Is using too much insulin really the cause of gaining weight?

Is using too much insulin really the cause of gaining weight, or is it being inactive? I talked to diabetic bodybuilder and Mr. Natural Universe Doug Burns on the phone and he said diabetics have to be active to maintain a healthy weight. He says he eats 300 or so carbs a day, and let’s his sugars go high and go low. He says it’s not what you eat and it’s not how much insulin you use - it’s about being active. So, is this whole low-carb, low insulin level thing just an excuse to not exercise and workout everyday? When I was running 4 - 6 miles at the gym 5 days a week and circuit training 5 years ago, I ate carbs and I even ate sweets sparingly. I’m just not sure how much stock to put into this low-carb approach. I was diagnosed type 1 in 1994 and didn’t know about low-carbing for diabetics until 2004. And I know I maintained and lost weight in those 11 years prior to low carb eating.

Exercise plays a major role, certainly. However:

Insulin causes blood sugar to be stored in body cells; that’s its job. If the amount of sugar being consumed is more than the amount being burned, and blood sugar is being maintained at or near normal, the excess has to be stored somewhere. The “somewhere” is primarily fat. Insulin doesn’t determine how much sugar you have—just where it goes.

So no, technically insulin does not make you fat. What does happen—frequently—is that people figure out that they can eat pretty much whatever they want as long as they use enough insulin to keep their blood sugar down. So . . . they eat whatever they want. And get fat.


What exactly is “using too much insulin”?? I use just what I need, and that is depending on the food of the day, the activity of the day, and sometimes stuff that has no explanation so more than usual is necessary. Being inactive will of course be a factor in weight gain. Eating more than you need will be a factor in weight gain. If you eat more than your body needs to maintain, then you will gain weight. I don’t use much insulin, and I don’t follow the low carb fad. My food(s) are to provide nutrition and supply the energy I need to do whatever the day offers. If you are looking for an excuse to not exercise, then you can find one if it makes you feel better. But no way is it a step toward good health and habits.


Do calories play a role in anything?

For me they’re almost everything. I exercise regularly, but I know if I consistently eat more than about 1500 calories a day I gain weight. It was that way before my T1 diagnosis and it’s still that way.


is there any effect on weight if you eat 50 carbs versus the recommended 300 grams ?

[quote=“Cocheze, post:6, topic:50499, full:true”]
is there any effect on weight if you eat 50 carbs versus the recommended 300 grams ?
[/quote]Who is recommending that? You need to measure everything, calories do matter! My mantra for food is to make sure it isn’t going to stay in or on me for the rest of my life. LOL

For me, when I’m eating fewer carbs it means I’m usually getting more calories from fat, which I find is more satiating than carbs, so it can be easier to stay within my limited calorie range. However, I tend to like carbs and end up eating around 130g per day.


i shoot for around 150 g or so. 40 - 60 just isn’t enough for me.

My body doesn’t work that way. It’s not all insulin or all activity.

My body doesn’t work that way. In the winter I am much less active than in the summer, and I don’t gain as much as 5 pounds.

They’re his feet to keep or lose as he sees fit. That wasn’t fair, but it’s how I feel about my feet! Personally, I take my fitness advice from people who are more like me. Mr Burns has found a regimen that works for his lifestyle. I don’t have that lifestyle and I don’t want it. It was interesting to read about how he eats, but it doesn’t apply to me. Will you be training like him so that you can eat like him?

For me, it’s the primary way not to have wild fluctuations in my blood sugar. I go weeks without looking at my weight. I look at my blood sugar 8 to 10 times a day. I guess we each focus on what’s more important to us personally.


Reading through this discussion makes me think I don’t eat enough food–whether carbs, protein, or fat–and that’s why I have trouble keeping my weight UP! I thought it was all due to the Metformin (dose now reduced by half) but maybe I need to eat more and up my insulin correspondingly. A lot to reconsider here…

IMHO, practically NO ONE should be eating 300 carbs daily!!! (This is coming from someone who does NOT keep her T1D daughter on a low-carb diet!)

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I was just listening to a pharmacist talk about this youtube the other day as I was researching “insulin resistance.”

Here is how he explained it:

While insulin’s first function is to open the cell membrane to let glucose enter into the cell, it also functions to initiate fat storage. When a healthy body secretes high levels of insulin to accommodate a surge of blood glucose, the body interprets the action as an opportunity to create stores for leaner times. The more insulin we use as diabetics, the more likely the sugars in our body will convert to fat rather than glucagon for storage.

He also mentioned that weight training increases the amount of muscle tissue, thereby increasing the amount of glucagon our bodies can store before converting to fats.

His recommendation was to exercise a minimum of 20 minutes per day–which will use the glucagon in the liver and muscles, making room for more conversion to glucagon over fat on a daily basis. He also noted that exercise beyond 20 minutes starts burning fat…assuming the exercise isn’t highly aerobic.

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Not going to get into the low carb discussion here but over the years I have probably been taking more insulin than I really need, but that is due to my great hate of high blood sugars. For me too much insulin, means more lows, which means more food to correct the lows. I have rseally been working on that fear of highs and am fine tuning the basal levels so I’m not running so low all the time. If I’m not running the lows I don’t need to eat. Which means no empty calories which means no weight gain.
But please remember " too much insulin" is what works for you. My level might be much lower or higher than yours. But if your level is working without to many highs and lows than it’s not “to much”.