Working out regularly can have a tremendously positive impact on your insulin levels. Aerobic training seems to be extremely effective at raising insulin sensitivity in individuals who are overweight or have type II diabetes(12, 13, 14, 15).
A study compared two groups of subjects. The first group did aerobic training and the second did high-intensity interval training. The results showed that even though both groups experienced fitness improvements, only the first group which performed sustained aerobic activity experienced drastically lower insulin levels. There has also been research into how resistance training can help reduce insulin levels in sedentary and older adults.
Mixing resistance training with aerobic exercise seems to be the most effective and it’s also been shown to have the greatest positive impact on insulin sensitivity and levels. In one study of 100 breast cancer survivors, the ones who did a combination of resistance training and endurance training for 4 months experienced a 26% reduction in insulin levels.
The general conclusion is that strength training, aerobic exercise or a combination of both might help raise insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin levels.
Add cinnamon to foods and drinks
Cinnamon is a very delicious spice filled with lots of antioxidants beneficial for your health. Numerous studies were done on healthy people and those who experience insulin resistance suggest that consuming cinnamon may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin levels. In a study where healthy people consumed around one a half teaspoons of cinnamon in rice pudding, it was found that they had significantly lower insulin responses compared to when they ate the rice pudding with no cinnamon added. In another study, you men who drank a high-sugar beverage after consuming cinnamon for two weeks experienced lower insulin levels compared to when they drank the beverage after taking a placebo for the same amount of time. (16, 17, 18).
It’s worth noting that not all of these studies have found that consuming cinnamon decreases your insulin levels or increases insulin sensitivity. Its effects may vary in each individual. However, it’s been shown that consuming up to one teaspoon (2 grams) a day may have other health benefits, even though it may not significantly decrease your insulin levels.
The main takeaway point is that adding cinnamon to foods or drink can decrease insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Avoid refined carbs
Refined carbs comprise the biggest part of many people’s diets. It has been repeatedly shown in numerous studies done on both humans and animals alike that consuming them on a regular basis can lead to a multitude of health problems, among them high insulin levels and increased weight gain.
Additionally, refined carbs have a high glycemic index. This is a scale which measures a certain food’s ability to increase blood sugar levels. Glycemic load takes into account a specific food’s glycemic index, plus the number of digestible carbohydrates in one serving. Studies have compared foods that have different glycemic loads to find out if they had a different effect on insulin levels. It was found that eating a food with a high-glycemic load increases your insulin levels more than eating the same portion of a food with a low-glycemic load, even if two foods have a similar carb content.(19, 20, 21).
In one study, obese people were put on two diets with unrestricted caloric intake for 10 weeks. The first diet consisted of high glycemic index foods and the second of low glycemic. After a test meal, the first group had higher insulin levels than the second group. The general conclusion is to replace processed carbs, which your body easily digests and absorbs, with complex low-glycemic carbs which are digested slowly and may help lower your insulin levels.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time
If you want to maintain low insulin levels, it is of utmost importance to lead a physically active lifestyle. One study consisting of 1,500 subjects found that those who led a sedentary lifestyle were almost twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome as those who practiced some kind of physical activity at least two and a half hours a week.
Other studies have found out that getting up and simply walking around, instead of spending numerous hours on your couch, can help prevent insulin spikes after consuming a meal. A 3-month study in middle-aged sedentary women has shown that the women who took 20-minute strolls after a big meal had increased insulin sensitivity, compared to the women who did not walk at all after the meal (22, 23).
Additionally, the group that took short walks became fitter and lost some body fat. Another study included 110 obese men who were at risk of developing type II diabetes. The group that took the most steps a day experienced the greatest decrease in insulin levels and lost the greatest amount of abdominal fat, compared to the group that took a significantly lower number of steps a day.
The main conclusion here is that you should avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time and spend some time walking or performing any type of physical activity at a moderate intensity which in the end will result in reduced insulin levels.
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