Carb Addiction and Insulin Resistance

Woman raiding the refrigerator for sweets.
Photo by goffkein @

If you are one who raids the refrigerator for sweet treats in the middle of the night you may be well on your way to a carb addiction and insulin resistance – if you are not already there.

If you are carb addicted, you cannot change your body’s predisposition to release too much insulin. You can look at this as being akin to your body being a loaded gun and your finger is on the trigger. If you are carb addicted, it is up to you to not pull the trigger, lest you cause harm to yourself in the process. You get this predisposition genetically from your parents,  however you can control this if only you will.

While your body might be genetically primed to release too much insulin which causes you to crave carbs, you can keep this under control if you know how. You do not have to be overweight simply because of your carb addiction and insulin resistance.

Constant Carb Consumption

Our largest problem with carb addiction comes from the frequent intake of carbohydrate rich foods. Everywhere we turn nowadays, we are faced with foods laden with added sugars which do not add anything to the nutritional value of the food. These foods only supply us with a burst of short term energy which causes us to crave more and more. Your cravings may be strong, but you do not have to open your mouth and insert the fork or spoon.

Eating these foods is a choice, no one can make you do this!

Thrifty Genes?

There are some in the nutrition and medical fields who believe we have what is referred to as a thrifty gene. It is believed that if you are born with this gene, the more often you consume carb rich foods, the greater your insulin response will be. The high level of insulin will cause you to crave more of the same foods.

The fundamental basis of the thrifty gene hypothesis is that, in our early evolutionary history, genes, that promoted efficient fat deposition would have been advantageous because they allowed their holders to survive during periods of famine. In modern society, such genes are disadvantageous because they promote fat deposition in preparation for a famine that never comes, and the result is widespread obesity and diabetes. (1)

As we continue to consume carbohydrate rich foods on a regular basis, we will have a greater insulin response. This high level of insulin will cause you to crave more of these foods, but it is your choice whether you eat them or not.

When we consume carbohydrate rich foods on a regular basis, our muscles and organs begin to become insulin resistant. When you are insulin resistant, the insulin and the blood sugar it escorts will be channeled away from your muscles and organs  and stored  in your fat cells.

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.

Insulin resistance syndrome includes a group of problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. It could affect as many as 1 in 3 Americans. You might also hear it called metabolic syndrome. (2)

In the first stages of insulin resistance, you will begin to gain weight easier. Later in insulin resistance, even your fat cells will become insulin resistant. The result of this is insulin and blood sugar will remain trapped in your bloodstream which is likely to result in adult onset type 2 diabetes. If you give in to eating foods high in simple carbs and added sugars, this cycle will keep repeating itself. The choice is yours to make whether or not you want to continue playing Russian Roulette with your health.

Thin people are not off the hook with this matter! 

If you believe that because you are thin despite eating carb rich foods that you have nothing to worry about – you are wrong!

You may have never struggled with being overweight or obese in your youth, but this does not  make you immune to insulin resistance. As we age, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases. This is also  associated with senile skeletal muscle dysfunction. During skeletal muscle aging, mitochondrial dysfunction, intramyocellular lipid accumulation, increased inflammation, oxidative stress, modified activity of insulin sensitivity regulatory enzymes, endoplasmic reticulum stress, decreased autophagy, sarcopenia and over-activated renin-angiotensin system may occur. These changes can impair skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity and increase the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes during skeletal muscle aging. (3)

When our bodies are young, and thinner, simply growing older changes our metabolism which makes us more insulin resistant. As we age, insulin and blood sugar are channeled to our fat cells, thus weight becomes easier to gain than in our youth.

We all know someone  who has always been able to eat sweets all day long, every day, without gaining weight. Even though they might not be overweight, this does not mean they are not carb addicted. This occurs when the body continues to push through more and more insulin in an attempt to override insulin resistance. Your body works hard to push insulin and blood sugar to the muscles and organs which need it.

All of this extra insulin leads to more and more intensive carbohydrate cravings. In order to protect itself from these constant insulin insults to the body, it tries to protect itself by becoming more insulin resistant. Of course when this occurs, over time even the fat cells may shut down and the insulin along with the sugar it accompanies, get stuck in the bloodstream. In time, even though you may be thin, you still stand a good risk of adult onset, type 2 diabetes setting in.

Getting the Correct Balance

Cravings and weight gain are signs of insulin resistance no matter your size. If you want to live a normal and healthy life, you must take control of your intake of carbohydrates.

When you consume carb rich foods without the correct balance of protein and fiber, you are highly likely to set off an insulin imbalance. This is why we teach to cut out foods rich in simple carbs and added sugars. Our recommendation is that you eat only whole foods and as few processed foods as possible. You have control over what you eat – it is your choice to eat foods of inferior quality and substance. No one is force feeding you cookies and cupcakes.

When you have uncontrollable cravings for those innocent sweet treats of the past, you have a major problem which needs to be addressed. By following David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we can help educate you about weight loss, and how nutrition affects your body whether good or bad. Subscriptions are free and easy, you can receive all of our latest articles straight to your email in order to never miss a thing.

We all have choices to make in life. We can give in to our carbohydrate cravings and suffer the consequences, or we can choose to not do so. Choose wisely my friends, we are only blessed with one body and one life to live. Create your life and live it at your best.


(1) National Library of Medicine National Center for Biological Information

(2) WebMD