What is Insulin Resistance?


Normal Person

After a meal there is a rise in blood glucose in the body. This stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin attaches to the insulin receptors on the cell surface and enables the glucose to enter muscle and fat cells where it is stored or burned for energy.


Insulin Resistance

The pancreas secretes sufficient insulin but the body is resistant to the insulin. To compensate, the pancreas secretes more and more insulin. The excess insulin manages to keep the blood glucose within the upper limit of the normal range, so diabetes does not occur. However, the high insulin levels lead to high triglyceride levels, low good cholesterol (HDL-C), high blood pressure, and all signs of metabolic syndrome. This raises the risk for heart attack. In this case, the fasting blood glucose may be between 6.0 and 7.0 mmol/L (impaired fasting glucose) or blood sugar levels may rise to high levels after meals.

Insulin resistance is caused in a large part by weight gain, especially around the middle. It can be worsened by the over-consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as bread, pastas, and sugary foods. Weight reduction can result in a 30%-60% improvement in insulin sensitivity.