How do I know if I am insulin resistant?

This is a very common question when I review blood work.  I will find symptoms of sugar handling problems, both in the blood and in the behavior, and I am quickly told that their doctor didn’t think it was a problem.   Most physicians do not run a comprehensive blood panel to determine risk levels for the individual, let alone, discuss the details of your daily diet!  The Mayo Clinic recommends this as a sample day of food for a diagnosed person with Type II Diabetes

A sample menu from the Mayo Clinic website

When planning meals, take into account your size and activity level. The following menu is tailored for someone who needs 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day.

  • Breakfast. Whole-wheat bread (1 medium slice) with 2 teaspoons jelly, 1/2 cup shredded wheat cereal with a cup of 1 percent low-fat milk, a piece of fruit, coffee
  • Lunch. Roast beef sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce, low-fat American cheese, tomato and mayonnaise, medium apple, water
  • Dinner. Salmon, 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil, small baked potato, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 cup green beans, medium white dinner roll, unsweetened iced tea, milk
  • Snack. 2 1/2 cups popcorn with 1 1/2 teaspoons margarine


This is simply a brilliant and cruel pharmaceutical marketing strategy to prevent anyone from ever recovering from a completely reversible chronic disease.  If you want to give pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry a lifetime of money for medication, doctor’s appointments, cardiac testing, heart surgery, and/or  amputations, this is a great nutritional strategy!  This is a crime against the insulin resistant and carbohydrate intolerant.  This diet creates diabetes.

First Step to determining your risk

First, have some a complete blood based glucose panel performed.  This should include the following: fasting serum glucose, HbA1c, fasting serum insulin, and triglycerides.  This is the most basic blood workup for determining blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.  Since most people have blood work performed annually, a person can have symptoms of prediabetes for years with no data to support the diagnosis and then all of a sudden they become full DBII within one year.  A life stressor, infection, or injury that is unrelated puts their body over the edge and their resilience can no longer protect them from the ravages of a failed metabolism.

Risk factors:

  • elevated fasting serum glucose (>95) with normal HbA1c
  • HbA1c borderline elevated (>5.5%) prediabetes (>5.7% diabetes)
  • elevated triglycerides (>100)

There are persons who simply will not show a change in their blood work until it is too late.  The damage of pre-diabetes, diabetes and metabolic syndrome don’t happen overnight, these diseases take years to manifest.  These diseases are the results of years of specific food choices- but what is a poor choice for you, might be fine for someone else.  Sometimes the person does not even gain excess weight and so no one suspects they are at risk.  Athletes have been diagnosed, regular people with healthy body weights, and even young children are being diagnosed with DBII regularly these days.  It is a true epidemic costing this nation billions of dollars in unnecessary cost, misery, and suffering.

Second Step to determining your risk

What are some of the symptoms that a person might experience on their road to blood sugar problems?

  • post lunch fatigue between 2-6 pm.
  • exercising 4-6 times per week on a calorie restricted diet and still not losing weight
  • brain fog
  • high or low blood pressure
  • eating “well” but still gaining weight, usually over 40 or post menopausal
  • regular gas/bloating or digestive upset and unable to determine what is causing the problem
  • mood swings if not fed regularly- the “hangry” friend
  • a history of dieting by eating 4-6 small meals per day
  • difficulty controlling alcohol volumes or stopping drinking alcohol to lose weight
  • history of alcoholism
  • chronic exhaustion with normal thyroid function
  • history of chronic infections
  • erectile dysfunction in the absence of high blood pressure
  • swelling or water retention in the body
  • abnormal blood pressure uncontrolled by medication
  • postural orthostatic hypotension( POTS)
  • migraine
  • food allergies

The only way to reverse a carbohydrate intolerance is to find your unique carbohydrate set point.  This requires a gentle and slow decrease of carbohydrate from the diet.  The problem that most diets (for weight loss) make is they simply restrict calories.  The body need nutrition and macronutrients to heal and repair itself.  The rest of the calories come from healthy amounts of proteins and lots of satisfying nutrient dense fats.  Protein and fats are the most nutritious macronutrients and the ONLY two that are necessary.