Regular readers know that I recently completed my Mat Lalonde-inspired Approach for Lent. MMLAFL was, for me, an elimination diet of sorts: no grains, dairy, nightshades, or sweeteners (natural or artificial). It was basically Mat Lalonde (eat meat and veggies) meets Terry Wahl (eat greens, sulfurous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, and colorful veggies); you can see a typical day here.
And while I originally planned on doing it for Lent (~46 days), I wound up extending it until April 21st when my next blood work was scheduled at my weight loss doc’s.
Well, I got my blood work back today, and all I can say is: shut the eff up!!
My fasting insulin is 4.
That’s right, 4. Pardon me while I do a little happy dance!
Frankly, I did not think I would get to this level. Blah, blah, metabolic syndrome or metabolic derangement, blah blah. I’ve done decades worth of SAD damage to myself, as evidenced (IMO) by my fasting insulin in September of 2009, which was 24.
Later that year, Stephan Guyenet wrote a post about the ideal fasting insulin level, and stated:
My current feeling is that we can consider anything between 2 and 6 uIU/mL within our evolutionary template, although the lower half of that range may be preferable.
My thought then was: yikes. And when I restarted my weight loss efforts in the fall of 2010, I had my fasting insulin checked the following February after about losing 50 lbs: 12.
That was clearly an improvement, but it wasn’t the single digit level I wanted. I started thinking about insulin resistance and decided that resistance training would help restore insulin sensitivity and thus reduce fasting insulin levels. So I started BBS, lost another 50 lbs and retested in September: 14. WTF?!
Conveniently for me, Stephan did another post on insulin sensitivity and obesity, and wrote:
High circulating insulin is probably an adaptive response to insulin resistance in the body, which develops as fat cells enlarge and become less effective at trapping fatty acids and keeping them where they should be (there may also be a contribution from inflammation that may or may not be independent of the changes in fatty acid handling). Elevated insulin is probably the body’s way of trying to compensate for this defect and keep fat in fat cells, but it does not fully compensate for the insulin resistance in fat tissue that progressively develops as fat cells enlarge. … This defect can be largely reversed by fat loss, as demonstrated by the fact that a number of fat loss diets, including low-carbohydrate, low-fat and calorie restriction diets lead to improved insulin action as long as sufficient fat is lost.
Okay, so I figured my fasting insulin would be higher as long as my fat mass was higher. Fast forward to last month. I’ve lost an additional 30 lbs (would have been more had I not gained 20lbs after Xmas), have been walking more, and did MMLAFL. And now my fasting insulin is 4. Yippee!!
Hard to say for sure what’s at play here. It may well be that this is a reflection of not having my cheat meals. Staffan Lindeberg has an interesting study showing glucose and insulin improvements of a paleo diet. Maybe it’s the weight loss (tho I’m still not close to goal). Maybe it’s the physical activity which is certainly increased (thanks Egoscue!).
I don’t know, but I’ll take it. And to say it’s an encouragement to me is a big understatement ;).
Other lab results include 85 for fasting glucose (has ranged between a low of 80 and a high of 96) and a direct LDL of 165 (that’s the high, low was 140). This latter has my doc concerned. After reading part 3 of Chris Masterjohn’s and Chris Kresser’s podcast on cholesterol and heart disease, I’m glad my doc wants to retest my thyroid. It’s possible that despite the dulse I was eating I was a little under on the iodine department.
But like Chris M. said, I’m also inclined to wait and see what the LDL does when my weight stabilizes since all other measures, including blood pressure (today was 96/68) seem to be in a good place.
All in all, color me one happy camper!