Insulin and Obesity – How Are They Related?

Insulin is one of the main hormones, which control the exchange of substances (metabolism); maybe the most important amongst them. Therefore, if we get to know its properties, we will learn how to regulate to a great degree the processes of losing weight, maintaining and increasing body mass.

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Common Terms

Insulin is a peptide hormone, which has a strong anabolic property once in the blood circulation, for example under its influence the organism begins to build its own structures (for example fat, glycogen and/or muscular tissue). Its levels in the blood are influenced mostly by the intake of carbohydrates and to a lesser degree by other nutrient substances. Its deficiency due autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in people who have type 1 diabetes.

The effects which insulin causes to our body depend also on the levels of the other hormones. Despite that, to make it easy, we will try to study it independently from the other hormones – solely its relations with the nutrient substances (protein, carbohydrates and fat).

Insulin and Carbohydrates

According to the established healthy eating regime carbohydrates have to be 45-65% of the amount of food. They influence mostly the levels of insulin in the following way:

  • Carbohydrates enter orally during eating in the form of the food: bread, potatoes, rice, fruit, vegetables, etc.
  • They are degraded by the digestive enzymes to glucose, which is sucked into the small intestine and enters the blood.
  • Glucose stimulates the release of insulin by the beta-cells in the pancreas. Depending on the increase in the levels of glucose (respectively insulin), we differentiate between fast and slow carbohydrates in the blood, with different glycemic index. The taking of carbohydrates with high glycemic index leads to high levels of insulin in the blood (insulin peak), while the consumption of normal quantities of carbohydrates with low and medium glycemic index during a 2.5-3 hour interval leads to a maintenance of stable values of insulin (insulin plato).

As we noted before, insulin has anabolic properties. On one side it stimulates the transformation of glucose into glycogen in the liver, and on the other it stops the degradation of glycogen. But the following is extremely important – insulin connects with receptors on the surface of the fat cell. Thus, glucose is transported to the cell of the fat tissue, which after a sequence of chemical reactions turns into fat, a process called lipogenesis.

[box type=”note”]Conclusion: Feeding with carbohydrates leads to obesity![/box]

Insulin and Fat

Fat has a slight effect on the circulating levels of insulin in the blood, but insulin has significant effects on fat deposition:

Insulin stops the processes of degradation of the fat (lipolysis) and stimulates the formation of fat from glucose in the fat cells. Insulin makes the fat cells absorb the fat from the blood. It facilitates the transportation of the fat from the blood to the lipocytes.

[box]Conclusion: Feeding with fat and carbohydrates leads to obesity. Leading dietitians advise, if we aim at losing fat and weight, to separate the intake of carbohydrates and fat, so we should not take fat and carbohydrates during the same meal![/box]

Insulin and Protein

Similar to carbohydrates, protein can also influence (of course to a lesser degree) the levels of insulin. The fast protein in excess (for example whey powder, egg-white, fish, etc.) can raise the levels of insulin in the blood, because they turn to glucose in the process of glucogenesis. The slow protein such as cottage cheese, greasy meat, nuts, etc. almost do not raise the blood levels of the hormone.

Insulin, on its turn, stops the degradation of the muscular tissue and has a strong anabolic influence on it. Therefore, if we aim at forming our figure and gaining muscular mass, insulin can help a lot. A recent study even shows that people training in the evening, when the levels of insulin and highest for the day, are prone to have better successes in bodybuilding and fitness.

[box]Conclusion: The intake of protein in excess has a similar effect to the overeating with carbohydrates. Despite that, differently than carbohydrates, some of the end products of the exchange of protein are toxic for the liver and the kidneys. Therefore over feeding with protein is also not recommended![/box]


The overuse of any type of food and the consumption of too unvaried food is in no way healthy or wise, because it does not usually have the desired effect in losing weight, even the opposite – leads to gaining weight.

Insulin is an extremely important and necessary for the human organism hormone, which in normal levels is essential for our bodies. It, or more precisely normoglycemia (the normal values of blood sugar), which it provides, stimulate the good mood, the mind and physical activity. The rapid increase in insulin in the blood leads to a quick mobilization of the blood sugar in the form of glycogen and fat and its depletion.

The depletion of the blood glucose (hypoglycemia) can be a reason for a fall in the mood, the mind and physical activity, and even for more serious depressive states. Differently from this state, the insulin plato has in the most common words a favorable effect for the person. Therefore specialists recommend separating the portion of food for the day into five meals, according to the daily cycle.

Author Bio:

C. Gardner has been working several years in health-care. Now she shares her knowledge in her website Appetite Suppressant Reviews, where she talks about the most used diet pills for weight loss, offers her viewpoint on dieting and proper way to lose weight and live healthily.

Contributing Author

This post was written by contributing author at Hive Health Media. If you would like to write for us about health, fitness, or blogging topics, click here.

One thought on “Insulin and Obesity – How Are They Related?

  • March 10, 2012 at 11:22 pm

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