T Nation

Insulin Response vs. Grams of Carbs

Okay, I promise this is the last time for a while I will post a random question about how different things effect insulin and such, but I really am curious about it.

I am wondering about things that are kind of weird like milk and cottage cheese which have a low NUMBER of carbs but are supposed to have lots of insulin release. So is insulin response not related to NUMBER of carbs?

For example, would TJ’s yogurt, which only has 5 g. of carbs per cup be considered a good healthy low GI thing? Same goes for low carb milk - again on the order of 4g. of carbs, or are those “weird” in that they are dairy carbs so even though they are low in number they make a big impact?

Also, does eating foods like this effect how much fat you gain, if you were eating the same # of cals with them in your diet and without them?

Thank you.

Insulin release is highly dose dependent. That is, the greater number of carbs you ingest, the greater the insulin release.

The glycemic index of dairy products is different from their insulin index. For example, milk has a very low GI, but an extremely high insulin index.

Generally speaking, the insulin response is highly consistent with blood sugar response. However, dairy products are an exception. The blood sugar response is low, but they release a tidal wave of insulin.

The insulinogenic effects of dairy seem to be based not just upon the lactose content, but also the amino acid profile, with the finger pointed at whey.

Insulin release is not simply based upon carb intake. Any time you eat food, insulin is released. Eating a steak will cause insulin to be released.

Unfortunately, research on the insulin index is just getting started.

There is a lot conflicting evidence as to how this relates to fat loss/gain. Some studies show that dairy calcium helps burn fat. On the other hand, it has the aforementioned effect, as well as containing all sorts of exogenous hormones.

I personally find this stuff interesting, which is why I look at the minutiae of it. You might be the same. However, looking so far into it can get confusing and lead to “analysis paralysis.” Bottom line is to keep it simple: eat moderate amounts of real/natural food and increase your energy expenditure.

Hmm. Thanks for the response. It is something I’m curious about. I like to learn how the body works and try to apply it to optimal things, but you’re right - I do tend to then overstress things.

Is the insulin index dependant on grams? I’m curious about that too.

And if it’s the whey in milk that makes it have a high insulin response, would plain whey do that too?

Oh cool. I just found this:

[quote]sarah1 wrote:
you’re right - I do tend to then overstress things. [/quote]

I often do as well. I could kind of sense that you were the same… as they say, “it take one to know one.”

Whenever I feel myself getting confused from all the details (which are often contradictory) I just take it back to the simplest level. Real food in moderation and hard work.

[quote]sarah1 wrote:
Is the insulin index dependant on grams? [/quote]

Yes.

[quote]sarah1 wrote:
And if it’s the whey in milk that makes it have a high insulin response, would plain whey do that too?
[/quote]

Whey taken singly will result in a good shot of insulin, however, there is a synergistic effect between the lactose and whey. That is, the insulin response is higher with the two combined.

Take a look at these: www.thepaleodiet.com/articles/Milk%20Final.pdf

www.mendosa.com/insulin_index.htm

Certainly, one part of the picture is that our body absolutely must keep blood sugar below a certain level. It will use insulin to do that. Eat more sugar, require more insulin…

However, it appears that fast absorbing amino acids, or combination foods like milk, create an insulin spike for a different reason.

Given that milk is used during an incredibly anabolic period of growth, shortly after birth, I’m going to guess that pushing proteins into various cells is another use for insulin.

I believe there are certain times that it is advantageous to spike insulin, such as upon waking or after a workout, but overall we don’t want elevated insulin levels all the time.

Keeping blood sugar levels reasonable and insulin sensitivity high has a good chance of encouraging fat cells to let go of fat and give us an opportunity to burn it off.

I’m not sure there is much more to worry about, at least not in healthy individuals.

[quote]sarah1 wrote:
Oh cool. I just found this:

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/66/5/1264.pdf[/quote]

Great find! This should be required reading for everyone who is… well, just everyone.

Hey Sarah, im in the same boat as you. I use precision nutrition principles which are based around insulin response and nutrient timing.

From what I know, GI, Insulin Index and amount of Carbs is all important. For example Bananas are a low GI carb but are higher on the insulin index. So having a full banana (25g-30g) will spike your insulin because it is higher in the insulin index, despite being a lower gi carb.

Kidney beans on the other hand are a low GI and low Insulin Index carb, so the same amount (25-30g) will not spike insulin very much at all.

In regards to yoghurt, as long as its all natural and full fat you should be ok. I know John Berardi recommends it in P+F meals for its low insulin spike and Casein content.

Thanks. I had been using non-fat dairy. I guess that causes big insulin jumps? I tend to store fat on my abs which I thought was a sign I didn’t handle carbs well, but then again, I’m also very lean, and people say usually lean people tolerate carbs better.

I’ve been cutting it out again just to be safe. I don’t know. Not worth stressing. I eat it ocassionally still. I do love the stuff.

[quote]glenmowen wrote:
For example Bananas are a low GI carb but are higher on the insulin index. [/quote]

Not necessarily. The GI is dependent on such factors as ripeness. A slightly unripe banana can have a GI in the 40s, but a ripe banana can be in the 60s.

[quote]glenmowen wrote:
In regards to yoghurt, as long as its all natural and full fat you should be ok. I know John Berardi recommends it in P+F meals for its low insulin spike and Casein content. [/quote]

You know, Berardi has endorsed cottage cheese, for example, while being down on milk. He notes milk’s high II. However, I have seen it reported that cottage cheese has a high II too (I believe in the PDF link I posted). Many people mention the inclusion of fat to blunt insulin release, but research has shown this to be ineffective.

Both skim and whole milk have been shown to elicit large insulin responses, for example. Yogurt has been shown to have a high II, and like milk, skim vs. whole likely doesn’t make a difference.

Then of course, there is debate as to whether or not the whole glycemic/insulin index thing even really matters in terms of altering body composition.

[quote]Dark_Knight wrote:
glenmowen wrote:
For example Bananas are a low GI carb but are higher on the insulin index.

Not necessarily. The GI is dependent on such factors as ripeness. A slightly unripe banana can have a GI in the 40s, but a ripe banana can be in the 60s.

glenmowen wrote:
In regards to yoghurt, as long as its all natural and full fat you should be ok. I know John Berardi recommends it in P+F meals for its low insulin spike and Casein content.

You know, Berardi has endorsed cottage cheese, for example, while being down on milk. He notes milk’s high II. However, I have seen it reported that cottage cheese has a high II too (I believe in the PDF link I posted). Many people mention the inclusion of fat to blunt insulin release, but research has shown this to be ineffective.

Both skim and whole milk have been shown to elicit large insulin responses, for example. Yogurt has been shown to have a high II, and like milk, skim vs. whole likely doesn’t make a difference.

Then of course, there is debate as to whether or not the whole glycemic/insulin index thing even really matters in terms of altering body composition.

[/quote]

Yeah - this is an inconsistency I always wonder about - milk and diary are labeled “bad” by most with the exception of cottage cheese. But reading a scientific journal about diabetes they warned diabetics against more than 1 tbsp of cottage cheese due to it’s insulin effects like other dairy. I wonder what is right? Or if it even matters. Issues for pondering…

I was also wondering, and maybe I should ask in another thread - but I don’t understand the terms “insulin sensitivity.” This always gets me. I would think you would NOT want to be insulin sensitive. You would not want your body to freak out when it sees insulin. But people say it’s good to be insulin sensitive? So what does the term really mean?

[quote]sarah1 wrote:

I wonder what is right? Or if it even matters. Issues for pondering…
[/quote]

Yeah, this is where you start to scratch your head. One reputable source says this, the other says that, both on opposite ends of the spectrum.

This is why I have my failsafe, the KISS principle. Ross Enamait says, “Everyone wants to complicate nutrition, as it allows them to charge more for nutritional consultations. It’s all a load of bullshit.”

[quote]sarah1 wrote:
I was also wondering, and maybe I should ask in another thread - but I don’t understand the terms “insulin sensitivity.” This always gets me. I would think you would NOT want to be insulin sensitive. You would not want your body to freak out when it sees insulin. But people say it’s good to be insulin sensitive? So what does the term really mean?
[/quote]

Insulin sensitivity refers to how cells respond to this hormone. When they are insulin sensitive, it does not take much of the hormone to push glucose into the cells. Conversely, when they are insensitive, it takes increasingly higher level of the hormone.

Think of it this way:

A cell that is insulin sensitive would be like a dry sponge. Even the tiniest amount of water (insulin), and it soaks it right up.

An insulin insensitive cell is like a saturated sponge. You can pour water (again, the insulin) all over it, and it still does not want to take it in.

Does that make sense? I’m not sure if I’m being clear…

Thanks for the explanation - but I still don’t understand why you want to be sensitive to it. People keep saying spikes in insulin cause fat storage (other than post workout). So if your cells are insensitive to insulin it would be better - spiking insulin wouldn’t matter and wouldn’t cause you to store fat. So I’m confused…

If your insensitive the body just keeps flooding more an more and more insulin into the blood trying to get the job done. it takes more to get the same job done. NOT GOOD. Your blood sugar goes through the roof as its not getting shuttles stored used NOT GOOD etc etc

Phill

Thanks Phil. Clear as usual. :slight_smile:
I’ve got to send you an email!