Glucose is your body’s primary and preferred fuel source. Every cell in your body uses glucose to produce energy for daily functions. However, glucose needs to get into cells and out of the blood stream for you to remain healthy. High levels of glucose that remain in the blood too long causes damage to your body effecting blood circulation which causes a host of other issues to follow.
This is where insulin comes in. This hormone, that is secreted from the pancreas, acts like a key that unlocks your cells so glucose can get inside. Blood sugar levels rises when cells become less sensitive to insulin and in response, the pancreas release even more insulin to get the job done. This increase in insulin production continues to build up cell resistance to the hormone and thus decreases your body’s ability to remove glucose from your bloodstream. Another name for this build up in resistance is type 2 diabetes.
Carbohydrates break down quickly and have a rapid effect on insulin, and in turn, blood glucose levels. Dietary fat takes quite a while to break down, typically 4 to 6 hours. Because only a tiny portion of a fat molecule can be used as glucose for energy, dietary fat doesn’t impact insulin or blood glucose levels. The same goes for protein.
Does this mean that you get to eat all the fat you want without worry, not quite. There are different types of fats, namely saturated and unsaturated fats. A high intake of saturated fatty acids found in meat, dairy, and eggs has been connected with insulin resistance over time. Saturated fats can be found in a variety of foods, namely:
- Animal Meat including beef, poultry, and pork.
- Certain plant oils, palm kernel, vegetable, or coconut oil.
- Dairy products including cheese, butter, and milk
- Processed meats including bologna, sausages, hot dogs, and bacon
- Pre-packaged snacks, crackers, chips, cookies, and pastries.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fats to 5-6 percent of daily caloric intake.
The AHA recommends that most of your daily fat intake comes from monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats to include:
- Olive oil, avocado oil
- Certain fish, salmon, tuna, anchovy
Putting this info into your diet. Your regular eating should consist of whole food sources and mostly plants. Consciously adding healthy fat to your diet is a great way to provide long term energy, decrease your insulin response, and overall make you feel better.
Fats are very calorie dense. 1 tablespoon of olive oil is 100 calories and 14 grams of fat, 4 ounces of avocado is 117 calories and 10.5 grams of fat. Eating one serving of healthy fat with each meal can drastically improve your energy levels, reduce your blood glucose levels and maintain and even improve cell sensitivity to insulin.