Dr. Scott and Tommy discuss the various contributing factors to insulin resistance. The vicious cycle that insulin resistance creates can be perplexing to reverse, unless the whole picture is considered. The short-term and long-term resistance to insulin that build over time are affected by our daily lives, but fasting is perhaps the most powerful antidote available.
What causes insulin resistance?
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Fasting For Life Ep. 90
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:01] Hello. I'm Dr. Scott Watier
Tommy Welling: [00:00:03] And I'm Tommy Welling, and you're listening to the Fasting for Life podcast.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:08] This podcast is about using fasting as a tool to regain your health. Achieve ultimate wellness and live the life you truly deserve.
Tommy Welling: [00:00:15] Each episode is a short conversation on a single topic with immediate, actionable steps. We cover everything from fat loss and health and wellness to the science of lifestyle design.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:25] We started fasting for life because of how fasting has transformed our lives, and we hope to share the tools that we have learned
[00:00:30] Along the way.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:40] Hey, everyone, welcome to the Fasting for Life podcast. My name is Dr. Scott Watier and I'm here, as always, am the good friend and colleague Tomi Welling. Good afternoon to you, sir.
Tommy Welling: [00:00:47] Hey, Scott, how are you doing?
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:49] Fantastic, my friend. Excited for today's episode and today's conversation. We are going to be talking about one of our favorite friendly foes insulin resistance. And why it's important and why it's the focal point of the fasting for life model, why it's the focus focal point of the fasting lifestyle in the insulin friendly lifestyle and why it's so important and what you can do about it starting while you're listening to this episode. It is that simple, but it is something that is underreported on under talked about and is connected to so many of the health related concerns that we have in this country. So I think it's going to be a good conversation because it's going to shed some light on some things that you might not have thought about, especially if you're new to the podcast. If you have not been following Tommy and his journey, you can go back and listen to some of the earlier episodes. Be be gentle with us. We we didn't really know what we were doing, but we had this, this realization and this result that we've been able to get our life back through the fasting lifestyle. We decided to start to share that with you guys. So for you, loyal listeners, this is going to level up a little bit in terms of your understanding of why we really need to keep insulin at the center of it and how then we can continue to use fasting to combat that. So I think it's going to be fun today, Tommy, and we get to we get to reference an article written by Dr. Ben Dickman, who is probably one of the smartest people I've come across. So his the research he does is really impactful. And that's the world he live in, but lives in. So we're we're going to deliver you a message of something that you can walk away with in terms of a better understanding, but also some action that you can take to to undo the resistance, lose the weight and most importantly, continue to keep fasting in your day to day life.
Tommy Welling: [00:02:53] Yeah, insulin really is at the at the core. It is a key player for fat loss and for long term fat storage for all of the medical, metabolic, excuse me, metabolic processes within the body. And it's it's easily misunderstood because the story can can get kind of overwhelming or even, you know, so complex. So we're going to we're going to break it down and hopefully keep it simple and actionable enough that you can start to understand why it's so important and what you can do about it.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:03:24] And if you've been listening for a while, then we have a new resource on the website, the insulin assessment, and then that goes into waist circumference and waist height ratio and how that's such a much better metric than than BMI. And we're always looking to level up how we can take back control of our health health. Our health is our most valued asset health in time, really, right? Like once you have if you have good health, great if you're working on your health or you're worried about losing your health in the future, we all have friends and family that suffer with different health related issues. And you know, once you lose your health, you spend all your time, effort, money, energy trying to get it back. So what we want to do is uncover and talk about insulin resistance. And the main four variables that are related to insulin resistance are chronically elevated insulin. So it's kind of like the snake eating its tail scenario, right insulin itself, stress hormones or stress cortisol and such inflammation and then eating the wrong type of fat. And that's something that we have not talked a lot about. So it is something I've known for a long time, but I've never applied it in this light. So really appreciative of of the article in the research that's been coming out. So a couple of highlights to God tell me,
Tommy Welling: [00:04:47] Yeah, I was going to say that one, that one doesn't get a whole lot of of attention from what I've seen and also the inflammation part, because that's such a broad term, too, because just that word inflammation can be applied to so many things. But how it applies within the insulin resistance is is really important, and it's just another example of of the snake eating its tail as we're going to find out.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:05:09] Yeah, I love that analogy. Yeah. The insulin. So a couple of things and we've done episodes on a few of the research articles that are referenced here. And one of the things is that insulin resistance is surprisingly common, and a lot of people don't even know what it is. It's not commonly ordered on your routine yearly blood work or your life insurance application or, you know, a lot of the times it's fasting, blood sugar, it's cholesterol, it's complete metabolic panels, it's lipid profiles, all that kind of thyroid, right? But insulin fasting insulin is a really powerful test compared combined with vitamin D levels CRP, which is an inflammatory marker. But insulin in itself is so important because and it's it's more common than than known. It's estimated that even people without diabetes or or prediabetes or blood sugar related issues because insulin is the thing that tells your body to store the energy. It's the thing that gets the the glucose molecules or the food that you've eaten that's turned into energy out of your body. We're not talking just about carbohydrates or sugar, but when you have glucose floating around in your bloodstream, which is the blood sugar related conditions like prediabetes and diabetes. Insulin is the thing that tells your body to either store that energy as fat in your liver and your muscle or around your midsection, or to burn off that energy. And the insulin resistance piece is what's not really talked a lot about the downstream effect or the blood sugar is so eighty eight percent. And this is an episode we've done in the past of Americans suffer with insulin resistance to some degree.
Tommy Welling: [00:06:46] Yeah. And and the insulin resistance is what's happening before the weight comes on, before the blood sugar related issues that could be diagnosed or seen on bloodwork or talked about. It's way before diabetes even happens, but it's happening before that. Those conversations even begin so that that gets back to your previous point about preserving your health before you have to try to chase it down like, you know, in desperate times, right?
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:07:13] Right. From the from, yeah, reverse engineer, right? So we know that diet and lifestyle are critical drivers of insulin resistance in the underlying root causes like we mentioned or stress inflammation, the chronically elevated insulin itself. And again, the different types of fats and the fats we're going to be talking about today, specifically linoleic acid and processed seed oils, things like soybean oils and canola oils and those types of things refined processed oils, not the healthy fats like olive oil with high polyphenol counts, avocado oils, you know, healthy oils or healthy servings of fats. But more of those processed refined fats. And we'll get to that as it is, you know, one of the secondary causes and some of the primary causes, really the hyperinsulinemia itself or the abundance of insulin. So even just with a small micro change in blood sugars, right, which result in a micro change in blood insulin, those two things kind of track with one another when your blood sugar goes up your insulin. It was up to them to handle the blood sugar response, right? You can have a 20 percent increase in insulin resistance in very small windows in very short spikes. Your cells then can be very resistant in that moment. And then that pattern can then go repeat itself.
Tommy Welling: [00:08:39] Yeah. And so if you think about it this, you have a little bit of insulin resistance actually happening naturally after each time you ingest calories. After every meal, you get a little bit more insulin resistance. Of course, that's going to come down, you know, to balance out after the meal. But you know, if we're not being intentional about the time between our meals, which is where fasting can come in, then we may not have much of a chance to to reverse that temporary insulin resistance before we put we ingest that next snack or that next meal, just maybe a couple of hours later.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:09:11] Yeah, and it was it was interesting because in the article they mentioned, you know, this is the this is a great analogy, so I'm going to borrow it is, you know, when a process is excessively activated, the repeated glucose spikes or the repeated spike due to the sugary foods or, you know, the dietary choices that you're making the body will like dampen the response over time because it's that repetition where know the analogy that they use is how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics or how, you know, the one cup of coffee turns into two turns into four turns into four plus Red Bull. Like that? Caffeine addiction? Yeah, that can happen as well. So when when your muscles, your skeletal muscle or your liver, which are the two short term storage locations for glucose, are stored as glycogen? You know, when those cells are overrun, you can't stop the insulin from being produced. So you're getting a physiological change at the cell, but you're also getting a physiological change in the pancreas. And the only way to really stop the snake eating its tail analogy is to decrease the insulin, which is where fasting comes in.
Tommy Welling: [00:10:21] Yeah, that's the only way to get insulin at at appreciably low levels and to keep them there long enough to give your cells a chance to to rebalance because the cells your body is trying to protect itself from its from that response that it's getting. So when when you chronically elevate insulin levels, those receptors are trying to protect themselves by dampening the overall response to the insulin.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:10:47] And there's a study that was done in healthy insulin sensitive men, and they injected them with insulin and even at a physiological level that cellular level they become insulin resistant in just a few hours. Right? Yeah. So we and we have the power to undo that immediately just by increasing your fasting window, starting by skipping breakfast. If you're new to it, going from an 18 hour fast to a twenty four hour fast, adding a 24 or 48 hour fast into your your fasting routine, you know a couple of days a week if you're on if in a in a maintenance world or if you're trying to lose, lose weight more quickly than, you know, doing. Oh, mad, you know, putting in thirty thirty six, 48, forty an hour fast, you're going to be able your body's ability to decrease that insulin and get to the lowest level that it's been at for a long time. Yeah. And just like you can increase insulin resistance, you can also decrease it, which is increasing the sensitivity of the insulin and your body then will balance and stop producing as much over time.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:11:45] Yeah, we forgot to mention in the beginning, Tommy. Well, we I forgot to mention I wanted to make sure of making the distinction of why insulin is so important. And it's because it is not at the forefront, right? It's not the tip of the tongue of most providers, not the tip of the tongue. If you're in the fasting world, you know about it, but. The relationship at varying degrees is associated with pretty much all chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, infertility, Alzheimer disease, which is now being referred to as type three diabetes in certain research articles and pretty much one in three Americans, are known to have some form of resistance. So it's not just that we're talking about insulin in reference to, oh, trying to lose weight, it's that the repetition of this process of the increased insulin itself, which is part of the problem over the years to decades, is which then leads to the statistical reporting that we see in the country with suffering with all of these different conditions like I just mentioned.
Tommy Welling: [00:12:53] Yeah. And you know, you reminded me of something else, too, which is that it's it's commonplace to associate the word insulin with the word sugar. But I want to be clear here, too, that this is not just a sugar problem. Insulin resistance is not necessarily just mean I'm having too much sugar, right? Like, our body has to push out insulin every time we we ingest calories. Whenever we sit down, we have a meal. But the thing about it is that if if we don't control the timing between those meals, then those insulin levels have to get elevated and remain that way for a prolonged period of time. And that in and of itself compounds over time to create insulin resistance. And that's where fasting becomes so powerful.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:13:36] Yeah, I mean, you can you can stimulate a pretty big insulin bolus and insulin load by eating a nice fatty ribeye steak. Sure. Yeah, that you can. You can stimulate insulin through not just carbohydrates as well.
Tommy Welling: [00:13:49] And I think that's like very widely misunderstood or not known.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:13:56] And that's why we, you know, when you start fasting and we don't subscribe to one specific dietary type. Sure, there's benefits to low carb for certain situations. There's benefits to high carb. If you are a weightlifter or a bodybuilder doing higher carbohydrates, you're very active. You're building lean muscle. There's paleo. There's carnivore. There's all everything in between, right? So really, what works for you and what makes you feel good and what is sustainable is the most important part. So we don't want to just bash. We're not. It's not just the get the glucose and fructose out of your diet, right? But those are especially fructose, one of the things that can stimulate insulin. The quick is something like maltodextrin, you know, you know, the the glucose index or the insulin index response to foods, but it leads into the second thing here, Tommy, your primary cause would be inflammation. And when we think about inflammation, typically anything that ends in itis is inflammation. So gingivitis, tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis. Inflammatory response, but inflammation is actually a natural process of the body where, you know, for instance, in terms of an immune cell triggers a response, an inflammatory response as a protective mechanism and that can actually interfere with insulin signaling.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:15:18] So the same issue that happens when you have high levels of insulin and it can interfere with the effectiveness, inflammation or chronic low level inflammation, even from things like mono and periodontitis and inflammation of the gums can develop acute insulin resistance. So one of the markers that we look at that I look at in my own personal health journey is doing a fasting insulin test, but also looking at CRP, which is C-reactive protein, which is also in the cycle of leptin and the leptin insulin balance where leptin is the hormone that tells your body that you're full. That can also develop insulin resistance over time, and that the C-reactive protein is actually the thing that blocks leptin from being as effective. So one of the things with we see with fasting is that a lot of people will report to us that, you know, autoimmune issues like Crohn's or lupus or RA. People will do better with a lower carb, you know, in intermittent fasting type, lifestyle, and that inflammation will come down, which will allow the insulin resistance to balance back out.
Tommy Welling: [00:16:29] Yeah, it's it's it's widespread throughout the body the the effects of inflammation that can be felt like in every cell in the body, potentially. And when you're when you're going through one of those conditions, it just makes it. That's that much worse. And as as those numbers start to come down, as the inflammation starts to be better controlled just because of the insulin response and the insulin sensitivity, then then that can be immediately felt as well. And it doesn't have to take very long, like adopting a fasting lifestyle and starting to get the insulin sensitivity rebalance.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:17:06] I know for me personally, when I started fasting in the way it started dropping off as a kid, I suffered with severe asthma and multiple medications and inhalers and all that kind of stuff. And I noticed like almost instantly that a lot of that stuff started to go away. My wheezing would stop. I didn't have that same, that same inflammatory response. So it's really cool how powerful fasting can be. But that is the second main primary driver that can contribute to insulin resistance. And then the third. Is going to be stress, so, you know, in today's world, full of notifications and news and emails and having people having access to us 24 seven, there's the potential for us to be more stressed out than ever before. And it's one of the biggest things that we see in our groups, right, Tommy. When we do that emotional connection to food, the stress, eating, the bingeing. We want to build that healthy relationship with relationship with food over time. So putting the foods that cause you to spiral into your fasting window, making sure that you are not restricting and omitting your way to air quotes health. But the stress response in itself, specifically cortisol, when it raises cortisol and epinephrine, are typically the two stress hormones in question. Cortisol in the short term actually helps your body burn fat, but chronically elevated cortisol is going to really put a strain on the effectiveness of insulin as well. So you're going to be proliferating the insulin resistance or the ineffectiveness of insulin by not being able to get yourself out of that chronically stressed state, which has become more difficult than ever.
Tommy Welling: [00:18:59] Yeah, almost nearly impossible if you think about it, because our bodies were designed for for acute stressful situations, right, like like running from a tiger, let's say like in a natural habitat. But you know, once we had that stress response and the tiger was gone, you know, either we lived through it or we didn't. But either way, there was no need for that continued stress response. But in our modern world, those stress signals are chronic. We're getting them all throughout the day and throughout the night. We have to have to fight to get good sleep, to put our phones on daddy and things like that so we can actually make it through the night. And so we get we get no energetic release of the stress response. So it remains high and all the while kicking up our insulin resistance in a way that we're not we're not backing off of.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:19:44] Yeah, in that cortisol is good. If you're, you know, you're let's say you're driving down the street and you see somebody run a red light. Yeah, and you're paying attention. You slam on your brakes, you're going to get that oh like that, that that you're going to get that immediate spike. Or maybe let's let's use hunter gatherer times and you're down by the watering hole and the tiger jumps out. Your body is going to dump energy into the bloodstream, and it's going to put you into fight or flight, and it's going to give you the energy to get the heck out of there, right? Right. But nowadays, being that in that chronic elevated state, what can happen is, you know, you're going to have insulin having needing more or having to do more chronically throughout the day. And this is one of the things that was one of my trifecta is in the beginning, too, which is my sleep was affected because I was in that chronic elevated stress hormone stress response state and removing those stresses. For me, it was actually making a huge change in my career. Yeah, that was the big thing that really made made the turnaround possible. Combining that with starting to use longer fasting windows, you know, 24 hours, 30 hours and kind of cycling through those. Yeah. So the encouragement here is really to identify the stressors that you have and put a plan together to start kind of picking them off and insulating yourself. And I know this is sounds easier than it is because sure, you know, right? It it stresses a part of life, right? It's the up and down. It's the ebb and flow. But making sure that we're at least identifying that this can be a part of the primary driver of insulin resistance, which is, you know, something that is not talked about as much as I feel like it should be.
Tommy Welling: [00:21:23] Yeah, the thing about it is like, you don't always have full control over your outside stressors, right? Like, I can't I can't control what my what my boss is going to say to me tomorrow, right? Or what kind of interaction I'm going to have with my spouse in the morning before I go off to work or whatever.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:21:37] Yeah. Don't you dare?
Tommy Welling: [00:21:38] Yeah, right. But you can't love you, Meghan. You can't control those kind of things. So, you know, outside stressors are always going to be there. But if you take control over the part of the insulin resistance, the part of the equation that you can control, then those outside stressors become that much easier to deal with. Your body has a better physiological response, a more healthy response, and you can continue on your journey, whether that's for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance or health optimization. Whatever it is, you can do that in a way where you have a much, much higher level of control. So just by taking control of your your fasting and your eating windows, setting a time or setting some clear boundaries between when you're eating and when you're not eating, that's going to be your first big lever point that you can pull on insulin resistance. So you know, if you're if you're new to this or you're just getting started, go download the fast start guide for sure. And you know, if you're a little farther along in your journey. Then that's good. Just get back to basics. Put those clear boundaries between your your eating and your fasting windows and download the insulin assessment to and and see where you stand and kind of use that as a long term tracker as well.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:22:54] Yeah, the insulin assessment has been a game changer for so many people. We've gotten so much great feedback on it. Yeah, it's actually motivating us to actually make some more resources like, all right, what else can what else can we create, right? Yeah, right. The last one here that I want to touch on is which is a secondary cause. And. Is the the wrong type of fat, so we've got insulin in itself, we've got inflammation, we have the stress hormones they can all affect directly affect insulin resistance and, you know, dietary fat, the the the anti fat movement, right? I think it was back in the 70s or 80s that started isn't listed. And there's some some evidence that the article cites that dietary fat can actually help with insulin resistance as long as carbs are low in certain situations. But I really want to highlight is the type of fats and. The increased processing of the foods that we have now. So comparing things like chicken and beef and eggs and things that grow in the ground compared to processed seed oils like soybean oil, for instance, right? And canola oil, which comes from from the rapeseed or rapeseed oil. Right. These are the most common fat sources now in the American diet. You'll find these things even in even in like breads and in packaged foods sitting sitting on the shelves and. One of the problems of it is is specifically the linoleic acid. And the linoleic acid, the more we eat of that, the more of these oils we have, the more we store fat in our cells. Yeah, and what will happen is why it's a secondary problem, right? What will happen is that fat cells will actually get bigger and bigger and through a process called hypertrophy. And once you have more fat cells, then it's actually harder to have them repair almost is what I'm trying to get at. So the damaging effect of the linoleic acid or the seed oils is not that is a direct stimulation to insulin, but the more fat cells you have, then the more insulin resistance in turn you will end up with.
Tommy Welling: [00:25:13] Yeah, it's it's crazy because if we zoom out for a second, basically those those oils are so high in omega six inflammatory fatty acids that they do damage to the fat cells they actually make the fat cells start getting leaky, which they're not supposed to do, and it disrupts the signaling and the whole process and the whole in all of our physiology. And you know, those those oils are coming from sources that took a lot of machinery, a lot of engineering to actually get out. So our body is not processing them the right way like it would a natural source of fat. So instead of it going through the machine, getting burnt as energy in a way that it should be, it's like being stored in a weird way. And then it starts to do just crazy stuff within the fat cells and starts leaking out and just causing damage. And I think that that's important to understand. I didn't. I never understood that going through my own weight loss journey.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:26:09] Right, right. And I think it's just becoming more evident as our food supply becomes more automated, too. Yeah. So, you know, if it's just one of those things that it's like, it's kind of like, it's the world we live in today, right? And where we used to do our shopping tours when I was in clinical practice, we would literally take people to the grocery store and very rarely we would go through the middle aisles. Sure, we would stay. We'd go to the deli, we'd go to the produce, we'd stay around the outside and then just kind of dip into the aisles to get the good, you know, olive oils and the avocado oils and the coconut oil and those things that we use in our house and cook with. Yeah. And a lot of the processed quick foods like the restaurant food and the fast foods and things, you're going to have a lot more of those refined processed seed oils. So simply, the fix for this is just be aware of what's on the food labels and then just circling back to kind of wrap up today's conversation, Tommy, you've already mentioned the action step a couple of times here, but. Because the three primary drivers or the three primary variables that stimulate insulin resistance are insulin itself, the stress hormones and inflammation. Just start with the fasting window and then what we like to call Habit Stack pick one thing that you can do to help decrease inflammation. Maybe that's get up and move more.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:27:30] Rather than sitting behind the desk all day, go for a 30 minute walk after after your meal and then for stress. Maybe it's out in a five minute drive. At lunch and listen to some music or it's a five minute meditation, or it's it's shutting off the phone before bed or shutting the TV off, and don't watch the 11 o'clock news before you try to go to sleep at night. I have no idea how you can do that because then your mind starts racing and you get the dope in the middle of the night. You wake up in the middle of the night, don't grab your phone and get the dopamine. Hit your phone out of reach, roll back over, try to go back to sleep. So there's a lot of different actionable things here. But the cool thing is is that through fasting, you're going to be able to help remove the insulin resistance, which is going to decrease the risk of becoming one of the statistics that are related to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, infertility, etc. And it's amazing that insulin resistance has doubled in the past 30 years, and it may double again in the next 20. So you're looking for a place to start? Go to the website. Download the Fast Start guide. Go back. Listen to the old episodes if you're new. We are thankful for each and every one of you. Tommy, as always, thank you, sir. And we will talk soon. Thank you. Bye.
Tommy Welling: [00:28:47] So you've heard today's episode, and you may be wondering, where do I start? Head on over to fasting for links and sign up for our newsletter, where you'll receive fasting tips and strategies to maximize results and fit fasting into your day to day life
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:29:01] While you're there. Download your free fast start guide to get started today. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Make sure to leave us a five star review, and we'll be back next week with another episode of Fasting for Life.
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