There are many different biases around insulin. For example, for a person, this hormone is enemy number one. The statement is true only if less or more insulin is produced than the body requires. What kind of training will be useful for people with low insulin and why – we understand the issue with Gemma Podrezova, a nutritionist, a specialist in non-drug lifestyle correction and physical rehabilitation, a consultant at MyGenetics.
Insulin is a vital hormone produced by the pancreas’ beta cells in response to an increase in glucose levels in the body. The main function of insulin is to utilize glucose through the membrane into liver cells and muscle tissue, where it is used as the main source of energy or stored in the form of glycogen. Insulin is an anabolic hormone: it does not destroy anything and does not build anything. But at the same time, it participates in all processes that occur in the human body. If the hormone is produced less or more than is required, problems arise.
An insufficient amount of insulin in the body can be associated with genetic disorders and cause various diseases. For example, type 1 diabetes mellitus, which most often develops in young people. Severe stress, severe infections, and even a large amount of easily digestible carbohydrates can serve as a trigger. Still, these factors will not work in the absence of genetic damage to beta cells. A large number of polymorphisms in various genes can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In both the first and second cases, it is important to conduct a genetic study and, based on its results, develop the correct diet and select the optimal type of physical activity.
Aerobic physical activity lowers insulin levels, and strength – increases!
We keep our finger on the pulse
Exercise at any insulin level is undoubtedly very beneficial. But what does a person with a reduced level of this hormone need to know when organizing training? The main risks are sharp fluctuations in glycemia, which are of two types:
- hypoglycemia, when blood glucose levels are too low;
- hyperglycemia, when blood glucose levels are too high.
A person with low insulin levels needs to prepare in advance for possible hypoglycemia. For example, keep at least 15-20 g of fast-acting carbohydrates on hand. This can be glucose or dextrose (pharmacy form). A pre-workout meal (especially cardio, aerobic, or anaerobic) is a must, as the risk of hypoglycemia will be much higher. According to experts, the best time to exercise is 1.5 hours after the main meal. Thirty minutes before physical activity, you can raise your glucose level with a carbohydrate drink. Also, when insulin is low, it is recommended to replenish the glucose level every 30 minutes.
Before and after sports, blood glucose should be checked (alternatively, with the Libre or Medtronic automatic glucose monitoring systems).
During training, it is important to listen to your feelings, consider the state of health, the type of stress, their duration and intensity, because training with a higher intensity burns glycogen stores faster. And be sure to measure your pulse. If the anaerobic heart rate zone is 80-85% of the maximum heart rate, then the maximum heart rate (HR max) can be calculated using a simple formula: (220-age) * 0.8. So, for a person 40 years old, the heart rate during physical activity should not be higher than 144 beats per minute.
It’s important to remember that exercisers use up glycogen stores much faster at warmer temperatures, so fast-acting sugars like sports drinks and glucose/dextrose tablets can help. Don’t forget about water. It should be drunk at all times, as dehydration leads to high blood sugar levels. Consuming “slow” carbohydrates, fats, and protein is key. Water balance is the second important point.
The effects of exercise last for up to 24 hours and even longer with interval training.