- Your pancreas secretes insulin hormones into your bloodstream to facilitate glucose uptake into tissues, cells, and vital organs.
- Healthy insulin function is critical because your body relies on glucose for energy.
- Insulin resistance, sometimes called impaired insulin function, can impair insulin’s ability to remove sugars from the bloodstream. As a result, blood sugar levels can rise.
- A registered dietitian specializing in blood sugar health can help you make dietary and lifestyle changes to improve glycemic control.
Dietary carbohydrates are digested into glucose (simple sugars) to supply energy to cells, organs, and tissues.
But sometimes, the sugars remain in the bloodstream, causing blood glucose levels to rise. This can be a sign of insulin resistance.
A registered dietitian can help you make dietary changes that support healthy blood sugar levels and insulin function.
Keep reading to learn more about insulin resistance, its causes, and how a dietitian can help.
How Can A Dietitian Help Manage Insulin Resistance?
A registered dietitian can offer medical nutrition guidance you can easily understand.
They break down scientific health guidelines into simple, actionable steps to help you make lasting nutrition changes.
Your diet significantly affects your blood sugars, and making changes can be hugely beneficial.
A dietitian can teach you how to make these changes through individualized counseling, goal setting, and motivational interviewing.
They can also show you how to use online resources between visits.
Here are a few other ways a dietitian could support you:
- Debunk myths and misinformation found online.
- Create a meal plan together.
- Review label reading.
- Answer your nutrition questions.
- Address eating behaviors, such as emotional eating or picky eating.
- Provide a safe and supportive environment to address your health concerns.
- Help you feel empowered and educated to take care of yourself.
This is a small sample list of how a dietitian can support your health journey.
If you are ready to book an appointment, sign up with Nourish and find an RD specializing in insulin resistance near you.
What to Expect From a Nutrition Plan For Insulin Resistance
You should know you do not need to restrict foods when you have insulin resistance; instead, it's about including all your favorite items while keeping your blood sugars within a healthy range.
You can achieve this by following the My Plate model.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables. They can be cooked into a stir-fry or soup or served fresh in a salad. Eating more plant-based foods can support healthy insulin function.
- Fill a quarter of your plate with carbohydrates. Choose whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, quinoa, millet, and bulgar as often as possible. Your dietitian can help you find other nutritious options to add variety to your meals.
- Fill the final quarter with a source of lean protein. Enjoy eggs, fish, poultry, lean cuts of beef, game, beans, and tofu.
Managing your blood sugars can also include snacks.
Try pairing carbohydrate items with a protein or high-fiber option.
These foods help slow down glucose metabolization and delay the uptake of sugars into your bloodstream.
Slower absorption rates can assist in controlling and stabilizing your blood sugars levels.
Here are some simple snacks you can make at home:
- Whole grain crackers with cheese.
- Fresh fruits with a handful of nuts.
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries and nuts.
- Fresh-cut vegetables with hummus.
- Slice of whole grain toast with avocado and egg.
What Is Insulin Resistance?
The pancreas is an organ situated high behind your stomach. It secretes insulin hormones into your bloodstream to control blood sugar levels.
Insulin transports glucose molecules from the bloodstream into vital tissues, organs, and cells for energy.
However, insulin can become resistant and stop performing normally, leading to an accumulation of sugars in the blood.
Rising blood sugars can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and other health complications.
For that reason, it’s important to address it at first sign. Fortunately, many dietary and lifestyle changes can improve your insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to respond to insulin and regulate blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance doesn’t always have symptoms.
The best way to see how your insulin is performing is to complete bloodwork.
Some health conditions can increase your risk of insulin resistance.
If you have any of the following, consider taking proactive steps by working with a dietitian.
They can help you address insulin concerns and support other areas of your health through nutrition therapy.
- Metabolic syndrome.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Microvascular diseases (retinopathy or neuropathy).
- Macrovascular disease (stroke or coronary artery disease).
If your physician suspects you have insulin resistance, they will ask you to complete blood work.
Through your blood test, they will assess:
- Fasting blood glucose: Your blood glucose level without the influence of food or drink.
- A1c: A three-month average of your blood sugar levels written as a percentage.
- Lipid panel: Serum cholesterol levels, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), triglycerides (TG), and total cholesterol.
Although it can be tempting to review your results online, trust your physician to interpret your lab values.
Insulin resistance can be challenging to identify; only a medical doctor can diagnose it.
Testing Insulin Levels
Specialized labs can measure your insulin function through the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic glucose clamp technique.
However, this equipment is currently reserved for laboratory research and is not used in clinical settings.
Existing insulin testing technology is unlikely to become available to the general public.
Scientists need to improve the accuracy and convenience of these tests to develop more accessible methods for measuring insulin function.
A standard biomarker blood test is commonly used to estimate insulin resistance and can be performed in a clinical setting.
Tips For Finding The Right Dietitian
Finding the right dietitian is easy through Nourish.
They have RDs nationwide who specialize in blood sugar health and are eager to work with you.
During your first appointment, ask your dietitian how they approach nutrition and what a typical appointment looks like.
Some other common questions to ask during your visit include:
- What causes insulin resistance?
- Can I cure insulin resistance?
- Will I need medications?
- What should I eat to improve my insulin sensitivity—are there any foods I should avoid?
- Should I follow a low-carb diet?
Other Effective Treatments For Insulin Resistance
Part of managing insulin resistance is keeping your blood sugars within a healthy range.
Increasing your physical activity can help improve insulin resistance.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that improving your fitness will help your muscles take up glucose more efficiently.
It will also create multiple pathways for glucose uptake, leading to improved blood glucose levels.
Exercise does not cure insulin resistance, but it does help the big picture of your blood sugar health.
The ADA and other research studies suggest weight loss can help improve insulin function.
Fad diets that promise overnight weight loss results are not recommended.
Instead, ask your dietitian for support in creating a sustainable and balanced meal plan.
Focusing on long-term lifestyle changes rather than short-term diets can be more beneficial for insulin resistance management.
Insulin resistance is an active area of research.
While we have a basic understanding of how insulin resistance affects blood sugar levels, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the cause and treatment of the condition.
You can improve your blood sugar levels by making dietary changes that include high-fiber foods as often as possible.
Build balanced meals using the My Plate model and work closely with your dietitian to build a long-term eating plan that helps you feel your best.
Remember to complete annual bloodwork to assess changes in your blood sugar health.
How a Dietitian Can Help
You can improve insulin function by working with a registered dietitian specializing in blood sugar health.
Together, you can build a nutrition plan that includes your favorite foods and aligns with your blood sugar goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
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