Is Insulin Resistance to Blame for Your Slow Metabolism?

By Brandy Buro, RD, LD
July 12, 2022

insulin-resistance.jpgIt seems that nowadays everybody has a solution to your weight loss woes. Fancy diet pills, intense juice cleanses, calorie counting, or only eating grapefruit hits the top of the list. Let me shed some light on something you probably already know: low fat diets don’t work. Quick fixes don’t cut it, and you’re going to feel ravenous if you only eat fruit. One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is thinking of their new way of eating as a temporary fix and not a lifestyle change. This approach to weight loss will only leave you frustrated and back to square one. Are you ready to quit the fad diets and crazy cleanses and discover what is really going on with your metabolism, once and for all? If you’ve been on diet after diet and watched the weight go up and down on the scale, but you just can’t seem to keep it off, you may have become insulin resistant.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance happens to be one of the most prevalent metabolism problems people have. So, what does that really mean? Often, it means that for too long you have been eating too many processed carbohydrates. Foods such as pretzels, chips, chocolate chip cookies, popcorn, wine, that bowl of cereal for breakfast, treats from the breakroom at work, and that pasta dish at your favorite restaurant are all processed carbohydrates that can create insulin resistance in your body.

Biochemically, this is what happens when you’re insulin resistant:

  1. Let’s say you eat a processed carbohydrate such as a bagel.  
  2. The bagel breaks down into sugar (AKA glucose), which then enters your blood stream (alarmingly, 14 ¼ teaspoons of sugar).
  3. This rise in blood sugar tells the pancreas to release the hormone insulin to help bring the blood sugar back down to a normal level. Insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into our cells where it is turned into energy.
  4. Over time, excess sugar from processed carbohydrates and the increased demand for insulin to lower blood sugar creates insulin resistance. This condition is where your cells start to resist or ignore insulin’s signal and too much sugar remains floating in your bloodstream. The excess sugar needs to go somewhere, so it gets stored as body fat.
  5. For a while, the pancreas will try harder to get insulin to the cells by releasing more and more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas is over-worked, and can’t produce insulin as effectively anymore.
  6. Insulin resistance and lower production of insulin by the pancreas leads to high blood sugar levels that the body can’t lower on its own. This is what leads to pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes

How do I know if I’m insulin resistant?

Are you are gaining weight around the middle? Or maybe you haven’t made any changes in your eating habits, but you are starting to gain weight? These are both clues you could be insulin resistant. But you don’t have to be overweight to have insulin resistance! That’s what makes this metabolic issue so tricky. Insulin resistance slows down your metabolism and puts you at risk for other health issues, so it’s a good idea to test for insulin resistance at your next physical. There are several blood tests your doctor can use to diagnose insulin resistance including hemoglobin A1C level, fasting plasma glucose, or an oral glucose tolerance test.

If you learn that you have insulin resistance, don’t lose hope. The good news is that it is reversible!

Learn more about insulin resistance in our online class Reducing the Risk of Prediabetes & Type 2 Diabetes for only $25.

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How can I stop insulin resistance in my body?

It all starts with balanced eating and physical activity. By eating real foods in balance every time you eat, you have better control over your blood sugar level and can reverse insulin resistance. To prevent your blood sugar from increasing too quickly, include animal protein, healthy fat, and nutrient-rich carbohydrates from plants with each meal and snack.

Here are a few examples of balanced eating:

  • Breakfast: Ditch the cereal and toast! These are two processed carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar too high. Choose this balanced option instead: eggs for your protein, sautéed peppers and zucchini with a ½ cup of sweet potato for your carbohydrates, and 1-2 tablespoons of real butter for your fat.
  • Snack: You know the junky vending machine foods aren’t good for your metabolism because they are all processed carbs! Try packing one of my favorite snacks: a meatball for protein, ½ cup of carrots for the carbohydrate, and olives for a fat.
  • Lunch: Skip the fast food that leaves you feeling sluggish all afternoon. Plan a quick lunch using leftover rotisserie chicken (protein) with a side of cabbage slaw packed with flavor (cabbage and carrots for carb, nuts and mayo for healthy fat).
  • Dinner: Replace the pizza and pasta meals which lead to insulin resistance with two cups of chili (the protein and carbohydrate) and a side salad (more healthy carbs) with olive oil dressing (the fat). This option keeps your blood sugar stable.
  • Bedtime Snack: Instead of mindlessly munching on popcorn while you unwind, have a balanced snack that will keep your blood sugar stable while you sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed. Try ½ cup blueberries with ¼ cup almonds or celery sticks with 1-2 tablespoons of Green Veggie Dip.

Moving your body and getting exercise will make you more sensitive to insulin. Regular movement encourages cells to take in sugar from the blood because the body is seeking energy to sustain the movement your muscles are doing. This reduces the workload of your pancreas and insulin needs while retraining your cells to absorb the sugar for fuel.

Insulin resistance doesn’t break down overnight, just as it doesn’t build up overnight. If you take the balanced eating approach, you will be making steps toward reversing insulin resistance and restoring your metabolism.

Put in the time and get support for restoring your metabolism in our 12-week series Nutrition 4 Weight Loss. New students get two 1:1 counseling sessions with a nutritionist or dietitian for even more personalized care.

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It’s Your Time!

Before trying yet another diet gimmick, consider sitting down with one of the nutritionists or dietitians at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. We will teach you how eating real foods in balance is the weight loss and metabolism-boosting solution you’ve been looking for. We can customize a meal plan that fits your lifestyle and help brainstorm ways to fit movement you love into your schedule (while making sure you have enough delicious meals and snacks to fuel your exercise!).

For more information on the topic of metabolism, check out these resources:

About the author

Brandy is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Her mission is to help people discover for themselves the positive impact real food can make in their lives. “It gives me so much joy to help people make meaningful changes and witness the powerful transformations that follow. I remember how empowering it felt to take control of my health, and I want to help my clients do the same. I love sharing what I know and learning from my clients’ experiences in the process.” 

View all posts by Brandy Buro, RD, LD


Jodi Millner
I have attended some of your classes, as well as met with one of your nutritionists.
Both have provided help, information and support.
BUT, what I struggle most with is creating a meal plan.

I am a type 1 diabetic and regardless of the amount of exercise or limiting calories, I continue to gain weight. My doctor feels I am becoming insulin resistant.

Do you provide meal plans? I feel I have the information I need to make good choices, I just now really need a food plan to put it all in to practice.

March 8, 2017 at 8:15 am


We get it! Here's what Alyssa one of our nutritionists suggests for meal planning, and what Brenna, another nutritionist does, 

Dave Green
I'm curious how you came up with 14-1/4 teaspoons of sugar in a bagel. Can you tell me how to calculate that?
July 13, 2022 at 9:08 pm


To calculate the number of tsp of sugar, you take the total carbs and divide that by 4.

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