Insulin Resistance Diet – 7 Days Meal Plan
An estimated 1 in 3 Americans (1) has insulin resistance syndrome. Along with making it more difficult to lose weight, insulin resistance can lead to diabetes and other issues. However, following an insulin resistance diet plan and making lifestyle changes can help improve your insulin sensitivity.
But before you talk to your doctor about making any changes, it’s important to understand what this condition is and how it affects your body.
What’s Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body doesn’t respond to insulin appropriately. Insulin is the hormone that plays a major role in regulating blood sugar. Genetic and lifestyle choices can both contribute to the development of insulin resistance.
Sometimes, insulin resistance is temporary. In other cases, it’s a chronic condition.
Under normal conditions, your body breaks down food into glucose for energy. Glucose makes its way into your bloodstream and signals our pancreas to start releasing insulin.
With insulin resistance, the body can’t take up glucose from the blood or store it properly. The pancreas just keeps making insulin to try and lower your rising blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance becomes problematic when your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar at healthy levels. This is when the condition can transform into prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Resistance Symptoms in Females
Many women with insulin resistance don’t even know that they have it. Those that do have symptoms experience many of the same things that others with insulin resistance have, such as:
- Elevated blood sugar levels
- Cravings for salty and sweet foods
- Increased hunger or thirst
- Tingling sensations in the feet and hands
- Frequent urination
- Dark patches of skin in the armpits, neck and groin
- Hair loss
- Swollen ankles
You may have all, some or none of these symptoms.
Insulin Resistance with PCOS
Most women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also have insulin resistance. That’s because PCOS is really an endocrine and metabolic disorder that affects the whole body.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re overweight or at a healthy weight. Women with PCOS typically develop insulin resistance and are at high risk of developing diabetes.
High insulin levels lead to higher levels of androgen hormones, like testosterone. Elevated levels of androgens prevent ovulation and can cause many other symptoms, like:
- Thinning hair
- Irregular periods
- Excessive body hair growth
No one knows for sure what causes PCOS, but your weight and family history seem to play a role in whether you’re at risk.
Insulin Resistance in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a rollercoaster for your body. Your hormones are all over the place, and your body goes through a whirlwind of changes, including weight gain.
All of these changes can also affect how your body handles insulin.
In fact, insulin resistance is crucial during pregnancy for the health of your baby. This is because insulin resistance makes nutrients available to your baby to support its growth, especially during the third trimester.
In the case of pregnancy, insulin resistance is temporary.
Insulin Resistance Diabetes
Insulin resistance can greatly increase the risk of diabetes, but the two are not the same.
Anyone can have insulin resistance, and the condition may be chronic or only temporary. If your insulin sensitivity doesn’t improve, it can eventually lead to prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
- Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, but they aren’t high enough to be considered diabetes. People with prediabetes typically have insulin resistance.
- Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas can no longer make enough insulin, or your body doesn’t respond to the hormone properly.
Insulin resistance is, essentially, a symptom of diabetes.
But how can you know if you have issues with insulin sensitivity? Your doctor can perform special tests to find out.
Insulin Resistance Test
If you’re experiencing symptoms of insulin resistance, your doctor will likely order blood tests, which include glucose tolerance and fasting glucose. These tests will look at how well your body handles sugar.
Both tests require fasting. Your doctor will take a blood sample and make a diagnosis based on the results.
If you do have insulin resistance, lifestyle changes can help. Along with medication, your diet will play a crucial role in your treatment.
Insulin Resistance Food List
Following an insulin resistance diet plan may help improve your insulin sensitivity when combined with your doctor’s recommended treatment. The goal is to eat a healthy diet that helps keep blood sugar levels under control.
This generally means eating a diet that limits:
- Sugary foods and drinks, such as soda, fruit juice and cake.
- Processed foods and snacks.
- Starchy vegetables, like yams, corn and potatoes.
- Alcohol, especially beer.
- Fried foods, like French fries or fried chicken.
- Foods that are high in saturated fats, like butter and chocolate.
Ideally, you want to stick to foods that are low on the glycemic index, or GI. Foods that are high GI cause blood sugar spikes, whereas low GI foods are processed differently. These foods are processed more slowly, which prevents harmful blood sugar spikes.
So, which foods help support insulin sensitivity?
- Low- or non-starchy vegetables, like dark leafy greens, peppers and broccoli
- Citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges
- Fiber-rich foods, like lentils and beans
- Whole grains, like oats and quinoa
- High-protein foods, like lean meat, nuts, soy and legumes
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or herring
Replacing unhealthy foods with the foods on the list above may help improve your body’s insulin sensitivity.
Can Insulin Resistance Be Reversed?
You know that eating the right foods can help with insulin issues, but can you actually reverse insulin resistance? Yes!
Doctors may use the words “managed” or “controlled” instead of reversed, but the meaning is the same.
Lifestyle changes are one of the most effective ways to get your resistance under control. These changes include:
Insulin Resistance And Weight Loss
Following an insulin resistance diet plan can help you lose weight, and that weight loss can also help improve insulin sensitivity.
In fact, research has found that losing just 5-7% of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%. If losing weight can reduce the risk of diabetes, it can certainly help improve insulin sensitivity.
Losing weight when you’re already insulin resistant can be challenging. You must exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. Make sure that you’re working with your doctor to create a diet and exercise program that is healthy for you.
Diet Plan for Insulin Resistance – 7 Days
Following an insulin resistance diet plan can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day. Here’s an example 7-day plan to help you get started.
Always consult with a doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
- Breakfast: Scrambled or hard-boiled egg with whole-wheat toast.
- Lunch: Grilled chicken or black bean wrap with whole-grain tortilla, and side salad with a simple vinaigrette.
- Dinner: Roasted salmon with a side of vegetables
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt with 1 cup of blueberries
- Lunch: 1 cup of soup and half a sandwich on whole-wheat toast
- Dinner: Chicken breast or tofu with a serving of greens and sweet potato
- Breakfast: Protein pancakes topped with fresh berries
- Lunch: Lettuce wraps with beans or a lean meat of your choosing, topped with hoisin sauce
- Dinner: 1 cup of soup with a side salad
- Breakfast: Cottage cheese with fresh berries
- Lunch: Tuna salad
- Dinner: Chicken or black bean tacos with salsa and avocado
- Breakfast: Oatmeal topped with sliced apples and cinnamon
- Lunch: Grilled chicken and broccoli salad
- Dinner: Lentil pasta with tomato sauce (add a lean protein)
- Breakfast: Whole-grain toast topped with avocado and poached egg
- Lunch: Mixed greens with chicken or a meatless protein
- Dinner: Turkey or veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun
- Breakfast: Greek omelet with feta and tomato
- Lunch: Poached salmon with steamed mixed vegetables
- Dinner: Ground turkey or beans mixed with brown rice
Insulin Resistance Supplements
Following an insulin resistance diet plan and exercising regularly can help improve your insulin sensitivity. You can also use supplements to help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- Some research suggests that probiotics can reduce inflammation that destroys the pancreatic cells that make insulin.
- Studies show that cinnamon can help improve the body’s response to insulin and allow sugar into the cells.
- Vitamin D. Research shows that vitamin D can help improve pancreatic function.
Related: Best Vitamins for Weight Loss
Insulin Resistance Herbs
Just as foods can help get your blood sugar under control, herbs can also help with insulin sensitivity.
Herbs that may help with insulin resistance include:
- Ginseng, which may help improve your body’s response to and production of insulin.
- Berberine, a compound consisting of several herbs. Research has found that when combined with diet and lifestyle changes, berberine can help reduce fasting blood sugar levels.
- Gymnema, an herb known as the sugar destroyer. Research shows that this herb can help reduce sugar absorption in the gut.
Insulin Resistance Skin
One of the symptoms of insulin resistance is dark patches of skin on the:
- Back of the neck
These patches may be a sign of prediabetes. The best way to treat these skin issues is to get your blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity under control.
Printable Meal Planner
Do you want to give this diet a try for yourself? Download our Printable Meal Planner Template to quickly and easily plan out your meals.
Insulin resistance makes it harder to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Eating the right foods, exercising and following your doctor’s recommendations can help improve your insulin sensitivity.