Know About Insulin Resistance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohammad Suleman Hussain, M.B.B.S November 14, 2023

Last updated on October 20th, 2023

Insulin resistance meaning is when your body’s ability to use glucose for energy is impacted by excessive glucose in your bloodstream. When your body’s insulin resistance is high, there is a lot of pressure on your pancreas to produce more insulin to balance blood sugar levels in your bloodstream.

Insulin resistance meaning is when blood cells are unable to accept and utilise blood glucose for energy. Your pancreas is under a lot of pressure to create more insulin when your body exhibits significant degrees of insulin resistance in order to maintain blood sugar homeostasis.

It may result in very low or high production of insulin in your body. Thereby, it increases the risks of many diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, there are many things to try, including an insulin resistance diet that naturally improves your resistance.

Any health issue gives several visible or invisible changes in your body before it starts deteriorating your health. A similar condition happens when you are diagnosed with diabetes type-2. There are many invisible changes in your body before you are diagnosed with diabetes.

One of them is insulin resistance. Your body can be resistant to insulin without giving any symptoms. It is the condition that progresses to diabetes. Therefore, it is essential to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.

Read More: Is Type 2 Diabetes Curable/Reversible?

What Is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a vital hormone that the pancreas releases into your body. It helps in regulating the essential nutrients in your bloodstream. Cells can receive and use glucose with the help of insulin. Thus, it impacts the way fat and protein and metabolised and is essential for preserving your body’s blood sugar levels.

Now, what is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance meaning is when the cells of your muscles, fat, and liver do not respond well to the insulin. They are even unable to use glucose from your blood for energy.

Insulin Resistance: A Risk Factor for Developing Diabetes

Now that we know what is insulin resistance, let’s learn what it can lead to.

Insulin resistance in less or more time, leads to pre-diabetes, diabetes type-2, and gestational diabetes. Sometimes, a person may have impaired insulin sensitivity for a long time but doesn’t know about it. This condition doesn’t trigger any symptoms.

Your healthcare provider may check your-body is resistant to insulin, whether you have high sugar levels, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol levels.

Read More: Understanding The Symptoms Of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Causes of Insulin Resistance
Causes of Insulin Resistance

The exact cause of insulin resistance is still unknown. Although, there are some risk factors that may lead to resistance to insulin. Following are some of the insulin resistance causes:

  1. High-calorie, high-carbohydrate, and high-sugar diet
  2. Chronic disease
  3. Overweight
  4. Little or no physical activity (one of the most common insulin resistance causes)
  5. Taking high doses of steroids over a long time

Along with these, some medications, high insulin levels in your bloodstream, and excessive fat stored in the liver and pancreas are some other insulin resistance causes.

The National Institutes of Health states that being overweight and engaging in little physical activity are the two main factors associated with impaired insulin function. Insulin resistance is more likely in men over 40 inches in waist and in women over 35 inches in waist.

Read More: Connection Between Diabetes and Pancreas

How Insulin Resistance Leads To Type 2 Diabetes?

Insulin resistance is like a lock that doesn’t work well with a key. Think of insulin as the something that enables sugar from your food enter your body’s cells.

Your body’s insulin production increases at first to compensate for the resistance. This keeps your blood sugar levels normal. But over time, things change.

Your body can’t keep making extra insulin forever. Eventually, it gets tired and can’t make enough. Your cells still resist the insulin, and sugar can’t get in. This means your blood sugar levels start to rise.

High blood sugar is an issue as it affects your nervers and blood vessels. Your pancreas has to push it further to produce more insulin to prevent this harm.

Your doctor may diagnose that you have Type 2 diabetes if your blood sugar levels rise constantly. This indicates a loss of adequate blood sugar regulation in your body.

To put it simply, insulin resistant diabetes results from poor insulin sensitivity in the body’s cells. This eventually raises blood sugar levels, and when your body can’t keep up, it can develop to Type 2 diabetes, a disorder in which blood sugar regulation is poor.

Read More: Glycogen and Diabetes: What is the Connection?

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

As mentioned above, a person with insulin resistance may not see any severe symptoms for a long time. They may starts noticing the symptoms of insulin resistance when the HbA1c exceeds to diabetes (above6.4%).  Following are the symptoms of insulin resistance:

  • Acanthosis nigricans: It is a common skin condition that known as a common insulin resistance symptom. If you have insulin resistance, you may notice patches on back of the back, armpits or groin. These patches are often darker than the surrounding skin.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A symptom of insulin resistance in females is PCOS. During PCOS, your menstrual cycle, painful periods, and infertility (severe). Insulin resistance symptoms in females could be more troublesome. People suffering from PCOS, when develop insulin resistance, their existing symptoms get worse.

Other than these, you may also notice the following signs of insulin resistance:

  • Increased Hunger (one of the typical signs of insulin resistance)
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Frequent Urination
  • Increased Thirst
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Triglyceride Levels
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Read More: Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease: What is the Connection?

Insulin Resistance Test

Insulin Resistance Test


You can get a Hemoglobin A1C test, Random glucose test, or fasting plasma glucose test to check if your body is insulin resistant or not. Taking such insulin resistance tests may help you prepare better for your diabetes treatment .It prevents developing diabetes type-2 and its related complications.

Till date a definite test to check your insulin sensitivity doesn’t exist. However, you can take the following insulin resistance tests for pre-diabetes and diabetes:

  • Hemoglobin A1C test: It is a simple blood test for diabetes that check the average blood sugar levels of last 2-3 months. This test measures Glycated form hemoglobin to diagnose your pre-diabetes and diabetes. When your test shows a hemoglobin A1C test value of less than 5.7%, you are in the normal range.Hemoglobin A1C levels between 5.7% and 6.4% that signify you are insulin resistant (or prediabetic).
  • Fasting glucose test: A person needs to fast overnight or at least 8-10 hours for a fasting glucose test. If the results are below 100 mg/dL, then you have normal fasting blood glucose levels. If the results are between 101 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL, then your body is set to be insulin resistant.
  • Random blood sugar test: You can take this blood test at any point of time in the day to check if you’re insulin resistant. The values for random blood sugar test below 200 mg/dL are considered normal. Any results above this range say that your body is insulin resistant.

The values provided above are based on the findings of the American Diabetes Association.

Read More: How to Reverse Kidney Damage From Diabetes Neuropathy?

Difference Between Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Diabetes and impaired insulin sensitivity are related but also different talking about the way our body handle glucose

Insulin resistance is a condition where your cells response to insulin is compromised.

Being insulin resistant is like having a lock that’s a bit stubborn and doesn’t open easily with the insulin “key.”

Insulin syndrome can exist for a long time and not lead to diabetes, but it is a risk factor for developing the condition.

Diabetes, on contrary, is a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels. There are various kinds of diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common associated with impaired insulin sensitivity.

The body is unable to utilize insulin properly as the insulin action to compromised, and the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to compensate this resistance. This leads to consistently high blood sugar levels, leading to various health complications if not managed properly.

The exact threshold at which insulin resistance leads to diabetes varies among individuals.

If your fasting blood sugar levels are higher than 126mg/dL on two separate tests, it signifies that you have diabetes.

In summary, inefficient insulin action means the inability of cells to respond well to insulin and it can precede the development of Type 2 diabetes. The development of resistance to insulin to full-blown diabetes is gradual along with prediabetes in between, where blood sugar levels are elevated but not yet in the diabetic range.

Read More: Sleep Apnea and Diabetes – Know What is the Association

Who Can Be Affected by Insulin Resistance?

Who Can Be Affected by Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance can affect a wide range of people, and it’s not limited to a specific age group or demographic. However, certain factors can increase the likelihood of developing insulin resistance:

Obesity: Accumulation of fat, especially around the belly area, can lead to insulin resistance.

Sedentary Lifestyle: The major cause of insulin resistance is not engaging in any physical activity.

Genetics: If you’ve had a family history of diabetes or insulin resistance, chances are that you might also develop it.

Poor Diet: Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can contribute to reduce insulin effectiveness.

Certain Medical Conditions: Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease can be associated with resistance to insulin.

Age: Insulin resistance tends to increase with age.

It’s essential to be aware of these risk factors and make lifestyle choices that promote insulin sensitivity, such as maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, and eating a balanced diet, to reduce the risk of insulin resistance and its potential progression to Type 2 diabetes.

Your doctor might suggest you medicine for insulin resistance but going down the medicine route may not be the best way. You can always opt for a natural way to reverse diabetes and insulin resistance with Breathe Well-being.

Our experts can help you guide how to reverse insulin resistance and get back to a healthy lifestyle with ease (100% natural and safe).

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How Common Is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin ineffectiveness is a condition that affects a large portion of the population globally (millions), and it has only increased over the years.

According to a study conducted by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there are about 101 million Indians diagnosed with diabetes, and about 136 million have prediabetes.

This simply means that the number of people with impaired insulin action is much higher than the combined numbers above. This is because inefficient insulin action is not just related to diabetes; it brings other problems too.

Resistance to insulin is not limited to adults; it can also affect children and adolescents, particularly those who are overweight or obese. In some cases, it has become a big problem among children.

The increasing impaired insulin sensitivity is a big thing to worry about because it leads the Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health complications.

Read More: Diabetes and High Cholesterol Diet: You Ultimate Guide to Live Healthy Life

How Does Insulin Resistance Affect My Body?

Insulin ineffectiveness can hit your body in ways you can’t understand and it can go beyond type 2 diabetes. Here are some additional health issues related to problematic insulin function:

Cardiovascular Problems: Insulin inefficiency can slowly lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and problematic lipid profiles. It can contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis), raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Obesity: Compromised insulin function is often found in people who are overweight or obese. It can make it harder to lose weight because the fat is stored in parts where it can be difficult to burn.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Many women with PCOS have impaired insulin sensitivity. It can worsen the symptoms of PCOS, including irregular periods, infertility, and excess hair growth.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): A diminished response to insulin is a concern and also a major factor leads to NAFLD. This is a condition where the body fat starts building around in the liver and can lead to more severe liver problems.

Metabolic Syndrome: Resistance to the effects of insulin often occurs in conjunction with other health issues like abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels. This combination is known as metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation: Insulin ineffectiveness can trigger chronic low-level inflammation in the body, which is associated with various diseases, including cancer.

Kidney Disease: Impaired insulin signaling may contribute to kidney damage and increase the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Neurological Effects: Some research suggests that problematic insulin action might play a role in cognitive decline and an increased risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep Apnea: There is a link between insulin ineffectiveness and sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep.

Hardening of Arteries (Atherosclerosis): Abnormal insulin sensitivity elevates blood sugar, causing damage to artery linings. This damage triggers inflammation and plaque buildup, narrowing and hardening the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease.

High Triglyceride Levels: Insulin receptor dysfunction can lead to increased production of triglycerides in the liver while reducing their clearance from the bloodstream, resulting in elevated triglyceride levels, a risk factor for heart disease.

It’s essential to recognize that impaired insulin action is not an isolated issue but part of a broader metabolic syndrome that significantly impacts overall health.

Read More: Diabetes and Seizures: Know Signs, Causes, Related Complications and Treatment

Reverse Your Insulin Resistance

Reverse Your Insulin Resistance


Reducing your carbs and sugar intake, increasing water and fiber-rich foods, sleeping adequately, exercising regularly, weight management, intermittent fasting, and avoiding saturated fat are the ways that can reverse your resistance to insulin. Once your body becomes insulin sensitive, you can prevent developing diabetes type-2 and its subsequent illnesses.

There are effective ways to reverse your resistance to insulin and stabilize your blood sugar levels. You have to implement these strategies in the right way to improve your insulin sensitivity. Some of the unique ways to reverse insulin resistance are:

  • Reduce your carbohydrate intake: Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates increases the glucose levels in your body (hyperglycemia). Your body is unable to store a large amount of glucose that is formed due to the breakdown of simple carbohydrates. The inability of your body to make use of excess glucose results in inefficient insulin action. Thus, reduce intake of carbohydrate-rich foods to reduce insulin resistance.
  • Lower your sugar intake: Sugar is the main reason for any insulin-based condition like dysfunctional insulin signaling or pre-diabetes. An increase in sugar intake consequently increases your blood glucose levels. It increases the demand of your body to produce more insulin to lower the blood glucose levels which increases impaired insulin action. Therefore, you need to cut down the intake of sugary food items.
  • Improve your sleeping patterns: Lack of sleep increases cortisol and other hormones such as thyroid and testosterone. It makes your body cells become insulin resistant and leads to increased blood sugar levels. Hence, take adequate and sound sleep of around 7-8 hours to improve insulin sensitivity. According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, people who don’t sleep enough for a short while can mess up how their bodies handle sugar. When people go without sleep for a day or more, their bodies become less good at using insulin. Not getting enough sleep also makes it harder for their pancreas to produce insulin when they eat.
  • Keep stress out of your life: Your body needs more energy to fight and flee stress. However, high stress levels impact insulin-producing cells’ function and decrease insulin production. It elevates blood sugar levels and activates insulin ineffectiveness. Therefore, you should try to remain stress-free. Do not overthink, stay positive, try relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, etc. and, make a pace with the situation that you cannot change.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is the best way to keep your body fit and healthy. When it comes to controlling blood sugar levels, exercise is the best. Need not have heavy equipment to start the exercise. You can walk, cycle, swim, and do low-intensity exercises to increase the physical activity of your body. You can also dance to keep your body moving.
  • Eat high-fiber food: The foods that do not contain fiber release glucose in the concentrated form. Therefore, your body demands an increase in the glucose absorption rate. It puts pressure on the pancreas to release more insulin which ultimately increases insulin insensitivity. Eating fiber-rich food is proven to improve your insulin sensitivity. Fiber mainly tampers the rate of digestion. It prevents your blood glucose levels from shooting up after eating.
  • Drink a lot of water: Your body needs water to flush out extra toxins from your body. Along with the toxins, your body also removes excess blood glucose. It reduces the burden on the pancreas to produce more insulin. Therefore, drink plenty of water a day to prevent insulin-related problems. On average, an adult should drink at least three liters of water every day.
  • Lose your weight: When your body cannot use glucose, excess glucose is stored as fat instead of burning it for energy. It makes your body insulin-resistant and increases your body weight. When you are insulin resistant, your metabolism uses carbohydrates for energy. Hence, your body craves more sugar and, as a result, you will gain weight. Therefore, you need to lose weight to improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting is another way to reverse insulin resistance. It is simple and doesn’t require strict adherence. You can start with overnight fasting and then delay your breakfast. When you fast, the levels of insulin drop dramatically and thus improve your insulin sensitivity.
  • Avoid saturated fat: Saturated fat increases your cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. They are not healthy. Thus, replace the use of saturated fat with unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat is present in oils, nuts, and seeds. Always cook your food in unsaturated fat and include chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. It controls your blood sugar levels. It, therefore, helps in reducing insulin sensitivity.

Read More: Can You Get Diabetes From Drinking Too Much Water?

Superfoods that Reverse Your Insulin Resistance


Nature has blessed human beings with some items that have therapeutic properties. Garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, and turmeric are some of them. These items help reverse insulin resistance and improve overall health. Take these items in small quantities regularly to see their effect on your body.

It is a fact that you can reverse insulin resistance as long as you maintain healthy lifestyle habits, exercise daily and start eating better. Here is a list of some superfoods to naturally help you reverse insulin resistance:

  • Garlic: Garlic has antioxidant properties that promote the secretion of insulin in your body. It, therefore, can reverse your insulin insensitivity. Try including at least one garlic clove every day in your meal to maintain your body’s insulin sensitivity.
  • Ginger: Ginger extracts interact with serotonin receptors in your body. These receptors are capable of regulating insulin production in your body. Therefore, your body becomes more insulin-sensitive to control your blood sugar levels.
  • Apple cider vinegar: The main component of apple cider vinegar is the vinegar. It helps in reducing blood sugar levels and enhances the effectiveness of insulin. It delays the release of food from the stomach to the intestines. Thereby, it gives more time to your body to absorb glucose into the bloodstream and improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Cinnamon: It is another spice that helps improve insulin sensitivity. It helps in the transportation of glucose to the body cells. It also mimics insulin that increases the sugar uptake from your bloodstream to improve insulin utilization.
  • Turmeric: It is a spice that has a lot of therapeutic properties. It contains compound curcumin that helps to treat improper insulin utilization and diabetes type-2. It also treats other complications related to diabetes and weight gain.

Read More: What is Visceral Fat and How to Get Rid of it?

Insulin Resistance Treatment

There are two commonly prescribed drugs for diabetes that are helpful in insulin resistance treatment. Tab Metformin 500mg is one of the drugs to improve problematic insulin function.

Metformin 500 mg is one of the most common insulin resistance treatments known for decreasing the production of glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity. Pioglitazone is another medication that helps in reversing it.

These drugs not only improve insulin sensitivity but can also delay diabetes type-2. However, you should take these drugs only after consultation with your doctor.

Read More: Know What A1c Test Measures, Conversion Calculator, Ranges & Tips


How to test for insulin resistance?

Testing for insulin resistance typically involves blood tests, including fasting insulin levels, glucose levels, and the HbA1c level. Other tests, like the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR), can also be used to assess insulin resistance. Consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and diagnosis

What is insulin resistance PCOS?

Insulin resistance is commonly associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It contributes to hormonal imbalances in women with PCOS and may require specialized management strategies.

Can insulin resistance be reversed?

Yes, insulin resistance can often be reversed or improved through lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise, and dietary modifications. Early intervention is key to preventing it from progressing to Type 2 diabetes.

What causes insulin resistance?

How to check insulin resistance?

You can check insulin resistance through blood tests that measure fasting insulin levels, glucose levels, and the HbA1c level. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and a homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) can also be used.

Why insulin resistance occurs?

Insulin resistance can occur due to factors such as obesity, genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, and an unhealthy diet. It disrupts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar effectively.

What does insulin resistance mean?

Insulin resistance is a condition where your body’s cells don’t respond effectively to insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. It can lead to Type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

How to reduce insulin resistance?

Reducing insulin resistance involves adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and, in some cases, taking prescribed medications as advised by a healthcare professional.

How can I know that I am suffering from insulin resistance?

A lot of people can live unaware for many years about their insulin resistance in the body. However, if you develop any symptoms, you need to see your doctor for insulin resistance. Some insulin resistance symptoms include high blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, triglyceride levels, and HDL cholesterol levels. Some patients also develop skin tags and patchy skin when they have higher insulin resistance.

How can I prevent insulin resistance?

It is not possible to prevent insulin resistance. However, you can modify the risk factors that are responsible for developing insulin resistance. You can adopt a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, maintain your healthy weight, and avoid high-calorie and carbohydrate foods. Diabetes is genetic also. Thus, if you have a family history of diabetes, you need to take more precautions to prevent developing pre-diabetes and diabetes type-2. 

How long does it take for insulin resistance to reverse?

Once you start eating healthy fat and low carbohydrate diet and modify your lifestyle, it may take from few hours to few days to reverse insulin resistance. A prolonged fast of 36 hours to 3 days initially is helps reverse insulin resistance. 

Are there any supplements that help with insulin resistance?

Many supplements are there that may help in improving insulin resistance. There have been many studies that prove that Chromium, Berberine, Magnesium, and Resveratrol are effective supplements. They improve the ability of insulin receptors to reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. These supplements are found naturally in plants and plant products. Therefore, you need to take these supplements in small quantities.

How insulin sensitivity becomes diabetes type-2?

The blood sugar levels of a person with pre-diabetes are a bit higher than the normal levels. Therefore, the person’s pancreas works harder to release enough insulin to lower the blood glucose levels. If this condition persists for a long time, the ability of the pancreas to release insulin gets low. It leads to the development of diabetes type-2.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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