Does Insulin make us fat?

The theory propagated is that Insulin is a hormone that inhibits fat burning(fat oxidation). Hence, you are offered various magical methods(low carb, keto and fasting) by which you can fight the dragon(insulin) and win the damsel(fat loss). Sounds legit, right?


Insulin is one of the many hormones in our body. It has several important functions including the critical function of regulation of blood glucose. If you don’t secrete it, you have to inject it to live. It is an anabolic hormone which means that it inhibits the breakdown of tissues including muscle and fat. So there is a speck of science when they say insulin prevents fat loss… but it is not the whole picture. Don’t get tricked with a grain of truth amidst a beach of exaggeration.

Our body secretes this hormone as required through the day. According to the frequency and size of our meals, the amount of insulin secreted varies. In our body, both fat burn and fat storage are happening simultaneously. Relative rates of these chemical reactions are what cause fat gain or fat loss. These rates vary based on our energy intake and expenditure. There is no single hormone we can manipulate to influence these rates. Caloric intake/expenditure is the prime factor we can use to influence it. Insulin increases are not the reason for obesity. Any intake of food will cause an increase in insulin. Some foods cause a spike which falls back soon. Some foods cause a plateau which keeps the level medium but falls much slower. The area under the curve mainly depends on the caloric value of the meal. If the caloric intake is at maintenance, our body cannot gain mass(fat/muscle) due to the basic law of thermodynamics.

People demonize a hormone or a food group so that they can sell their books, supplements and live off the desperation of people who want to be fit. Don’t fall for such hocus pocus and “secret” and shortcut. When looking for food choices that align with the goal of fat loss, understand that there is nothing you can eat that will cause fat loss or fat gain by itself. However, there are foods that can prevent over-eating and improve satiety. Look for high fibre, high volume, high protein, nutrient-dense and low-calorie foods. Educate yourself.

Note: I am not against low-carb or ketogenic diet or even short term fasting. It can have its benefits both clinically and behaviour-wise, but for fat loss, it has no direct benefits. This has been proven conclusively via several scientific studies.

Does Insulin make us fat?

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