Insulin, The Hormone That Makes You Fat

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KCP014: Insulin The Hormone That Makes You Fat

Terms In This Episode (1:16)

Insulin – Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that performs many vital bodily functions. It is the “key” so to speak that unlocks the door to our cells so that they can take in glucose that is circulating in our blood stream reducing blood sugar levels. It is the hormone that signals the muscle cells in our bodies to take up and use amino acids to promote the growth of muscle tissue, and it it the primary hormone that promotes the storage of fat.

Chronic – Every disease process known to man is classified as one of two types, acute or chronic. Now, an acute disease, or illness is one that comes on suddenly, is generally unexpected, and most often is resolved quickly. A chronic disease on the other hand is one that occurs slowly over time, it may or may not be expected, and it may have one or several contributing factors. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are both considered to be chronic conditions. That is to say, you do not just wake up one day and become a type 2 diabetic or suddenly become obese. These conditions start out slowly and progress or worsen over time.

Visceral Fat – Visceral fat is the fat that located in your abdominal cavity. The more common word or term is “belly fat”. It is the fat that surrounds the organs of your body. Organs such as the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Visceral fat not only increases your risk for insulin resistance, but if you are already insulin resistant, visceral fat makes it worse. It is part of this vicious type 2 diabetic cycle. You start out with poor dietary choices related to a high carbohydrate diet. The high carbohydrate diet leads to chronic high levels of insulin, which promotes the storage of visceral fat. Increased visceral fat storage then makes you more insulin resistant so your body makes even more insulin causing you to become even fatter.

Main Topic (0:00):

Type 1 diabetics either produce no insulin at all, or they produce so little insulin that AMD have such high levels of blood glucose that eventually without the administration of insulin they will fall into a diabetic coma and die.
Often prescribed or limited to diets of 400 calories or less per day to keep them from falling into a diabetic coma and dying due to extremely high levels of circulating blood glucose.
Before the discovery or invention of insulin in 1921, the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was a death sentence.
After the discovery of insulin these children to begin to store some subcutaneous fat as long as they had access to exogenous or subcutaneous .

Insulin Control Studies

Obesity is affected by hormones, specifically the hormone insulin, than it is by the number of calories you eat, or the amount of exercise you do. It is not as simple as an energy balance or ‘calories in, calories out’ problem. Since the 1970’s we have been told that in order to control our weight we need to eat less and exercise more. In order to get to the truth of the matter, we need to look at the science. So today we will be examining multiple long-term controlled, scientific studies in which tightly controlled amounts of subcutaneous insulin was administered to test subjects to better help them control their blood sugars. While these higher, more controlled doses of insulin did help the subjects control their blood sugars, it caused them to gain a substantial amount of weight.

The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial – Was a six year study to determine the effectiveness of maintaining tightly controlled blood sugar levels in type 1 diabetics. The goal of these trials was to determine whether higher levels of insulin administration would reduce the complications associated with type 1 diabetes.
Patients with better blood sugar control (lower levels) had less complications.
The subjects who received higher doses of subcutaneous insulin gained on average 9.8 pounds more than those participants that received the standard doses of subcutaneous insulin. A 30% increase in weight.

According to this study, all participants in both groups prior to the experiment were more or less equal in weight. The only difference was the amount of insulin that each group was given. So while the higher doses of insulin did give the test subjects better glucose control, it also made them fatter.

The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study Group’ (UKPDS) – This particular study lasted for 10 years, and had just over 6,100 participants whose ages ranged between 25 to 63 years. The purpose of this study was to determine if strict blood glucose control either through subcutaneous insulin, or the oral administration of sulfonylureas reduced complications in type 2 diabetes.

Group 1 (Standard Doses of Insulin) – Gained on average 6.8 pounds (3.1 kilograms).
Group 2 (High Doses of Insulin) – Gained on average 9 pounds (4 kilograms).

The 18-Month England-Ireland Study – Examined if the type of or amount of insulin administered produced better blood sugar control. What they found is that patients with higher levels of insulin did have better blood glucose control, but they gained significant weight.

Rapid acting (Humalog and Novolog)
Short-acting (Insulin-R or Regular)
Intermediate acting (NPH or Humulin N, Novolin N)
Long acting (Lantus and Levemir)
Combinations Novolog 70/30, Humulin 50/50, and Humalog 75/25

To answer these questions you only have to look at the 18 month study performed in England and Ireland in which 708 type 2 diabetic subjects were divided into three groups.

Group 1 (235 subjects) – Received the twice daily combination insulin aspart 30 (NovoMix 30).
Received the lowest amount of insulin, and gained the least amount of weight.
On average these subjects gained 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilograms).
Group 2 (239 subjects) – Received the rapid acting insulin aspart (Novo-Rapid) three times a day.
Received moderate amounts of insulin. More than group one, but less than group three.
On average gained 10.3 pounds (4.7 kilograms).
Group 3 (235 subjects) – Received the long lasting insulin detemir (Levemir).
Received the highest amount of subcutaneous insulin, and gained the most weight.
On average these subjects gained 12.5 pounds (5.7 kilograms).

This study shows us is that the type of insulin you take, rapid acting, short acting or long acting does not matter. They all cause you to gain weight. What does matter is the dosage of subcutaneous insulin that your take. The higher the dose, the fatter you get. In his book ‘The Obesity Code’ doctor Jason Fung writes “…I can make anybody fat. How? By prescribing insulin. It won’t matter that you have willpower, or that you exercise. It won’t matter what you choose to eat. You will get fat. It’s simply enough insulin and enough time.” Dr, Fung goes on to say “Patients who use insulin regularly and physicians who prescribe it already know the awful truth: the more insulin you give, the more obese you get.”

Veterans Affairs Medial Center in San Diego California.

This six month study was actually performed on type 2 diabetic patients that had not previously been on insulin therapy. Doses were increased over the course of six months they received increasing doses of subcutaneous insulin until they were receiving on average 100 units per day. In addition, these same patients had there overall calories reduced from 2,000 calories per day at the beginning of the study, to 1,700 calories by the end of the study.

The subjects blood sugar levels were great, intensive management of blood sugar levels through the use of insulin therapy was a total success.
The subjects in this study gained on average 19 pounds (8.7 kilograms) over six months.
Even though their daily food intake was reduced by 300 calories, or 15%, and they still gained weight.
Increasingly high doses of insulin that caused them to get fat. The more insulin they were given, the fatter they got.

All of these studies prove that for type 2 diabetics, the driving force behind weight gain can often be attributed to increased insulin. It doesn’t matter whether your body is creating extra insulin because you are eating a diet high in carbohydrates, or giving yourself subcutaneous insulin or taking oral sulfonlyureas that increase your natural insulin production. Just as Dr. Fung stated earlier, he can make anybody fat by giving them insulin.

How Insulin Makes Your Fat

Insulin performs a variety of different roles, it is the hormone that regulates carbohydrate, protein, and fat, metabolism. When the food you eat travels through your digestive system it is processed into three basic nutrients. Proteins are broken down into amino acids; dietary fats into fatty acids; and carbohydrates into glucose. A subset of both amino acids and fatty acids are known as essential amino and essential fatty acids. Without these essential amino and fatty acids we would die.

Essential Amino Acids – Are important for building muscle, skin or soft tissue and other bodily organs. They also play a limited role in the way neurotransmitters and synaptic pathways are created and function. Dietary fats are processed into fatty acids.
Essential Fatty Acids – Serve numerous functions, hey influence cell membrane fluidity and are involved in the regulation of neuron activity. In other words, they also help the neurons in your brain and central nervous to fire correctly.
They are transformed into eco-san-oids and li-poxins that help to reduce chronic inflammation in your arteries which reduces plaque buildup and decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Cultures that consume a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly lower rate of senile dementia than cultures that ate a diet similar to the standard Western Diet.
It is believed that essential fatty acids help to protect not only the heart, but the brain as we grow older reducing the likelihood that you will get senile dementia.
Carbohydrates – Are broken down into to glucose which like amino acids and fatty acids are necessary for life. The one big difference between carbohydrates, protein and fat is that there are no essential carbohydrates.
Your liver can produce glucose to fuel the most important sugar burning organ in your body and that is the brain.
The brain however can adapt to burn a combination of both glucose and ketones. When you are on a ketogenic diet, your liver converts essential fatty acids into ketones which supply the brain with about 70 – 75% of the energy it needs.
The hormone glucagon converts stored glycogen in the liver into glucose to supply your brain with the 25 – 30% of glucose that it needs.
When carbohydrates are scarce or are removed from the diet, endogenous glucose is produced by the liver from stored glycogen. This process is called gluco-neo-genesis (which actually means the creation of glucose).

Every time you eat something, you body begins to break down the components into either, amino acids, fatty acids or glucose. Unlike protein or fat, carbohydrates have one purpose and that is to be broken into glucose to fuel your body. As these carbohydrates begin to be converted into glucose, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood. The primary job of insulin is tell your muscle and fat cells to allow glucose to enter into the cell to supply your body with the energy you need to function each day.

What happens when you eat more carbohydrates than you body needs to fuel it? What happens when the cells in your muscles, heart, liver, brain and other organs can no longer absorb anymore glucose? This extra glucose has to go somewhere. If it stays in your blood stream and your blood sugar rises to extreme levels, the results would be catastrophic. So, when the cells in your muscles and other vital organs cannot absorb any more glucose, and your liver cannot store any more as glycogen, insulin changes tactics and reroutes this extra glucose to your fat cells to be stored for later use.
The more processed and refined carbohydrates you eat, the more weight you gain.
As you gain more weight, you produce more insulin which will eventually lead to insulin-resistance.
Insulin resistance stimulates your beta cells to produce even more insulin which causes you to create and store more body fat. A vicious cycle that can only lead to increased obesity.

Am I saying that you should eat no carbohydrates? No, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that if you are a type 2 diabetic, or suffer form metabolic syndrome you need to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume each day in order to better regulate your blood sugars so that you do not need to add or increase the amount of subcutaneous insulin you take each day. In other words, lower blood sugars leads to less insulin production, which leads to less blood glucose that needs to be stored as fat.

Some key points to take away from this episode:
1) Insulin is the hormone that makes you fat. Multiple scientific studies have proven that increased doses of subcutaneous insulin will cause you to gain weight, which can lead to even more insulin resistance.
2) Increased insulin resistance means that your body becomes resistance to the insulin your body produces therefore your pancreas has to make even more insulin in order to try and reduce your blood sugars. When your pancreas produces higher and higher levels of insulin, you gain more weight.
3) One of the primary ways physicians control blood sugars in patients with type 2 diabetes is to prescribe increasing doses of insulin.
4) Even people that are not diabetic, that have high levels of insulin in their blood stream due to the standard Western Diet that is high in carbohydrates get fatter.
5) Low carbohydrate diets which promotes the restriction of dietary carbohydrates reduces the amount of circulating glucose in your blood stream, which reduces the amount of insulin you need. The less insulin you need, the less weight you gain.
6) The ketogenic diet helps you to get into a state of metabolic ketosis in which your body becomes fueled by ketones rather than sugar. This fat burning state of ketosis burns your own stored body fat which helps you to lose weight.

You’ve Got Mail (28:30):

Today we have an e-mail from Christina who has been listening to the podcast and is ready to start on her ketogenic journey, Christina Writes: On to my question. I have 2 of the qualifiers for metabolic syndrome, Im very overweight (5’5 and 240 lbs) and Im on lipitor to control my cholesterol. Thankfully Im not diabetic, yet. I have always struggled with my weight and I gain quickly. Once I start with 20 g of carbs should I wait about 4 weeks to see if I can add on carbs and still feel the effects of ketosis? Thank you and I truly enjoy your show, Christina.

Thank you for your kind words Christina. The fact that you are not a type 2 diabetic should be to your advantage when attempting to get into metabolic ketosis. Many people who are not diabetic like yourself often find that they can eat higher amounts of carbohydrates and still maintain a state of metabolic ketosis. While four weeks may be long enough to get you into ketosis, some people need about 6 to 8 weeks to get into metabolic ketosis and become fully fat adapted. If however by week 4 you are in ketosis and you want to add more carbohydrates to your diet, then I would use the Dr. Atkins method and add 5 grams of net carbs each week and test for ketones until you no longer make any ketones, Then you can drop back down to the week in which you were still making ketones and you will know what amount of net carbohydrates knocks you out of ketosis.
Your plan of action might look something like this:
Weeks 1 – 4, 20 grams or less of net carbs.
Week 5, 25 grams of net carbs.
Week 6, 30 grams of net carbs.
Week 7, 35 grams of net carbs.

There are two things you have to keep in mind Christina when you are measuring ketones. If you are using urine test strips, initially your body will spill lots of ketones in your urine. After you become more efficient at making and using ketones, you will still make ketones, but you will lose less in your urine because your body has become more efficient producing and using them. So you may still be in a metabolic state of ketosis, but it is possible that your urine test strips may read negative for ketones. Urine test strip are inexpensive at about $9.00 for 50, and they work when you are first start on your ketogenic journey, but become more unreliable the longer you are in ketosis. A blood ketone monitor is the most accurate way to test for ketone production, but they are expensive, the ‘Keto MoJo’ brand I have costs about $60, and the test strips are about $1.00 each. So if you want to know for sure whether you are in ketosis while making these dietary changes my suggestion would be to use a blood ketone monitor. Having said that, when I started on my ketogenic journey I did not use either one. I simply ate less then 20 grams of net carbs per day, but I am of course a type 2 diabetic.

During your first 4 weeks, I would recommend keeping a food log just to track what you eat. It is pretty amazing to see just how many carbs we eat without thinking about it. Many of us eat out of habit, not because we are hungry. I found that keeping a food log, made me stop and ask myself before I ate anything “Am I really hungry, or am I just eating because I am bored”. You would be surprised how many times that I was going to eat because of boredom and not hunger. If you are hungry then eat, if not, then do not eat. You can track your calories if you wish, but do not worry about the umber of calories you are eating. If you get enough healthy fats in your diet, then I promise you, you will never be hungry. Keep us updated on your progress Christina. Good Luck, and stay ‘Keto Strong’.

Recipe Of The Episode (0:00):

One of the easiest ways to increase inflammation reducing omega-3’s in your diet is to eat fish once pr twice a week. And that is one of the new keto goals that my wife and I have set for us this year. Of all of the fish out there the one that has some of the highest levels of heart protecting omega-3’s is salmon. It is however, these high levels of omega-3’s that salmon has a somewhat more fishy flavor. The perception by many is that Salmon is too expensive so they do not think of it as an option. Because we live in rural area of East Texas, our only option is to purchase ‘Atlantic’ farm raised Salmon at our local Walmart.

A $14.72 portion of Atlantic Salmon makes about 5 portions or entree’s for us, that comes out to less that $3.00 per person. In fact, Salmon is not really that much more expensive that a good steak, you just have to shop wisely. Anyway, this weeks recipe is “Grilled Salmon” that has been marinated in a combination of soy sauce and spices that gives the Salmon a sweet and savory flavor that everyone in your family will enjoy. To make this recipe you will need the following:

1 ½ pounds of fresh salmon
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
4 drops of liquid sucralose

Cut the Salmon into individual portions to suit your needs. Cutting the salmon into smaller portion before marinating allows to marinade to infuse more evenly into all of the flesh fish. This also makes it easier to control your portion sizes.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, olive oil and liquid sucralose or other keto sweetener. Place the salmon in a large plastic bag zip lock type bag and then add the soy sauce mixture. Press the bag to get all of the air out and then seal it. Then refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

While I grill my salmon, this recipe is really nothing more than a baked salmon. Simply because I place the filets on a baking sheet lined with foil with a light coat of olive oil skin down. I then place the baking sheet on the top shelf of my preheated grill (about 400 degrees) and bake it for 12 – 16 minutes without turning. When done, the skin easily peels off, or you can leave the skin on. We prefer to eat the salmon without the skin but to each his own right? So as you can see you could easily follow the same process in baked the salmon in your oven if you do not have a grill.

Obviously, cooking the salmon on a baking sheet is easier, but you can cook the salmon directly on the grate of you grill. In order to do so, preheat grill for medium heat and before you place the fish on the drill lightly oil grill grate with olive oil. You need to be careful because oil an grease are flammable so do not overdo it. Once you have prepared your grate then place salmon on the grill, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. That’s all there is to it.

In our last episode I shared with you my version of a homemade keto Ranch salad dressing. Because Ranch dressing is the most popular dressing here in the States, I wanted to share with yo one more version of this dressing. This recipe comes from page 55 of the ‘The Ketogenic Cookbook’ written by Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich. This was the first and only two ketogenic cookbooks that my wife and I purchased when starting our ketogenic journey. This recipe is not more complicated, but it does require a few more ingredients that you may not have when you first start on your ketogenic journey. Items such as bone broth, but once you have some bone broth in your freezer then this recipe is a breeze. If you need a good bone broth recipe, you can check out the link in the show notes by visiting my website To make Jimmy and Maria’s Ranch dressing you will need the following:

8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup chicken or beef broth
½ teaspoon dried chives
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea slat
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a blender or large bowel, mix together all of the ingredients, then transfer to a mason jar, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving as it will thicken up as it rests. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. According to their book, the nutritional information for one tablespoon of dressing is as follows:

69 Calories, 6.6 grams of fat, 1.7 grams of protein, and 0.7 grams of net carbohydrates

The End (31:45)

If you enjoyed this episode of the Keto Confidential podcast and have found this content useful, then please subscribe, and take a few seconds to rate this episode, and write a quick review about it so that others may benefit from this information. More importantly, If you know someone that is struggling with obesity, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes, then please share this podcast with them so that together we can help them reverse their diabetes, and reduce the complications of meatbolic syndrome and obesity. Once again, I would like to thank you for listening. So until next time, be safe, and stay keto strong my friends.


Bernstein, Richard M.D. (0000) Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: A Complete Guide To Achieving Normal Blood Sugars.

Fung, Jason M.D. (2017) The Obesity Code.

Gumbiner, Henry et. al, Intensive conventional insulin therapy for type II diabetes, Diabetes Care. January 1993.

Kapala, George, Essential Fatty Acids: Substances Involved in Neurotransmission, Science Direct Accessed January 4, 2019.

NIH Study Shows How Insulin Stimulates Fat Cells To Take In Glucose, National Institutes Of Health, September 7, 2010.

Phinney, Stephen M.D., Volek, Jeff, Ph.D. (2011). The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Living. Beyond Obesity LLC.

Phinney, Stephen M.D., Volek, Jeff, Ph.D. (2011). The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Performance. Beyond Obesity LLC.

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