Weight Loss and Insulin Resistance

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 31, 2013 at 12:36 PM

I've been eating Paleo for about a year (but haven't adopted an exercise routine). I am still overweight and haven't been able to lose weight over the past year. I've been eating a regular diet but haven't counted carbs, even though I would guess that I didn't go over the 100 carb per day. I tried removing fruit from the menu for two weeks, but the weight loss was insignificant and quickly gained back when I went to eating one fruit a day.

My doctor checked my glucose and since it was high did a two hour glucose test. The first reading was a bit above the normal range (but not at a diabetic level) and the second reading (after having that yucky sweet syrup) was a lot below the bottom level... so that both results were out of the normal range. Only after completing the test did I read here that glucose intolerance is common when you are eating a low-carb diet.

My question is if my difficulty in losing weight is from the fact that I am insulin resistant or I need to start counting the number of carbs and reduce it below the 100 line and ignore the insulin resistant diagnosis?

Thanks in advance for your help.


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5 Answers



on August 01, 2013
at 06:19 PM

You may think you are eating low carb, but it doesn't sound like you really are. If you track for a few days you can find out for sure.

If you don't want to track, you might consider buying a blood glucose meter and checking your own blood sugars. Ideally you want to keep your blood glucose down (some say below 140, some say below 120) after a meal or snack. By testing, you can see what brings your blood sugar up and choose for yourself what to eat by the meter. If your blood sugar spikes up, insulin must rise to meet it, and if you are insulin resistant, a LOT of insulin is secreted, which then drops your blood sugar very low (explaining the very low reading on your test--they should have checked INSULIN levels, too!).

There's a good explanation of how to test here: http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/14045524.php

You won't have to do this forever, but only until you understand how your body responds to the food you eat. Then you can make good choices without feeling like you have to count carbs.


on July 31, 2013
at 01:55 PM

Doing high intensity interval training will both boost your metabolism AND help your insulin resistance. Do not count carbs, but avoid processed carbs and grains and you will be at a healthy level. You do not need to be LC to lose weight or to be paleo. Eat healthy meats, fats and vegetables. The reason you lose a couple pounds when going LC and avoiding fruit is due to glycogen depletion(which is stored in the body with a certain amount of water). Then when you eat fruit (carbs) the glycogen(and water) is restored.


on August 01, 2013
at 06:01 PM

I am also not able to loose weight on a LC/paleo/Adkins/cavewoman/whatever-we-call-it lifestyle. I started a year and two months ago. However, I am not only no longer diabetic, hypertensive, etc.., but rather, now I am now in perfect health, and so I am ignoring the scale. All I can recommend is that you forget the weight issue and focus on your A1c, trigs, blood pressure, and how you feel...

For over the last year, I have mostly avoided grain and any kind of sugar. I do not think of these kind of things as food. If your carbs are all leafy veges, with a handful of starchy veges and berries thrown in, then you can eat however many you want without counting carbs, and get amazing health benefits. I would encourage you to find out what your A1c, blood pressure and trigs are. If you A1c is above 5.5 or so, then cut out the grains and sugars...

I ate a diet of primarily whole grain quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, brown rice, tempeh and tofu, veges and fruit for the 15 years before I started paleo (with very little sugar or flour--I have been growing and using stevia as a sugar substitute for 15 years), and I became diabetic and hypertensive. These kinds of foods are not very healthy for some of us.

For incredible information and support, check out Jimmy Moore's Ask the Experts blog.



on August 01, 2013
at 09:44 PM

If only it were as simple as energy in/energy out and macro ratios. The OGTT is a nasty thing, but kind of a necessary evil sometimes, my condolences for having to take it. It did give you several important pieces of information even if you didn't carb up in the weeks before it though. You likely have reactive hypoglycemia, and blood sugar control might not be as tight as it should be.

There can be dozens of factors at play: sleep quality, amount of activity and intensity, genetics, thyroid function, adrenal function, circadian rhythms, mold exposure, flame retardant exposure, pesticide exposure, epigenetics, air quality, sun exposure, mineral status, water quality and chemicals used in treating it, infections, stress, ability to absorb nutrients, integrity of lining of your intestines, histamine response, age, diseases like PCOS, and probably the most significant the mix of gut bacteria.

Diet, check. Most people should be able to tolerate 100g of carbohydrate. Keep it where it is for now, and start isolating other variables.

If you are currently sedentary, get your ass moving. Even if it is just jumping up and down screaming about how frustrating and complicated this can all be for a few minutes a day. If you haven't been active for a while, starting with more gentle things like stretching, walking, yoga, some weight lifting or pushups, and pilates will help you rebuild strength, control blood sugar swings, get in touch with your body, and improve mood and stress levels.

More tests are in order: at the very least a full thyroid panel, but probably a sex hormone panel to rule out PCOS and a liver function test or ultrasound to see if you have NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) would be good too. If you snore, definitely get a sleep study done. Diabetes and insulin resistance has at least as strong of a link to sleep apnea as they do to diet.

Lifestyle modifications. Go outside and sit in the sun. Rid your house of synthetic air fresheners. Replace any body products with chemical-free versions. Buy organic produce, don't use things like Weed N Feed on your lawn. If you can afford it, look into natural bedding free of chemical fire retardants. Remember to play, stop and smell the roses, and try to approach food with pleasure and gratitude.

Magnesium and sulfur deficiencies are both implicated in insulin resistance and holding onto extra weight too. Taking an Epsom Salt bath a few times per week couldn't hurt either.

Good luck!

Medium avatar


on July 31, 2013
at 01:32 PM

As I lost weight insulin resistance went away. When I was obese I could lose on restricted carbs diet alone, but I had to use exercise to keep losing at 2 lbs/week. Exercise increases metabolism, which helped clear excess blood glucose out and kept my blood sugar meter readings down.

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