What Are Insulin Spikes?

Insulin spikes are when the hormone insulin is released into the bloodstream in large amounts due to fast absorption of sugar. How is this a bad thing like you’ve always heard? Lets break it down in detail.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas whenever there is a detection of sugar, also know as glucose, in the bloodstream. Our bodies turn all carbohydrates except fibre into sugar when it is broken down in our digestive systems. This hormone keeps our blood sugar levels from reaching a high problematic state, and does this by essentially attaching itself to the sugar so it can be absorbed by cells as that is the only way a cell can absorb sugar (with the help of insulin). It is then used for energy within the cell.

How is this a bad thing?

This can become a problem when people eat a lot of simple carbs, or simple sugars like white bread, most desserts and honey which get broken down and absorbed into the blood stream very rapidly compared to complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice which are absorbed much slower. This quick absorption causes your pancreas to release lots of insulin into your bloodstream to control your blood sugar levels and then attaches to the sugar to go to the cells around yours body to fill them with energy. This is an unwanted effect when someone has been very lazy all day or has been sitting around because when the sugar with insulin arrives to the already energy filled cells it goes, for many people, to the waist line and hips to be stored as fat.

When is it okay to eat simple sugars?

Simple sugars can be a good thing though, before and after a workout or physical activity especially. During these activities your cells are being depleted of their energy so if you have fast absorbing sugar in your system it will quickly find its way to cells that need energy to get through the work. After the workout the same rules apply, your body has just used a lot of energy and needs a quick source of energy to replenish them to allow growth.

I hope this cleared up any of your questions about insulin spikes. If you don’t understand or have any feedback, leave a comment or email me, thanks!


2 Replies to “What Are Insulin Spikes?”

  1. Insulin spikes can be also managed/avoided with a low carb high fat diet (or the more extreme keto). The body then learns to use fat as a source of energy for workouts, instead of carbs.

    It’s not for everyone. e.g. for sprints, power workouts you will have worse performance but in endurance, long distance running you will have same if not better performance

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