The Insulin Spike – What You Need To Know
With all the talk in today’s world about what carbs are doing to your body fat levels, you may think that you should be avoiding an insulin spike at all costs. People everywhere are claiming that as soon as you get an insulin spike, the body is going to instantly go into fat storing mode where you move the extra energy into the body fat stores.
But, is this always the case?
Will an insulin spike always work against you?
If the truth is told, while an insulin spike is definitely something you want to avoid most of the time, in some situations, it can actually be very beneficial.
Let’s look further into this insulin spike issue so you can get the facts straight on this process.
What Causes An Insulin Spike To Occur
The very first thing that you need to come to learn is what causes an insulin spike to occur in the first place. An insulin spike is going to take place any time a huge amount of sugar is released into the blood stream, causing blood glucose levels to increase.
Since insulin’s primary job is to flood into the blood and snatch this excess glucose up and place it in storage in order to prevent dangerously high blood glucose levels, the more sugar present, the more insulin you’ll see.
Due to the fact that carbohydrates break down into sugar when they enter the body, it’s primarily carbohydrates that are going to have this impact. Protein has very little impact on blood sugar although it will still influence it and fat has no impact at all.
In fact, when you pair protein and fats with the carbohydrates you eat, you can reduce the insulin spike that occurs as the breakdown process of those carbs will be considerably slower.
When You Should Spike Your Insulin
In most cases, since you don’t want excess glucose going to storage – which, if you’re sitting at your office desk or on the couch would be fat storage, avoiding an insulin spike is important.
But, if you’ve just finished a hard workout session, it won’t be fat stores that this excess glucose would go to but rather the muscle stores of glucose – muscle glycogen.
Since muscle glycogen is what powers you through each workout session, it’s going to be ideal to spike insulin at this time to restore those levels. If you don’t, you won’t recover as fast and you may find that you feel a lot more tired moving into your next workout session.
Immediately after an intense weight lifting session your muscles will be drained of their glycogen and they’ll be hungry to take up glucose for storage. Insulin is going to speed up this process tremendously.
What Foods To Eat To Spike Insulin
In order to get the blood glucose levels high and see the corresponding insulin spike that goes along with that, you want to focus on eating the right foods.
Since the insulin response largely comes down to the volume and speed of the sugar entering into the blood, you should focus your intake on very simple sugars that are very low fat in nature. These will break down into the blood stream almost instantly, causing the series of events to occur.
This would include foods such as sugary cereals, white bread, candy (that contains only glucose, not fructose), dextrose (another name for sugar), or even fruit. Just be aware that fruit contains half glucose and half fructose and fructose doesn’t have any influence on blood sugar levels as it moves directly into the liver for processing instead.
So while fruit will cause some insulin spike due to the fruit sugars it contains, it won’t be as effective since it has that fructose content in there.
Putting The Picture Together
So putting this all together, immediately after your workout session for optimal recovery you want to have a simple carbohydrate source that includes as little fat as possible. You don’t want to shun protein at this time however as protein is also key for good muscular recovery, so that must be present also.
Then about an hour after this post-workout meal, follow that up with a slower digesting source of carbs and some more protein to ensure that you don’t suffer from a large blood sugar drop that leaves you feeling shaky, hungry, and light-headed.
So there you have the facts about the insulin spike. In a post workout situation it can do you a world of good but for the most part, it should be avoided.