why they cannot be taken altogether. In fact, magnesium and chromium often come together in insulin-sensitising formulas.

  72. Fantastic article, Just wondering your view on the use of natural sweeteners like stevia and xylitol and there impact on an individual trying to optimise insulin sensitivity ?

    • I recommend stevia and xylitol, but not other artificial sweeteners. Stevia and xylitol are helpful for the transition off desserts, but they should not be needed in the long-term (only for occasional treats). Many of my insulin-resistant and sugar-addicted patients DO say that they reach the place where they do not want sweet things at all. A non-dessert lifestyle becomes the new normal.

      Saying goodbye to desserts is like saying goodbye to a bad friend. There comes a time to just walk away.

  73. Do you have any recommendations for RT3 seems I am quite high – I am told its converted in the Liver so I need to take care of the liver? Thanks 🙂

    • There are so many reasons for poor conversion of T4 → T3 (resulting in elevated RT3). Inflammation, cortisol, selenium deficiency and also: insulin resistance. So insulin resistance → low T3 → insulin resistance becomes a vicious cycle. I usually recommend treatments for insulin resistance discussed here + a T3 supplement.

  74. Great article. I have had IR for over 6 years and struggled with my weight (typical apple shape) for 3.6 years. I used to take mag. gly on your recommendation but got lazy and stopped….I’ll be getting straight back onto it plus a dairy free probiotic. I am currently doing Weight watchers, for the third time, and its a slow battle. I have 28kgs to lose…..overwhelming….

    Love your work


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